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° 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 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 — but also very fast! If you saw it in January, when it moved a whole 5° in two-weeks, you’re in for a chase across the sky as it starts the month moving 5° a day! Continue reading “Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova in the Morning Sky”
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”
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.