Saturday, November 03, 2007

Monday Morning Sky Show

I got my NASA Science News e-mail update this morning, and they're excited about this Monday's pre-dawn sky. What's up? Darn-near everything.

For starters, Venus will be up near the crescent moon. It's always a lovely sight when those two hang out together.

And Saturn will be just above them. The rings are visible in small backyard telescopes.

Mars will be up, too, the orange-red planet above Saturn, almost straight up in the sky.

But that's not all!!!

Orion will be up. If you have a telescope, take a look at the Orion Nebula (the center "star" in his sword). That's one of my favorites, but if there's too much light in your neighborhood, the Nebula only looks like a smudgy thing. Here's a sky map of where all the stars and planets will be.

But wait!!!

The Space Shuttle will be undocking from the International Space Station, and their paths will be visible with the naked eye for five whole minutes (the usual ISS visibility is about 1 - 2 minutes), starting at around 5:05 am local time in most time zones. Check here (select your country in the left column, then your state, then your city) for the exact times and sky locations for you. If Monday isn't listed, you don't get to see it then (sorry, Montana), but you could have a chance on another day.

And there's one more thing. The exploding comet. Here's what the NASA link at the top of my post has to say (it has a picture):

Comet 17P/Holmes burst into view last week when something happened to the comet's core—a collapse, a fracture, a comet-quake? No one knows!—causing the comet to surge in brightness almost a million-fold. It is now visible to the unaided eye as an expanding fuzzball in the constellation Perseus similar in brightness to the stars of the Big Dipper. To find the comet, first face Mars and then spin around 180-degrees: sky map. It's a must-see target for backyard telescopes.

Pretty darn cool!

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