On this day in 1954 in Sylacauga, Alabama, USA a 31-year old woman become the first known person to be hit by a meteorite. She was hit on the left arm and hip by a 4-kg rock that fell through her roof.
On this day in 1961 NASA launched the Mercury 5 spacecraft into orbit around the Earth. A chimpanzee named Enos was on board as a final test before a manned orbital mission. The chimp survived the acceleration into space, weightlessness and the landing despite his suit temperature reaching 38° C.
To help you learn about the southern night sky, Sydney Observatory provides an audio guide/podcast, transcript of that audio, and a sky map or chart each month. This month's guide is presented by Geoffrey Wyatt, Astronomy Educator at Sydney Observatory (pictured at right).
Comet ISON is to reach its closest point to the Sun tomorrow morning at about 5 am AEDT. At that time it will be 1.9 million km from the centre of the Sun or only 1.2 million km from its visible surface.
Our nearest star, the Sun, is about 5 thousand million years old and, though this may seem an advanced age, there are older stars. In 2007 astronomers using the Very Large Telescope in Chile announced that they have found the oldest known star.
An honour guard of redcoats leads the entry of the 1863 Governor of Victoria Sir Henry Barkly and the Government Astronomer of the time Robert LJ Ellery together with their ladies into the official celebrations.
The red planet Mars can be seen each morning before dawn in the north-eastern sky. Tomorrow morning the crescent Moon acts as a signpost to locate the planet as it is above and to its left or north. On Thursday morning the Moon appears closer to the planet and is still above it, but is to its right or east.
The colour of a star indicates its surface temperature. The hottest stars glow blue-white with temperatures of 30,000-40,000° Celsius. White stars are about 10,000° C, while the coolest are the red stars with temperatures of around 3000° C.
NASA launched one of the earliest weather satellites TIROS 2 on this day in 1960. Its name stood for Television and InfraRed Observation Satellite as it had two television cameras and two infrared detectors for observing clouds and atmospheric phenomena.
We see most stars as white because our eyes are poor at seeing colour in the dark. Colour is only obvious to the naked eye for a few of the brighter reddish stars like Betelgeuse in Orion. Photographs reveal a greater range of colours for stars including ones that are blue-white, white, yellow and red.
Early risers can see the giant planet Jupiter in the northern sky before dawn. Although much further from the Sun and the Earth than bright Venus, Jupiter currently appears only a little fainter. Tomorrow morning the gibbous Moon is above and to the left or west of Jupiter, while on Saturday morning it is still above but to the right or east.
The much talked about Comet ISON is now racing towards its close approach to the Sun on the early morning of 29 November 2013 (Australian time). It has brightened somewhat in recent days, but as yet scientists do not know how bright it will be before and after that close approach nor whether the comet will survive its encounter with the Sun.
The Sun on 17 November 2013 showed lots of spots including some large ones, but AR11890 discussed in this post had rotated out of view on the western edge of the Sun two or three days earlier. The main sunspots are identified in this image with the extra 1 removed from the front of the number for clarity.
The bright planet Venus can be seen shining brightly in the western sky each evening soon after sunset. Tonight it passes within half a moon-width of the star with the Babylonian name of Nunki in the handle of the Teapot, which is how many people see the classical constellation of Sagittarius the Archer.
US Astronaut Alan B Shephard, Jr was born on this day in 1923 in East Derry, New Hampshire, United States. After service as a test pilot he was chosen as one of the Mercury astronauts in 1959. Two years later be became the first American into space when a Redstone rocket took his Freedom 7 capsule on a suborbital ride.