This week’s apparition of asteroid 1994 PC1 offers observers a chance to see a space rock moving in real time.
In a slow moving universe, asteroids give us a rare chance to see things moving in real time. We have such a chance coming right up on the evening of Tuesday, January 18th, when 1.1-kilometer asteroid (7482) 1994 PC1 passes 1.23 million miles (1.98 million kilometers) from the Earth. This is about five times the distance from the Earth to the Moon, and just a shade over the distance to the anti-sunward Earth-Sun Lagrange 2 point, soon to be the home of the James Webb Space Telescope.
Continue reading “Look Up and Watch Asteroid 1994 PC1 Fly Past Earth This Week”
Meteor showers, eclipses and a fine opposition of Mars top out astronomy 2022.
2022 offers another fine sky watching year. 2021 brought us a remote Antarctic total solar eclipse, a surprise Christmas comet C/2021 A1 Leonard, and a return of solar activity with solar cycle Number 25. 2022 promises more of the same, as the solar cycle heads towards an active maximum in 2025. But there’s lots more in store in the sky in 2022. Alas, no ‘red nova’ is expected in 2022.
Continue reading “Astronomy 2022: Top Skywatching Events for the Coming Year”
One of the best annual meteor showers of the year, the Geminids top off 2021.
Ready to brave the cold? If you’re like us, you haven’t wasted an early clear sky morning to get out and see Comet C/2021 A1 Leonard before it heads southward. The coming days offer another early AM celestial sight: the Geminid meteors. To be sure, 2021 sees the Geminid meteors transpire under somewhat challenging conditions. But fear not: with a little planning and patience, you too can witness the ‘Tears of the Twins.’
Continue reading “Brrrr: Bundle Up For the 2021 Geminid Meteors”
During this weekend’s total solar eclipse, the shadow of the Moon graces the Earth one last time for the year.
Saturday’s total solar eclipse literally spans the ends of the Earth.
The final eclipse for 2021 and the only total solar eclipse of the year occurs on Saturday, December 4th, as the Moon’s shadow sweeps across a remote segment of the Antarctic continent.
Continue reading “Our Guide to the Only Total Solar Eclipse of 2021”
Now is the time to start tracking Comet C/2021 A1 Leonard, as it starts its dawn dive sunward.
The days following New Year’s 2021 saw a comet discovery with potential. On the night of January 3rd, exactly one year to the day prior to perihelion, astronomer Gregory J. Leonard working at the Mount Lemmon Observatory near Tucson Arizona discovered the first long-period comet of the year, C/2021 A1 Leonard. Shining at magnitude +19 and 5 Astronomical Units (AU) distant (about the distance of Jupiter from the Sun) at the time of discovery, early indications hinted that comet A1 Leonard might prove to be something special, come the end of 2021.
Continue reading “Comet A1 Leonard Brightens in December”
Friday morning’s partial lunar eclipse will flirt with with totality, as the longest for more than a century.
If you’re like us, we never miss a chance to catch a lunar eclipse, be it penumbral, partial or total. Lunar eclipses are a great time to catch the surety of the clockwork Universe at its best, as the Moon slides into and then exits the Earth’s shadow.
First the bad news: Friday morning’s eclipse in the early hours of November 19th isn’t completely total. However, the good news is that at its maximum around 9:04 Universal Time (UT)/4:04 AM Eastern Time (EST) the eclipse narrowly misses totality, at 97.5% partial.
Continue reading “Our Complete Guide to November’s ‘Almost Total’ Lunar Eclipse”
A recent plan would send a Centaur mission to Jupiter’s orbit and follow a comet through formation.
From Mercury to the depths of the distant Kuiper Belt, there aren’t many unexplored corners of the solar system out there. One class of object, however, remains to be visited: the transitional Centaurs out beyond the orbit of Jupiter. Now, a new study out from the the University of Chicago recently accepted in The Planetary Science Journal looks at the feasibility of sending a mission by mid-century to intercept, follow and watch a Centaur asteroid as it evolves into a mature inner solar system comet.
Continue reading “Proposed Centaur Mission Could Catch Comets in the Act of Formation”
LOFAR sees ‘exoplanet aurorae’ near distant red dwarf suns.
A powerful new method may help to detect exoplanets, via the aurorae they induce on their host star. The finding was announced recently from ASTRON’s Low Frequency Array radio telescope (LOFAR), based out of Exloo in the Netherlands, and sprawled across sites in Europe.
Continue reading “LOFAR Sees Strange Radio Signals Hinting at Hidden Exoplanets”
The new Arid meteor shower may be making itself known in early October 2021.
It’s not every day that we witness an outburst from a new meteor shower gracing the skies of the Earth. But that’s just what may be in store this week for fortunate observers deep in the southern hemisphere, with the advent of the Arid meteors.
Continue reading “Arid Meteor Outburst in the Works This Week?”
A new study shows a way to use quasars to gauge distance in the early Universe.
The simple question of ‘how far?’ gets at the heart of the history of modern astronomy. Looking out across our galactic backyard into the primordial Universe, different yardsticks—often referred to as ‘standard candles’ —are used to gauge various distances, from near to far.
Continue reading “Using Quasars as a New Standard Candle to Define Distance”