Moons page — updated on February 16th, 2017

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Comet, Meteor Fireball, and Moon Eclipse...Oh My!

Earthlings around the world have been recently buzzing about several interesting astronomic phenomena. First of all, hundreds if not thousands of people in multiple U.S. states — Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, West Virginia, and Wisconsin — and Ontario, Canada witnessed an illuminated green fireball (↗). This turned out to be a meteor landing in Lake Michigan. Visible on the American Meteor Society's interactive fireball-spotting map (↗) after clicking the Show Trajectory button (top-left corner), the meteor's approximate path was believed to traverse near Manitowoc, Sheboygan, and other communities in eastern Wisconsin before ending near the western part of Lake Michigan. According to the AMS, this was the 14th-largest meteor ever spotted since recordkeeping began in 2005. Observers' details about the fireball are provided on the map webpage, and all observations can be downloaded in KML (Google Earth) format.

In Other News...
A faint penumbral eclipse of the moon was visible in the Western Hemisphere — especially North America and parts of western South America — on Friday, February 10th in the evening hours. People in Africa, Asia, and Europe might catch a glimpse in the early morning hours (Feb. 11th) and in the evening of Feb. 12th. Meanwhile, this eclipse will not be visible in Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, The Philippines, and various Pacific island nations. During a penumbral eclipse, observant night-sky spectators can notice a subtle shadow engulf the full moon. Finally, this EarthSky webpage (↗) gives information about Comet 45P (Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková) — which will reach its closest distance on Earth on Feb. 11th (today). It is especially visible to observers in the Northern Hemisphere. Stargazers should look to see if they can find a faint, green orb or patch through a telescope or powerful binoculars — seeing it without an astronomic instrument may be difficult. The comet is currently hovering in the constellation HERCULES. The following are other constellations through which Comet 45P will travel during the month of February: BÖOTES, CANES VENATICI, CORONA BOREALIS, LEO, and URSA MAJOR. Keep looking up!

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Blog Background

The background has three Hubble Space Telescope images, which are accessible at this Hubble webpage: Hubblesite.org/categories/images.

— LH 95 is a star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, Dorado constellation.

— Ant Nebula (also called Menzel 3) is an aptly-named planetary nebula located in the constellation Norma.
— Egg Nebula (also called CL 2688) is a protoplanetary nebula in the constellation Cygnus.

HubbleSite Image Links: LH 95, Ant Nebula, and Egg Nebula