Today’s the Day for BL86 Flying Past Earth! And you can See it!

Today was the flyby of the big Asteroid 2004 BL86.  It can be seen tonight in the sky but you will need a darn good pair of binoculars or a telescope.   Here’s where to find it: Scientists have also revealed some new information about it, including updating its size from 550m down to a more paltry 300m, which is still pretty big! Also, it has a moon! Crazy right? Enjoy yet another close shave by a moderately sized Space rock that could have had a devastating impact.

Multi-Wavelength Astronomy is Amazing!

You may know that the Universe is much more complex than we know.  If you look at nearly anything in a different wavelength of light, new details can pop up that you’d never expect.  Astronomers today use all the wavelengths of light to study the Universe. Even the most seemingly boring objects can come to life in different wavelengths.  As a prime example, take the Moon.  Now I don’t find the Moon boring at all, in fact it’s quite interesting and has a lot of influence on the Earth, so its fun to talk about.  But when we look at...

Questions Series: How do we know the size of the Universe?

A set of questions I get from kids and adults alike while doing my Astronomy in Action planetarium shows consists of the following: Does the Universe have an end? How big is the Universe? Where is the center of the Universe? What is the ‘Observable Universe?’ How is it different from just saying ‘the Universe?’ First of all, let me say that it is really hard to imagine the Universe as it is, even with a solid understanding of large-scale Physics.  This is because there is no analogy in our lives, no reference point in our everyday experience.  It’s very...

The Launch was a Success! Orion is Up!

After yesterday’s scrubbed launch due to valve issues, the Orion spacecraft has launched on its first full test flight aboard a Delta IV rocket.  This is the first step for humanity to reach beyond the Moon, and the Orion craft will eventually carry astronauts Watching it live and seeing everyone in the space flight community on twitter talking about it and posting pictures really makes you feel like a part of the mission itself.  I feel like I’m there in mission control along with the NASA staff, and having followed the progress of the mission for so long it feels...

China’s Unmanned Moon Probe Returns!

If you weren’t aware, new countries have entered the next space race.  India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) named ‘Mangalyaan’ was successfully launched on November 1st, 2013, and has been orbiting Mars since its arrival on September 21st of this year.  China has been in the mix since 2007, and have been working to gradually increase their capabilities. Their latest mission, called ‘Chang’e 5-T1,’ was launched on October 23rd, and spent 8 days travelling to the Moon, performing a flyby, and returning safely.  This is the test mission before they send Chang’e 5 in 2017, a mission that will land on the...

Post Eclipse breakdown – Quickest DIY Pinhole Camera ever

Yesterday’s post had me discuss the partial Solar Eclipse that occurred around sunset for most of North America.  The one thing I neglected to mention was regarding safe viewing of it. In reality if you saw the sun with your bare eyes during a partial eclipse, it looks like the sun any other time of day – its bright. Don’t damage your eyes. I found a bit of time in the afternoon to build a pinhole camera, which basically consists of a tube or box with a pinhole in one end and a film or ‘viewing area’ at the other...

Partial Solar Eclipse Today!

Tonight, right around sunset, there will be a partial eclipse of the sun, visible from most of North America.  As the sun sets, skywatchers will get to see the moon gradually cover about half of the sun, before it disappears below the horizon. A map of the viewing area shows that the best spot to see it will be all the way up in the Canadian arctic. If you don’t live in the Arctic circle, you can certainly see the eclipse in the South-West near the horizon as it sets.  The moon will start to cover the sun around 5:45 EDT,...