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The Skies of October, 2021

Oct 06 2021 06:39 AM | cookman in This Month

Highlights: Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, Planet Plotting, October Moon Focus Constellations: Ursa Minor, Draco, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Perseus, Camelopardalis, Ursa Major, Hercules, Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila, Pegasus, Andromeda, Pisces, Aries

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Cosmic Challenge: The Elephants Trunk

Oct 01 2021 05:00 AM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

Take a look at just about any star atlas and you will find a huge, irregular cloud of ionized hydrogen suspended to the south of Mu (μ) Cephei, Herschel's Garnet Star. That's IC 1396, one of the largest nebulae in the night sky. Even from a distance of about 2,450 light years, this complex cocktail of bright glowing gas mixed with dark dust clouds spans 3° of our sky. At that distance, 3° translates to a linear diameter of nearly 160 light years, more than three times greater than the Orion Nebula, M42.

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The Skies of September, 2021

Sep 06 2021 01:57 PM | cookman in This Month

Highlights: Comet Journals, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, Autumnal Equinox, Planet Plotting, September Moon Focus Constellations: Ursa Minor, Draco, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Perseus, Camelopardalis, Ursa Major, Corona Borealis, Ophiuchus, Hercules, Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila, Pegasus, Andromeda

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Cosmic Challenge: A Trio of Binaries

Sep 01 2021 05:00 AM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

How close can two stars appear and still be resolvable as two? The single most important factor that influences the result is a telescope's aperture. All other things being equal, the larger the aperture, the finer the level of detail resolved. Of the many observational experiments that have been conducted to determine the resolution limits of telescopes, the two most often cited are the Rayleigh Criterion and the Dawes Limit.

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The Skies of August, 2021

Aug 02 2021 04:36 PM | cookman in This Month

Highlights: Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, Planet Plotting, August Moon Focus Constellations: Ursa Minor, Draco, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Camelopardalis, Ursa Major, Bootes, Corona Borealis, Ophiuchus, Hercules, Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila, Pegasus, Andromeda

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Cosmic Challenge: Planetary Nebula GJJC-1

Aug 01 2021 05:00 AM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

What is your favorite globular cluster? Apart from those two southern hemisphere beauties, Omega (ω) Centauri and 47 Tucanae, my answer has to be M22 in Sagittarius. Admittedly, the star chains and "propeller" formation within M13 in Hercules (profiled in the July 2017 Cosmic Challenge) are visually intriguing. But there is just something about the remarkable richness of M22 and its surrounding star field that calls to me.

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The Skies of July, 2021

Jul 08 2021 08:57 AM | cookman in This Month

Highlights: Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, Planet Plotting, July Moon Focus Constellations: Ursa Minor, Draco, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Camelopardalis, Ursa Major, Coma Berenices, Virgo, Bootes, Corona Borealis, Hercules, Ophiuchus, Aquila, Lyra, Cygnus

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Cosmic Challenge: Mons Hadley and Rima Hadley

Jul 01 2021 05:00 AM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

Fifty years ago this month, on July 30, 1971, Commander David Scott and Pilot James Irwin navigated their Apollo 15 lunar module, nicknamed Falcon, to land among the lunar Apennine mountains, while Alfred Worden remained in orbit aboard the command module, Endeavor. Scott and Irwin guided Falcon to a soft landing between the edge of a deep precipice and the base of a tall mountain to establish Hadley Base, as the landing site became known.

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Cosmic Challenge: Alcor and Mizar

Jun 01 2021 05:00 AM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

Is there any constellation in the sky more universally known than Ursa Major, the Great Bear? Most of us learned of it as a child, perhaps from a relative or friend, or possibly as a Scout working our way toward a merit badge in astronomy. The seven brightest stars in the group, known in North America as the Big Dipper or in England as the Plough, always draw our attention, especially in the spring when they ride highest in our sky.

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The Skies of June, 2021

Jun 01 2021 05:00 AM | cookman in This Month

Highlights: Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, Summer Solstice, Planet Plotting, June Moon Focus Constellations: Ursa Minor, Draco, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Camelopardalis, Ursa Major, Leo, Coma Berenices, Virgo, Bootes, Corona Borealis, Ophiuchus, Hercules, Lyra, Cygnus

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