July 27, 2017

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...]

Astro-Event: A Very Old Moon Pairs with Venus.

As viewed from North America the moring of Novenebr 5th. (Created by the author in Starry Night).

As viewed from North America the morning of November 5th. (Created by the author in Starry Night).

 

     This week’s astronomy challenge ties in two potential visual challenges: sighting a very slender crescent Moon and a daylight occultation of Venus. A grouping of the next two brightest objects in the sky after the Sun is always a treat; the challenge comes from the fact that the celestial pairing will be very close to a brightening dawn horizon. Venus just passed inferior conjunction on October 28th; it will sport a 2% illuminated crescent about 60” seconds in size at magnitude -4.2. The Moon, meanwhile, will be about 1% illuminated and reaches New on November 6th at 04:52 Universal Time. [Read more...]

Review: The Transits of Venus by William Sheehan & John Westfall.

 
Out from Prometheus Books!
Out from Prometheus Books!
 

In less than a year’s time, an event will happen that none of us will live to see again; a transit across the face of the Sun by the planet Venus. In this regard, this week’s review of the book The Transits of Venus by William Sheehan and John Westfall looks at the history of this rare phenomenon. Published in 2004 by Prometheus Books, this work serves as essential reading covering the history, understanding, and what to expect when viewing a transit of Venus. These rare spectacles occur in eight year pairs spaced over longer 121.5 to 105.5 year intervals; [Read more...]