space comet

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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.

She was the first woman to be awarded a Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1828), and to be named an Honorary Member of the Royal Astronomical Society (1835, with Mary Somerville). She was also named an honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy (1838). The King of Prussia presented her with a Gold Medal for Science on the occasion of her 96th birthday (1846).

Read more at: Wikipedia

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After 40 years, scientists may have solved the mystery of the “Wow!” space signal

  • In August of 1977, a group of astronomers examining radio transmissions in Ohio received a mysterious signal from an unknown source.
  • Shocked by its incredible length — 72 seconds — one scientist scribbled “Wow!” next to the recording, inadvertently giving the unusual communication a nickname that would last decades.
  • Now, after 40 years of grappling with possible explanations for the Wow! signal — which even include the possibility of aliens — scientists at the Center for Planetary Science have finally solved the puzzle.
  • A comet unknown to researchers in the 1970s likely caused the signal, and researchers were able to test that theory in a recent fly-by. Read more (6/8/17)

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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.