November 26, 2014

Astro-Event(s): A Solstice, a Meteor Shower and a Bizarre Transit.

The Winter Solstice… here comes the Sun!

(Credit: Art Explosion).

T’was the night before Christmas, and no doubt dreams of high tech astro-gear is dancing thru the head of many a star stricken astronomer out there. But while you’re awaiting those astro-gifts, the universe marches on. [Read more...]

Astro-Events: Of Comets and Meteor Showers.

Locating the Orionid radiant; (Photo/graphic by Author).

Early October saw one for the record books, as the obscure Draconid meteors put on a show for northern hemisphere observers topping a zenithal hourly rate of 338 ±15 per hour centered on October 8th, 20:04 UT. While not quite approaching storm levels, that’s the most impressive showing we’ve had from any meteor shower yet this century… the Draconids may produce once again in October 2018, and then we’ll have to wait ‘til the early 2030’s for the Leonids to ramp up again… incidentally, the Leonids, Draconids and the long defunct Andromedids are some of the only meteor showers that have historically approached storm intensity, usually informally defined as a ZHR ?1,000. [Read more...]

Object of the Week; Gamma Arietis.

Looking East about two hours after sunset. (Created in Redshift 7 & Paint).

Looking East about two hours after sunset. (Created in Redshift 7 & Paint).

Double stars are often overlooked as astronomical targets, but tend to hold up well under light polluted, urban skies. I often show folks bright doubles at star parties to great effect, and a mental vocabulary of about a dozen or so can add to the usual crowd pleasers such as the Moon and bright planets. One of my favorite fall targets is Gamma Arietis, in the constellation Aries, the Ram. [Read more...]