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Showing posts from May, 2014

Good Views from GMARS

Spring time at GMARS is a bit interesting in terms of weather. The conditions during the daytime would lead one to believe that the night is going to be useless. It's often cloudy or the winds are so insane that you wonder why you bothered coming out here. But then night settles in. The clouds tend to dissipate and the winds subside. The seeing conditions may not be anything to write home about but you really don't care as you stare at the sky while wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

Here is some evidence of that:

M13 Surrounded by Tiny Galaxies

M13 is one of the best known globular star clusters in the sky, and probably the best known in the northern sky. What isn't as well known is the fact that there are hundreds of tiny galaxies in its immediate vicinity. These galaxies aren't actually close to the cluster but they appear in the same field of view from our perspective.

Below is a 2-hour exposure of the great globular star cluster. Click on it for a larger view and notice all of the faint, small galaxies throughout the image. For the full resolution image (3600x2400 pixels), click here.

NEW Meteor Shower? How Does THAT Happen?

There's supposedly a new meteor shower in town and his name is Camelopardalid (camel-Oh-par-... Oh, just watch the video at the bottom of this post!). The shower's parent, Comet 209P/LINEAR, is streaking through the sky currently, leaving in her wake bits of dust. The comet has been doing this for decades and it just so happens that Earth will be making its way through this trail of dust on the evening of May 23rd into the early morning hours of May 24th (Pacific Time). As the tiny particles of dust slam into the Earth's atmosphere, the particles get super-heated and light up the night sky to become what we call meteors or shooting stars.

So, how can we have a new meteor shower? Don't things in the solar system pretty much stay the same year after year, decade after decade, and millennium after millennium? Yes and no. The rings of Saturn have been around for thousands of years and have looked essentially the same. But on closer inspection with spacecraft, we find that …

GMARS Tonight

Just another beautiful twilight at GMARS.