Weekly Space Hangout – December 27, 2013: Year in Review & Looking Forward

Host: Fraser Cain
Guests: +Brian Koberlein (@briankoberlein), David Dickinson (@Astroguyz), Pamela Gay (@starstryder)
Big thanks to Nicole Gugliucci (@noisyastronomer) for doing a wonderful job producing this past year!

Big events of the year:
The Chelyabinsk Meteor – thanks to all of the dash-cam videos and Twitter!
Comet ISON – not quite the “Comet of the Century,” but very fun to watch.
Cometpalooza – there were at one point 5 comets visible in the sky this past fall!
Voyager finally left the solar system – or did it? It’s 17 light-hours away.
Government money “double-edged Sword of Death” – sequestration plus budget cuts hurt all space science research and education, and will continue to have effects into the future.
SpaceX successes – commercial launches of cargo delivery to ISS, satellite launches, plus many successful tests.
Chinese space program – Chang’E 3 landed on the moon and successfully deployed their Yutu rover.
India Mars probe – launches successfully to Mars!
Europa’s plumes – jets of water shooting out of the surface of the moon of Jupiter, discovered by Hubble.
Cassini’s Photo of Earth – awesome photo sent back from Saturn, showing how tiny Earth looks from Saturn.
Chris Hadfield – his fantastic communication as an astronaut from ISS.
Curiosity’s continuing mission on Mars – big discoveries include conglomerate rocks that were cemented together by ancient rivers, confirming liquid water’s presence
Kepler – found lots of extrasolar planets, but then we lost it. But we have 1000 confirmed exoplanets so far.
Gaia Mission Launch – it’ll make an amazing 3D map out part of the galaxy!

and last but not least – image of the year Space Frog!

Looking forward to 2014:
David’s article “101 Astronomical Events for 2014″
includes meteor showers, including the Quadrantids next weekend.

A couple of the big events include:
On March 20, an asteroid will occult the star Regulus, visible to naked-eye.
A comet will come close to Mars on Oct. 19, and we’ll be able to see it pretty clearly, plus MAVEN will arrive in time to image it.
Rosetta will be woken up and will harpoon a comet in November.

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