The first total eclipse of the sun occurred earlier this month in Australia and stunned skywatchers. A solar eclipse occurs when the Earth, moon, and sun line up so that the moon’s shadow is cast on the Earth. A total solar eclipse occurs when the sun’s entire disk is covered by the moon. During an annular eclipse however, the new moon’s apparent diameter is smaller than the visible disk of the sun, making the covered sun appear for a few minutes as a striking annulus (ring)—otherwise known as the ring of fire.
Check out my photo gallery of the best images from this amazing eclipse at National Geographic News
Tags: solar eclipse
Posted in Solar System, Sun | No Comments »
In honor of its launch 23 years ago the Hubble Space Telescope snapped a breathtaking, never-before-seen view of one of the most photogenic cosmic vistas in the night sky.
Dubbed the Horsehead nebula because of its obvious resemblance to a steed or chess piece in profile, this dark cloud of gas and dust sits 1,500 light years from Earth in the winter constellation Orion and has been a favorite target for generations of backyard stargazers.
Read the rest of the story at National Geographic News
Tags: Horsehead nebula, Hubble
Posted in Space Exploration, Stargazing, stars | 1 Comment »
Check out some of the cool space news hitting the wire this past week on my weekly CTV News Channel interview.
Tags: news, TV
Posted in Solar System, Space Exploration, Stargazing | Comments Off
Skywatchers should get ready for some April showers but of a cosmic kind. The annual Lyrid meteor shower is set to peak overnight from April 21 into April 22, and for those that head out to dark skies away from city light pollution should be able to see as many as 15 to 20 shooting stars per hour if sky conditions hold up during peak time.
Get all your observing tips at my article on National Geographic News
Tags: Lyrids, meteor shower
Posted in Meteors, Solar System | Comments Off
If you have clear skies in your neck of the woods over the weekend of April 13th then step outside and look west for a beautiful pairing between the Moon and some of the brightest stars and planet in the night sky.
While conjunctions like thee are not rare by any means, they do make for a great opportunity to track down some celestial objects that otherwise may be a challenge to find for beginner stargazers. And for those more experienced navigating the heavens, this cosmic close encounter makes for a pretty photo op.
Read all the details about the Moon-planet-star event, including detailed star charts, at National Geographic News
Tags: Aldebaran, conjunction, Hyades star cluster, Jupiter, Pleiades, Taurus
Posted in Planets, Solar System, Stargazing, The Moon, stars | Comments Off
Skywatchers should be on the lookout for Northern Lights starting April 11th, Friday night into Sunday morning thanks to the most massive solar flare this year so far. The Sun threw off a huge cloud of charged particles a few days ago and it is expected to arrive sometime over the weekend of April 13th.
Latest NOAA forecast reports indicate there is a %60 chance of geomagnetic storms in the early morning hours of Saturday (April 13). The large sunspot group AR1719 is Earth-facing and is quite active still with 15% chances of it producing an x-class solar flare (strongest possible) in the next 24 hours. So this means there may be even stronger solar storms on the way soon. We will just have to wait and see what happens. Stay tuned…
Read the rest of my solar storm story at National Geographic news.
Tags: Auroras, CME, northern lights, solar clare
Posted in Auroras, Solar System, Sun | Comments Off
Another amazing example of the power of the internet and citizen science came to light this week when NASA announced that an online community of space geeks from Russia may have found the Soviet Mars 3 probe – which has been sitting silent on the surface of the Red Planet since 1971. Thanks to the super high resolution imagery from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, tantalizing new evidence of the old spacecraft’s hardware is clearly visible.
Read the rest of my story on this amazing discovery at National Geographic News
Tags: Mars, Mars 3 lander, NASA
Posted in Planets, Solar System, Space Exploration | Comments Off
Astronomers announced this week that they have witnessed a titanic explosion of a star where the light from the blast has taken more than 10 billion years to reach Earth. The faint, near-infrared speck of light from this ancient beacon, dubbed UDS10Wil, now pushes back the previous record-holder by 350 million light-years. The new-found supernova, along with seven other stellar blasts more than nine billion light-years out, is part of a three-year Hubble survey of faraway supernovae which will offer new clues as to the nature of dark energy.
One of my expert sources I interviewed for this story put this amazing discovery in perfect context by explaining it this way…
“If we step back from the scientific impact, just as a human being the idea is profound. This supernova exploded 10 billion years ago, 5 billion years before the Earth or Sun even existed. Another star was here, died, and from its ashes the Sun and Earth were formed. Life evolved, then humans, we developed telescopes, even space telescopes, and then used them to catch a few precious photons from this supernova that is older than anything we’ve ever known. You think dinosaur bones are old? The Grand Canyon? They are babies compared to these photons!“
- Andrew Howell, Astrophysicist at University of California at Santa Barbara.
Read all the details about this exciting new cosmic discovery that may help unlock some of the deepest mysteries about the Universe at National Geographic News.
Tags: Hubble, supernovae
Posted in Space Exploration, stars | Comments Off
What are some of the amazing facts about Titan and what challenges may await any future human explorers of this distant, frigid world? This past week Saturn’s largest moon was the subject of my segment on Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet show. Check out the spot below…
Tags: Daily Planet, Discovery Channel, Titan, TV
Posted in Planets, Solar System | Comments Off