Impressive Leonid Meteor?

27 11 2008

Whilst talking about meteors and discussing both the size, frequency and origins of meteor showers, I usually mention the phenomena of fireballs (or bolides). These are larger than average specks of dust or debris that can cause an impressive meteor that in some cases can even leave a ‘tail’ like a comet and light up the sky for miles around.

During the annual Leonid meteor shower, it appears that there may have been one such bolide in Canada… Read the rest of this entry »


The Sun

24 11 2008

So far in our ‘voyage’ through the night sky, we’ve seen the constellations, learnt how to pinpoint objects using RA and Dec coordinates and taken a flyby of the major and minor planets and some of the moons in our solar system. I’ve decided to leave the ‘best’ for last… The two objects that affect us most here on Earth on a daily basis – the sun and the moon. This week, it’s the bigger of the two… Read the rest of this entry »

Leonid Meteors

18 11 2008

The Leonids are an occasionally intense meteor shower associated with the comet Tempel-Tuttle. The Leonids generally begin on November 13 and end on November 21, with maximum generally occurring during the night of November 17/18, when the Earth moves through the stream of particles left from the passage of the comet. Read the rest of this entry »

Software & Gadgets for Stargazing

17 11 2008

This week, I will be featuring the following software and gadgets: Stellarium, Celestia, Google Earth & Sky, Starry Night, the Celestron SkyScout and the Meade MySky – all very useful, hugely informative and sometimes even free pieces of technology that can transform a dull or puzzling evening of sky watching into an immersive and educational experience.

I use all of these on a regular basis and although personal preference differs between users (some people prefer one over another), they are all cutting edge and highly user-friendly. Best of all, some of these are 100% free!

I’ve also included links in this post so you can download / purchase each of them, if you feel the need to. Read the rest of this entry »

The Outer Solar System

10 11 2008

The Outer Solar System is the home of the gas giants, immense worlds, each many times larger than all of the inner planets put together. Jupiter, for example, is so large all of the other planets in the solar system could fit inside it.

At the tail end of the realm of the gas giants, is the Kuiper Belt – a region of the solar system dominated by small, ice and rock worlds like Pluto. Nobody knows how many objects are out there, and we are still finding dwarf planet sized objects – so the final tally of planets in the solar system may yet go up… Read the rest of this entry »

The Inner Solar System

3 11 2008

The Inner Solar System is the home of the terrestrial planets – small, rocky bodies that are primarily composed of silicate rocks. The terrestrial planets are the closest planets to the Sun.

The name is derived from the Latin for Earth (Terra), so one definition would be that these are planets which are, in some fashion, “Earth-like”. Terrestrial planets are substantially different from the gas giants in the outer solar system, which might not have solid surfaces and are composed mostly of some combination of hydrogen, helium, and other gasses existing in various physical states. Read the rest of this entry »