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A full moon, lunar eclipse and comet may all be visible on Friday

  • A full moon, lunar eclipse and a comet may all be visible to much of the world Friday night if the skies are clear.
  • Early in the night, the snow moon will pass into the Earth’s penumbra, shading part of it.
  • A few hours later, the bright green comet 45P will shoot past the Earth.
  • Though penumbral eclipses are typically not as noticeable as total lunar eclipses, the moon is expected to pass so deeply into the Earth’s shadow that it will appear far darker than usual.
  • The green comet, which visits our neck of the solar system every five years, will whiz within 7.7 million miles of Earth at a speedy clip of about 14.2 miles per second.
  • Most of the world — except for Australia, New Zealand, parts of East Asia and Hawaii — will be able to see the eclipse. Read more (2/9/17 3:30 PM)

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On this day but in 1750, Caroline Lucretia Herschel was born.

Caroline Herschel was the sister of the astronomer William Herschel. After learning astronomy alone and math with the help of her brother, she became his assistant. His most significant contribution to astronomy were the discoveries of various comets, especially comet 35P / Herschel-Rigollet.

Triple treat: Eclipse, comet, full moon all coming Friday night 2/10/17

Penumbral lunar eclipse

Not as spectacular — or noticeable — as a total lunar eclipse, this rather subtle phenomenon occurs when the moon moves through the outer part of Earth’s shadow (known as the penumbra), according to EarthSky.org.

The outer shadow of the Earth blocks part — but not all — of the sun’s rays from reaching the moon, making it appear slightly darker than usual.

Full “snow” moon

As required during any lunar eclipse, the moon will be full Friday night. And this month it’s nicknamed the “snow” moon.

According to the Farmers’ Almanac, full moon names date back to Native Americans in the northern and eastern U.S. Each full moon has its own name.

“The tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon,” the almanac reports. “Their names were applied to the entire month in which each occurred.”

Comet 45P

A few hours after the eclipse, Comet 45P, which has been visible after sunset for the past two months through binoculars and telescopes, makes its closest approach to Earth, when it will be “only” 7.4 million miles away, NASA said.

Look to the east around 3 a.m. Saturday morning, where it will be visible in the sky in the constellation Hercules. Binoculars or a telescope could be helpful. Watch for a bright blue-green “head” with a tail.

It will be visible in various points of the night sky until the end of February, according to NASA.

What’s Up for December 2016?

What’s Up for December? Mars and Neptune above the crescent moon and a New Year’s Eve comet!

2016 ends with fireworks as three planets line up as if ejected from a Roman candle. Mercury, Venus and Mars are visible above the sunset horizon all month long. 

As Venus climbs higher in the sky, it looks brighter and larger than it appeared last month.

On New Year’s Eve, Mars and Neptune appear very close to each other. Through telescopes, rusty red Mars and blue-green Neptune‘s colors contrast beautifully.

There are two meteor showers this month – the Geminds and the Ursids. The best time to see the reliable Geminids will be next year, when the full moon won’t be so bright and interfering. This year, however, we may luck out and see some of the brighter meteors on the evening of the 13th and the morning of the 14th.

The best time to view the Ursids, radiating from Ursa Minor, or the little Dipper, will be from midnight on the 21st until about 1 a.m. on the 22nd, before the
moon rises. They may be active on the 23rd and 24th, too.

We haven’t had a good easy-to-see comet in quite a while, but beginning in December and through most of 2017 we will have several binocular and telescopic comets to view.

The first we’ll be able to see is Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková, which will appear low on the western horizon on December 15th. On that date, the comet will pass the pretty globular cluster M75. 

By the 21st, it will appear edge-on, sporting a bluish-green head and a thin, sharp view of the fan-shaped tail.

On New Years Eve, the comet and the crescent moon will rendezvous to say farewell to 2016. A “periodic” comet is a previously-identified comet that’s on a return visit. Periodic comet 45P returns to the inner solar system every 5.25 years, and that’s the one that will help us ring in the new year.

Watch the full What’s Up for December video: 

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New day, new favorite type! and for my favorite Rock type, I’ve picked Minior! This cute little space candy is such a cool design and I love all the colors they come in! I’d love to try to use one someday.