Astronomy Picture of the Day always contains some
interesting information. Check it out daily!
Jupiter and the Beehive Cluster
The Beehive cluster is a tightly clustered
group of a few dozen stars. It's also known as M44 because
it was the 44th object on the French astronomer Messier's
list of sky objects. It is said that Messier made up his list
so that astronomers who were looking for comets would realize
that this was just another boring smudge in the sky and to
keep looking elsewhere. Now we know that Messier had catalogued
some of the most interesting objects in the sky. The Beehive
cluster is about 600 light years from the Earth. It was thought
to be a nebula until Galileo investigated it with his telescope.
Now, you will find it rewarding to look at with good binoculars
The Beehive cluster can just barely be seen
with the naked eye and you might be able to individual stars
through a pair of binoculars. Fortunately for us, in the first
week of April 2003, it will be much easier than usual to find
the cluster because it will be so near to Jupiter.
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you
can easily find Jupiter about 2/3 the way of from the Southern
horizon. It is the brightest "star" by far in the
area. If you hold your hand out at arm's length, the Beehive
cluster is just about the width of your little finger away
Take this opportunity to look
at the Moon and the inner planets which are clearly visible.
Use the charts below as a guide. I remember the first time
I saw the rings of Saturn through a small telescope! It was
an unbelievable sight! If you look at the Moon even through
a pair of binoculars you can see so clearly the mountains
and plains. You can get some very good binoculars and telescopes
Optics: The source for binoculars, spotting scopes, tripods
and accessories since 1986!
Here's where to look in the
northern hemisphere. The chart is for April 3rd but will be
useful for a few days more.
If you are in the southern hemisphere use
the chart below. The chart is for April 3rd but will be useful
for a few days more.
Philip's Moon Map
RICHARD L S TAYLOR
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Map revised edition (1996)
Philip's; ISBN: 0540012084
The Illustrated A Brief History of Time
by Stephen Hawking
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Hardcover - 248 pages Reissued Revised and
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Bantam Press; ISBN: 0593040597
NEWS! NOVA OPHIUCI 2002
A few days ago, Katsumi Haseda and Yuji Nakamura,
both of Japan, independently discovered a new nova in the
constellation of Ophiuchus.
Doug West of Kansas, USA measured the magnitude
of the nova to be 9.19. Click
here to see Dougs photograph of the nova.
October 11th: Aurora
A solar explosion on Tuesday
(Oct. 9th at 1110 UT) hurled a full-halo coronal mass ejection
toward Earth. The expanding cloud, which sped away from the
Sun traveling approximately 1000 km/s, could strike our planet's
magnetosphere as soon as Thursday, Oct. 11th. Sky watchers,
especially those living above geomagnetic latitude 50 degrees,
should remain alert for Northern Lights during the nights
ahead. The best time to spot auroras is usually around local
here for details.
OVER THE EASTERN USA.
There were widespread reports
of a fireball being seen over the north eastern part of the
United States on July 23. The fireball was probably caused
by a solitary fragment: either a small comet or asteroid (an
asteroid would be made of metal, while a comet consists of
frozen gases) 1 to 2 meters across and weighing about 30 metric
Objects of this size enter
the Earth's atmosphere about once a month, although rarely
over a populated area where so many can see it. Entries of
such large objects, unlike meteor showers, are a random occurrence
and there is no way to predict them.
On July 23rd hundreds of thousands
of people were looking when, unexpected, a fireball appeared
over the US east coast. It was 6:15 p.m. local time. The Sun
hadn't set, but onlookers had no trouble seeing the fireball
in broad daylight. Witnesses from Canada to Virginia agreed
that the colorful fireball was brighter than a Full Moon,
and some saw a smoky trail lingering long after it had passed.
Jim Richardson of the American
Meteor Society created this July 23, 2001, fireball sighting
map. Red stars denote witness locations; the tail on each
star points in the direction that the fireball was spotted.
Blue stars denote sonic booms. The green rectangle and arrows
indicate the approximate trajectory of the fireball.
Did you see the July 23 fireball?
If so, click here
to fill in a form with your report. They can use your information
to refine the trajectory of the meteor and possibly pinpoint
the location of meteoritic debris.
More photos and a further
story can be obtained by clicking here.
Seed pods from a commercial
gardening experiment aboard the International Space Station
are back on our planet. The far-out pods will liven up Earth-bound
biology classrooms and may hold the key to long-term habitation
International Space Station may be the most technologically advanced
house ever built, but at the moment it lacks something found in every
home on Earth -- a front door! But not for long. Later this month the
space shuttle is slated to deliver a 6-ton airlock to the ISS. US-suited
astronauts will finally be able to cross the threshold of their own
doorway to space for critical assembly and maintenance tasks -- and
for the most thrilling experience of all: spacewalks. This story includes
animated tours of the new airlock and a movie showing how the station's
robotic arm will install the new chamber. Click
here for the FULL STORY!
On June 21st, Mars was closer to the
Earth than at any time in the last 12 years. Click here
for more details.
If you live in the northern hemisphere
you can see it as a prominent red object low in the sky above the southern
horizon. If you live in the southern hemisphere, it will be gloriously
visible high overhead.
Here, you can see the Astronomy
Picture of the Day from NASA. And have a look at this
picture of the Space Station from the Shuttle Endeavour! Click on
the image for information on the International Space Station.
Did the Moon ever split in two? Read
story from the twelfth century!
A magnificent aurora display, resulting
from the increase in sunspot activity and coronal ejection, has recently
taken place. Resultant geomagnetic storms in Earth's atmosphere are
giving brilliant displays of aurora in latitudes where such sights are
a rarity. Watch the skies, wherever you are! The best time is usually
at around your local midnight, but it's worth looking shortly after
sunset too. Read about Nasa's analysis of "cannibal
sunspot in 10 years, and still growing, is covering an area of the
Sun equivalent to the total surface area of 13 Earths!
Perched on the surface of asteroid
433 Eros, NASA's NEAR spacecraft is beaming back measurements of gamma-rays
leaking from the space rock's dusty soil. Find
out what scientists hope to learn about Eros, which might be a real-life
planetesimal from the dawn of the solar system.
Venus is getting brighter as it comes
closer to Earth, and it is truly a fiery planet. These latest pictures
from NASA will bring it into focus.
Here's an astonishing first view of
Magnetic Tail streaming out in space towards the Sun.
Is there Life on Mars? Or was there
once? Scientists have discovered curious chains of magnetic crystals
on a meteorite
from Mars which may indicate ancient Martian microbes.
Or is there evidence of fossils on
Mars? Click here to see news of
layers of sedimentation on the Red Planet.
Does lightning strike twice? It seems
that 250 million years ago, an asteroid may have collided with Earth
just like the one that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. The full
story is here.