Skywatcher’s Delight: Nova RS Ophiuchi in Outburst and Comet O1 Nishimura

Rs Oph

The Perseids, a rare eruption of nova RS Ophiuchi and a challenging dawn comet round out an amazing week of skywatching.

It couldn’t have happened at a better time. While we’re all gearing up for the peak of the Perseid meteors this New Moon week on August 12th, two more astronomical events have given us a reason to step outside on warm August nights: the eruption of recurrent nova RS Ophiuchi, and the brief appearance of comet C/2021 O1 Nishimura.

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The Tears of the Hero: Get Ready for the 2021 Perseid Meteors

Persied

A sure-fire summer shower, the Perseid meteors are set to put on a spectacular show this year.

It’s one of my fondest astronomical observing memories of childhood. Growing up in Northern Maine, it was a family tradition to set the lawn chairs out on warm mid-August nights, and watch with my mom and brother as the Perseid meteors slid silently through the inky black sky.

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Balloon Mission May Also Work to Detect Quakes on Venus

An opportunity in 2019 lays the groundwork for balloon-borne detectors on Venus, working to unravel a key mystery.

The skies of Venus may become a busy place in the coming decade, using technology field-tested here on Earth.

A team out of NASA JPL-Caltech hypothesized that terrestrial earthquakes should also produce low-frequency infrasonic sound waves, which would be transmitted from the ground through the atmosphere as changes in barometric pressure. These sound waves, while difficult to detect, should be measurable via highly sensitive barometers carried aloft.

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Tales of a ‘Drunken Comet’- Astronomers Detect Alcohol Leaking From 46P/Wirtanen into Space

A close pass of Comet Wirtanen in 2018 offered researchers an unprecedented opportunity.

Comets are full of surprises. Not only do they often under- or very occasionally over- perform versus expectations, but they also offer a glimpse of the remnants of the very early solar system. In December 2018, astronomers had an unprecedented opportunity to study one of these relics of the early solar system up close as Comet 46P/Wirtanen sped by Earth just 30 times the Earth-Moon distance (7.1 million miles away) on its closest passage for this century.

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Modern Solar Eclipse Science: Huge Coronal Mass Ejection Caught in Action

eclipse

There’s an old adage that says there is ‘nothing new under the Sun…’ but that doesn’t apply when it comes to solar eclipse science.

Beyond just providing an awesome celestial spectacle, astronomers have often taken advantage of the brief moments afforded by solar totality to explore the Sun and its environs. To this end, total solar eclipses have historically offered chances to carry out scientific experiments in the past, and continue to do so today.

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Catch New Galactic Nova Herculis 2021 in Hercules the Hero

N Her 2021

Now’s the time to catch Nova Herculis 2021, before it fades from view.

…And then, there were two. Fresh off of the eruption of Nova Cassiopeiae 2021 early this year, another galactic nova made itself known earlier this past weekend, as a ‘new star’ or nova flirted with naked eye visibility in the constellation Hercules the Hero on its border with Aquila the Eagle.

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Solar Horns at Sunrise: Our Guide to the June 10th Annular Solar Eclipse

annular eclipse

The only annular eclipse of 2021 will produce a fine spectacle across most of North America and Europe.

Got those solar glasses handy from 2017? If skies are clear on the morning of Thursday June 10th, you may once again find good use for them, as an annular ‘ring-of-fire’ eclipse crosses northeastern Canada into the Arctic.

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Amazing Views of Wednesday Morning’s Total Lunar Eclipse

total lunar eclipse

The Moon turned a ruddy hue during this morning’s total lunar eclipse, in one of the top astronomical events of the year.

What a celestial show. Depending on your time zone, you either got up early, stayed up late, or pulled an all-niter last night, all in hopes of catching today’s total lunar eclipse. This event favored the Pacific region, with western North American observers catching the eclipse at sunrise/moonset, and Australia, new Zealand and eastern Asia seeing totality transpiring at moonrise/sunset.

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‘Super-Blood Moon’ Total Lunar Eclipse Set For May 26th

The first total lunar eclipse of 2021 occurs early next week and features the largest Full Moon of the year.

Ready for the lunar eclipse drought to come to an end? It’s been a while since we’ve watched the Moon pass through the Earth’s dark inner shadow, to be sure. 2020 featured four lunar eclipses… all of which were faint penumbrals. In fact, you have to go all the waaaaay back to January 21st, 2019 (remember 2019?) to remember the last total lunar eclipse. But that wait ends next Wednesday morning on May 26th, with a very short total lunar eclipse, centered on the Pacific region.

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