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  1. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by stillakid View Post
    With a telescope? How clear are they when looking through one?
    Nope, just bare-naked eye. What you see looks like a fast-moving star. I don't have anything optically that could get a better view of something 200 miles above me (tho I wish I did!). The Space Station is quite a bit brighter than the Shuttle. I guess size matters !

    Thankfully, we have a better-than-average TV weather guy who's really into space stuff. He always lets the viewers know of events like the above. He's given us "heads-ups" on meteor showers, the occaisional comet, and even idirum flares (reflection for the solar panels of iridium communications satellites...a cheap thrill, granted, but still cool to track and watch happen).

    If it weren't for the smoke, the shuttle/space station would have been easily visible in the Valley last night.
    ¡Que la fuerza te acompañe!

  2. #42
    Anyone else been watching Comet Holmes? About a week ago the normally dim comet jumped in brightness and is now visible to the naked eye. There's no tail, but a nice fuzzy ball of a star like object in Perseus.
    "I'm sick and tried of these motherfrakkking Sith on this motherfrakkker plane!"
    Mace Windu - Episode 2.5: Sith on a Plane

  3. #43
    I wish I could. We're entering our notorious fog season here in the San Joaquin Valley. Days and nights are consistently hazy now with moisture and plain old junk in the air. Hearing about its "overnight" leap in brightness makes it just that much more frustrating!

    BTW: In my post above I've misspelled iridium. I hate it when my fingers stutter!
    ¡Que la fuerza te acompañe!

  4. #44
    Iridium: good for astronauts, bad for dinosaurs.
    Tommy, close your eyes.

  5. #45
    In the past ten years I have had two shooting stars fly over my head. One a few months ago at night I thought it was a helicopter at first until I noticed it was smoking and moving way too fast to be man made. The other at dawn while waiting for the school bus.

  6. #46
    Last couple of nights/mornings have had my favorite common dark time sight: what I call the paper slit moon. It's where the moon is exactly bisected along its diameter in the waxing/waning cycle. I always thought that someone/something had a full-circle moon and could slide it through a slit in the night sky on those times. Simple, but thoughtful... awwww...
    "I went to Star Wars Celebration VII in Anaheim, and I didn't get even a lousy t-shirt."

  7. #47
    As I said above: Sky viewing is problematic this time of year due to fog.

    Yesterday there was a 100 car pile-up with two fatalities due to fog, just south of Fresno on Hwy. 99, a major N-S corridor in here central California.

    We get to deal with this until February. Oh, joy!
    ¡Que la fuerza te acompañe!

  8. #48


    Here's an interesting article that came up on my Yahoo homepage this morning!

    Comet draws scientific, amateur interest

    Sat Nov 3, 12:57 AM ET
    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - A comet that has unexpectedly brightened in the past couple of weeks and now is visible to the naked eye is attracting professional and amateur interest.

    Paul Lewis, director of astronomy outreach at the University of Tennessee, is drawing students to the roof of Nielsen Physics Building for special viewings of Comet 17P/Holmes.

    The comet is exploding and its coma, a cloud of gas and dust illuminated by the sun, has grown to be bigger than the planet Jupiter. The comet lacks the tail usually associated with such celestial bodies but can be seen in the northern sky, in the constellation Perseus, as a fuzzy spot of light about as bright as the stars in the Big Dipper.

    "This is truly a celestial surprise," Lewis said. "Absolutely amazing."

    Until Oct. 23, the comet had been visible to modern astronomers only with a telescope, but that night it suddenly erupted and expanded.

    A similar burst in 1892 led to the comet's discovery by Edwin Holmes.
    "This is a once-in-a-lifetime event to witness, along the lines of when Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 smashed into Jupiter back in 1994," Lewis said.

    Scientists speculate the comet has exploded because there are sinkholes in its nucleus, giving it a honeycomb-like structure. The collapse exposed comet ice to the sun, which transformed the ice into gas.

    "What comets do when they are near the sun is very unpredictable," Lewis said. "We expect to see a coma cloud and a tail, but this is more like an explosion, and we are seeing the bubble of gas and dust as it expands away from the center of the blast."

    Experts aren't sure how long the comet's show will last, but estimate it could be weeks — if not months. Using a telescope or binoculars help bring the comet's details into view, they said.
    OK... I BLOG. YOU READ. at
    **Steven Sterlekar (1969-2001)**

  9. #49
    I guess Comet Holmes is now growing tail. APOD claims there is now a blue ion tail. I'm not sure if it's visible to the naked eye or not. It's been to cloudy here the last two nights for me to go out and look. Today has cleared off nicely, so I might break out the telescope tonight and have a look at the thing.
    "I'm sick and tried of these motherfrakkking Sith on this motherfrakkker plane!"
    Mace Windu - Episode 2.5: Sith on a Plane

  10. #50

    Probe detects "spider" crater on Mercury

    Here's an interesting article I spotted on my homepage about a geological formation on Mercury.

    [FONT=Times New Roman]Probe detects "spider" crater on Mercury[/FONT]
    [FONT=Century Gothic]By Will Dunham
    Wed Jan 30, 4:28 PM ET

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A NASA probe that shot past Mercury this month detected a puzzling geological feature that scientists on Wednesday labeled "The Spider" and found evidence of past volcanic activity on the closest planet to the sun.

    The U.S. space agency's car-sized MESSENGER spacecraft on January 14 flew past Mercury, whose diameter is just a third the size of Earth's, and its seven scientific instruments gathered new information about the little understood planet.

    Data collected by MESSENGER showed that a massive impact crater on its surface is larger than previously thought. The probe is due to fly by again this October and in September 2009 before beginning a yearlong orbit of the planet in 2011.

    While Mercury looks superficially like Earth's moon with a cratered, rocky surface, scientists said the new findings show they are quite different.
    "We were continually surprised. It was not the planet we expected. It was not the moon," said Sean Solomon of Carnegie Institution of Washington, the mission's lead investigator. "It's a very dynamic planet with an awful lot going on."

    Mercury is a mystery in many ways and its proximity to the sun has made it difficult to observe from Earth.

    Mercury has been visited by a spacecraft only twice before, in 1974 and 1975 when NASA's Mariner 10 flew past it three times and mapped about 45 percent of its surface. The latest fly-by covered another 30 percent of the surface.

    "The Spider" was the most striking feature described by the scientists. It is made up of more than 100 narrow, flat-floored troughs radiating from a central point, much as petals from a daisy or the legs of a spider.


    "The Spider" has a crater 25 miles wide near its center, but it is unclear whether this is related to the feature's original formation and scientists aren't sure what to make of it.

    "It's a real mystery," said Louise Prockter of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, who works on the mission.
    "The Spider" is in the middle of Mercury's Caloris basin, one of the solar system's biggest impact craters, formed more than 3.8 billion years ago when a large space rock hit.

    Based on the probe's new observations, the diameter of the Caloris basin is now thought to be 960 miles, larger than a previous estimate based on Mariner 10's data. The basin's interior looks like it was volcanically resurfaced by magma from deep within Mercury's crust or mantle.

    Prockter said Mariner 10 data provided some evidence of volcanism, but it was not universally accepted. Based on the new observations, Prockter added, "there's very little doubt, I think, in the minds of most of us from the geology team that there has been widespread volcanism on Mercury's surface."

    MESSENGER stands for Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging. It was launched in 2004 and flew past Venus twice and Earth once en route to Mercury.

    MESSENGER also collected data on Mercury's magnetic field, its tenuous atmosphere and its topography.

    Mercury's surface is a mix of craters caused by bygone impacts with space rocks, plains and long, winding cliffs. The spacecraft saw basins as deep as 1.7 miles and peaks jutting out as high as 3 miles above the surface.
    With Pluto classified as a dwarf planet, Mercury is the solar system's smallest planet, with a diameter of 3,032 miles , only a bit larger than Earth's moon. [/FONT]
    OK... I BLOG. YOU READ. at
    **Steven Sterlekar (1969-2001)**


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