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.