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 » »

Annular Solar Eclipse – 15Jan2010

Posted by BC on January 15th, 2010

Annular Solar Eclipse - 15Jan2010 - NASAObservers in the line from Africa to the Indian Ocean to eastern Asia are in for a great experience tomorrow (15Jan2010) 0500 to 0900 UT. Of course you should know about this by now, so you are probably already in position and prepared to participate in the experience of the annular solar eclipse.

An annular eclipse is different from a total eclipse in this way: Viewing an annular eclipse from the center line provides a “ring of fire” as Moon and Sun line up in a direct line of sight from the observer. When Moon is at or near apogee during an eclipse, it appears smaller than Sun, hence, the lunar disc does not obscure the whole sight of the solar disc. A total solar eclipse occurs when Moon is at or near perigee, when the lunar disc appears larger and obscures the view of the whole solar disc as observed from Earth.

Any solar eclipse is an experience to have. A video preview and more information are available online.

How many arms does the Milky Way have?

Posted by Marc on January 13th, 2010

Two-armed spiral?Interesting new research from a British and an American scientist suggests that our Milky Way has two spiral arms, challenging the conventional model of a four-armed spiral galaxy. Charles Francis and Erik Anderson worked independently to reach their discovery, analysing data from sky surveys to determine how spiral patterns form. Read the rest of this post …

Close Asteroid Flyby

Posted by BC on January 12th, 2010

An asteroid of unknown origin will make a close pass to Earth on 13 Jan 2010. The asteroid, named 2010 AL30, has a 1-year orbit and will pass one-third the distance to Moon from Earth.

The asteroid may not be a natural object, but one that came from discarded materials from a Human-made craft. 2010 AL30 will appear as 14th magnitude during its close approach, and astronomers are encouraged to go out and observe the object. It will pass through Taurus, Orion, and Pisces. Ephemeris and other information.

Astronomers Without Borders Remote Observing Session

Posted by Lydia on January 6th, 2010

Firstly, I’d like to wish everyone a peaceful, pleasant, and successful 2010 accompanied nightly by dark skies and excellent observing conditions! But as the weather this time of year does not lend to much observing, you may be interested in this note I received from Thilina Heenatigala of Astronomers Without Borders about an online observing session.  LL/ Read the rest of this post …

Observing in Harsh Winter Conditions

Posted by BC on January 3rd, 2010

Many observers in the Northern Hemisphere are experiencing harsh winter weather. I know where I am, in the middle of continental USA, heavy snowfall and extremely low temperatures snow-on-trees.jpghave kept me inside most of the season. Our skies have been overcast, and the seasonal constellations have changed without me following them much.

If you are one of the people who have clear skies and can go out for observing, make sure you stay safe while out in the cold. Wear appropriate clothing and pay attention to what your systems tell you. If you are too cold, go in to warmer temperatures until you can go back out and not suffer. Play it smart and stay safe.

Spirit and the Martian Winter

Posted by BC on January 3rd, 2010

Spirit/Martian surface - NASA The martian winter is setting in, and Spirit may have limited life left after its six Earth years of unexpected service. Spirit was made for only three months, but it has surpassed all expectations, even while being stuck in the martian soil.

With winter setting in, scientists do not know whether Spirit will survive another long, cold season. Dust is blocking Spirit’s solar panels, and sunshine is limited. Dust storms are intensifying, and the little rover may be conducting its last maneuvers.

Spirit has surprised scientists before, so let’s not count it out until we see what occurs during the martian winter, and what may come in spring. More on Spirit and the martian winter.

Quadrantid Meteors

Posted by BC on January 3rd, 2010

Tonight (03Jan), at 1900UT, the peak of the first meteor shower of 2010 will occur. At least 100 meteors could be visible under ideal circumstances. Europe and Asia are favored for observing the meteors. The peak falls during daytime hours for America, but the shower can be heard via shortwave radio for those who want to still participate in the observation.

Those of you who see any of the Quadrantids are encouraged to post comments.

Sungrazing Comet

Posted by BC on January 3rd, 2010

Kreutz Sungrazer - SOHOA member of the Kreutz sungrazers was spotted by amateur astronomer Alan Watson, who was inspecting an image made by STEREO-A on 30Nov2009. A close inspection of the image showed a comet associated with the Kreutz sungrazer group of fragments. Most of the Kreutz group are captured by Sun’s gravitational grip and pulled in. It is not known for sure if this one will escape, but it is expected to meet its demise. When? That is yet unknown. We just need to keep watching.

A video clip and more information can be found at

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