A Two Moon Eclipse for Jupiter

Written by The Night Sky Guy on November 21, 2014 – 4:07 pm -

In the early morning hours of November 23, check out moon Io cover its brother Europa, two of Jupiter's satellites.

In the early morning hours of November 23, check out moon Io cover its brother Europa, two of Jupiter's satellites.

Starting at 2:16 a.m. EST of November 23, skywatchers will be in for a treat, an lunar eclipse on Jupiter.

Through even the smallest of backyard telescopes, the moon of Io will cover or occult its brother moon, Europa for just a few minutes. The event will take place just off the eastern limb of Jupiter.

Locate Jupiter next to the constellation Leo’s bright star Regulus in the southeastern sky. Happy Hunting!

For more information about this celestial event and others, visit my National Geographic blog, StarStruck.


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New Moon is a Good Time to View Andromeda

Written by The Night Sky Guy on November 21, 2014 – 9:19 am -

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Take advantage of the new moon skies and glimpse this giant spiral, Andromeda.

It’s a great time to view Andromeda galaxy as the new moon brings darker skies on November 22.

Known to be the faintest celestial object that can be seen with the naked eye Andromeda, or M31, can be spotted in the northeastern evening skies. Look for the lopsided, W-shaped constellation, Cassiopeia, “the queen” as it points directly to the galaxy. Try to find a dark location, away from light pollution and to glimpse the faint, fuzzy patch measured to be at a brightness of 3.4-magnitude.

Use the constellation, Cassiopeia to point the way to find the Andromeda galaxy.

Use the constellation, Cassiopeia to point the way to find the Andromeda galaxy.

Viewers can easily see the 2.6 million light-year distant Andromeda by using binoculars or a small telescope within city limits. Through a scope, the galaxy can be seen as an elongated oval patch and two much smaller ovals beside it. These are dwarf elliptical galaxies that orbit the star-filled, spiral giant.

Andromeda is the largest of our neighbouring galaxies and has at least 300 billion suns, making it about three times larger than the Milky Way.

For more information about this or other celestial events, visit my National Geographic blog, StarStruck.


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Mercury Meets the Moon

Written by The Night Sky Guy on November 19, 2014 – 3:59 pm -

By dawn on Friday, November 21, the moon will have shrunk to a razor-thin crescent even closer to the southeast horizon and will park itself near the planet Mercury.
This will be a challenge for viewers since the pair will be less than ten degrees above the horizon 30 minutes before local sunrise. Best views will be from southern latitudes using binoculars to cut through dawn’s glare.
30 minutes before the sunrises, check the southeastern horizon and viewers can enjoy Mercury/Moon meeting.

30 minutes before the sunrises, check the southeastern horizon and viewers can enjoy Mercury/Moon meeting.

As the razor-thin moon shrinks to a razor-thin crescent and approaches the southeastern horizon, it will meet up with the planet Mercury.

Early risers will be treated to this pairing about 30 minutes before the sun rises on the morning of November 21. They will appear to be less than ten degrees above the horizon. Viewers can best see this event through binoculars from the southern latitudes.

For more information about these and other upcoming celestial events, visit my National Geographic blog, StarStruck.


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Moon and Spica

Written by The Night Sky Guy on November 18, 2014 – 3:50 pm -

Early risers on Wednesday, November 19, can look for the waning crescent moon in the low southeast sky at dawn next to the bright, blue-white star Spica.
Spica, the 250-light-year-distant lead member of the constellation Virgo (known as “the maiden”), will appear less than four degrees from the moon. That separation is smaller than the width of your three middle fingers at arm’s length.
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The moon pairs with Spica in the low southeastern sky in the dawn hours of November 19.

The moon will appear very close to the star Spica in the dawn of Wednesday, November 19.

The bright, blue-white star is the lead star of the constellation Virgo (or “the maiden”) and sits 250 light-year away from its crescent neighbour. They will appear to be less than four degrees apart – that’s smaller than the width of your three middle fingers at arm’s length.

For more information about these and other upcoming celestial events, visit my National Geographic blog, StarStruck.


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“7 Hours of Terror” for Rosetta spacecraft’s Philae lander

Written by The Night Sky Guy on November 11, 2014 – 5:19 pm -

"7 hours of terror" for the landing of Rosetta's lander Philae.

"7 hours of terror" for the landing of Rosetta's lander Philae.

Since August, the Rosetta spacecraft has been orbiting the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet which is 311 million miles (500 million kilometers) from Earth.

Now it’s washing-machine sized lander, Philae will be landing on the surface of the comet which has never before been attempted. This event happens November 12 at 10:35 am EST.

Rosetta has been spending the last few months looking for a suitable place to land on the surface and scientists have found a spot that is the least hazardous but with most scientific potential. The site known as Agilkia, named after an island in the river Nile in southern Egypt is at the “head” of the duck-shaped comet.

Philae is planned to drill into the comet and is thought to hold material left over from the origin of the solar system, some 4.5 billion years ago.

For more information about the Philae landing, check out my National Geographic article.


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Mercury by Morning, Mars by Night

Written by The Night Sky Guy on November 5, 2014 – 7:05 pm -

Early-bird sky-watchers looking toward the southeast about 45 minutes before sunrise on Thursday, November 6, can catch the innermost planet as it joins Spica, the lead star in the constellation Virgo, the Maiden.
The 250-light-year-distant star will appear to the right of the faint planet, separated by only 5 degrees, which is equal to about the width of three middle fingers held at arm’s length.
To catch this cosmic odd couple, make sure you find an observing locale that has a clear view toward the east and look about 15 degrees above the horizon. Binoculars should help in your hunt.
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Mercury will be close to Spica on Thursday November 6, but you'll have to be an early riser!

In the early morning hours of Thursday November 6, you can find Mercury close to the lead star of the Virgo constellation, Virgo.

Spot the 250-light-year-distant star and you will be able to find our innermost planet just to its left. These two celestial objects will only have 5 degrees of separation, that’s equivalent to the width of your three middle finger held at arm’s length.

To catch this coupling, make sure you find an observing locale that has a clear view toward the east and look about 15 degrees above the horizon. Binoculars should help in your hunt.

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Mars will help skywatcher find M22, a beautiful Globular Cluster on Thursday night.

If you’re not keen on getting up early, you can see Mars in coupling of its own. Just after nightfall, you can see our Red Neighbour sitting near a fuzzy beauty, Messier 22 (M22).

Composed of about 500 000 senior stars and sitting 10 400 light years away this globular cluster makes for a stunning sight. M22 will be just 1 degree away from our Red Planet, just scan your binoculars to the upper right of Mars and enjoy one of the one of the skies’ finest deep-sky treasures in the sagittarius constellation.

For more Night Sky Views, visit my National Geographic Blog – Star Struck.


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Mystery Object at Centre of Milky Way Explained

Written by The Night Sky Guy on November 4, 2014 – 6:28 pm -

For years astronomers have been puzzled about the nature of a giant blob of material heading towards the voracious black hole at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy, but now that mystery may have been finally solved.

A new study released this week analyzes new observations obtained this past summer when the weird object, dubbed G2, was supposed to collide with the black hole. But to the surprise of astronomers there was a very different kind of interaction they noticed.

Read the full story about all this galactic action on my Yahoo Canada News story.


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Partial Solar Eclipse for North American Skies

Written by The Night Sky Guy on October 22, 2014 – 5:11 pm -

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Check out this map for your location and see how much of the sun the moon's shadow will be biting away.

On late Thursday afternoon, North American skies will be graced with a most beautiful sight as the moon’s shadow appears to bite into the sun.

An eclipse of the sun occurs when the Earth, moon and sun line up. However, unlike a total eclipse where the entire face of the sun is covered up by the moon passing in between, on Thursday only part of the sun will be covered by the moon. Depending on where you are, anywhere from 18% to 81% of the sun will appear hidden from view.

For more details about this event click here for my Geekquinox article.

Be very careful and please do not look at the sun directly with the naked eye.  For safely viewing the eclipse, please consult my National Geographic article.


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Eye of Bull Watches Moon

Written by The Night Sky Guy on October 10, 2014 – 5:06 pm -

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On Saturday, October 11, the moon slides next to the bright orange star Aldebaran.

Also known as the Eye of the Bull, this orange giant star is located 68 light-years away but will appear only three degrees away from our natural satellite, which is equal to the width of your three middle fingers held together at arm’s length.

Views through binoculars will be particularly pretty as the moon will appear to lie right in the middle of the distinct V-shaped star cluster, the Hyades.


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Luna Looks Upon Sisters

Written by The Night Sky Guy on October 9, 2014 – 2:47 pm -

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As the gibbous moon wanes in the eastern sky on Friday, October 10, it can act as a guide to finding the Seven Sisters.

Nestled in the constellation, Taurus, the Bull, the Pleiades or Seven Sisters is an open star cluster that can be seen by the naked eye in suburban skies. Sitting about 400 light-years away, this deep-sky treasure appears to be a fuzzy patch to the naked eye, but with a pair of binoculars or a small telescope this tiny cloud turns into stunning jewels.

When you find the moon, look to the left to find this cluster just ten degrees away, equal to the width of your fist held at arm’s length.


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