Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Meteor shower reports

I went out Sat night with the kids here in Idaho from about 10-11pm. I should have have stayed out much later, but jet-lag got the better of me.

We saw a nice couple of meteors while lying on the dock down at the lake. It was suburban dark here, but good enough to see the milky way. we probably saw about 10 meteors.

Please reply and tell us about your meteor hunting trips!

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Mars action this week

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NASA's Curiosity rover is scheduled to make its fiery landing on the surface of Mars this  Monday morning after it's  8 and a 1/2 month journey. Here is a great video,  "7 Minutes of Terror" explaining the seemingly crazy landing process which includes: heat shields, parachutes, retro rockets and a crane!

For those of us stuck on Earth, we can still watch Mars action,  without a robotic rover, nor  even a telescope. Mars is now low in the southeast right after sunset, and closing in on Saturn. Together with the bright star Spica ( of Virgo) they make a nice triangle at the beginning of this week.
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However, since mars is much closer to us that Saturn, we can watch its position change appreciably after only a few nights.

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Later in the month, mars will actually pass Saturn ( from our point of view) and the triangle will then point the other way. By Aug 21 the crescent moon will pass by to join our backward triangle.

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Summer Meteor Shower, don't miss it!

Next weekend is the annual Perseid meteor shower. This year should be a very good show as there will not be much of a Moon to light up the sky and get in the way.

You can watch the show from any dark spot. Just lie down and look up! Generally the later in the night, the better. This year's peak will be Sunday night Aug 12, but there should be some meteors on the nights before and after.

This year there are organized observing groups around the country, mostly in the Negev. In Mizpe Ramon there is a free happening in the local soccer stadium with talks by astronomers, and public telescope viewings. And, the town will be turning off all their lights!

For a nice video explanation on meteor showers and the Perseids see NASA