The glaring Moon is receding at last and Comet Lovejoy is pushing northward, past Orion and Taurus toward Andromeda. The big berg from outer space is getting brighter, too. In short: if your weather is good, now is the time to spot it.
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December 31, 2014
In my December 23rd blog, I mentioned that Comet Lovejoy would soon become visible to mid-northern observers, including this writer (I live near Vancouver, British Columbia). I was hoping to make my initial sighting on the evening of December 28th when Lovejoy drifted near the globular star cluster M79 in southern Lepus. Weather permitting, of course!
December 29, 2014
Few things excite backyard astronomers more than hearing about a new comet. At the moment, Comet Lovejoy (also designated C/2014 Q2) is making its way north and generating a fair bit of interest. But when it comes to comets, low expectations are the key to happiness. In my observing life, I’ve witnessed more than my share of duds, but I’ve also been lucky enough to see a few spectacles too.
December 23, 2014
I’m a long-time comet buff, so I’m looking forward to Comet Lovejoy. The inbound interloper will enter my low southern sky (I live near the 49th parallel) in late December.
December 18, 2014
In a recent post (Splendid Geminids, December, 2nd, 2014), I declared from personal experience that the powerful Geminid meteor shower can be appreciated from city suburbs. I promised that on December 13th I’d be watching from my yard in Chilliwack, British Columbia – weather permitting, of course.
December 16, 2014
A planisphere is simply a rotating star map housed inside a sleeve with several windows for showing the date and the appearance of the night sky. They come in different sizes and styles, but they all do the same thing the same way.
December 5, 2014
One of the most enjoyable aspects of backyard astronomy is that you can participate in the hobby with no equipment at all.
December 2, 2014
As I write this in early December, 2014, there is one major celestial event left on the calendar: the Geminid meteor shower on the 13th. The “shooting stars” that radiate from the constellation Gemini often produce the year’s most powerful meteor display – if only we could witness it. After all, there aren’t many cloud-free nights in December.
November 20, 2014
The leaves are down, which means the Pleiades are up.
Located in the constellation Taurus, this most dazzling of all open star clusters contains roughly 100 suns. The seven brightest Pleiads – the Seven Sisters – are visible to observers with excellent vision as a glittering agglomeration the width of two full Moons.
October 30, 2014
A mere 2.5 million light-years away, M31 is indeed our nearest large neighbour in the universe. Andromeda spans 150,000 light-years of cosmic real estate – two-thirds more than our galaxy – and boasts a population of perhaps 500 billion stars, roughly twice the number in the Milky Way.