Friday, March 31, 2017

Cometose: Comet 41 P, April Fool's Comet

You may hear of Comet 41P making its closest pass to Earth on April Fools' day, 2017. This is true. The comet is real and moving from the Big Dipper to Draco, but it is very, very faint, or as I like to say, cometose.

Last night I got a whisper of 41P using a 28 mm camera lens and 30-second exposure. Here, I've shown its location near Ursa Major (Big Dipper):

The inset is the region with 3/30 and 3/31 but moved out from under the position labels. The full-resolution inset is here:

I doubt this comet will be visible to the naked eye. I also think it's not a good one for suburban skies, but regardless, I'll be looking again tonight, as there's a chance it will be brighter.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

What's Up in the Sky, March 2017

I had the opportunity to present the monthly What's Up in the Sky at the March 10 Orange County Astronomers meeting. I'm sharing a sequence of images and animation that I used to illustrate the zodiacal light and the tilt of the ecliptic.

A high angled ecliptic greets us in the evening, and a low one in morning, making the evening planets easier to see by being farther above the horizon:

So, an observer at 30 degrees north latitude sees this: The planets and zodiacal light are high.