Summer is the season for Noctilucent Clouds

Full Moon and Perigee Moon converge for a Supermoon

Track down two asteroids, Ceres and Vesta

Planetary pairings of Saturn and Mars, Jupiter and Venus

The Perseid meteor shower peaks

The Equinox restores balance to days and nights

Mars meets its rival, Antares

An early Harvest Moon occurs in September

Look out for Noctilucent Clouds
Full details in the Sky Guide » »

Recent Solar Activity

Posted by BC on February 11th, 2010

SOHO/MDISeveral solar flares have occurred over the past few days. M-Class flares have erupted from Sunspots 1045 and 1046, and more are expected over the next few days. Sunspot 1046 is growing in size as it approaches the meridian and is in prime location to project solar material toward Earth.

The solar energy has potential to interfere with radio transmissions, to produce aurora, and  to produce other affects. Spaceweather.com has a nice video that shows the growing spot and more information on the flares.

Gamma Ray Bursts in Earth’s Atmosphere

Posted by BC on February 11th, 2010

Lightning - NOAAThe headline is correct. Gamma ray bursts have been detected in Earth’s atmosphere. They are associated with lightning, and recent discoveries have been made by NASA’s Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI) and Gamma-ray Burst Monitor.

Gamma ray bursts in Earth’s atmosphere are called Terrestrial Gamma Flashes (TGFs), and are said to produce the highest natural energy blast on Earth. The flashes last for only one to two milli-seconds, but they are drawing much attention.
Read the rest of this post …

HST Sees Evidence of Colliding Asteroids

Posted by BC on February 2nd, 2010

P/2010 A2 - NASAIn late January, HST revealed an “X” pattern of debris that appeared like comet material. The difference was that the nucleus was not inside the debris, but ahead of it. What HST showed was what scientists believe is the remnants of a collision of two asteroids.

P/2010 A2 is the name of the asteroid material and main nucleus. The material is being swept back, away from the nucleus, by the pressure of sunlight. The size of P/2010 A2 is a mere 460 feet in diameter, but it travels at 11,000 miles per hour. A collision of that intensity is extreme and spreads the debris out into the surrounding area. To read more on this amazing discovery, read the NASA article “Hubble Sees Suspected Asteroid Collision.”

Mars Closest Since 2008

Posted by BC on January 27th, 2010

27 January 2010, marks the closest point that Mars will be to Earth between 2008 and 2014. Mars can be seen as soon as skies are dark, and it is visible all night.

To find Mars this week, look to the eastern sky as soon as Sun sets. Mars will appear as an non-twinkly, orange object. The visible magnitude is -1.3 (Sirius is -1.4) and is 14 arc seconds in diameter. The brightness and apparent size make Mars an easy object to see and find.

MarsChart29Jan2010-NASAIf you need more help finding Mars, use the chart. Mars appears to be in the constellation Cancer, and on 29 January 2010, a Full Moon will appear very close to it.

Spirit Update

Posted by BC on January 27th, 2010

last tracks for Spirit - NASARecently, reports told that the Mars Rover Spirit was stuck in the martian surface soil. Spirit has not been able to free itself and will now be used as a science platform instead of a rover.

The stationary rover will still conduct research, even if it cannot travel. The first thing Spirit has to do is to prepare for the martian winter. Scientists want to level the rover for an optimal position. Then Spirit will study the soil, track the wobble of the planet in its orbit, and conduct some experiments to try to find out if the martian core is solid or liquid.

The photo here show the last tracks that Spirit made. Scientists will be able to continue using Spirit, even though it will not be a rover.

Sri Lankan Astronomers Experience the ‘Ring of Fire’

Posted by Marc on January 22nd, 2010

Annular Eclipse in Sri LankaThe recent Annular Solar Eclipse was visible from Northern Sri Lanka, where the Sri Lanka Astronomical Association ran an outreach workshop which was well attended by local students, keen to view the eclipse. They chronicle their adventure (with some great photos) here.

Solar Activity Update

Posted by BC on January 21st, 2010

The demise of another sungrazing comet has been captured on video of STEREO-A. The video can be seen at the Space Weather website. Recent solar activity has “sparked” the Northern Lights near the Arctic Circle. Current solar images and information on the activity can be seen at Space Weather. Photos of the recent aurora are also available for viewing.

Sunspot 1039 Showing Up Again

Posted by BC on January 19th, 2010

STEREO-B Flare - NASASunspot 1039 is still on the far side of the solar disc, as observed from Earth, but 1039 is providing scientists with promise of continued activity. NASA’s STEREO-B Spacecraft can “see” regions of Sun that are not yet visible from Earth. What STEREO-B has detected are two eruptions from the 1039 active areas.

The active regions will appear along the eastern solar limb within a week as Sunspot 1039 rotates into view. If you want to see the video of the eruptions, spaceweather.com has it and more information posted.

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