Archive for February, 2013


If you can get out this week, it is a great opportunity to do some Stargazing as the skies around the country are very clear at night time at the moment!

The Moon is quite small at the moment so the light from it isn’t quite bright enough to hide all the Stars. The brighter ones can still be seen very well especially Sirius (the Dog Star), Betelgeuse (the red coloured top left star in the constellation Orion) and Aldebaran (which is another red coloured star in the constellation Taurus). But the best object by far in the sky at the moment is the planet Jupiter. It is currently situated near to the Moon each night which makes it easy to spot. Jupiter’s Moons are also very clear at the moment and if you use a telescope, you can see at least four of them shining brightly around the huge planet (depending on where they are in their orbits). You can also just make them out using a decent pair of binoculars.

I had a great half an hour on Sunday night (before I nearly froze to death!)  looking at the Moon and Jupiter. I could see the craters on the Moon very clearly as it was shining bright. I also had a great look at Jupiter and saw three Moons to start with, but then whilst I was watching, a fourth Moon peeped out from behind the giant planet. All four were shining brighter than I had probably seen them shine before. I could also see two of the purple coloured storm bands moving around the planet,  just above and below the centre of Jupiter. It was an amazing sight and whenever I view Jupiter, I can never really believe what I am seeing! It’s that fantastic and awe-inspiring to me.

So take advantage of the clear skies and fine weather and do a bit of Stargazing tonight and let me know what you see by either leaving a comment on this post or tweeting me at @strethewey. Enjoy the viewing!

Meterorite Exploding In Russia

This was caught this morning on film over Chelyabinsk in Russia.

For more info, have a read of this news article from the New York Times.

Asteroid 2012 DA14

On February 15th 2013, an Asteroid will be passing by Earth closer to us than the Moon is to our planet and closer to us than some satellites that we have orbiting us. There was a time when some scientists thought that the Asteroid would hit Earth, but they now believe it will miss us (thank goodness!), and will travel pass us at about 17,200 miles away.  This is still pretty close and may possibly allow us, if it is a clear day and night, to view the Asteroid at some point.  Those of us with access to good binoculars and telescopes should have a good view if the skies are clear.

To put the distance that Asteroid 2012 DA14 will swing by us in context, the Moon is 240,000 miles away and geosynchronous satellites are about 26,000 miles away.  So the Asteroid will travel approx 9,000 miles closer to us than these satellites.  The Asteroid itself is a small one compared to most others and is about 45m across with a mass of about 130,000 metric tons, but would still have caused some damage if it actually hit us!

NASA have released a statement regarding the Asteroid with a few more tidbits of information,

On [February 15, 2013], the asteroid will travel rapidly from the southern evening sky into the northern morning sky with its closest Earth approach occurring about 19:26 UTC when it will achieve a magnitude of less than seven, which is somewhat fainter than naked eye visibility. About 4 minutes after its Earth close approach, there is a good chance it will pass into the Earth’s shadow for about 18 minutes or so before reappearing from the eclipse. When traveling rapidly into the northern morning sky, 2012 DA14 will quickly fade in brightness.