Don't just watch shooting stars. Wear them! Authentic meteorite jewelry for Christmas is now available in the SpaceWeather Store.
LOVEJOY IN THE MORNING: Noted astronomer
John Bortle urges observers (especially in the southern
hemisphere) to "begin searching for Comet Lovejoy's
bright tail projecting up out of the morning twilight
beginning at dawn. The tails of some of the major
sungrazing comets have been extraordinarily
bright. Comet Lovejoy's apparition has been so
bizarre up to this point that it is difficult
to anticipate just what might happen next ... [including]
the exact sort of tail it might unfurl in the morning
UPDATE: This morning
in New Zealand, Minoru Yoneto photographed the ghostly
tail of Comet Lovejoy shining through the twilight:
"I couldn't see the comet with
my naked eye, but a 1.3 sec exposure with my Canon
Kiss X2 digital camera revealed Lovejoy's long tail."
In the clearer skies of Devonport,
Tasmania, amateur astronomer Peter Sayers did see
the tail with his unaided eyes--"but just barely,"
he says. "The tail was just naked-eye and perhaps
a degree long in our Tasmanian summer early morning
The visibility of the tail could improve
in the days ahead as the comet moves away from the
sun and the background sky darkens accordingly.
Early-rising sky watchers should be alert for this
rare apparition. [finder
1 AND MARS: This week, China's
new space station, Tiangong 1, is making a series
of bright passes through the morning skies of North
America. On Dec. 18th, Kevin Fetter of Brockville,
Canada, caught the 8.5-metric-ton spaceship flying
past the planet Mars (video):
Tiangong 1 is unoccupied now, but
China is planning to send Taikonauts to visit the
experimental station at least once and possibly
twice in 2012. To prepare for their arrival, last
Thursday automated systems onboard Tiangong 1 began
a series of air
quality checks inside the station's 15-cubic
meter pressurized volume.
Tiangong 1 is currently about as bright
as the stars of the Big Dipper (a value that will
approximately double when future spacecraft dock
with it). To see it, check Spaceweather's Simple
Satellite Tracker or your
cell phone for local flyby times.
10th Total Lunar Eclipse Gallery
Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs
are space rocks larger than approximately 100m that
can come closer to Earth than 0.05 AU. None of the
known PHAs is on a collision course with our planet,
although astronomers are finding new
all the time.
December 20, 2011 there were 1272
potentially hazardous asteroids.
Notes: LD means
"Lunar Distance." 1 LD = 384,401 km, the distance
between Earth and the Moon. 1 LD also equals 0.00256
AU. MAG is the visual magnitude of the asteroid on
the date of closest approach.
official U.S. government space weather bureau
first place to look for information about sundogs,
pillars, rainbows and related phenomena.
call it a "Hubble for the sun." SDO
is the most advanced solar observatory ever.
views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial
and archival images of the Sun from SOHO.
the NOAA Space Environment Center
underlying science of space weather