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 » »

Backyard Observatory Discussion

Posted by BC on January 31st, 2008

Brenda Culbertson with C-8

Backyard observatories are often built by the owners. My observatory was designed and built at home by my husband (engineer) and me (astronomer). It has a removable roof that pivots on legs and rests at a position below the top of the wall. The roof can be removed by hand, usually by two people, but one can manage it. The walls are made of aluminum siding, and the supports are aluminum fence pipe.
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Packed Planetary Systems Hypothesis

Posted by BC on January 30th, 2008

Extrasolar planetary system artist rendition - JPL/NASA More members of extra-solar planetry systems have been found through using predictions of their existence. The Packed Planetary Systems Hypothesis is what astronomers and astrophysicists use as the base of their predictions. The Packed Planetary Systems Hypothesis states, in common terms, that, where there is room for a planet to grow in a planetary system, it will.

The most recently discovered planet orbits the star HD 74156 (Upsilon Andromedae). Predictions were made by Rory Barnes and associates from the University of Arizona while studying two other planets orbiting HD 74156.
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Asteroid Comes Close to Earth

Posted by BC on January 24th, 2008

Three famous asteroids: Mathilde, Gaspra and IdaI frequently receive inquiries from people with questions about sky happenings, since I am the public contact where I work. The most recent question came from a panicked person who heard that an asteroid was predicted to collide with Earth in a few days. This person wanted to know why nothing was reported on the news and why people weren’t worried. (S)He sent a link to a web site that had information on it, so I checked the site out and determined that a sensationalist had written some preliminary information and had made incorrect determinations on how close the asteroid will come.
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MESSENGER meets the messenger

Posted by BC on January 23rd, 2008

The horizon of the planet Mercury as seen from spaceOn January 14, 2008, MESSENGER from Earth met the messenger to the gods, Mercury. We have not seen new close up views of the tiny planet for over 30 years, and new images reveal vast amounts of information about the geology of the celestial neighbour. Not since the 70s, when Mariner 10 gave us a view of Mercury, have scientists been so excited about new discoveries of the tiny world.
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Blue Moon of a different kind

Posted by BC on January 20th, 2008

Image of that rare occurance: the Blue MoonRecent tradition stipulates that a Blue Moon is the second Full Moon in a month. Those Moons are not really the colour blue, but a real blue Moon can be seen if the atmospheric conditions are right. One of the conditions to provide views of a real blue-coloured Moon is for the atmosphere to have large amounts of ash-sized pollutants floating in it to scatter light.
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Moon meets M45 and Mars

Posted by BC on January 17th, 2008

Occultation in the midst of a Lunar EclipseOn Thursday night/Friday morning (08 Jan 18 07:00:00 UT), observers can go out and watch as the Moon passes in front of, or very near, the Pleiades Star Cluster (M45). The Moon will be about 77% sunlit, so many of the fainter members of the cluster may be missed because of the moonglow. Observers in certain areas of North America will see occultations, yet others the Moon pass very near the cluster.
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Amateur Astronomy in Finland

Posted by Marc on January 12th, 2008

Outline map of FinlandConditions for amateur astronomy vary from country to country owing to various factors such as climate, latitude, affordability of equipment and vibrancy of the local astronomy club scene. In her latest interview, Lydia talks with Timo-Pekka Metsälä to find out what it’s like to observe from Finland, a country close to the North Pole: interview with a Finnish Astronomer.

Asteroid Now Predicted to Miss Mars

Posted by BC on January 10th, 2008

It looks like Mars will be spared after all. An asteroid, 2007 WD5, was discovered on Nov. 20, 2007, and its orbit appeared to cross that of Mars. The 22nd magnitude hunk of cosmic debris kept asteroid observers on their toes as they followed it closer to the small planet. Impact odds went up to 1 in 25 at one time, but now things are different. Read the rest of this post …

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