See the Geminid Meteor Shower

I was hoping to catch this shower. The expected rate is 80 per hour so this should be fun to watch.  Do check it out if you can.

Not likely to be any viewing for me thanks to clouds.   At least it isn’t supposed to snow; the 38 cm that has fallen since Wednesday is plenty.


Partial Solar Eclipse

Tomorrow afternoon there will be a partial solar eclipse that most of North America is going to get to see.  Heavy rain expected here and the eclipse being very near or at sunset, well, I’m going to miss out on the “live” version but NASA TV will be showing coverage stating at 17:00 EDT / 22:00 UT, you should be able to find it at the link in the banner.

Hopefully YOU are going to be more fortunate!  Here is a static image of the “timing map” from the video:

Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak, NASA's GSFC -

Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak, NASA’s GSFC –

Video source

Supermoon 3

Watching the moon from St Michael’s Tower on Glastonbury Tor.  Click for larger Image Ben Birchall/PA via

Watching the moon from St Michael’s Tower on Glastonbury Tor. Click for larger Image Ben Birchall/PA via

If you have noticed the moon looks a little larger than usual you are not alone. This morning it was looking pretty big here. This is the third perigee-moon or supermoon in a row. The moon will be full on 09 Sept 2014 at 01:38 UT (21:38 ET 08 Sept on the US East Coast).

I think I will have clear skies for a change! Yes, I am pleased.

I am also fairly well positioned for the partial lunar eclipse coming on 23 Oct 2014. Europe will miss out on this one. Here’s a (PDF) map from the US Naval Observatory.

September Sky

NASA’s JPL gives us “What’s Up for September 2014″

One of the nice things about this time of year is the clearing skies. I mean really clear skies, cooler temperatures and stable “seeing” kind of clear. If you have a telescope you probably know exactly what I mean.

We have a few nice pairings of stars / planets / moon. These pairings are especially nice for casual viewing and interesting conversation with those friends who might not otherwise notice and I find they almost always will look.

I don’t always get the best view of the zodiacal light right here because of the hills to my east but I can see it. If I’m on the road at the right time I can drive to a good location and stop long enough to let my eyes acclimate some and sip my coffee or tea for a short time and appreciate the view. Yes, I know coffee / tea doesn’t help the process, but it does make it more enjoyable. :)


Perseid Meteor Shower

My favorite meteor shower of the year is here, actually it will peak 12 to 13 August. We are usually treated to a great show thanks to the debris from comet Swift-Tuttle. I’ve seen activity in the hundreds of meteors per hour in the past.

This year we have the Supermoon so skies will be pretty bright, if I have good clear skies I’ll be out looking anyway, who knows perhaps a fireball will happen by – I’d see that! Too bad it is going to rain on me and to think I arraigned the next two days off from work and everything.

Here’s hoping YOU have better luck and if nothing else you can see the moon!


X-1 Flare

The flare of 29 March from SDO. Click for larger. Image: SDO/NASA via SpaceRef

A pretty nice flare was emitted on 29 March 2014. The flare is an X-1 flare, think of the X class as the largest sized/intensity group of flares, other groups are named: M, C, B and A in decreasing size. The number adds a scale within the group. The X-1 is a smaller of the X group where an X-9 would be a monster flare. It would go something like this (in increasing size/intensity): M-7, M-8, M-9, X-1, X-2 and so on. Think of how earthquakes are scaled, it’s quite similar.

So this is a bigger flare, and by 02 April there should be a nice display of the Aurora at high latitudes (both poles) and possibly a sighting at mid-latitudes (where I am). Keep an eye to the sky if they are clear.

It is possible to have radio blackouts but not any the average person will notice. Ham radio operators might note a little degradation at HF frequencies.

The flare also caused some coronal dimming. The SDO captured a (really fast) video of the effect and Dean Pesnell posted it and a description at the SDO blog. Very cool!

Mars at Opposition

If you’ve noticed Mars being especially bright (for Mars), you would be correct. If you’ve NOT noticed Mars being especially bright it would be a good time to have a look if you are out and about.

On 8 April 2014 Mars will be at opposition and six days later it will be at it’s closest to us. Don’t expect it to be bigger than the full moon this time around.