The Best Time To See August’s Perseid Meteor Shower

perseid meteor shower

For those people living in the Northern Hemisphere, August is the month to enjoy the Perseid Meteor Shower.  However, this year many skywatchers will be facing a mean adversary in their attempt to see this annual spectacle:  the bright presence of the Moon.  But don’t fret, there’s still some windows of opportunity for you to catch a few shooting stars.

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Once You Eat One Planet You Can’t Stop

planet being consumed by sun

Recently, at a press conference at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society, Gongjie Li of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics predicted the death of two exoplanets.   “As far as we know, this is the first time two known exoplanets in a single system have a predicted ‘time of death,'” she said.  The two planets she’s talking about, Kepler-56b and Kepler-56c, are predicted to be swallowed by their star in 130 million and 155 million years, respectively.

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A Secret Ocean Has Been Discovered

Mega Ocean

Yes, the oceans are quite large.  You wouldn’t want to get lost in one.  But did you know that there was a recent discovery of an ocean reservoir that has a volume three-times larger than all the other oceans combined?  This finding is making scientists rethink the origins of Earth’s water supply.

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Astronomers Discover new Mega-Earth

Mega-Earth

Five Hundred and Sixty light years away, in a constellation called “Draco,” circling an old star named “Kepler-10,” resides a recently discovered planet that is twice the size and 17 times heavier than our own Earth.  This so called “Mega-Earth” was announced on Monday at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Boston.

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Scientists Tell Congress We’ll Find Alien Life In Our Lifetime

SETI finding alien life

How great would it be to wake up one morning and find out that Scientists have finally discovered proof of intelligent alien life out beyond our planet?  I’ve often wonder if I’d live to see the day when the answer to the question “are we alone in the galaxy” is finally answered.  Well, recently at a House Committee on Science, Space and Technology hearing Wednesday (May 21), Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute gave us a timeline for when this question might be answered when he said, “”It’s unproven whether there is any life beyond Earth.  I think that situation is going to change within everyone’s lifetime in this room.”

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SPECTACULAR METEOR SHOWER……. MAYBE.

North America is predicted to have the best view of a possible new meteor shower from Comet 209P/LINEAR Friday night through Saturday morning (May 23-24, 2014). (Deborah Boyd-EarthSky)

We have had some astronomical disappointments of late but we might just see a really nice meteor shower this Friday night into Saturday morning. 

Where to see the Camelopardalid meteor showerMeteors from the May 24th’s early-morning display can appear anywhere in the sky, but they will appear to originate from a point (called the radiant) in the constellation Camelopardalis, the Giraffe. Stars are plotted for 2 a.m. local daylight time as seen from mid-northern latitudes. Sky & Telescope illustration.

I plan on being up with my Nikon and mosquito spray to hopefully get some nice shots of the unexpected astronomical display.   What a nice late spring surprise and who knows, maybe an nice annual event. I will share photos here on Saturday… if all goes well.

Never Before Seen: New Moon Forming in Saturn’s Rings

New Moon forming in Saturn's rings

For the first time ever, scientists are witnessing the formation of a new moon as it forms within Saturn’s outer rings.  According to a recent report, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft recently discovered this icy formation, currently being called “Peggy,” on April 15th as it disturbed the smooth lines of the ring system.  But will it grow any larger, leave the ring system, or will it fizzle out and break apart?

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SpaceX-3 Commercial Resupply Services flight and Grasshopper test

 

 

 

Mission: SpaceX-3 Commercial Resupply Services flight

Launch Vehicle: Falcon

Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

Launch Date: April 14, 4:58 p.m. EDT

 

NASA’s International Space Station resupply mission includes the legs for RobonautOPALS Lasercomm experiment and much more.  I think, however, the most exciting and dramatic portion of the flight is the possible test of  the ‘Grasshopper’ reusablility system.

Read the detailed story of the SpaceX Grasshopper  program.

Grasshopper Demonstration Flight

Reusability: The Key To Making Human Life Multi-Planetary

(SpaceX)

 

The launch will be webcast live, with commentary from SpaceX corporate headquarters in Hawthorne, CT at spacex.com/webcast and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at www.nasa.gov/nasatv.

For a detailed description of the mission timeline, overview and SpaceX go to the SpaceX press kit. This is a wonderful resource.