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Friday, December 21, 2007

Astronomically speaking...

Saturday; The Ursid meteor shower (named for Ursa Minor, aka the little dipper & home of polaris,) is likely to be washed out by the Moon. This is particularly unfortunate, as an outburst (sometimes referred to as a meteor storm,) is expected. North America is not the place to be this year, but those in Europe & Asia may see at least something. A side note regarding polaris; Although it's the brightest star in Ursa Minor, it's not a very bright star in the sky, overall (contrary to popular assumption.) An indicator of North, it's a good one to be able to locate accurately. You never know when you might get lost while looking for a Christmas tree, after all...
Sunday; Jupiter is in conjunction with the Sun and pumpkin-orange Mars is in conjunction with the Full Moon. Disclaimer; DO NOT try to view any solar conjunctions without proper ocular protection, ever, as you risk blindness!
Monday; Mars is at opposition, meaning it is directly across the sky from the Sun (as seen from our planet.) Considering Mars' still relatively close proximity to Earth, it will appear particularly bright.

7 comments:

Sidney said...

Interesting stuff. I don't get out to stargaze nearly as much as I should, though my cousin is a serious amateur astronomer. Maybe as things finally slow down for the holidays I can do a little watching of the skies. Seems like a good winter holiday activity in fact.

Lana Gramlich said...

Sidney; It's a great winter activity, as that's when the brightest stars are visible in our hemisphere. Cold also typically aids in visibility (heat & humidity are the stargazer's bane, typically.)

mon@rch said...

I didn't know anything about this shower but not sure if our weather would allow any viewing, yet alone the bright moon! Will head out and check though!

Julie said...

Lot of info here, Lana - have to come back and pick through it. Read the stuff about the family rescued by helicopter - not cool!

Once had friends on a managerial team exercise who unknowingly set up camp in the middle of a snowed over frozen lake. Then lit a fire and went to sleep. They had a very narrow escape!

Lana Gramlich said...

Mon@rch; The associated comet (for the shower,) 8P/Tuttle, is also allegedly visible through binoculars. You could probably Google it, if you want to know precisely where to look (we're clouded over, so I'm not going to try.)

Julie; I was just glad to hear they'd found the missing family--the original news about them being lost made my heart sink. *LOL @ the fire on the frozen lake!* Having a fire or heater in an ice-fishing shack in Canada's not uncommon actually, so there is some way that it can be done safely. Personally I was taught not to go out on frozen lakes, anyway. The lesson served me well (when I needed it.) My ultra-long stocking hat once saved my friend's life when he fell through the ice (& to think, people used to laugh at that hat!)

Julie said...

Good grief!

The guy I knew was in the Lake District; they pitched tent after dark and didn't realize they'd been walking on a lake surface.

When they woke up, their combined body heat plus the fire had made the whole thing sink down through the snow and into the ice - they got out just in time.

Lana Gramlich said...

Julie; That's too much!

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