Comet PANSTARRS, Where And When To See Sungrazing Comet In March

February 26, 2013 in Space

Comet Pan-STARRS is nearly here. The sun grazing comet, coming all the way from the Oort Cloud, is expected to put on its potentially best display on the evening of March 12th or 13th. It should appear visible to the naked eye in the Western evening sky (as shown below), right next to the crescent moon. The comet is now predicted to end up ‘only’ as bright as the stars of the Big Dipper, though possibly with a tail visible to the naked eye. Because of how close the comet will be traveling to the Sun, the only time to see it will likely be during the twilight.

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You may be able to faintly make out the comet as early as March 5th, once it nears the plant Mercury. Regardless of how bright Comet PANSTARRS ends up, in November Comet ISON is expected to greatly surpass it. Potentially becoming brighter than the Full Moon, and visible even in broad daylight.

For those in the Southern Hemisphere, Comet PANSTARRS is already visible with the naked eye. Though not very bright yet. You should be able to make it out, close to the horizon, before dawn and after sunset. You can find it currently moving through the constellation of Grus the Crane.

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Astronomy 2013: Comet ISON, Meteor Showers, Eclipses, Comet PANSTARRS, Supermoon, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, etc

February 3, 2013 in Space

2013 is going to be an amazing year for amateur astronomers. Two major comets, Comet ISON and Comet PANSTARRS, will be visible. Some great meteor showers are expected, a couple of solar and lunar eclipses, the “Dance of the Planets”, and a very bright Mercury in February and very bright Venus in December are expected.

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The list below has everything that you need to enjoy the year; the best dates, times, and places to observe from.

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Meteor Showers 2013 Dates And Times: Perseids, Geminids, Lyrids, Leonids, Orionids, Quadrantids, Etc

December 28, 2012 in Space

Meteor showers can be spectacular to watch. Year round there are some great displays, from the Perseids in August, to the Geminids in December, to the Quadrantids in January. The peak displays and intensities vary somewhat by year though, so knowing when to watch and what to expect can be hard to know. So I’ve created this guide to what should be the best meteor showers of 2013.

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Doomsday Solar Flares 20 Times Stronger Than Any Ever Known From The Sun Are Possible, One Likely Hit The Earth In 774 AD Research Finds

December 1, 2012 in Space

The Sun may be capable of producing solar flares at least 10-20 times stronger than anything observed in modern times, according to new research. This follows on the heels of recent research done using NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope that observed Sun-like stars releasing solar flares 10,000 times greater than any yet observed from our Sun.

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Back in 774-775 AD something caused a significant spike in the atmospheric carbon-14 levels observed in tree rings from that time period. Carbon-14 (14C) is a form of carbon that is created from high-energy radiation hitting the Earth’s upper atmosphere, where it converts nitrogen-14 into 14C. This is then taken up by plants through photosynthesis.

The 14C spike was discovered earlier this year in research being done on tree rings in Japanese cedars dating from 774–75. The researchers were unable to come up with an explanation for the 14C spike, all of the possible explanations seemed very unlikely.

But Adrian Melott, a physicist at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, and lead author of the new study, says “that the Japanese team made a miscalculation in ruling out one of these possibilities — a giant solar storm.”

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Rogue Extrasolar Planet Discovered, Free-Floating Planet Discovered Only 100 Light Years Away

November 16, 2012 in Space

A rogue free-floating planet, completely unattached to any star has been found by researchers working at the ESO’s Very Large Telescope and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. This is the first confirmed observation of a planet wandering throughout space without a parent star, though such planets have long been theorized to exist in great quantities throughout the universe.

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This is also the closest such free-floating planet candidate yet discovered, at only about 100 light-years away. Because it is somewhat close and there are no bright stars located near it, researchers have actually been able to study its atmosphere in very great detail.

“Free-floating planets are planetary-mass objects that roam through space without any ties to a star. Possible examples of such objects have been found before, but without knowing their ages, it was not possible for astronomers to know whether they were really planets or brown dwarfs — ‘failed’ stars that lack the bulk to trigger the reactions that make stars shine.”

But the new object, currently named CFBDSIR2149, has changed that. The planet seems to be emerging from a nearby stream of young stars called the AB Doradus Moving Group.

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