The Sky Tonight Update: Feb. 11, Penumbral Lunar Eclipse

Penumbral Lunar Eclipse

This February 11, a penumbral lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the Earth’s partial shadow, or penumbra. During this type of eclipse the Moon will darken slightly but not completely. The eclipse will be visible throughout most of eastern South America, eastern Canada, the Atlantic Ocean, Europe, Africa, and western Asia.

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The Sky Tonight Update: Jan. 19, Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation

Mercury elongation

This January 19th, the planet Mercury reaches its greatest western elongation of 24.1 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the morning sky. Look for the planet low in the eastern sky just before sunrise.

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The Sky Tonight Update – Jan. 12, Venus at Greatest Eastern Elongation

Venus at Greatest Eastern Elongation

This January 12th, Tthe planet Venus reaches its greatest eastern elongation of 47.1 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Venus since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the evening sky.

Look for the bright planet in the western sky after sunset.

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Quadrantids Meteor Shower – January 3, 4

 The Quadrantids

The Quadrantids is an above average meteor shower averaging about 40 meteors per hour at its peak. It is thought to be produced by dust grains and particles left behind by an extinct comet known as 2003 EH1, first discovered in 2003.

The shower runs annually from January 1st through the 5th but it peaks this year on the night of the 3rd and morning of the 4th. Once the first quarter moon sets just after midnight it will leave the skies dark enough for a nice show. The best time and place to view this shower will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Bootes, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

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The Sky Tonight Update: Ursids Meteor Shower, Dec. 21-22 peak

The Ursids is a minor meteor shower producing about 5-10 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Tuttle, which was first discovered in 1790. The shower runs annually from December 17-25. It peaks this year on the night of the 21st and morning of the 22nd.

The second quarter moon will block many of the fainter meteors but if you are patient, you might still be able to catch a few of the brighter ones. Best viewing will be just after midnight from a dark location far away from city lights. The Meteors will appear to radiate from the constellation Ursa Minor, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

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The Sky Tonight Update: Supermoon #3, Dec. 14

December 14th will bring the third and last of what is known as the “supermoon.”  The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated.  This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Cold Moon because this is the time of year when the cold winter air settles in and the nights become long and dark.

The third supermoon has also been known as the Full Long Nights Moon and the Moon Before Yule. This Moon will be at its closest approach to the Earth and may look slightly larger and brighter than usual.

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The Sky Tonight Update: Geminids Meteor Shower, Dec. 13-14 peak

The Geminids is the king of the meteor showers. It is considered by many to be the best shower in the heavens, producing up to 120 multicolored meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by debris left behind by an asteroid known as 3200 Phaethon, which was discovered in 1982. The shower runs annually from December 7-17.

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The Great Red Spot is Changing Shape

great red spot

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is a swirling anticyclonic storm that was previously large enough to fit three Earths inside.  However, observations taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has revealed that this is changing, both in shape and size.

So why is Jupiter’s trademark feature beginning to downsize?

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INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION OVER BATON ROUGE

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Wed Aug 28, 7:58 PM 4 min 77° 36 above NW 11 above SE
Thu Aug 29, 8:46 PM < 1 min 10° 10 above SW 10 above SW
Fri Aug 30, 7:57 PM 3 min 20° 19 above WSW 11 above S

Tonight, Wednesday August 28, the International Space Station, ISS, will cross the Baton Rouge sky at 7:58pm for about 4 minutes.  If you have not ever seen the ISS move like a star across the sky it is well worth the effort.  Look for a faint object towards the northwest about 36 degrees above the horizon moving towards you.  It will move towards the southeast for about 4 minutes and the peak height in the sky will be 77 degrees which is almost over head.  As it travels towards you it will get brighter and it will dim as it passes until it fades from sight in the southeast at about 11 degrees above the horizon. 

Here is the link to find the ISS anywhere in the world. There is a link in this NASA site to sign up for email or sms text sent to let you know when the ISS will be over your location.

 

SUPER MOON Saturday

590x393_06201718_page Moona

“Coming up this weekend the moon will be full. To be precise, it will be full at Sunday morning at 7:32 EDT. Because of the time that the moon is full, it will basically appear to be just as full Saturday night as Sunday night. At the same time, the moon will make its closest approach to Earth (called lunar perigee) of 2013. Don’t believe the internet hype, the Moon will not appear drastically larger in the sky. The Moon will appear slightly bigger in the sky by a very small amount. It will be difficult to notice the difference without a comparison (see above image).

A new or full moon at 90% or greater of its closest perigee to Earth has been named a “SuperMoon” by astrologer Richard Nolle. This term has made it to the field of astronomy as well as the mainstream media and Richard readily gives credit to us here at AccuWeather Astronomy on Facebook for helping this occur.

Please visit Richard Nolle’s fascinating page by clicking here. His page is full of interesting information and I highly recommend it.

An extreme “Supermoon” is when the moon is full or new as well as at its 100% greater mean perigee (closest) distance to earth. By this definition, the Supermoon this weekend will be an extreme “Supermoon”. This Supermoon will pass 356,991 km away from the Earth. In comparison, the March 2011 Supermoon passed 356,575 km away and the average distance between the Earth and the Moon at any particular time is 384,400 kilometers.

A Supermoon is not a rare event. In fact, there are several Supermoons by definition each year. An extreme Supermoon is a rarer event, occurring about every 13 or 14 months. The next extreme Supermoon will be in August of 2014.”  Mark Paquette