Floating in Space



On Thursday night, March 25, many people may look up at the sky and ask the question, “What’s that bright star next to the moon?”
The answer for Thursday night is Mars, but that answer changes night by night as the moon travels along the ecliptic, the path the sun, moon and planets follow across the sky. If you ask the question again on Monday night, March 29, the answer will be the ringed planet Saturn.
Such conjunctions of the moon and planets are regular reminders of how rapidly the moon moves across the sky.
Mars was in opposition to the Sun on Jan. 29, when it appeared 14 arcseconds in diameter, 1/120 of the diameter of the moon. Two months later, it is much farther away, and has shrunk to only 10 arcseconds in diameter.
This will be your last chance to get a good look at Mars until it approaches the Earth again in 2012 [see more Mars photos].
The sky these spring evenings presents a striking contrast between its western half, filled with the bright stars and constellations of winter, and its eastern half, with Regulus the only bright star. Mars sits in solitary splendor in Cancer, one of the most insignificant zodiac constellations, just above the plane of the Milky Way.
But there is much lurking beyond the dim stars of spring, for we are entering the realm of the galaxies. The constellation Leo alone contains five of the brightest galaxies in Charles Messier’s famous 18th century catalog of deep sky objects.
When we look towards Leo, we are looking above the plane of our Milky Way galaxy at the depths of intergalactic space, unhindered by the clouds of dust and gas which fill our galaxy.
Images - Mars: The Red Planet
Video Show: Bad Astronomy with Phil Plait
More Night Sky Features from Starry Night Education
This article was provided to SPACE.com by Starry Night Education, the leader in space science curriculum solutions.
Original Story: Last Chance to Get a Good Look at Mars Until 2012
SPACE.com offers rich and compelling content about space science, travel and exploration as well as astronomy, technology, business news and more. The site boasts a variety of popular features including our space image of the day and other space pictures,space videos, Top 10s, Trivia, podcasts and Amazing Images submitted by our users. Join our community, sign up for our free newsletters and register for our RSS Feeds today!

On Thursday night, March 25, many people may look up at the sky and ask the question, “What’s that bright star next to the moon?”

The answer for Thursday night is Mars, but that answer changes night by night as the moon travels along the ecliptic, the path the sun, moon and planets follow across the sky. If you ask the question again on Monday night, March 29, the answer will be the ringed planet Saturn.

Such conjunctions of the moon and planets are regular reminders of how rapidly the moon moves across the sky.

Mars was in opposition to the Sun on Jan. 29, when it appeared 14 arcseconds in diameter, 1/120 of the diameter of the moon. Two months later, it is much farther away, and has shrunk to only 10 arcseconds in diameter.

This will be your last chance to get a good look at Mars until it approaches the Earth again in 2012 [see more Mars photos].

The sky these spring evenings presents a striking contrast between its western half, filled with the bright stars and constellations of winter, and its eastern half, with Regulus the only bright star. Mars sits in solitary splendor in Cancer, one of the most insignificant zodiac constellations, just above the plane of the Milky Way.

But there is much lurking beyond the dim stars of spring, for we are entering the realm of the galaxies. The constellation Leo alone contains five of the brightest galaxies in Charles Messier’s famous 18th century catalog of deep sky objects.

When we look towards Leo, we are looking above the plane of our Milky Way galaxy at the depths of intergalactic space, unhindered by the clouds of dust and gas which fill our galaxy.

This article was provided to SPACE.com by Starry Night Education, the leader in space science curriculum solutions.

SPACE.com offers rich and compelling content about space science, travel and exploration as well as astronomy, technology, business news and more. The site boasts a variety of popular features including our space image of the day and other space pictures,space videos, Top 10s, Trivia, podcasts and Amazing Images submitted by our users. Join our community, sign up for our free newsletters and register for our RSS Feeds today!

Reblogged from inothernews
inothernews:

TO INFINITY… The space shuttle Endeavour lifted off in yesterday’s early morning hours from Launch Pad 39A in Kennedy Space Center, Florida, USA, bound for the International Space Station (ISS). A night launch, useful for reaching the space station easily during some times of the year, frequently creates vivid launch imagery. The shuttle, as pictured above, is framed by an enormous but typical exhaust plume ejected as the shuttle’s powerful rockets began lifting the two million kilogram space bus into Earth orbit. Endeavour’s mission, labeled STS-130, includes the delivery of the Tranquility module to the space station. Tranquility will provide extra room for space station astronauts and includes a large circular set of windows designed to bestow vastly improved views of the Earth, the night sky, and the space station itself.  (Photo: NASA)

inothernews:

TO INFINITY… The space shuttle Endeavour lifted off in yesterday’s early morning hours from Launch Pad 39A in Kennedy Space Center, Florida, USA, bound for the International Space Station (ISS). A night launch, useful for reaching the space station easily during some times of the year, frequently creates vivid launch imagery. The shuttle, as pictured above, is framed by an enormous but typical exhaust plume ejected as the shuttle’s powerful rockets began lifting the two million kilogram space bus into Earth orbit. Endeavour’s mission, labeled STS-130, includes the delivery of the Tranquility module to the space station. Tranquility will provide extra room for space station astronauts and includes a large circular set of windows designed to bestow vastly improved views of the Earth, the night sky, and the space station itself.  (Photo: NASA)

Venus and Jupiter kiss

Venus and Jupiter will kiss. Too bad it’s not on Valentines day!

Feb. 16 – Venus and Jupiter Get Together

Like two ships passing in the twilight, Venus and Jupiter come within about 0.5-degrees of each other this evening. Jupiter is heading toward the sun, while Venus is moving away from the sun. This would normally be a very striking sight, but unfortunately, this conjunction takes place with the two planets just 9 degrees east of the sun – probably too near to it to make a definite sighting. If you would still like to give it a try, then – immediately after sunset – concentrate on that part of the sky just above and to the left of where the sun has just set. Using binoculars sweep around this part of the sky; Venus (magnitude -3.8) will be sitting just below and to the left of Jupiter (magnitude -2.0).

Start off 2010 like Shooting Star!

Happy New Year, the first meteor shower of 2010 ’ Quadrantids’ peaks January 3-4

Quadrantid will peak the night of January 3-4. The point from where the Quadrantid meteors appear to radiate is located within the constellation Bootes (look towards North). Quadrantids have blue fast traces that could be seen mainly during the nights of January 1 through January 5.

Best viewing window is early morning of January 4, between 2 AM and until dawn. The Quadrantids have a narrow peak window limited to an hour where an average of 40 meteors per hour. 

The nights before and after the peak will have similar, or close, number of visible meteors. You need to find a clear spot, away as possible from light pollution, and hope for a clear sky. 
Quadrantids Meteor Shower is visible in northern hemisphere only.

Get your ‘10 on!

BLUE MOON ON NEW YEARS EVEIt happens only once in a blue moon — and scientists say a blue moon is exactly what we’ll see in the skies this New Year’s Eve.
Don’t expect an azure glow over our lunar satellite, however. The term “blue moon” simply refers to the second full moon in a calendar month, something that hasn’t happened on a New Year’s Eve for nearly 20 years, NASA says.
"December 1990 ended with a blue moon, and many New Year’s Eveparties were themed by the event,” said Professor Philip Hiscock of the department of folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland, in Canada. “It was a lot of fun.”
Most months have just one full moon, because the 29.5-day cycle of the moon matches up pretty well with the length of calendar months. Occasionally, there will be two full moons in a month, something that happens about every 2½ years, NASA says.
But a blue moon on December 31 is rare.

MOON MONIKERS

The Farmers’ Almanac lists these Algonquin Indian names for the full moon of each month: January: Wolf MoonFebruary: Snow MoonMarch: Worm MoonApril: Pink MoonMay: Flower MoonJune: Strawberry MoonJuly: Buck MoonAugust: Sturgeon MoonSeptember: Corn MoonOctober: Harvest MoonNovember: Beaver MoonDecember: Cold Moon Source: www.farmersalmanac.com RELATED TOPICS
New Year’s 
NASA 
Cultural History 
Elvis Presley crooned about it when he sang the old Rodgers and Hart song “Blue Moon,” in which he stood alone without a dream in his heart or a love of his own.
He struck a more hopeful tone in another tune, singing about his love returning to his arms “When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again.” He also covered Bill Monroe’s bluegrass classic, “Blue Moon of Kentucky.”
It is possible for the moon to have a cerulean hue, NASA says, but that’s sometimes caused by fine dirt circulating in the Earth’s atmosphere or the dark blue tone of the sky.
A blue moon hasn’t always meant the second full moon in a month. Hundreds of years ago, it simply meant “never” or “absurd,” Hiscock said.
"The phrase ‘blue moon’ has been around a long time, well over 400 years, but during that time its meaning has shifted," he said. "I have counted six different meanings which have been carried by the term, and at least four of them are still current today. That makes discussion of the term a little complicated."
When the Indonesian volcano Krakatoa erupted in 1883, it put so much dust in the atmosphere that the moon actually appeared blue — an event so unusual that the term “once in a blue moon” was coined, according to NASA’s National Space Science Data Center. The effect lasted for almost two years, Hiscock said.
Full moons used to have 12 names, one for each month, such as “harvest moon,” NASA said. The term “blue moon” referred to the 13th full moon in a year.
The term acquired its current meaning in the 1940s, after the Farmer’s Almanac of Maine offered an astronomical definition of a blue moon “so convoluted that even professional astronomers struggled to understand it,” NASA wrote on its Web site.
A writer at Sky and Telescope magazine in the late 1940s tried to explain the almanac’s definition by saying it referred to the second full moon in a month.
"That was not correct, but at least it could be understood," NASA wrote. "And thus the modern blue moon was born."

BLUE MOON ON NEW YEARS EVE
It happens only once in a blue moon — and scientists say a blue moon is exactly what we’ll see in the skies this New Year’s Eve.

Don’t expect an azure glow over our lunar satellite, however. The term “blue moon” simply refers to the second full moon in a calendar month, something that hasn’t happened on a New Year’s Eve for nearly 20 years, NASA says.

"December 1990 ended with a blue moon, and many New Year’s Eveparties were themed by the event,” said Professor Philip Hiscock of the department of folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland, in Canada. “It was a lot of fun.”

Most months have just one full moon, because the 29.5-day cycle of the moon matches up pretty well with the length of calendar months. Occasionally, there will be two full moons in a month, something that happens about every 2½ years, NASA says.

But a blue moon on December 31 is rare.

MOON MONIKERS

The Farmers’ Almanac lists these Algonquin Indian names for the full moon of each month:
January: Wolf Moon
February: Snow Moon
March: Worm Moon
April: Pink Moon
May: Flower Moon
June: Strawberry Moon
July: Buck Moon
August: Sturgeon Moon
September: Corn Moon
October: Harvest Moon
November: Beaver Moon
December: Cold Moon
Source: www.farmersalmanac.com RELATED TOPICS

Elvis Presley crooned about it when he sang the old Rodgers and Hart song “Blue Moon,” in which he stood alone without a dream in his heart or a love of his own.

He struck a more hopeful tone in another tune, singing about his love returning to his arms “When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again.” He also covered Bill Monroe’s bluegrass classic, “Blue Moon of Kentucky.”

It is possible for the moon to have a cerulean hue, NASA says, but that’s sometimes caused by fine dirt circulating in the Earth’s atmosphere or the dark blue tone of the sky.

A blue moon hasn’t always meant the second full moon in a month. Hundreds of years ago, it simply meant “never” or “absurd,” Hiscock said.

"The phrase ‘blue moon’ has been around a long time, well over 400 years, but during that time its meaning has shifted," he said. "I have counted six different meanings which have been carried by the term, and at least four of them are still current today. That makes discussion of the term a little complicated."

When the Indonesian volcano Krakatoa erupted in 1883, it put so much dust in the atmosphere that the moon actually appeared blue — an event so unusual that the term “once in a blue moon” was coined, according to NASA’s National Space Science Data Center. The effect lasted for almost two years, Hiscock said.

Full moons used to have 12 names, one for each month, such as “harvest moon,” NASA said. The term “blue moon” referred to the 13th full moon in a year.

The term acquired its current meaning in the 1940s, after the Farmer’s Almanac of Maine offered an astronomical definition of a blue moon “so convoluted that even professional astronomers struggled to understand it,” NASA wrote on its Web site.

A writer at Sky and Telescope magazine in the late 1940s tried to explain the almanac’s definition by saying it referred to the second full moon in a month.

"That was not correct, but at least it could be understood," NASA wrote. "And thus the modern blue moon was born."

(CNN) — Astronomers announced this week they found a water-rich and relatively nearby planet that’s similar in size to Earth.
While the planet probably has too thick of an atmosphere and is too hot to support life similar to that found on Earth, the discovery is being heralded as a major breakthrough in humanity’s search for life on other planets.
"The big excitement is that we have found a watery world orbiting a very nearby and very small star," said David Charbonneau, a Harvard professor of astronomy and lead author of an article on the discovery, which appeared this week in the journal Nature.
The planet, named GJ 1214b, is 2.7 times as large as Earth and orbits a star much smaller and less luminous than our sun. That’s significant, Charbonneau said, because for many years, astronomers assumed that planets only would be found orbiting stars that are similar in size to the sun.
Because of that assumption, researchers didn’t spend much time looking for planets circling small stars, he said. The discovery of this “watery world” helps debunk the notion that Earth-like planets could form only in conditions similar to those in our solar system.
"Nature is just far more inventive in making planets than we were imagining," he said.
In a way, the newly discovered planet was sitting right in front of astronomers’ faces, just waiting for them to look. Instead of using high-powered telescopes attached to satellites, they spotted the planet using an amateur-sized, 16-inch telescope on the ground.
There were no technological reasons the discovery couldn’t have happened long ago, Charbonneau said.
The planet is also rather near to our solar system — only about 40 light-years away.
Planet GJ 1214b is classified as a “super-Earth” because it is between one and 10 times as large as Earth. Scientists have known about the existence of super-Earths for only a couple of years. Most planets discovered by astronomers have been gassy giants that are much more similar to Jupiter than to Earth.
Charbonneau said it’s unlikely that any life on the newly discovered planet would be similar to life on Earth, but he didn’t discount the idea entirely.
"This planet probably does have liquid water," he said.

(CNN) — Astronomers announced this week they found a water-rich and relatively nearby planet that’s similar in size to Earth.

While the planet probably has too thick of an atmosphere and is too hot to support life similar to that found on Earth, the discovery is being heralded as a major breakthrough in humanity’s search for life on other planets.

"The big excitement is that we have found a watery world orbiting a very nearby and very small star," said David Charbonneau, a Harvard professor of astronomy and lead author of an article on the discovery, which appeared this week in the journal Nature.

The planet, named GJ 1214b, is 2.7 times as large as Earth and orbits a star much smaller and less luminous than our sun. That’s significant, Charbonneau said, because for many years, astronomers assumed that planets only would be found orbiting stars that are similar in size to the sun.

Because of that assumption, researchers didn’t spend much time looking for planets circling small stars, he said. The discovery of this “watery world” helps debunk the notion that Earth-like planets could form only in conditions similar to those in our solar system.

"Nature is just far more inventive in making planets than we were imagining," he said.

In a way, the newly discovered planet was sitting right in front of astronomers’ faces, just waiting for them to look. Instead of using high-powered telescopes attached to satellites, they spotted the planet using an amateur-sized, 16-inch telescope on the ground.

There were no technological reasons the discovery couldn’t have happened long ago, Charbonneau said.

The planet is also rather near to our solar system — only about 40 light-years away.

Planet GJ 1214b is classified as a “super-Earth” because it is between one and 10 times as large as Earth. Scientists have known about the existence of super-Earths for only a couple of years. Most planets discovered by astronomers have been gassy giants that are much more similar to Jupiter than to Earth.

Charbonneau said it’s unlikely that any life on the newly discovered planet would be similar to life on Earth, but he didn’t discount the idea entirely.

"This planet probably does have liquid water," he said.

A strange Norway spiral light has grabbed worldwide attention.

The Norway Spiral, a strange light that appeared in the sky across Norway last night, has Norwegian residents and international spectators baffled as videos of the incident hit YouTube.
The light was spotted one day before President Barack Obama was scheduled to give an acceptance speech in Oslo, Norway for his Nobel Peace Prize.
Speculation is rampant on what the light actually was; “anything from a Russian rocket to a meteor or shock wave” has been mentioned.

A strange Norway spiral light has grabbed worldwide attention.

The Norway Spiral, a strange light that appeared in the sky across Norway last night, has Norwegian residents and international spectators baffled as videos of the incident hit YouTube.

The light was spotted one day before President Barack Obama was scheduled to give an acceptance speech in Oslo, Norway for his Nobel Peace Prize.

Speculation is rampant on what the light actually was; “anything from a Russian rocket to a meteor or shock wave” has been mentioned.