The usually reliable Eta Aquarid meteor shower runs from April 21 – May 20, 2016, with many meteors still visible for several days on either side of the peak on May 5-6, 2016. This is perhaps the best meteor shower of the year for southern hemisphere stargazers [Read more…] about Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower – 2016Share This:
The planet Mercury will appear to pass across the face of the Sun on Monday, May 9, 2016. This event, known as a transit, will be visible in a small telescope with a proper solar filter from much of North and South America, Africa, and western Europe. It’s a great opportunity to see the mechanics of the solar system in action and to spot the elusive inner planet as it passes across the blazing solar disk [Read more…] about A Guide to the Transit of Mercury on May 9, 2016Share This:
In a development that has shocked astrophysicists around the world, the Sun has unexpectedly run out of hydrogen fuel in its core. As gravity squeezed the collapsing core, the dense plasma increased in temperature and ignited helium burning, causing the outer layers to swell into a red giant. Reports suggest the two inner planets, Mercury and Venus, have been swallowed by the expanding star. On Earth, students in the northern hemisphere have been released from school to start summer break early. While astronomers are perplexed, health professionals strongly recommend a thick layer of sunscreen for anyone venturing outside, at least until someone can figure out how to restock the supply of hydrogen gas in the Sun’s core.
In a media report, Professor Cedric Doppleganger, of the California Institute of Astrophysics, said that although the Sun’s sudden expansion violates all known laws of physics, that researchers are undeterred. “It just goes to show that the science of solar physics isn’t so settled after all.”
(On April 2nd and beyond, the above image will be of the setting of a calm main sequence G-type star on a windy evening at Santa Monica Beach, California.)Share This:
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:
The year’s only total solar eclipse occurs next week on March 8-9, 2016. The narrow path of totality runs from the eastern Indian Ocean, across the islands of Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi, and on into the Pacific Ocean north of Hawaii. Armadas of ships carrying astronomical tourists are on the way to the area, especially to the region of maximum totality well north of Papua New Guinea where the eclipse will last an impressive 4 minutes. For readers of this site on the way to see this magnificent event, I wish you clear skies and calm seas [Read more…] about Total Solar Eclipse on March 9, 2016Share This: