Saturday, January 10, 2009

Comet Lulin Cometh!

*cross-posted from Monkey in the Middle*

Comet Lulin (C/2007 N3), discovered in 2007 by a collaborative team of Taiwanese and Chinese astronomers, is swinging around the sun and approaching Earth. The photogenic comet has a bright tail and an "anti-tail" visible in mid-sized backyard telescopes. This comet will pass 0.41 AU from Earth on 24February 2009, At closest approach , Comet Lulin is expected to brighten to naked-eye visibility.

For the second time this week, a sunspot is coalescing on the surface of the sun. The spot's high latitude and magnetic polarity identify it as a member of new Solar Cycle 24; its appearance continues a recent trend of gradually intensifying new-cycle solar activity. The spot is growing rapidly and may soon provide a nice target for backyard solar telescopes.

This weekend's full Moon is the biggest and brightest of 2009. It's a "perigee Moon" as much as 50,000 km closer to Earth than other full Moons we'll see later this year. Perigee moonlight shining through icy winter air can produce beautiful halos, coronas, moondogs and other atmospheric optics phenomena.

If you are lucky you will have a spectacular moon this weekend. If you are like me and expecting snow all weekend, you will miss it. But you can catch some of the action at, a great place to find out more about the sky above us.

1 comment:

Findalis said...

We're in the middle of a snowstorm here, All we see are clouds. Damn! My neighbor's kid is upset about that. They got him a new telescope for Christmas and he was looking forward to using it.