The first good comet of the year, Comet E3 ZTF is a fine object for northern hemisphere observers in January.
As in years previous, 2023 kicks of with another decent binocular comet.
If you haven’t seen C/2022 E3 ZTF yet, you’ll soon have your chance. Discovered by the Zwicky Transient Survey searching for supernovae, E3 ZTF was first spotted as a +17th magnitude object gliding through the constellation of Aquila the Eagle on the night of March 2nd, 2022.
Amazing things happen in the day-to-day sky that often go unnoticed during our normal routine. Just such a curious ‘non-event’ happened this week, when Venus reached inferior conjunction between the Earth and the Sun on its race from the dusk to the dawn sky. And what’s even more amazing, is the fact that some skilled observers followed this passage and caught sight of Venus as a tiny blazing ‘ring of fire’ silhouetted against the dazzling sky.
So, you think you know Galileo? A new book out from Simon and Schuster publishing looks at the exploits of one of the most famous astronomers there ever was: Galileo Galilei. Galileo and the Science Deniers by Dr. Mario Livio not only looks at the life and times of the famous astronomer, but busts some of the most famous myths surrounding Galileo, and looks at his greatest discoveries and tempestuous clash with the Roman Catholic Church and its aftermath. Livio also connects the science denialism of the day with comparisons to modern clashes between politics and science.
Stellina may usher in a revolution in amateur astronomy.
It’s a common scene at star parties, post-Christmas. As darkness falls, someone approaches us with a new telescope, often in still unassembled. “I can’t figure this thing out,” is the inevitable refrain. “Can you show me how to use this @#$%! thing?”
Stuck at home with clear skies? We’re all in a similar situation, as the ongoing pandemic sees most of the worldwide amateur astronomy community observing from home or from their backyard. One astronomical sure-fire event coming up this week requires no special equipment, just a set of working ‘Mk-1 eyeballs’ and a clear sky: the April Lyrids.
When it comes to comets, the only thing that is certain is the orbital path. Though the cosmos has yet to send us a really bright comet for 2020 to keep us occupied during the ongoing worldwide pandemic and lock down, it has sent us a steady stream of descent binocular comets, including C/2017 T2 PanSTARRS, C/2019 Y1 ATLAS, and C/2019 Y4 ATLAS. And though Y4 ATLAS won’t match the “Comet of the Century” media hype, another interesting binocular comet has just made its presence known over the past weekend: C/2020 F8 SWAN.