Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On Hold

I'm putting this blog on the back burner as I need to focus on getting my life organized. I'll hopefully be back whenever I find a stable form of income. It may not be daily when I get back, but I would like to try to update every other day, there's still so much to write about, literally a whole Universe.

I do enjoy it though, sharing a bit of the Universe with readers. I already do astronomy outreach in my community, and I always felt this was a nice way to reach a larger audience. But, there's only so much someone can do without gainful compensation. I would hope that even if I don't come back, I would hope that my readers continue following our expanding understanding of the cosmos. A good list of informative sites are in the sidebar to the right, under 'Useful Astronomy Links'.

I do plan to come back to this though, maybe in a month or so. Maybe I will be refreshed and holding a legitimate job and ready to blog again. Until then, there's still lots out there to be amazed at. Today I was blown away by the rather legitimate idea that the Earth might have had two moons at one point. Then there have been other stories: LEGO figurines on the NASA spacecraft Juno, which is launching for Jupiter on Friday; Oxygen particles detected in deep space; The ESO has discovered 96 new open star clusters in the Milky Way that were hidden by dust; and my favorite asteroid, Vesta, is being revealed in amazing detail, and a short video of its rotation.

I suggest spending this weekend looking to see if you have a local Vesta Fiesta (my astronomy club is hosting one during our normal open house.) And if not, you should definitely go out and look for shooting stars, the Delta Aquariids and Perseids meteor showers are overlapping this weekend. Since the height of the Perseids will have a full moon, this weekend might be a great chance to go out and take a look.

I'll see you all when I get back.

Monday, August 1, 2011

August 2011 Highlights

August is here and we are moving into late summer in the northern hemisphere. July wasn't a very ambitious month for me because I spent so much time enjoying my summer, we'll see about a new month. The dominant astronomical event for August is the Perseids meteor shower. Although a Full Moon at it's peak will dampen the experience, the rest of the month should still be full of a few bright traces through the night sky. The weather is still warm, and many great constellations are high in the sky. So if you get the chance, go out and look up:

August 5: Juno Launch: Juno is an ambitious mission to understand the origin and evolution of planet Jupiter. You can read more about it on NASA Juno mission page.

August 8: First Quarter Moon: The Moon is halfway through the waxing phase, a great time for observing as the shadows provide wonderful contrast.

August 12-13: Perseids Meteor Shower: (active July 22-August 22) Usually one of the best meteors shower of the year, but this year it will be marred by a Full Moon during its peak. However, up to 60 meteors per hour may be possible in dark locations. The meteors appear to radiate from the constellation Perseus.

August 13: Full Moon: The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This moon, in the Native American tradition of naming the full moons throughout the year, is known as the Full Sturgeon Moon. It gets its name from the large sturgeon fish of the Great Lakes and other major lakes were more easily caught at this time of year.

August 16: Venus at Superior Conjunction: Venus swings around the opposite side of the Sun and passes into the evening sky. (It will briefly be directly opposite of the Sun from us, therefore not visible.)

August 21: Last Quarter Moon: Halfway through the Moon's waning phase.

August 22: Neptune at Opposition: The planet will be on its closest approach to Earth and fully illuminated by the Sun. This is the best time to observe Neptune, but even the most powerful telescopes reveal little more than a tiny pale blue dot.

August 29: New Moon: The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth.