ASTEROID BUZZES EARTH, HEADS FOR MOON: Newly discovered asteroid2016 RB1 flew past Earth on Sept 7th only 25,000 miles above our planet’s south pole. Because of the asteroid’s southern trajectory, it did not pass within the orbits of any communication or weather satellites–but it was close. After it buzzed Earth, the space rock turned and headed for the Moon, executing a wider flyby of 179,000 miles on Sept. 8th. Researchers say 2016 RB1 is ~50 ft in diameter, about the size of a grey whale.
Well, as thought, it missed. And by 4,000 miles more than the original guess. But it was still close. Keep track of Near Earth Asteroids on spaceweather.com. And not just asteroids; if you attended our presentation of “Space Weather, Earth Climate”, you may remember how we said cosmic rays affect our climate. Well, you can track how cosmic rays are affecting our climate on spaceweather.com.
Check it out and stay tuned for information on a probe heading for an asteroid for surface samples. Reports to follow soon.
ASTEROID FLYBY: Today, Sept. 7th, a truck-sized asteroid is flying past Earth only 21,000 miles above our planet’s surface. At closest approach, 2016 RB1 will actually skim the orbital-zone of geosynchronous satellites. The odds of an impact with any spacecraft are, however, negligibly low. image.
This one was discovered just yesterday (Sept. 6). This happens on occasion. We don’t always see them coming with much warning. This one is a little smaller than the one that exploded over Russia (bus sized) a couple of years ago. 21,000 miles is close. But it is a miss. And this one is only one of two discovered yesterday. Discoveries have been averaging 1 a week lately.
This picture comes compliments of spaceweather.com. Not only can you see the planets in the picture, but Saturn and Mars are visible just above the moon but outside of this field of view. It’s not often we see all five naked-eye planets aligned like this. And if you have a telescope, you can view Neptune rising just as Venus sets.
This is impressive, but better than this, in the year 2040 (I hope to be here to see it), these same planets (all 5) will be in conjunction. beginning in June, they all will begin moving closer to each other until September 8, at 3:00 pm, when they will converge to within a few degrees of each other in the constellation Virgo around the star Porima. This appearance is known as the “Grand Conjunction” and occurs only once every 4,000 years. On top of this, the Moon (as a New Moon) will be there also. And Uranus and Neptune will be in the sky (but not in conjunction with the rest) at the same time.
When you hear about Earth’s changing climate, you never hear that space weather affects Earth’s climate. But it does! Come to Astronomy Night on July 30 at Mackay Garden in Lake Alfred and learn the connection. We start at 7:00 pm, rain or shine.
Thanks to Mike Brady, we are able to show you what the transit of Mercury actually looked like from Winter Haven, FL. Mercury is circled to distinguish it from the Sunspots. Mike had people stop by throughout the day to take a look and be “wowed” by the rare view on Mercury.
We presented material to the Winter Haven & Lakeland Civil Air Patrol how the Sun relates to us and affects us here on Earth, and how it affects our electronics and even avionics. We also spoke about celestial navigation and instruments used for navigation.
Found this site thanks to Sterling N0SSC, who is doing his internship at the VLA in New Mexico right now. The LWA is a joint project by the University of New Mexico, Naval Research Laboratory, Virginia Tech, Los Alamos National Lab, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, to build a high-resolution radio telescope that takes continuous observations in the 10-88 MHz frequency range.
At the top of the page is a near-live view of what the telescope is seeing right now – very cool! If you scroll down to the bottom there is a calendar with links to 24hr-peroid time lapse movies of what they have observed in the past, like this one. Well worth checking out!
I just wanted to let everyone know about a celestial event that doesn’t happen very often. On May 9th, the planet Mercury will pass between Earth and the Sun. This is what is called a transit. Mercury can be seen as a “dot” moving across the face of the Sun. The next Mercury transit will occur in November of 2019 and not again until November of 2032.
The photo shows the path of Mercury and approximate times (in Universal Time).
Of course, you DO NOT look at the Sun without the proper equipment. Looking at the Sun without the proper equipment can (probably will) cause serious damage to your eyes, including blindness. And we don’t want that to happen. Sunglasses will not be enough. A welding shield lens (#14) or darker will be sufficient. Because Mercury is small against the Sun, binoculars or a telescope of 50 power is best. If you have a telescope, but no Sun filter, you can project the image onto a piece of white paper. But DO NOT look into the eyepiece. Be sure to keep the eyepiece facing away from you at all times.
The event will last a little more than 6 Hrs, beginning at 7:12 am EST.
If you have the opportunity to observe, please let us know how it goes. Some of our guys will be trying to get pictures with scopes and binoculars. When they’re available, we’ll publish it for you.