7
Feb 10

Comet Hunting

Note: this post is adapted from Weekend SkyWatcher's Forecast by Tammy Plotner on Universe Today, http://www.universetoday.com/

If you are ready for a challenge why not try spotting 11.8 magnitude Comet Tritton! Now cruising through the constellation of Aries (RA 1h 53.5m Dec 17° 39'), this faint fuzzy won't be the easiest of targets to spot – but then it wouldn't be a challenge, would it? Comet 157P Tritton was discovered by Keith Tritton (U. K. Schmidt Telescope Unit, Coonabarabran) on February 11, 1978. Now, almost 32 years later to the date, it's back again on its every 6.33 year journey around our Sun. Although it won't reach perihelion (closest position to the sun) until February 20, its original estimated return brightness was only expected to reach magnitude 16 and now it is far exceeding expectations. Don't expect to see a flaming ball exhibiting a tail because that's not going to happen… but congratulate yourself if you can find this faint fuzzy in the sky.

Image credit: Universe Today

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6
Feb 10

Forming the present-day spiral galaxies

Credit:NASA/ESA/HST

Using data from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have, for the first time, created a demographic census of galaxy types and shapes from a time before the Earth and the Sun existed, to the present day. The results show that, contrary to contemporary thought, more than half of the present-day spiral galaxies had so-called peculiar shapes only 6 billion years ago, which, if confirmed, highlights the importance of collisions and mergers in the recent past of many galaxies. It also provides clues for the unique status of our own galaxy, the Milky Way.(read more)

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3
Feb 10

Mars

If you have been out looking at the sky between about 8h00 pm and 9h00 pm, you may have noticed a particularly bright orange/red star slightly to your west (to your left when looking south) and quite “high” in the sky - this is not a star, it’s the planet Mars, the red planet!

If you have a pair of binoculars you may be able to make out the “disc” of the planet and with even a small telescope you should be able to see the white pole cap.

As well a this, Mars is quite close to an open star cluster (M44) and if you take a look over a few nights you should be able to spot Mar’s movement against the background stars.

Image credit: spaceweather.com
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3
Feb 10

Mars

If you have been out looking at the sky between about 8h00 pm and 9h00 pm, you may have noticed a particularly bright orange/red star slightly to your west (to your left when looking south) and quite “high” in the sky - this is not a star, it’s the planet Mars, the red planet!

If you have a pair of binoculars you may be able to make out the “disc” of the planet and with even a small telescope you should be able to see the white pole cap.

As well a this, Mars is quite close to an open star cluster (M44) and if you take a look over a few nights you should be able to spot Mar’s movement against the background stars.

Image credit: spaceweather.com
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2
Feb 10

Hubble Sees Suspected Asteroid Collision

Source: NASA


NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has observed a mysterious X-shaped debris pattern and trailing streamers of dust that suggest a head-on collision between two asteroids. Astronomers have long thought that the asteroid belt is being ground down through collisions, but such a smashup has never been seen before.(read more)

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1
Feb 10

After all it seems size doesn't matter

Source: Universe Today


Artist's impression of stellar formation.

Astronomers have managed to peer past obscuring dust clouds to gain their first peek at the gestation of a massive proto-star W33A which is about 12,000 light years away within the Sagittarius constellation.

There has been a standing debate in astronomical circles about whether or not massive stars form in the same way as smaller stars. The issue has been hampered by a lack of observational data on just how massive stars form – as they develop so quickly they are generally only seen in an already fully formed state when they pop out of the obscuring dust clouds of their stellar nursery. (read more)

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