November 25, 2013 |
Comet ISON's day of reckoning is nearly upon us. On Thursday -- Thanksgiving Day -- the comet will reach perihelion, its closest approach to the sun. Whether it will survive the blistering heat of this encounter, and the powerful pull of the sun's gravity, or disintegrate into a shower of fragments is still unclear. Regardless of what happens, the journey has been captivating. "We are all standing side by side as we witness a complete scientific mystery unfold before us," astronomer Karl Battams wrote on NASA's Comet ISON Observing Campaign blog . "We have absolutely no idea if ISON will survive past the sun or not, and how it might look in our December night skies, if it ever gets that far. " ISON's journey toward the sun has been epic.
November 14, 2013 |
It's easy to spot heavenly bodies in SoCal -- just check out the beach or your local gym -- but heavenly bodies of the celestial kind, well, not so much. That's where Joshua Tree National Park and its dark night skies can help. It is partnering with Celestron Telescopes , NASA, American Park Network and the Joshua Tree National Park Assn . to host a stargazing event for the public on Nov. 23 from 6:30 to 10 p.m. As part of "My Night Sky," stargazers will learn about the night sky from local experts and use a variety of telescopes from the most basic to high-powered computerized models.
August 16, 2013 |
This week an amateur Japanese astronomer discovered a new nova shining in the night sky, and experts say it is getting brighter by the hour. If you are familiar with the constellations and can read a star map, you can try to find it for yourself. The newly discovered nova is just north of the constellation Delphinus. As of Friday afternoon , it was a magnitude 4.4, which means it is just on the edge of vision in a somewhat light-polluted suburb, said Alan MacRobert, a senior editor at Sky & Telescope magazine.
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June 22, 2013 |
The largest and brightest full moon of 2013 will light up the sky this weekend when it passes the closest point to the Earth in its elliptical orbit. The so-called supermoon will reach its closest distance to the Earth at exactly 4:32 a.m. PDT Sunday, but both Saturday night and Sunday morning will offer good opportunities to observe the spectacle, according to NASA. The supermoon will be up to 14% larger and 30% brighter than a typical full moon. When the moon reaches its perigee, it will be just 221,824 miles away from Earth -- or 16,176 miles closer than usual.
May 27, 2013 |
As you head home from the barbecue or the beach Monday evening, take a moment for a little planet gazing. Jupiter, Mercury and Venus form a close triangle in the night sky Monday, and they shine brightly enough that even light pollution from a city like Los Angeles won't get in the way of their visibility. To find the planetary trio, wait 45 minutes after the sun has set. You will need an unobstructed view of the Western night sky. Look for the planets low in the sky, just above where the sun has set. You can find a map of where the planets will be in the sky here . PHOTOS: Awesome images from space Jupiter and Venus will be shining brightly, respectively making up the left- and right-hand points of the base of this planetary triangle.
April 27, 2013 |
Saturn is having a moment, and you won't want to miss it. The ringed planet -- arguably the most beautiful in the solar system -- will reach opposition on Saturday, making this weekend an optimal time to see it in the night sky. When a planet is in opposition, it is exactly opposite the sun as seen from Earth. So this weekend, when the sun sets in the west, Saturn will rise in the east, and when the sun is farthest below the horizon, Saturn will reach its highest point above the horizon.