Hopefully tonight you have clear skies because it’s time for the Lyrid meteor shower.
Actually the shower goes from about 16 April to 26 April and tonight should be near the peak. The meteor rate is usually about 10 per hour with occasional outburst years of over 100 per hour.
This meteor shower has observations that go back 2600 years or more. Have a look at Meteor Showers Online for a concise history on the Lyrids and finders charts for both northern and southern hemispheres.
ScienceAtNASA just published this video, it’s pretty good with some great tips. You might have to convert the times they give in the video (UTC = EDT + 4). Basically if it is dark and you can see stars, get comfortable and look up, the moon won’t be a problem. Follow the trails back and you will find the constellation Lyra the namesake of the shower.
Yuri’s Night is a World Space Party and it is tonight! Many observatories, science centers and astronomy clubs are hosting Yuri’s Night events.
Everywhere! The entire world is involved, there’s even a South Pole Yuri Night so if you happen to be in Antarctica near the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, check it out 😉
If you don’t happen to be near an event, you can still participate. Go outside, pick out a constellation or two, find a planet. A telescope isn’t required and if you have a pair of binoculars they will work just fine.
Europe was recently treated to a beautiful solar eclipse. Now there is a Total Lunar Eclipse coming to North America, South America, Middle Asia, including India, western China and mid-Asian Russia on 04 April.
Viewers in areas able to see the eclipse will have to look quick, the total eclipse will last only FIVE minutes! No fooling, this will be the shortest lunar eclipse this century.
Fortunately people in eastern North America and western South America will get to see the early stages (partial umbral phase) of the eclipse in the western sky and people in Middle Asia, including India, western China and mid-Asian Russia will see the late stages low in the eastern sky just after sunset on 04 April.
Sorry Europe, Greenland, Iceland, Africa and the Middle East the eclipse will not be visible for you.
This is the third of a series of four eclipses in a row also known as a “tetrad” The last two occurred in April and September 2014 and the last of the series will occur on 28 September 2015.
There will be a Total Eclipse on 20 March. Will you be able to see it? If you are in most of Europe or northern Russia, you will get to be in the penumbra (a partial eclipse). The only populated places where the totality can be seen, reachable by public travel, are the Faroe Islands and Svalbard.
Either way be sure to check it out as this will be the last total eclipse visible in Europe until 12 August 2016.
The little graphic below from NASA will give you an idea what time the eclipse will occur and where.
I will not get to see it. I’m sure there will be sites that will be streaming the eclipse and I’ll like a few of them later this week.
The sun emitted a solar flare on 11 March 2015 and was captured in this excellent video by NASA and the Solar Dynamics Observatory. The flare was a powerful X2.2 class flare.
The “X” classification denotes the most intense flares. The number gives us a to gauge its relative strength compared to an X1 flare. A flare of X2 is twice the strong as an X1 and a 3 would be three times as strong. So the X2.2 classification pegs this flare as 2.2 times as strong as an X1.
The flare and not one but three coronal mass ejections (CME’s) prompted the US, Space Prediction Center (NOAA) to issue a Minor Geomagnetic Storm watch (Level G1).
The peak of the storm is expected to occur around 0100 to 0700 UTC on 13 March. Thats 2100 EDT 12 March to 0300 EDT 13 March in the US. If you want to see an aurora keep an eye on the sky around these times and please know these times are good estimates but there could be some deviation.
I should be near a computer today and will post updates as needed/available as edits to this post.
You can see this comet for yourself. The comet C/2014 Q2 or Comet Lovejoy is easily visible with binoculars. If you can see the constellation Orion and Taurus you should be all set.
I just used the finders chart from NASA (see it here). Stepped out on back porch and after watching a satellite pass over, found the Comet in just a couple of minutes. I did use binoculars (could not see the comet otherwise). The binoculars were nothing special so if you have a pair handy give it a try. If you have a even a small telescope this looks really cool.
Cloudy skies? The comet will be around for a bit so don’t worry if you have to wait a short time.
Could it be visible with the naked eye? I would think so. I am going to try in the morning, the best skies I get. I could not see it a while ago, too cold to be outside for too long and not be well prepared, so I can’t say for sure.
Here’s a look at what’s doing in the skies this month from JPL.
We had an aurora alert the other night. I was out and about on three different occasions and did not see anything. I do have a bit of light pollution these days. Still the way the forecast was going I still should have seen it.
I did’t look long though I must admit especially early on. Temps to -25 C / -13 F and wind chill to -40 C / -40 F meant I was not having fun. I was having to work on an electrical problem outside too. I diagnosed the problem and bypassed the circuit and did the repair the next day.