Friday, January 04, 2013

Looking up! (don't forget to)

View off the cabin's back deck
Tonight is another meteor shower, traditionally a good one, if you are so inclined. The Quadrantids usually put on a good display, and the crystal clear winter nights only aids its visibility. With holidays over and the overabundance of Christmas lights disappearing, even the eastern skies are pretty dark. That does assume you’re not trying to skywatch in the middle of a large town or city, but at least you shouldn’t have to go very far to find a darkened sky.

Another sky event is going to occur about February 15 when an asteroid will come within 14,000 miles of earth. That’s even closer than some of our orbiting satellites. It’s not going to hit earth, so don’t worry that the Mayans were only off with their “end of the world” prediction by just a few weeks. This asteroid is reported to be the size of about two train cars—definitely not the kind of thing you want to get hit by. Most of us, apparently, won’t be able to see it, though you might if you have a small telescope. I think I’ll pass on this one.

One upcoming sky event you won’t want to miss will start in October 2013. It’s already being touted as “the comet of the century” and a “once in a lifetime light show.” It could outshine the full moon and might even be visible during daylight, but that assumes it doesn’t flame out early. Comet ISON has astronomers cautiously excited, though, and for that crowd, “cautiously excited” is big and maybe even huge. It has the potential to be the brightest comet seen in many generations, so let’s hope that one doesn’t fizzle or burn out early.

Comet Pan-STARRS might also put on a decent show in March, but it’s too soon to know how bright that one will be. The good news is that it will be visible throughout most of March, particularly around the middle of the month, and as it’s unlikely to be overcast here for the entire month, at least I’ll have a better chance to see it than I will with the Quadrantids tonight.

1 comment:

Cathy said...

I do hope that one comet doesn't fizzle out. It would be kinda neat see that in the daylight