A monster “tornado” big enough to swallow a hundred Earths has been spied on the sun, according to astronomers who analyzed recent images from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. Known as solar prominences, such tornado-like structures have been observed on the sun for decades. But the latest solar twister is one of the biggest yet seen—and likely the first to be filmed in high-resolution at multiple wavelengths.
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Sometimes some of the more interesting sights in the heavens are not natural but artificial. High flying satellites come to mind at first but rocket trails also make for impressive objects too. That’s exactly what happened this week.
After many delays NASA shot off 5 unmanned rockets off the east coast of North America early Tuesday in the hopes of gaining a better understanding of the dynamics of the upper atmosphere. It appears to not only have been a scientific success but also a great photo op for skywatchers too.
Read the rest of my story at National Geographic News.
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In Montreal, Canada, where I am based skies are about 60% cloudy so chances are usually that I miss an astronomical event but this week I have been blessed with some clear skies and managed to catch at least some of the planet-moon show going on in the western sky at sunset. Here are a couple of my attempts at capturing the cosmic beauty of the Venus-moon conjunction of March 26, 2012.
Tags: conjunction, Earthshine, Jupiter, Venus
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Throughout March the brightest planets in the heavens, Venus and Jupiter, have been putting on a great planetary play high in the west just after sunset. A couple of weeks ago they came stunningly close to each other – appearing side by side in the sky, and now as they slowly drift apart they have a grand finale in store for skywatcher- with the moon joining in on the fun too!
This cosmic get-together is a great opportunity not only to snap some stunning photos but also to teach kids about the universe around us. And if you have a telescope hanging around, then by all means take it out and point it at these planets. The moon will act as a convenient guidepost if you have never been able before to find Venus or Jupiter. And believe me the views are awesome with the moons and clouds of Jupiter easily visible through any sized telescope
To know where and when to get the best views of this sky event from March 25 to 27 read the rest of my article at National Geographic News.
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If you have been watching the early evening skies at all in the last few weeks you probably noticed the two superbright ‘stars’ in the west are drawing closer together by the day. Two of the most brilliant planets in our solar system, Venus and Jupiter, are about to get a lot more cozy in the heavens.
The main event will be from March 12 to 15 when the two worlds will come closest together in the sky.
Tags: Jupiter, Venus
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The Red Planet is making its closest approach to Earth this week so this means it is the best time for skywatchers to get out their telescopes and view surface features on the planet’s disk.
Mars is rising in the east after sunset and riding high in the south by midnight making it an opportune time to watch details like sand storms and polar caps.
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