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January 23rd, 2015

Rare Chance to See Triple Shadow Transit of Jupiter Friday Night

Transit of three shadows cast by Jupiter’s moons, captured on October 12, 2013  by Leo Aerts

If the skies are clear, and your telescope is at hand, Friday, the 23rd is a great night to see a very special event. Three of Jupiter’s moons — Io, Europa, and Callisto — will be passing in front of the planet and casting their shadows onto its clouds. A triple transit is a very rare event that occurs on average about once in a decade and the next one will be no sooner than December 30, 2032.

All three shadows at once will be on the planet for only 24 minutes from 12:28 a.m to 12:52 a.m. CST. You can see the transit begin with Callisto’s shadow at 9:11 p.m. and Io to follow at 10:35.

Best of luck, dear stargazer!

Image Credit & Copyright: Leo Aerts


January 20th, 2015

The First of Six Supermoons of 2015 is Tonight

The New Moon in the Old Moon’s Arms
Image Credit & Copyright: M. Taha Ghouchkanlu

New moon of January 20, 2015 occurs at the moon’s closest approach to Earth and is called a supermoon.  Generally it would account for a brighter and bigger moon, but this time the lunar disc is not lighted and hides in solar glare all day, rising and setting together with the Sun, so unfortunately we won’t be able to see it. However, this presents a great opportunity to spot some of the fainter object in the sky as the moonlight will not interfere.

Image Credit & Copyright: M. Taha Ghouchkanlu

 


January 12th, 2015

How to Spot Bright Comet Lovejoy

Image Credit & Copyright: Dieter Willasch (Astro-Cabinet)

The brightest sight of this month and the first comet-spotting opportunity of the years is comet Lovejoy, discovered by Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy from his backyard back in August.

The comet will be traveling throughout the entire month of January and at its current levels of brightness, Lovejoy can be spotted with the naked eye – although a full moon tonight will make viewing more difficult. By mid-January its brightness will hit the magnitude of 4.1, which means it will be visible even from light-polluted cities.

You can spot the comet in direction of constellation Taurus near January 14th and Perseus later on, use Star Walk for guidance.

The comet glows in bright green color due to cyanogen and diatomic carbon emanations. Don’t miss the sight and share your photos on our Facebook and Twitter!

 

Credit


January 10th, 2015

The Spinning Vortex of Saturn’s North Polar Storm – The Rose

 

The spinning vortex of Saturn’s north polar storm resembles a deep red rose of giant proportions surrounded by green foliage in this false-color image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Measurements have sized the eye at a staggering 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) across with cloud speeds as fast as 330 miles per hour (150 meters per second).

This image is among the first sunlit views of Saturn’s north pole captured by Cassini’s imaging cameras. When the spacecraft arrived in the Saturnian system in 2004, it was northern winter and the north pole was in darkness. Saturn’s north pole was last imaged under sunlight by NASA’s Voyager 2 in 1981; however, the observation geometry did not allow for detailed views of the poles. Consequently, it is not known how long this newly discovered north-polar hurricane has been active.

The images were taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Nov. 27, 2012, using a combination of spectral filters sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light. The images filtered at 890 nanometers are projected as blue. The images filtered at 728 nanometers are projected as green, and images filtered at 752 nanometers are projected as red. In this scheme, red indicates low clouds and green indicates high ones.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 261,000 miles (419,000 kilometers) from Saturn and at a sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 94 degrees. Image scale is 1 mile (2 kilometers) per pixel. The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov. The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI


January 7th, 2015

Orion in Miniature

The image, taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) aboard NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, shows part of the Orion Nebula, 1500 light-years away and the nearest star-forming region to Earth.

Astronomers used 520 Hubble images, taken between 2004 and 2005 in five colours, to make this picture. They also added ground-based photos to fill out the nebula. The ACS mosaic covers approximately the apparent angular size of the full Moon.

A massive star is illuminating this small region, called M43, and sculpting the landscape of dust and gas. Astronomers call the area a miniature Orion Nebula because of its small size and the single star that is shaping it. The Orion Nebula itself is much larger and has four hefty stars that are carving the dust-and-gas terrain.

Copyright NASA, ESA, M. Robberto (Space Telescope Science Institute/ESA) and the Hubble Space Telescope Orion Treasury Project Team