Tag Archives: Comet

A blue comet is approaching the sun

A blue comet is approaching the sun, and it is super active, with wild jets waving around the comet’s core and dusty clouds billowing down its tail.

On Jan. 10th, Austrian astrophotographer Michael Jäger recorded dramatic changes in only two hours:

Click to watch video

Space Weather News for Jan. 11, 2018

BLUE COMET PANSTARRS: Beyond the orbit of Mars, an unusual blue comet is approaching the sun. Every time astronomers look at Comet PanSTARRS (C/2016 R2), it has a different appearance. Daily images show gaseous jets waving wildly around the comet’s core and dusty clouds billowing down the comet’s tail. This hyperactivity comes despite the fact that the comet is located in a region of space where deep cold and feeble sunlight usually discourage such volatility. What’s happening? The comet’s blue color is a crucial clue. Read more in  today’s edition of Spaceweather.com.

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Above: Comet PanSTARRS (C/2016 R2) photographed on Jan. 10th by amateur astronomer Gerald Rhemann of Farm Tivoli, Namibia.

Long Range Sensors Detect…

  1. Why is the Earth magnetized and Venus Not?
  2. Infant Stars Huddle near Black Hole
  3.  Most Distant Black Hole Yet
  4. The Geminid meteor shower peaks Wed, 13th of Dec
  5. This Week’s Sky at a Glance, December 8 – 16
  6. A “rock” comet is approaching Earth

Sky & TelescopeWhy is Earth Magnetized and Venus Not?
A new analysis reveals that the gigantic impact that led to the Moon’s formation might have also switched on Earth’s magnetic field. Read more…

Infant Stars Huddle near Black Hole

A team of astronomers has found signs of small stars forming within aSky & Telescope few light-years of the Milky Way’s central black hole. Read more…




3. Astronomers have  discovered a supermassive black hole scarfing down gas just 690 million years after the Big Bang.

Astronomers are like historians on steroids. They doggedly push back the curtain of cosmic time, peering back to ever-earlier eras in the universe. The latest discovery in this quest, announced today in the journal Nature, is the quasar J1342+0928. This black-hole-powered beacon blazes at us from a redshift of 7.54, or a mere 690 million years after the Big Bang.  Read more…

And in the chance we ever see a clear sky again:

4. Wednesday, December 13  The Geminid meteor shower should be at its peak late tonight, and there’s no Moon to interfere. Bundle up warmly. Bring a reclining lawn chair to a dark spot with no glary lights and an open view of the sky. Lie back, gaze into the stars, and be patient. Under a dark sky you might see a meteor at least once a minute on average. Light pollution cuts down on the numbers. See our article Fantastic Year for Geminid Meteor Shower.

You’ll see the most meteors from about 10 p.m. until dawn local time, when your side of Earth turns to face most directly into the oncoming meteoroid stream. But any that you may see early in the evening, when the shower’s radiant in Gemini is still low, will be long, dramatic “Earth-grazers” skimming into the upper atmosphere at a shallow angle.

5. This Week’s Sky at a Glance, December 8 – 16
See what’s in the Sky & Telescopesky this week. The asteroid 3200 Phaethon, source of the Geminid meteoroid stream, should reach about 11th magnitude from December 12th through 17th as it passes several million miles from Earth. Read more…

6. A “ROCK COMET” IS APPROACHING EARTH: You’ve heard of comets. But have you ever heard of a rock comet? They exist, and a big one is approaching Earth this week. 3200 Phaethon will fly past our planet on Dec. 16th only 10 million km away. Measuring some 5 km in diameter, it is large enough for amateur astronomers to photograph through backyard telescopes. Moreover, this strange object is the parent of the annual Geminid meteor shower, which is also coming this week. Sky watchers can see dozens of Geminids per hour on Dec. 13th and 14th as gravelly bits of the rock comet disintegrate in Earth’s upper atmosphere. Visit today’s edition of Spaceweather.com to find out how to observe the Geminids and their progenitor in the nights ahead.

Long Range Sensors Detect…

  • Mars Lost Atmosphere to Space
  • Rosetta Sees Changing Face of Comet
  • Observing the planets Mars, Jupiter, Saturn this week

NASA’s MAVEN mission has confirmed that the solar wind stripped the Red Planet of its atmosphere.  http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/mars-lost-atmosphere-to-space-3003201723/Based on the ratio of various elements’ isotopes planetary scientists suspect that the Red Planet has lost anywhere from 25% to 90% of its atmosphere over the last 4-ish billion years, with the estimates favoring at least 50%. READ THE ARTICLE

Researchers have used data from the Rosetta mission to link outbursts on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko with dramatic surface changes.  Changes seen on the comet’s surface provide researchers with the before and after “smoking gun” of seeing the possible triggering mechanism for a cometary outburst in action. READ THE ARTICLE


Jupiter (magnitude –2.5, in Virgo) comes to opposition on April 7th. It rises around sunset, shines low in the east-southeast after nightfall, high in the southeast by 11 p.m., and highest due south around 1 a.m. daylight saving time. Spica hangs 7° below it. In a telescope Jupiter is 44 arcseconds across its equator.

Mars and Mercury in the twilight.

Saturn over Sagittarius at dawn, early April 2017

Saturn (magnitude +0.4, in Sagittarius upper right of the Teapot) rises in the early morning hours and glows in the south by early dawn. Redder Antares (magnitude +1.0) twinkles 19° to Saturn’s right. Saturn doesn’t reach opposition until June 14th.

The blue 10° scale is about the width of your fist at arm’s length.

Long Range Sensors Detect…

  • A Close Encounter:  Comets approaching Earth
  • Spring — The Vernal Equinox
  • Observing Highlights this week

Green Comet Approaches Earth:  A small green comet named “252P/LINEAR” is about to make one of the closest approaches to Earth of any comet in modern times, sailing just 5.4 million km from our planet on March 21st. Moreover, the comet appears to have company: A possible fragment of 252P/LINEAR will fly by just one day later. A weak meteor shower could follow the double flyby near the end of March.  Visit Spaceweather.com  or Sky & Telescope for more information.

Happy Spring!  The vernal equinox occurs at 12:30 a.m. March 20th EDT.  Click here for an explanation.

Looking Up this Week: Sky & Telescopes weekly column on observing highlights.  This week, the focus is on the constellation Leo.   On Sunday, March 20th, Regulus, brightest star of Leo, stands above the nearly full Moon this evening, as shown here. Jupiter is the bright “star” farther to the Moon’s lower left.


Comet approaching, CME sideswiping Earth

From: http://spaceweather.com
COMET CATALINA (C/2013 US10) Robot looks upis making its closest approach to Earth, only 67 million miles away. The beautiful green comet is only barely visible to the naked eye, but it is an easy target for backyard telescopes and digital cameras as it passes through the handle of the Big Dipper.

This is Comet Catalina’s first visit to the inner solar system–and its last. The comet’s close encounter with the sun in mid-November has placed it on a slingshot trajectory toward interstellar space. Enjoy it now. Once it recedes from Earth, we may never see it again

Visit Spaceweather.com for photos and finder charts.

MINOR STORM WARNING: NOAA forecasters say there is a 45% chance of minor geomagnetic storms on Jan. 19th when a CME is expected to sideswipe Earth’s magnetic field. Aurora alerts are available from http://spaceweathertext.com (text) and http://spaceweatherphone.com (voice).”