At any particular time, a half-dozen or more comets are visible with a good-sized amateur telescope. But a bright comet is a once-in-a-decade event at best, and a Great Comet, one that grows bright enough to capture wide attention, is rarer still. Recently there have been two Great Comets visible to observers in the southern hemisphere, Comet McNaught in 2007 and Comet Lovejoy in 2011. But it’s been a long drought for stargazers in the northern hemisphere, where no spectacular comet has been seen since 1997 when the mighty Comet C/1995 O1, better known as Comet Hale-Bopp, barreled in from the outer solar system and put on one of the most watched celestial shows in modern history [Read more…] about A Look Back at Comet Hale-BoppShare This:
Solar System Observing
Articles about how to understand, find and see solar system objects including planets, the Moon, the Sun, asteroids, meteors, and comets with binoculars, telescopes, and the naked eye.
The Rosetta spacecraft made its final maneuver around the Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67p) in 2016 and made a controlled hard landing. Rosetta had accompanied the comet for more than 2 years, measured valuable scientific data, brought a lander on to the comet’s surface and took vast numbers of pictures.
In 2017 the European Space Agency released over 400,000 images from the Rosetta mission. Based on these images, motion designer Christian Stangl and composer Wolfgang Stangl worked together to create this short (but quite astonishing) film.
The sequences are digitally enhanced real-footage from the probe.
Watch the beauty of an active alien body, far out in the dephts of our solar system.Share This:
Second only to the rings of Saturn, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot (GRS) is probably the most iconic planetary feature in the solar system. Unlike the rings, which aren’t going away any time soon, recent observations of an apparent unraveling of the GRS suggest big changes in this iconic feature, if not its impending demise [Read more…] about The Disappearing Great Red SpotShare This:
As the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of the still astonishing Apollo 11 moon landing, we backyard stargazers can also get in on the fun (indeed many of us grizzled amateur astronomers can trace our interest in the night sky to the space program of the 1960s). With a modest telescope and good seeing, nearly anyone with a little observing experience can see the region of the Moon where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin briefly walked, and observe the three tiny craters named for the two famous moonwalkers and their crew mate Michael Collins who remained alone in lunar orbit to pilot the Apollo 11 command module [Read more…] about See the ‘Craters of Apollo 11’Share This:
Many casual observers get hooked on amateur astronomy after a first look at Saturn through a telescope. More than a few have looked through my small refractor on a night of good seeing and asked of Saturn, “Is it real?”
Oh, it’s real, all right. And incredibly beautiful… the color, the proportions, the apparent 3D perspective of this grand icy world. It is arguably the finest sight accessible with a small telescope. The planet reaches opposition on July 9, 2019 and will remain bright and large in a telescope over the next few months. Here’s how to find it and see it in a small telescope.