Leonid Meteor Shower Peaks Last Night!!

17 11 2009

An 1833 depiction of the Leonid Meteor Shower.

Thousands of you are coming here for information on the shower, but I don’t have a post up about today’s event! So here it is!

The Leonid Meteor shower occurs every year when Earth passes through the cloud of debris left behind by the passage of the comet Temple-Tuttle. Specks of dust are rapidly heated upon contact with our atmosphere and glow spectacularly for a brief moment. If you want to catch a glimpse of our brush with this cometary dust cloud, tonight is a good night. Last night was technically the peak, but since the cloud of dust is fairly large, Leonid meteors should be visible tonight and tomorrow as well. Some folks have reported some brilliant displays, so if you’re awake you may as well take a look. In any case if you decide to check out the event, just find a nice spot with a good view of as much of the sky as possible. Make sure it’s dark and free from light pollution. Then relax on your back and enjoy the show! Oh – some additional viewing tips from someone who knows his stuff:

It’s more important to orient looking away from sources of light pollution – especially the moon if it’s up. If possible, orient so these light sources are blocked from your visual field by objects in your surroundings. This will encourage your pupils to open a bit wider, and allow seeing fainter meteors. Orient toward the holes in the clouds, if any. Orient so that the place where you are lying is comfortable. Aaahhh!

Have fun and dress warm!!




All Episodes of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos Are Available Online!!

30 10 2009

Just look at him. As majestic as the Milky Way.


Holy Moley did I cry with joy when I learned this. Our friends at Hulu have put up all thirteen episodes of Carl Sagan’s magnum opus, Cosmos. If you’re unfamiliar with Cosmos, it’s an awesome series. Sagan explores a different topic each episode, outlining a particular feature of our wonderful universe with his characteristic awe and infectious enthusiasm. Stars, galaxies, the formation of the Earth? The origins of the elements, the subtleties of star death? You’ll find it here! I whole heartedly recommend you watch every single episode. Dang, it’s just so cool!
Go now! Go and be entertained and educated!



Orionid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight!

20 10 2009
A 19th century engraving of a meteor shower. This image is earning its keep!

A 19th century engraving of a meteor shower. This image is earning its keep!

Listen up surface dwellers, because there’s not much time ! In just a few short hours, the Orionid meteor shower will be peaking! That’s right! The night of Tuesday, October 20th into the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday, October 21st is the time for curious humans to look upward and catch a glimpse of dusty leavings from Halley’s Comet streaking through our humble atmosphere! Get some blankets, some coffee, and some friends, orient yourself toward the constellation Orion, and enjoy! This sight comes but once a year.


Are We Alone?

19 08 2009
The Earth, my home and yours.

The Earth, my home and yours. It looks lonely, doesn't it?

I recently received an email. It’s a good one, and the discussion it concerns is important.

Sam writes:

Hey guys,

I really enjoyed the Hubble post.  That was a pretty amazing video!  Between that, and seeing “District 9” this weekend, I was wondering what you thought the odds are that we are alone in the universe?




Read the rest of this entry »

Hubble is Awesome

13 08 2009
The Hubble Space Telescope. It's a telescope, in space, named after a guy named Hubble. What more do you need to know?

The Hubble Space Telescope. It's a telescope, in space, named after a guy called Hubble. What more do you need to know?

Did you know that the Hubble Space Telescope is awesome? Probably. But did you know you have access to a huge gallery of amazing images taken with everyone’s favorite orbiting telescope? Maybe not! Well now you do! Go here for a hugenormous gallery of stellar photographs of celestial bodies that are truly out of this world. Check below the break for a sampling.


Read the rest of this entry »

Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight

11 08 2009
A 19th century engraving of a meteor shower.

A 19th century engraving of a meteor shower.

Tonight, between midnight and dawn, look up! The Perseid Meteor Shower, created by the passage of Earth through the debris tail of the comet Swift-Tuttle, peaks soon! For the past few days the Earth has been traveling through the trail of dusty debris left by the comet Swift-Tuttle. As pieces of dust from the comet pass through our atmosphere, friction between the particles and the gasses of our atmosphere heat them up until they glow. The result is beautiful streaks of light across the night sky. Well tonight we pass through the thickest part of the debris field, and the show should be great. If you are a night owl or you just want an astronomical show, take a trip to a dark area away from artificial lights and with good sky visibility. Look north-east and you should start seeing meteors flashing overhead! Make sure there isn’t a thick cloud cover in your area, though, or else you may find yourself up late for no good reason!


Update 9/16: I’ve been seeing a lot of visitors to this article lately. I’m guessing you all are looking for information about the “September Perseids.” This time last year there was a bright and unexpected display of meteors radiating from the constellation Perseus. This year, it looks like a repeat is not in the cards. However, the odds of seeing meteors is better than an average night, so if you’re up late (at least past midnight – the closer to dawn, the better), you may as well go outside and take a look. Let me know if you see anything, and good luck!

Update 10/21/09: All you folks viewing this article today, I expect you’re after info about the current meteor shower caused by dusty debris from Halley’s Comet. That is the Orionid meteor shower, and you can find a brief discussion of the event here. The main thing you need to know is that when you’re looking for meteors, try to face yourself towards the constellation Orion – that is where they will seem to originate from. Happy Hunting, and why not leave a comment if you see a cool one?