The Habitable Worlds Observatory Could See Lunar and Solar ‘Exo-Eclipses’

Exo-moon
An artist's conception of an exoplanet with a large orbiting exomoon. Credit: University of Columbia/Helena Valenzuela Widerström

A future space observatory could use exo-eclipses to tease out exomoon populations.

If you’re like us, you’re still coming down from the celestial euphoria that was last month’s total solar eclipse. The spectacle of the Moon blocking out the Sun has also provided astronomers with unique scientific opportunities in the past, from the discovery of helium to proof for general relativity. Now, eclipses in remote exoplanetary systems could aid in the hunt for elusive exomoons.

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New Photos Show Jupiter’s Tiny Moon Amalthea

Juppy
Jupiter (and tiny Amalthea, crossing the Great Red Spot) as seen from Juno). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS. Image processing: Gerald Eichstädt

NASA’s Juno spacecraft spies a tiny inner moon of Jupiter, Amalthea.

It’s tiny, but it’s there. By now, we’re all used to seeing amazing photos of Jupiter courtesy of NASA’s Juno mission on a routine basis. Many of these are processed by volunteer ‘citizen scientists,’ and they show the swirling cloud-tops of Jove courtesy of the spacecraft’s JunoCam in stunning detail.

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There Was a Doomed Comet Near the Sun During the Eclipse

Comet
Comet

A surprise appearance of a new comet made the April 8th total solar eclipse all the more memorable.

Any dedicated ‘umbraphile’ will tell you: no two eclipses are exactly the same. Weather, solar activity, and the just plain expeditionary nature of reaching and standing in the shadow of the Moon for those brief moments during totality assures a unique experience, every time out. The same can be said for catching a brief glimpse of what’s going on near the Sun, from prominences and the pearly white corona to the configuration of bright planets… and just maybe, a new comet.

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Amazing Amateur Images of April 8th’s Total Solar Eclipse

Totality from central Indiana. Credit: Peter Forister.

The last total solar eclipse across the Mexico, the U.S. and Canada for a generation wows observers.

Did you see it? Last week’s total solar eclipse did not disappoint, as viewers from the Pacific coast of Mexico, across the U.S. from Texas to Maine and through the Canadian Maritime provinces were treated to an unforgettable show. The weather threw us all a curve-ball one week out, as favored sites in Texas and Mexico fought to see the event through broken clouds, while areas along the northeastern track from New Hampshire and Maine onward were actually treated to clear skies.

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Inside a Week to Totality: Weather Prospects, Solar Activity and More

Eclipse
Totality and the 'diamond ring effect,' captured during the 2023 total solar eclipse as seen from Ah Chong Island, Australia. Credit: Eliot Herman

Looking at prospects for eclipse day and totality.

Have you picked out your site to observe the eclipse on April 8th? Next Monday, the shadow of the Moon crosses Mexico, the contiguous United States from Texas to Maine, and the Canadian Maritimes for the last time for this generation. And while over 30 million people live in the path of totality, millions more live within an easy day drive of the path. I’m expecting that many folks will decide to make a three-day weekend of it, and eclipse travel traffic will really pick up this coming Saturday, April 6th.

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NASA Experiments Planned for the April 8th Total Solar Eclipse

Totality!
Totality! As seen from Madras, Oregon, during the 2017 total solar eclipse. Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

Totality and the April 8th total solar eclipse offers a rare chance to study the Sun.

We’re less than three weeks out now, until the April 8th total solar eclipse crosses North America. And while over 31 million residents live in the path of totality, many more will make the journey to briefly stand in the shadow of the Moon. Several scientific projects are also underway to take advantage of the event.

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Into Totality: Our Complete Guide to the April 8th Total Solar Eclipse Across North America

Eclipse
Totality! The view from the 2017 total solar eclipse. Credit Mary McIntyre FRAS.

What to watch for on April 8th as totality sweeps across the continent.

The time has come. Seven years ago on an August afternoon, the shadow on the Moon swept across the United States. Now we’re in the one month stretch, leading up to the big ticket astronomical event for 2024: the April 8th total solar eclipse spanning North America.

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A Nova in the Making: Will T Coronae Borealis Pop in 2024?

Recurrent Nova
A recurrent nova in action. Credit NASA

If predictions are correct, a key outburst star could put on a show in early 2024.

If astronomers are correct, a familiar northern constellation could briefly take on a different appearance in 2024, as a nova once again blazes into prominence. The star in question is T Coronae Borealis, also referred to as the ‘Blaze Star’ or T CrB. Located in the corner of the constellation Corona Borealis or the Northern Crown, T CrB is generally at a quiescent +10th magnitude, barely discernible with binoculars… but once every 80 years, the star has flared briefly into naked eye visibility at around +2nd magnitude.

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European Satellite ERS-2 to Reenter Earth’s Atmosphere This Week

ERS-2
An artist's conception of ERS-2 in orbit. ESA

One of the largest reentries in recent years, ESA’s ERS-2 satellite is coming down this week.

After almost three decades in orbit, an early Earth-observation satellite is finally coming down this week. The European Space Agency’s (ESA) European Remote Sensing satellite ERS-2 is set to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere on or around Wednesday, February 21st.

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The Comet vs. the Eclipse: 12P/Pons-Brooks Heads Towards Perihelion in April

Comet 12P
A recent capture of Comet 12P Pons-Brooks. Credit: Michael Jaeger.

Comet 12P Pons-Brooks takes center stage this Spring.

Something is definitely up with the 12th periodic comet in the catalog. We’re talking about Comet 12P Pons-Brooks, set to reach the first of two perihelia for the 21st century this Spring. And the timing couldn’t be better, as the comet will also sit near the Sun just two weeks prior during the total solar eclipse of April 8th 2024, spanning the North American continent from the southwest to the northeast. If the comet over-performs—a long shot, but multiple outbursts in 2023 suggest it just might—we could be in for the added treat of a naked eye comet near the Sun during totality.

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