One of the joys of astronomy is going out into your backyard on a clear night and observing whatever catches your attention. However, a little planning can greatly enhance the experience. That’s where Astronomy Today’s SkyGuide for 2009 comes in. It contains observing info on the Moon, Planets, Planetary Transits and Conjunctions, Meteor Showers, Lunar and Solar Eclipses. Enjoy!
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
A US Iridium communications satellite and a non-operational Russian (Cosmos 2251) satellite collided 490 ft above the earth over Siberia Tuesday causing a large debris field in space.
Although it is believed that the International Space Station is not in danger of interacting with the debris field, NASA is keeping a wide-open-eye on the situation in case smaller satellites may be compromised. All of the debris should eventually burn up in our atmosphere. Only three smaller satellites have ever suffered the same fate.
In December, The Boston Globe ran this excellent review of Endeavour Shuttle Mission’s STS-123 return to Earth and the successful roundtrip of STS-126. The article chronicles an entire nine month process in an expertly written and photographed journey and is a complete diary of NASA’s success in Endeavor’s 2008 shuttle activity. We thank Alan Taylor for bringing us into “The Big Picture” with The Boston Globe.
Launched February 4, 2009 aboard a Delta II 7320-10C Space Launch Vehicle, this is the last in the TIROS group (Television Infrared Observation Satellite Series).
NOAA-N Prime satellites contain seven scientific instruments in addition to two search and rescue instruments and a data recording system and is dedicated to reporting our home planet’s weather and ever changing environment for the last 50 years. Its aim is to improve worldwide weather forecasting.
Pluto supporters will have another chance to plead the evicted dwarf planet’s case this year. Mark Sykes, Director of Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, will attend this year’s meeting of the IAU in Rio de Janeiro.
Will this year’s conference reunion vote to reinstate Pluto and in doing so, add a few extra planetary members (Ceres, Eris and Charon – Pluto’s diminutive moon) to our Solar System? Read the rest of this post …
Update February 19, 2009: Comet Lulin is near Spica right now and next week may be observed near Saturn. Wish for clear skies this weekend!
If you’re looking for another observing object you should check out Comet Lulin this week. It is about magnitude 6.5, visible with binoculars or telescope in the early in the morning hours before sunrise, slightly “north” of the head of Scorpius. The comet will be at its closest to us and a highly visible 5th magnitude object on February 24. Read the rest of this post …
Ever wonder where the Shuttle Fleet Orbiters get their names? “Discovery” holds a long standing tradition in historical exploration. In 1610 the English navigator Henry Hudson explored what is now Hudson bay and discovered the Northwest passage through what is now known as the Hudson Strait to the Pacific. His ship? The Discovery.
James Cook, another talented English sailor of Scottish decent of Great Britain’s Royal Navy sailed on a ship called Endeavor. The Sister Ship was the Discovery. We should also mention that while in Tahiti he observed and documented Venus’s transit of the sun, calculations of which aided scientists to determine the distance from our planet to our sun. Cook’s Discovery. Read the rest of this post …
Iran has successfully launched a test rocket from an undisclosed desert location in anticipation of its low-orbit satellite project planned for next month.
Iran’s satellite programme may have begun in October 2005 with an Iranian satellite (called Sina-1) carrying telecommunications and photographic equipment launched into space onboard a Russian rocket. Iran also claims sending a rocket into space in Febrary 2007. Read the rest of this post …