Comet 2P/Encke in the Evening Sky

This February,¬†Comet 2P/Encke sweeps by the Circlet of Pisces asterism as the comet nears the sun along¬†the western horizon. It’s easy to find in mid-February, as it appears inside a 5¬į circle centered on magnitude 4 Omega Piscium. It will be brightest late this month into the first part of March.¬† Continue reading “Comet 2P/Encke in the Evening Sky”

Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova in the Morning Sky


Crop of NP101is image of Comet 45P/H-M-P. © 2011 Björn Gludau.

Comet¬†45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova exits the glare of the sun and is visible in the morning sky.¬†¬†It¬†will be¬†only 0.09 AU from Earth on February 11, so¬†it’ll be pretty bright ‚ÄĒ but also very fast! If you saw it in January, when it moved a whole¬†5¬į in two-weeks, you’re in for a chase across the sky¬†as it starts the month¬†moving 5¬į a day!¬† Continue reading “Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova in the Morning Sky”

Countdown: Annular Solar Eclipse Feb. 26, 2017

TV-76 image of March 20, 2015 Solar Eclipse from Norway. J.M.Pasachoff.

After the¬†penumbral eclipse of the new moon on February 11th, we have an¬†Annular Solar Eclipse just a half-lunar-cycle later. Unlike the lunar eclipse, this one will need proper filtering to observe naked eye or through scopes.¬†The eclipse is annular because only the central part of the sun is obscured, leaving a thin ring (annulus) of light around the edge. This happens because the¬†moon’s orbit brings it closer and further from the earth — so its angular size from earth can vary from 29.4-arc-minutes to 33.5-arc-minutes. The size of the sun hardly varies from 32-arc-minutes due to the small eccentricity of the earth’s orbit. Thus, the moon can appear to be bigger or smaller than the sun according to the circumstances. Continue reading “Countdown: Annular Solar Eclipse Feb. 26, 2017”

Penumbral Lunar Eclipse – Feb. 11, 2017

Some phase of this lunar eclipse is visible from¬†most of the planet. All phases are¬†visible in the region from the eastern parts of North and South America¬†to Europe, Africa, and western Asia. The eclipse is “penumbral” because¬†the moon misses the deepest part of the Earth’s shadows — the “umbra”. This also means it’s easy to miss the initial and later stages as the darkening is not as dramatic and it will lack the color-cast of an eclipse that includes passage through the umbra.

Eclipse map courtesy of Fred Espenak, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, from

Continue reading “Penumbral Lunar Eclipse – Feb. 11, 2017”