Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Orion Nebula Messier 42

the orion nebula
Originally uploaded by DaveAW89
The Orion Nebula (also known as Messier 42, M42, or NGC 1976) is a diffuse nebula situated south of Orion's Belt. It is one of the brightest nebulae, and is visible to the naked eye in the night sky. M42 is located at a distance of 1,344 ± 20 light years and is the closest region of massive star formation to Earth.

It was a little bit of hunting finding the Orion Nebula since my finder found the belt, but it's still not quite dialed to perfection. But, there it was (at least I think that's what we saw). Four stars in the middle of this cloud. I cannot wait to be out there when there is no moonlight.

Oh! And, yes, I went over to Sirius. Very Cool!!! Like a spotlight with 4 points coming off of it with the same Wide Field 30mm lens.

What would be the single best EP to really get me into the heart of the Orion Nebula, or others..? A zoom, perhaps?

And, the Moon looked fantastic tonight, as well!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Dark Side of the Moon

The Dark Side of the Moon, well not the side that cannot ever be seen from Earth, but the rest of the moon when it's a crescent. Not to be confused with the Pink Floyd album of the same name.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Green Comet approaching Earth

APPROACHING COMET: Green comet 103P/Hartley 2 is approaching Earth for a close encounter on Oct. 20th. At that time, the comet will be only 11 million miles (0.12 AU) from our planet and should be dimly visible to the naked eye from dark sky sites. It already looks great through backyard telescopes.

NASA's Deep Impact/EPOXI spacecraft is en route to this comet for close-up studies and a daring flyby on Nov. 4th.

Periodic comet 103P/Hartley 2 is classed as a young, dwarf comet, with a nucleus roughly 1.14 kilometers across. It belongs to the Jupiter family of comets (comets with periods less than 20 years). The comet was discovered in 1986. Although it then had an orbital period of 6.3 years, an analysis of its orbit reveals the period had been longer in the recent past. During the early decades of the 20th century, the orbital period had been 9.3 years. A close approach to Jupiter in August 1947 (0.22 AU) reduced the period to 7.9 years, while another close approach during April 1971 (0.09 AU) reduced the period to 6.1 years. The comet has been seen at every return since its discovery. The 2010 return is exceptional, as the comet will pass 0.12 AU from Earth on October 20. The Deep Impact space craft will pass about 1000 kilometers from the comet on November 4.

Comet 103P/Hartley 2 will pass 0.12AU from Earth, a mere 11 million miles in October of this year. The near approach allowing even a modest comet to become quite bright. Predictions are that the comet will be brighter than 5th magnitude, easily visible to the unaided eye from a dark site.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Biggest Saturnian Moons

Biggest Saturnian Moons
Originally uploaded by NASAJPL
Biggest Saturnian Moons

A darkly defined Rhea passes before the fuzzy orb of Titan in this Cassini view of Saturn's two largest moons.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Northern_skies full moon

There are loads of pictures of the full moon available and with simple instructions any amateur astronomy follower can make their own but this one is particularly evocative.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

WISE Captures the Unicorn's Rose

A new cosmic image taken by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Explorer (WISE) shows the Rosette nebula located within the constellation Monoceros, or the Unicorn.

This flower-shaped nebula, also known by the less romantic name NGC 2237, is a huge star-forming cloud of dust and gas in our Milky Way galaxy.

We're just blogging this at astronomy for beginners because it's such a beautiful image.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fireball on Jupiter

FIREBALL ON JUPITER:  An amateur astronomer in Japan has video-recorded a fireball on Jupiter.  This marks the third time in only 13 months that amateur astronomy buffs have detected signs of something hitting the giant planet.  Will the latest impact leave behind a visible cloud of debris? .

SPACE STATION and SPACE PLANE FLYBYS: This is a good week for satellite watchers in the USA and Canada.  Both the International Space Station and the US Air Force X-37B space plane are making a series of favorable passes over North American towns and cities.  The spacecraft are easy to find using our Simple Satellite Tracker--an app for iPhones and Android.  Visit for downloads and more information.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Perseid Meteor Shower Peak August


The annual Perseid meteor shower is underway. Earth is passing through a wide stream of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, and each time a fleck of comet dust hits Earth's atmosphere - flash! - there is a meteor. Forecasters say the shower will peak on Thursday, August 12th, and Friday, August 13th. You can see Perseids flitting across the sky at any time between about 10 pm on Thursday evening and sunrise on Friday morning. Observers who get away from city lights can expect to count dozens of meteors per hour, especially during the dark hours before dawn.

BONUS: If you go outside a little early on Thursday evening, around sunset, you'll see a beautiful gathering of planets in the sunset sky--Venus, Mars, Saturn and the crescent Moon. It's a nice way to start a meteor watch.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Saturn's small moons Beyond Rings

Petite Pair Beyond Rings
Originally uploaded by NASAJPL
Two of Saturn's small moons can be seen orbiting beyond the planet's thin F ring in this Cassini spacecraft image

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Prometheus Between Rings

Prometheus Between Rings
Originally uploaded by NASAJPL
Saturn's A ring appears bright compared to the thin F ring, which is shepherded by the moon Prometheus, in this view from the Cassini spacecraft.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

WISE 'First-Light' Image

WISE 'First-Light' Image
Originally uploaded by NASAJPL
This infrared snapshot of a region in the constellation Carina near the Milky Way was taken shortly after NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) ejected its cover. The "first-light" picture shows thousands of stars and covers an area three times the size of the moon. WISE will take more than a million similar pictures covering the whole sky.