If Andromeda were brighter…

…it would look like this:

Andromeda

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Stephen’s Quintet

Stephen's Quintet

Meteor Shower this weekend

Check it out:

Early Sunday (May 5), just before dawn, we’ll have an opportunity to see some of the remnants of the most famous of comets briefly light up the early morning sky.

The famed Halley’s Comet made its last pass through the inner solar system in 1986 and is not due back until the summer of 2061. But each time Halley sweeps around the sun, it leaves behind a dusty trail — call it “cosmic litter” — that is responsible for two meteor showers on Earth each year. The first of those “shooting stars” displays, the Eta Aquarid meteor shower, will peak on Sunday.

The Eta Aquarid meteor shower occurs each year in early May because the orbit of Halley’s Comet closely approaches the orbit of Earth in two places. The first is the May timeframe, which leads to the Eta Aquarids. The other point occurs in mid-October, producing the Orionid meteor shower.

This may be one of the exceptionally few times where there’s a clear sky and no full or near-full moon where I am during one of these events (or at least it seems that way).

Lyrid Shower

I really need to get back to my astronomy alerts.

Lyrid shower

The Universe is 13.8 billion years old

Findings from the European Space Agency’s Planck spacecraft have updated our knowledge of the age of the Universe:

Closer scrutiny of radiation left over from the creation of the universe shows the Big Bang took place about 13.8 billion years ago, 100 million years earlier than previous estimates, scientists said on Thursday.

The findings are among the first results from analysis of data collected by the European Space Agency’s Planck spacecraft, which is providing the most detailed look to date at the remnant microwave radiation that permeates the universe.

This relic radiation was first detected in 1964 and later mapped by two NASA spacecraft – COBE, launched in 1989, and WMAP, which followed two years later. With even greater sensitivity, Planck has picked out details of tiny temperature variations in the so-called cosmic microwave background.

The fluctuations, which differ by only about 100-millionths of a degree, correspond to slightly more dense regions of space, places that later gave rise to the stars and galaxies that fill the universe.

Interestingly, religion has still yet to yield any useful information about the Universe.

Keep your eye on the sky

I’m particularly excited about the comet ISON. From a little I’ve read here and there, it should be visible to the whole world (at one point or another) and it will be brighter than the moon for a short period.

Star gazing events of 2013

It’s out there

I can’t say that I absolutely believe there is life teeming about throughout the Universe, but I believe there is good reason to think there is.

Goldilocks zone