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Good Astronomy From The Bad Astronomer

Bad AstronomyDr. Phil Plait, The BadAstronomerFour astronomical bits to crane your neck and boggle your mind.

First up, don’t forget there’s a total lunar eclipse tonight. Europe and the east coast of North America will be getting the best views on this one.

Tonight, just about sunset if you’re on the east coast of North America, head on out and check out the moon. It’ll be rising with the eclipse already in progress. In fact, Down East here, it’ll already be fully eclipsed at moonrise, and may even be hard to spot at first.

A lunar eclipse for those of you who may not already know, is when the moon passes directly behind Earth from the sun, and travels through Earth’s shadow. At first blush you might think this would occur every month at the full moon, but due to the geometry and the tilt of the moon’s orbit around the earth, that’s not the case. For more on that, you can check out Dr. BA’s very good explanation given here.

Pretty by proxy, below the fold.

Second, the good Dr. BA points us to a very pretty picture taken by Hubble, in which a galaxy is being ripped to shreds by gravitational interactions. There’s also some gravitational lensing going on elsewhere in the picture, which makes it a great twofer.

Third, STEREO (a pair of solar orbiting crafts studying the sun) caught some remarkable images of the recently passing Comet McNaught and they’ve been assembled into a stunning animation. Simply beautiful.

Last up, one of the STEREO crafts adds a little icing to the astronomical cake of pretty. STEREO-B, apparently in an effort to outshine its sister, grabbed some great shots of the moon crossing the face of the sun. That’s a solar eclipse, but what makes it so special? Because of its distance, it saw the moon much smaller than we do from earth, and in the background surrounding the moon it captured the roiling and burning and chaos of the sun.

These pics have also been assembled into an animation, and it’s a really incredible view.

Good stuff, from the BadAstronomer. Ya gotta love ‘im.

Filed under: Astronomy, Blogs In Our MonkeySphere, Education, Friends, More Formal Blogs, Photos, Science, Science Links, Video

4 Responses

  1. ScottS-M says:

    Thanks for the reminder about the eclipse. Luckily I was reading here at exactly the right time or I would have missed it. Pretty cool to see the moon turn red.

  2. JanieBelle says:

    It was solid cloud cover here.

    😦

  3. JanieBelle says:

    Glad you got to see it, though Scott!

    Was it a good one? I always wind up cloud locked during the good ones.

  4. ScottS-M says:

    The clouds are the same way here. It was cloudy for 2 weeks straight when that nice comet was around. Couldn’t believe I could actually see the sky this time. It was fun to duck outside every few minutes and watch the eclipse progress. Thanks again.

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