Jupiter opposition season is nigh, and with it, the largest planet in our solar system and its iconic Great Red Spot present us with a key mystery.
Jupiter in 2019
Jupiter reaches opposition for 2019 on June 10th. For an outer planet with an orbit exterior to the Earth, opposition simply means it’s ‘opposite’ to the Sun as seen from our Earthly vantage point. This means that Jupiter will rise in the east and dominate the sky throughout the June night, after the Sun sets in the west.
Continue reading “Is Jupiter’s Great Red Spot Vanishing as We Near Opposition 2019?”
Have you seen Starlink? It all started, as all good breaking astronomical events seem to do, late on a Friday night. We got the notification first from veteran satellite tracker Dr. Marco Langbroek over in the Netherlands via the venerable See-Sat-L message board, and on Twitter soon after:
Continue reading “Catching a Ride on the Starlink Satellite Train: Midnight Marvel, or Night Sky Menace?”
Welcome to the moons of Mars, as you’ve never seen them.
NASA’s aging 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter recently snapped some unique views of the twin moons Phobos and Deimos, in an effort to better understand their texture and surface composition. The images are courtesy of the spacecraft’s THEMIS (the Thermal Emission Imaging System) heat sensitive instrument, and show the thermal gradient across the surface of the moons in color. Odyssey has been studying the moons of Mars since September 2017. The recent images of Phobos taken on April 24, 2019 are especially intriguing, as they occurred during full illumination phase.
Continue reading “Mars Odyssey Reveals Phobos Using THEMIS”
May is graduation month, and with it, school star party season is about to conclude. If you happen to be out this coming weekend showing the sky off to the public, keep an eye out for one of the top celestial sights that you won’t see at the eyepiece, as we’re in for a slew of good visible passes of the International Space Station worldwide.
Continue reading “The International Space Station Rides High Through the May Sky”
Been following the Moon this week? The first sighting of the waxing crescent Moon this past weekend not only marked the start of the Muslim month of Ramadan worldwide, but also sets us up for an interesting Friday night encounter, as the waxing crescent Moon crosses the Beehive Cluster.
Continue reading “Watch the Moon Buzz the Beehive”
Never heard of the Eta Aquarid meteors? 2019 offers a good chance to check out this normally obscure meteor shower.
Continue reading “Keep an Eye Out for the Eta Aquarid Meteors This Weekend”
Update: The CRS-17 launch has slipped to Friday, May 3rd, to give NASA time to evaluate electrical issues aboard the International Space Station. Follow us (@Astroguyz) on Twitter for further updates on the visibility prospects of the mission leading up to launch.
Ever seen a rocket launch before? Catching one is easier than you might think. You just need to be looking in the right direction at the right time, and have clear skies. If you happen to be watching from the U.S./Canada eastern seaboard before dawn this Friday (May 3rd), you just might catch the spectacular dawn launch of a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket with Dragon on the CRS-17 (also known as SpX-17) mission headed to the International Space Station.
Continue reading “Friday’s SpaceX Dragon Launch CRS-17 to Light Up the U.S. East Coast”
You can be thankful that we orbit a placid, main sequence, yellow dwarf star. Astronomers recently spied a massive superflare on a diminutive star, a powerful, radiation spewing event that you wouldn’t want to witness up close.
Continue reading “Astronomers Catch a Superflare From a Puny Star”
Up for a challenge? Some of the toughest targets for a backyard observer involve little or no equipment at all. Northern hemisphere Spring brings with it one of our favorite astronomical pursuits: the first sighting of the extremely thin, waxing crescent Moon. This unique feat of visual athletics may be fairly straight forward, requiring nothing more than a working pair of Mk-1 eyeballs… but it’s tougher than you think. The angle of the evening ecliptic in the Spring is still fairly high for mid-northern latitudes, taking the Moon up and out of the weeds when it reaches waxing crescent phase.
Continue reading “Astro-Challenge: Spotting Slender Moons”
The high-flying SOFIA telescope is shedding light on where some of the basic building blocks for life may have originated from. A recent study published on The Astrophysical Journal: Letters led by astronomers from the University of Hawaii, including collaborators from the University of California Davis, Johns-Hopkins University, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Appalachian State University, and several international partners (including funding from NASA), looked at a lingering mystery in planet formation: the chemical pathway of the element sulfur, and its implications and role in the formation of planets and life.
Continue reading “SOFIA Follows the Sulfur for Clues on Stellar Evolution”