Comet ISON 2012 S1 made its death-defying plunge into the sun’s atmosphere on Thanksgiving Day, and the sun won.
On cold, crisp November evenings, you can spot two glittering star clusters in the constellation of Taurus the Bull, high up in the eastern sky around 8 p.m. They are the Hyades and the Pleiades star clusters.
After lagging behind its projected brightness curve for weeks, Comet ISON suddenly sprang to life late last week and now is the brightest of five comets visible in our predawn sky.
Who would have imagined that another new comet would upstage the great and powerful ISON? Enter Comet Lovejoy, or Comet C/2013 R1, as astronomers like to call it.
Don’t be surprised if you see a blazing fireball or two streaking across the heavens while you are driving home after dark this week. It’s just the annual Taurid meteor showers reaching their peak of activity.
As the first “star” to pop out after sundown, Venus is popularly known as the Evening Star, but, of course, it isn’t a star at all. Venus is the second planet from the sun in our solar system and shines by reflected sunlight.
In early autumn, the number of bright stars has been reduced to five. The two bright stars that are specifically associated with the season of autumn are Fomalhaut and Capella.
No one knows how brightly Comet ISON will shine after it swings around the sun on Thanksgiving Day. Right now, it is a faint wisp of light in the pre-dawn sky, invisible to the unaided eye, but very close to the bright planet Mars and visible in backyard telescopes.
A group of 22 students, faculty, and staff — all members of the Colorado Mountain College SKY Club — recently flew to Alaska in search of the Northern Lights. These magnificent lights, also called the aurora borealis, are rare from Colorado but are more common as you head north toward the Arctic Circle. From far northern latitudes, the aurora can be seen on most dark, clear nights of the year.
The sun has been very quiet lately, a most unsteady calm, considering that this is predicted to be the peak year of activity in the sun’s 11-year sunspot cycle.
Peering at us from out of the darkness on early fall evenings are the twinkling eyes of Draco, the Dragon.
Most stars shine with a constant brightness in our sky throughout the eons of time, however, a few stars do not. These are the variable stars whose light output can change in a matter of minutes or months. Our autumn sky holds two of the most spectacular variable stars known to astronomers and both can be observed with nothing more than your naked eyes.
Comet ISON, the potential “super comet” discovered last year, is not brightening as much as comet watchers would like to see as it approaches the sun. If this trend continues, then the comet might not live up to the most optimistic predictions.
Summer is slipping away, and the changing constellations are a sure sign of autumn’s approach. The Big Dipper that rode high in the sky during spring and summer evenings now is sinking into the northwest. The Summer Triangle, too, is migrating westward. A whole cast of new celestial characters is rising in the east to take their places.
Friday morning was a remarkable morning and unique to my 50-plus years of stargazing. Two “new” stars were visible in the sky at one time, a nova and a supernova.