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astronomy

Comet NEOWISE in our Skies!

Comet NEOWISE Rising over the Adriatic Sea. Image Credit & Copyright: Paolo Girotti

By Dr. Lisa Will, Resident Astronomer at the Fleet Science Center

 

There is a naked eye comet in our evening sky right now, Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE). Comets are small, mostly icy objects that orbit the Sun in highly eccentric orbits. When they near the Sun, they sublimate, meaning some of their ice is heated into vapor, causing the tails that distinguish comets in our minds.

Best Show of the Year

Photo by Lucas Ludwig on Unsplash

The bright Perseids are perhaps the most popular meteor shower of the year!

This is a complicated year for watching the Perseid meteor shower, because the evening sky has a roughly close-to-full Moon in it, making it more difficult to catch the faint “shooting stars.” So if you can wait until the Moon sets, you should have better viewing in the pre-dawn darkness. Spectators can expect to see around 10-15 meteors per hour or maybe slightly more on the peak on Monday and Tuesday, August 12-13, according to NASA.

OSIRIS-REx and a Closer View of Bennu

Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin

By Dr. Lisa Will, Resident Astronomer at the Fleet Science Center

What can scientists hope to learn from one of the oldest asteroids in our solar system? The possibilities are endless, and soon we’ll know a whole lot more as the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft dips to its lowest orbit yet around the asteroid Bennu. It’s already giving us an amazing close-up view, but that’s only the beginning.

April’s (Meteor) Showers

by Jori Wuerth

 

It’s that time of the year again! Every year in April, the earth moves through the comet trail of C/1861 G1 Thatcher. This comet, sends dust and tiny bits of ice into the atmosphere, leaving a beautiful display of lights dancing across the sky.

The radiant for the Lyrids is near the bright star Vega in the constellation Lyra. This year, the peak viewing hours are expected to take place on Tuesday, April 23, before dawn. The Lyrid meteor shower, which started on April 16, will continue to appear in the sky through Thursday, April 25.

Countdown to the New Horizons Flyby!

Credit: NASA

The New Horizons flyby is coming soon!

By Dr. Lisa Will, Resident Astronomer at the Fleet Science Center

 

TESS Shares First Science Images!

by Dr. Lisa Will, Resident Astronomer at the Fleet Science Center

This week, the NASA spacecraft TESS released its first science images.  Launched in April 2018, TESS stands for “Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.” The goal of its planned two-year mission is to discover small, Earth-like planets using the “transit” method of planet detection, looking for small dips in the light of a star due to a planet passing in between it and our perspective from Earth.

Fleetster Friday: Meet Mary Anderson

It’s #FleetsterFriday! This week, we’d like you to meet the Fleetster who has been working here the longest. Mary Anderson, one of the Fleet’s Console Operators, has been with the Fleet since it opened in 1973! Mary has been the primary Console Operator for all of The Sky Tonight planetarium shows—unless, of course, she’s off chasing eclipses and taking amazing astronomy photos! The Sky Tonight planetarium show on Wednesday, September 5, will be Mary’s last before she retires, so don’t miss it!

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