Archive for the ‘Astronomy’ Category

Tonight’s full Moon is the
biggest of the year, as much as 14% wider and 30% brighter than
lesser Moons earlier in 2008. An astronomer would say this is a
"perigee Moon" because it occurs at perigee, the side
of the Moon’s elliptical orbit closest to Earth. Go outside tonight and soak up some
moonlight. There’s plenty of it: full story.

Last night’s 99% full Moon was already impressive: "Boy…
the Moon was very bright and BIG!" says Ron Hodges of Midland,
Texas. "Watching it through my scope was actually exciting."
For the record, he took this picture using a Canon 300D:

more images: from Ugur Ikizler of Mudanya, Bursa, Turkey; from Geir Øye of Ørsta, Norway; from Bob Johnson of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; from Richard Meinig of Colorado Springs, Colorado;


Posted: November 6, 2008 in Astronomy


The annual Taurid meteor shower is under way and it could be a good show. 2008 is a "swarm year" for the Taurids.

Between Nov. 5th and 12th, Earth is due to pass through an unusually dense swarm of gritty debris from parent comet 2P/Encke. When a similar encounter happened in 2005, sky watchers observed a slow drizzle of midnight fireballs for nearly two weeks.

Whether 2008 will be as good as 2005, however, remains to be seen. In 2005, the swarm encounter was more central; Earth passed through the middle of the cloud. In 2008, forecasters believe we are closer to the outskirts. How much this will affect the shower, no one knows.

The best time to look is during the hours around midnight when the constellation Taurus is high in the sky.

Space Weather News for March 21, 2008

JULES VERNE AND THE ISS: The European Space Agency’s new robotic cargo carrier, the Jules Verne, has parked itself in orbit 2000 kilometers ahead of the International Space Station. This sets the stage for some beautiful double flybys in the nights ahead–the Jules Verne appears first, as bright as a 1st magnitude star, followed four and a half minutes later by the even brighter International Space Station. This is a must-see for sky watchers in cities and countryside alike.

Visit for flyby photos and timetables.

Space Weather News for Jan. 28, 2008

Posted: January 28, 2008 in Astronomy

Asteroid Flypast

Asteroid 2007 TU24 is flying past Earth this week at a distance of only 334,000 miles (1.4 lunar distances). NASA radars tracking the asteroid confirm that there is no danger of a collision, but it will be close enough for amateur astronomers to photograph through mid-sized backyard telescopes. At closest approach on Jan. 29th, the asteroid will glide through the constellations Andromeda and Cassiopeia glowing like a 10th magnitude star. Visit for celestial coordinates and a low-resolution radar image of the approaching rock.

Halo bonus

A photographer in Finland has captured the long-sought "Kern arc", a rare sun halo created by triangular ice crystals. Experts are calling it the "halo photo of the decade" and it is featured on today’s edition of

Space News – Comet 8P/Tuttle

Posted: December 29, 2007 in Astronomy
After a 13.6 year absence, Comet 8P/Tuttle is once again traveling through the inner solar system.

On Jan. 1 and 2, 2008, it makes its closest approach to Earth; only 24 million miles away. The emerald-colored comet will brighten to a predicted magnitude of 5.8, visible to the unaided eye from dark-sky sites and a fine target for backyard telescopes anywhere.

You can get more information from