Eyes on the Sky: Sept 30 thru Oct 6

Desert Gypsy's picture - 10/1/13

Published on Sep 29, 2013 The minor planet Juno and the gas giant Uranus are in somewhat dim constellations this week, but both are surprisingly easy to see with the right optical equipment. Learn where and how to observe each one. You can even see Uranus with just binoculars! See what's up in the night sky every week with "Eyes on the Sky" videos, astronomy made easy.

Get ready! Comet ISON to sweep closely past Mars on October 1 (video)

Desert Gypsy's picture - 10/1/13, Bruce McClure

Artist's concept Comet ISON flies by Mars.  Via NASA

On Tuesday (October 1, 2013), this year’s most anticipated comet – Comet ISON – will sweep closely past the Red Planet Mars. It’ll be on its way to a Thanksgiving Day (November 28) encounter with the sun, and hopefully to a good showing in Earth’s night sky. Right now, amateur astronomers with telescopes and photographic equipment are the main ones capturing images of Comet ISON. And they are sure to be trying already to captured Mars and the comet in the same photo in the predawn sky. But NASA and ESA are also readying a flotilla of spacecraft in Mars orbit or on Mars’ surface, which will attempt to record the comet’s passage near Earth’s neighboring planet.

And we do mean near. On October 1, Comet ISON will pass within 0.07 AU from Mars. That’s about six times closer than the comet will ever come to Earth.

Fireballs over Atlanta 9/29. Over 1000 reported 9/27-9/28 (video)

Desert Gypsy's picture 9/29/13, Mike Hankey

Its been a busy week for the AMS as we are bombarded by fireball reports from all different parts of the country. The latest event took place over Alabama and Georgia last night September 28th 7:30 PM local time. Over 250 witnesses from Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama and Georgia have reported the event so far. Below is a heat map of the witnesses who saw the event.

Atlanta Fireball - September 28th, 2013 @ 7:30 PM Local Time

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140 Earth-like Planets Discovered Within the Milky Way

Desert Gypsy's picture - 9/27/13

Last week at the latest TEDGlobal conference in Oxford, astronomer Dimitar Sassilov, professor of astronomy at Harvard University and a distinguished member of the Kepler space telescope [1] science team, unveiled some incredible results gathered by our eyes and ears in the galaxy.

Kepler’s most recent reported downloaded conferred some incredible statistics, among which most importantly the discovery of: 706 potential new planets and five new solar systems, all found within the 150,000+ stars Kepler has studied so far since its 4 year mission began January last year.

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Did Earth Life Come from Space? Tough Algae Suggests Panspermia Possibility

Desert Gypsy's picture 0 9/22/13, Megan Gannon

An asteroid is shown crashing into Earth

Scientists have long debated the possibility of that the microbial seeds of life did not originate on Earth, but were perhaps delivered here from an alien source, encased in comets or meteorites from Mars.

But to get here, simple life forms would have had to endure a litany of harsh cosmic conditions, including ejection into space, freezing temperatures, fiery re-entry and impact.

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Over 400 reports of large fireball over U.S. Midwest on September 26

Desert Gypsy's picture - 9/27/13, Deborah Byrd

This is a

This is a “heat map,” created by the number of sightings reported to the American Meteor Society. Map via AMS and Mike Hankey.

The American Meteor Society (AMS) reports that it has received over 400 reports of a large fireball (bright meteor) over the U.S. Midwest today (September 26, 2013). People in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Wisconsin spotted the meteor around 7:05 a.m. CDT; that was local time for the sighting. Witnesses from reported a bright light moving across the morning sky. The estimated trajectory for the fireball took it nearly over Indianapolis.

September has been a busy month for sightings of bright fireballs, according to the AMS. This morning’s event marks the 13th fireball sighting with at least 25 witnesses, the most ever since the AMS started recording sightings online, they say.

The Truth About Comet Ison (video)

Desert Gypsy's picture

Sky and Telescope - 9/24/13


Published on Sep 16, 2013

The most recent observations indicate Comet ISON is on track to hopefully (but not definitely) reach naked-eye visibility in December 2013's pre-dawn sky. S&T Senior Editor Alan MacRobert explains just why it's so tricky to predict how bright ISON will be, and previews what you'll need to know to spot it as it approaches the Sun for its close encounter.

Move over Comet ISON. A new Comet Lovejoy has arrived

Desert Gypsy's picture - 9/11/13, Deborah Byrd

Comet Lovejoy's location on the sky's dome now.  It is up in the morning sky, as seen from across the Earth.  Image via

Comet Lovejoy’s location on the sky’s dome now. It is up in the morning sky, as seen from across the Earth. Image via Cumbrian Sky.

Many are anticipating the brightening of Comet ISON, which is now in Earth’s predawn sky, not far from the bright planets Jupiter and Mars, but too faint to see without telescopes and/or photographic equipment. Read more about Comet ISON here. In the meantime, on September 9, 2013, noted comet discoverer Terry Lovejoy of Australia announced another new comet, bringing his total number of comet discoveries to four. The newest Comet Lovejoy will be in the same part of the sky as Comet ISON beginning in November. What a cool photo opportunity!

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