There is something exciting happening in the sky almost every night of the year if you know when and where to look. Jimmy Westlake has sifted through all of the 2015 celestial events and selected the 10 he is most excited about.
Jimmy Westlake’s 2015 cosmic calendar of celestial events
It has been one year since Comet Lovejoy 2013 R1 glided across our winter sky and upstaged a much overrated and underperforming Comet ISON. Now, Australian comet-hunter Terry Lovejoy’s newest discovery, Comet Lovejoy 2014 Q2, is delighting sky gazers in the Northern Hemisphere.
Early risers on the morning of Sunday, Jan. 4 might see as many as 60 meteors per hour before dawn brightens the sky.
The Winter Hexagon spotlights eight of the 20 brightest stars in earthly skies and makes a superb starting point for backyard astronomers trying to learn their way around the winter sky.
Sirius rises at about 8 p.m. Christmas Eve and about 30 minutes earlier, or 7:30 p.m., on New Year's Eve. Why not step outside with your family this holiday season and bark with “the Great Overdog that romps through the dark?”
Get ready for the best meteor shower of the year. It’s the Geminid meteor shower, and it could bring as many as 120 shooting stars per hour to our sky.
When you see Orion rising in the early evening, you can be certain that the winter snows are not far behind. Welcome back, old friend.
What’s that flashy, golden star hovering over the northeastern mountains as darkness falls in late November? It’s Capella, the third-brightest star visible in Colorado skies and the brightest star in the constellation of Auriga, the Charioteer.
Our Milky Way is flat, like a pancake made of star batter. It’s a spinning disk of stars about 100,000 light-years across but only 3,000 light-years thick. During the early evenings of late spring, we are positioned so that we can look straight up out of the top of our Milky Way pancake and into the intergalactic space that forms the rooftop of the sky.
If all goes according to plan, a little space probe named Philae will separate from the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft late Tuesday and make the first controlled landing on the surface of a comet Wednesday morning.
Nestled in between the constellations of Andromeda, Perseus and Pisces is a delightful little trio of stellar triangles, visible on crisp November evenings. Each triangle has an interesting history, all its own.
Don’t be surprised if you see a blazing fireball or two streaking across the heavens while you are out trick-or-treating this Halloween season. There’s no reason for alarm. It’s just the annual Taurid meteor showers reaching their peak of activity.
Thursday’s eclipse begins at about 3:20 p.m. when the moon will take the first little “bite” out of the solar disk. Maximum eclipse is at 4:35 p.m.
Mars and Comet Siding Spring will be about 1.6 astronomical units from the Earth (about 150 million miles) at the time of closest approach, around midday Sunday. Amateur astronomers with telescopes 8 inches in diameter or larger might be able to view the very faint comet and Mars together, side by side, in their telescope that night and the night before closest approach.