Tag Archives: Observing

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…

What to look for in the night sky this week–if it ever stops raining.


Juno successfully enters orbit around Jupiter
After a 35 minute burn, the craft is now the second to orbit Jupiter.  http://www.astronomy.com/news/2016/07/juno-successfully-enters-orbit-around-jupiter
Exoplanet Found in Triple Star System

Astronomers have discovered a giant planet with an exceptionally wide orbit in a young system of three suns. http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/exoplanet-found-in-triple-star-system-0707201623

Hubble gets five more years to dazzle us
NASA has renewed the Hubble Space Telescope’s operational contract until 2021. Here’s a timeline of its last 26 years.  http://www.astronomy.com/news/2016/07/hubble-gets-5-more-years-to-strut-its-stuff

JupiterHubble captures vivid aurorae in Jupiter’s atmosphere

This observation program is supported by measurements made by NASA’s Juno spacecraft, currently on its way to Jupiter.  http://www.astronomy.com/news/2016/06/hubble-captures-vivid-aurorae-in-jupiters-atmosphere

Our sensors detect…

Our local sensors detect:

  • Continuing reaction to the Dragon Con Awards
  • Galaxy Quest sequel — Is it a go or not?

Long Range Sensors Detect:

  • Early Mars bombardment – Precursor to life on Mars?
  • Trigger for Milky Way’s youngest supernova identified
  • Long-Ago Supernovae Littered Earth
  • Observing: This Week’s Sky at a Glance, April 8 – 16

Our local sensors detect:

  • Continuing reaction to the Dragon Con Awards: Puppies, both sad and rabid, are declaring a victory and predicting the end of the Hugos. I don’t understand why they are so set on destroying something they claim not care about.  And why do they persist in claiming the Hugos are “fixed” in some way by a cabal? File 770 continues to compile the comments, pro and con. I don’t know Sean O’Hara , but he makes  valid points, starting with “What the World Needs Now Is Another Sci-Fi Award Like I Need a Hole in My Head”
  • Galaxy Quest sequel –– Is it a go or not? Two actors from Galaxy Quest commented on the proposed sequel, one claiming it is off because of the passing of Alan Rickman, the other claiming it is on in spite of the huge hole left by Rickman’s passing. I think too much time has passed.  Read More

Long Range Sensors Detect:

  • Early Mars bombardment – Precursor to life on Mars? The bombardment of Mars some 4 billion years ago by comets and asteroids as large as West Virginia likely enhanced climate conditions enough to make the planet more conducive to life, at least for a time, said a new University of Colorado Boulder (CU-Boulder) study.Read More
  • Trigger for Milky Way’s youngest supernova identified: The stellar explosion occurred when two white dwarfs collided. Understanding type Ia supernovae causes more precisely will give astronomers greater insight into the expansion rate of the universe. Read More
  • Long-Ago Supernovae Littered Earth: Roughly 2 million years ago, as the human ancestor homo erectus was descending from the trees, two supernovae exploded nearby and showered Earth with debris.  This article describes the investigation into these supervovae. Near the end, and in a comment afterwards, the question of the effect this may have had on human evolution is raised.  Read More
  • Observing Highlights — This Week’s Sky at a Glance, April 8 – 16: Mercury makes its best dusk appearance this year, and the moon will occult Aldeberran.  Mercury is the most difficult planet to view. It is faint, in the city binoculars may be required. Also, it is very low to the horizon, so you need a good sight line to the west. Further details and finder chart here.

Very long range sensors detect…

  • A wrinkle in time: Gravity Waves prove Einstein right!
  • Water on Pluto
  • The sky this week-naked eye observing
  • Blast from black hole in a galaxy far, far away
  • Antarctic fungi survive martian conditions on ISS

BHsim-600Gravity Waves Detected:  LIGO scientists have announced the direct detection of gravitational waves, a discovery that won’t just open a new window on the cosmos — it’ll smash the door wide open. Read more in Sky and Telescope, lots of pictures, graphs, diagrams….Also read more from Astronomy Magazine, though I found the format of the page rather strange.

Water on Pluto: Data from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft point to more prevalent water ice on Pluto’s surface than previously thought.  Read More from Astronomy Magazine

The sky this week:  Check out the winter constellations, most of the observations mentioned in this article are visible to the naked eye. The winter hexagon is easily picked, even in light polluted skies of Montreal.  From Sky and Tel.  Printable star chart for February can be found here.

Blast from black hole in a galaxy far, far away:  The Pictor A Galaxy contains a supermassive black hole at its center, and a huge amount of gravitational energy is released as material swirls toward the event horizon. From Astronomy Magazine, read more.

Antarctic fungi survive martian conditions on ISS: Antarctica’s McMurdo Dry Valleys are the most Mars-like place on Earth. They make up one of the driest and most hostile environments on our planet, where strong winds scour away even snow and ice.  Read about ISS experiment.

How to choose your first telescope

You’ll get lots of hype when trying to pick a telescope. But by knowing just a few basics, described here, you’ll be able to choose the one that’s right for your observing interests, lifestyle, and budget.

A quick guide to types of telescopes

With a little guidance, you can pick a high-quality telescope that can last a lifetime.
S&T: Craig Michael Utter

Here’s a quick guide to help you make sense of all the types of telescope models available today. Armed with these few basics, you’ll have a good idea what to look for (and what to avoid) when scouring the marketplace for your new scope.If you still have questions or need more details, check out these additional resources:

Many (arguably most) good starter scopes cost $400 or more, though some superb choices are available for under $250. But read this article first, so you’ll understand the terminology and what type of telescope will be best for you.

Read more: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/types-of-telescopes/

Looking up!

  1. Observing highlights for the week of September 25 to October 3 PlanetsEarly risers get to see 3 planets and Regulus, the heart of the Lion, all in a line this week, an hour before dawn.

Click here to see more

2)The weather prediction for Sunday’s lunar eclipse of the Harvest Moon is looking better. The sky should be clear, temperature dropping from the daytime high of 24C to 9C.

Here is a different lunar eclipse, seen from a Mars Rover Aug. 20, 2013 :

PhobosEclipse-630x210Phobos,  directly in front of the sun as seen by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity. It is, of course, an annular eclipse as Phobos is way too small to totally eclipse the sun.



3) More high resolution images are coming down from Pluto:

1_snakeskin_detailDetails and more images here



4) Curiosity is still roving, still sending home wonderful images of Mars.

MartianPetrifiedSandDunesDozens of individual Mast Camera images taken on August 27, 2015, were combined to create this panorama.

Read more