The first American into space, John Glenn, was born on this day in 1921 in Cambridge, Ohio and so celebrates his 93rd birthday today. Glenn first circled the Earth in the one-person Mercury spacecraft Friendship 7 in 1962.
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A young crescent Moon. Photo Nick Lomb The first visibility of the crescent Moon after the astronomical instant of new Moon is not only of interest to astronomers, but is of particular significance in the Islamic calendar.
On this date in 1994 the first fragment of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashed into the giant planet Jupiter followed by many more over the next five days. This was the first time that a collision between a comet and a planet has been observed.
Griffith Observatory with the Astronomers Monument in front. Photo Nick Lomb Recently I had the opportunity to visit one of the most famous and most popular public observatories in the world, the Griffith Observatory.
The reddish star Antares is the brightest star in the constellation of Scorpius the Scorpion. We can see it high in the eastern sky in the early evenings. The star is so huge that if the Sun were the same size it would engulf Mercury, Venus, Earth and even Mars!
Drawings of the shape-changing sunspot group AR12104 over four days. Sketch and copyright Harry Roberts ©, all rights reserved In telescopes sunspots look substantial enough: yet they are sculpted by magnetic fields and can change shape abruptly as new flux arises.
These are the constellations that the Sun passes through during the course of a year. Looking from west to east in the early evening the following zodiac constellations are visible: part of Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpius, Ophiuchus and Sagittarius.
The red planet Mars is high in the northern sky each evening after dark. Tonight it makes a close approach to the bright star Spica, the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo the Maiden. With less than three moon-widths separating the planet and the star it should be a great sight.
Announced in November 2012, the Hubble Space Telescope has imaged the most distant galaxy ever seen. MACS0647-JD is 13.3 billion light years from us and we see it as it shone only 400 million years or so after the big bang.
The above map gives a rough guess of the bright meteor or fireball or bolide that passed over eastern Australia at about 9:42 pm AEST on the evening of 10 July 2014. Diagram Nick Lomb, map courtesy of Google On the evening of 10 July at about 9:42 pm AEST numerous people in the eastern part of Australia saw a bright moving object in the sky.
The giant planet Jupiter has a swarm of 67 moons circling around it like a mini solar system. The International Astronomical Union has named some of the moons discovered a decade ago. The names include Hegemone, Mneme, Aoede and Cyllene, who in Greek mythology are all daughters of Zeus or Jupiter.
Alpha Centauri, the brightest of the pointer stars, is high in the south. Though it is part of the nearest star system it is not the nearest star to Earth. That honour belongs to a faint, reddish and insignificant dwarf star called Proxima Centauri that is about four moon-widths below Alpha.
Space rock or asteroid 11195 Woomera circles the Sun every 3½ years between the paths of Mars and Jupiter. Discovered by amateur astronomer Frank Zoltowski in January 1999 and named after the remote site in South Australia where he lives, the asteroid is making its closest approach to the Earth for the year at a distance of 231 million km.
If aliens ever arrive on Earth maybe they would first contact astronomers. Here is an imaginary scene of aliens visiting Sydney Observatory. Digital mischief by Nick Lomb with help from Microsoft clipart This is the second of two posts contemplating the possibilities of life, especially intelligent life, in space.
The ringed planet Saturn can be seen in the north-east each evening after dusk. Tonight the gibbous Moon is below and to the right or east of the planet. We will not see the Moon cover or occult Saturn tonight; for that we need to wait until next month when there will be an occultation on the evening of Monday 4 August.