April Fools' Day Asteroid to Buzz Earth Sunday: No... →
An asteroid the size of a passenger jet will zoom close by Earth on Sunday (April 1) just in time for April Fools’ Day, but it has no chance of hitting the Earth, NASA says. (This graphic depicts the orbit of asteroid 2012 EG5 (in blue) during its April Fool’s Day flyby of Earth on April 1, 2012. CREDIT: NASA/JPL) “The asteroid 2012 EG5 will be closer than the moon when it...
Is The Lunar Impact-Origin Theory In Trouble? →
Current theory indicated a Mars-sized object hit Earth early in its history, causing chunks to spin off and create the moon. A new study determined that theory to be much less likely as the moon’s chemistry is nearly identical to Earth’s. (Image credit: NASA) “New questions have been raised about the birth of the moon after a new study found samples from Earth and the lunar...
See Venus in full daylight, right now (if your sky...
Find the crescent Moon high in the western sky. Venus is a “star” seen against the blue sky about five Moon-widths to the right (and slightly below) the Moon. (“now” = 7pm CDT, Monday, 26 March)
March Madness on Mercury →
This past week marked the first anniversary of an historic event in planetary exploration. (An artist’s portrayal of Messenger, short for Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging, after its arrival at Mercury on March 18, 2011. CREDIT: NASA) “One year ago, NASA’s Messenger spacecraft fired a braking rocket and slipped into a looping orbit around...
The Moon Visits Jupiter and Venus →
The crescent Moon visits Jupiter in the evening sky on Sunday, March 25th, and it visits Venus on Monday night. “The Moon will visit Venus two more times before Venus’s historic transit across the Sun’s face on June 5th, but this is your last chance to see Jupiter paired with the Moon high in a dark night sky for several months. A very thin crescent Moon will hang above...
Crowdfunding the astronomy of the future? →
Today I read this tweet on Universe Today’s twitter feed: “Contribute to this project and help discover an exomoon” and immediately assumed that it was a project like SETI@Home or Galaxy Zoo to use distributed computing to find some exomoon candidates. (Sidebar: What’s an exomoon? Presumably the great numbers of exoplanets now known beyond our solar system have natural...
The 2012 Jupiter-Venus Conjunction →
Venus and Jupiter are spectacular in March 2012. They’ll be closest in mid-March – and near the moon by the month’s end. (Moon, Venus, Jupiter Feb. 2012, from Brazil via Miquel Berredo) “See all five bright planets in late February and early March 2012, including Venus and Jupiter. In fact, in late February and early March 2012, as Venus and Jupiter continue to pull closer, you’ll also...
Full Moon Dominates Planet-Filled Night Sky... →
The full moon of March takes charge of the evening sky tonight, but Jupiter, Venus, Mars and other solar system objects are putting on a show for stargazers as well. (Skywatcher Maxim Senin caught the full moon during the moon’s conjunction with Mars, March 7, 2012, in Long Beach, CA. CREDIT: Maxim Senin) “March’s full moon peaked at 4:39 a.m. EST (0939 GMT) this morning...
Solar storm headed toward Earth →
The biggest solar storm in five years is expected to bombard the Earth on Thursday, potentially upsetting airplane flights, GPS systems and electric power grids. (An ultraviolet wavelength image provided by NASA shows a solar flare.) The first effects of the storm will come at about 7 a.m. ET, says Joe Kunches of the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo. Kunches says the storm...
Greetings from Kitt Peak!
Sorry for the slowdown in posts in recent days, dear followers. I’m in the middle of an observing run at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona, USA. Good weather and long nights have meant a very productive trip, scientifically, but I’ve not had much of a chance to update the blog. Headed back to Austin by the middle of next week and back on more of a normal schedule. Thanks,...
Best Mars Sky Show of 2012 Occurs Saturday: How to... →
Mars will make a close approach to Earth Saturday (March 3), and interested skywatchers can follow the action live online. “Every 26 months, the orbits of Earth and Mars align such that the two planets form a relatively straight line with the sun. This cosmic event is called an opposition, because the Red Planet sits on the exact opposite side of Earth from the sun.” “Mars...
Venus' day gets even longer as its spin slows →
Venus is spinning more slowly and astronomers don’t know why. (Global radar image of the surface of Venus. Credit: NASA) “In the 1990s, they worked out one Venusian day - the time for the planet to spin round once - lasted 243.018 Earth days. But now, the European Space Agency’s Venus Express orbiter shows Venus’ spin is getting even slower and a day on Venus is now...