Interesting things to watch out for in the early summer skies include
the reappearance of Jupiter in the eastern sky in late December. Even
a small telescope or powerful binoculars will show its four largest
moons dancing around the planet from night to night.
Venus returns to the evening sky in December and may be visible low
in the west just after the Sun sets. Over the next few months it will
move further from the Sun in its orbit and will appear higher in the sky
as the Summer progresses.
December 14, 16 and 20 may also see good displays of meteors if the
weather is clear and the moon not too bright.
The huge constellation Orion with its famous ‘Pot’ in the centre rises
higher each night in the east accompanied by the two brightest stars,
Sirius and Canopus. To the left of Orion is the beautiful cluster of
young stars known variously as the Seven Sisters, Pleiades, Subaru
and of course, Matariki.
around this comet! This experiment sent radio waves from the orbiting
spacecraft through the comet to
sitting on the other side
which will allow us to find out Comet 67P’s internal structure… is it a
solid body or porous and loosely held together with many internal holes
or cavities? This is very similar to the way a CAT scan uses X-rays to
probe our body.
Comets have been described as dirty snowballs but it now seems they
are more like snowy dirtballs with lots of carbonaceous dust and a little
ice. Ice from comets is thought to have possibly been the source of the
water in Earth’s oceans, and this is one of the things
will tell us.
Comet 67P is actually darker than coal and weighs about the same
as a (rather large) piece of wood! Some of the carbonaceous material
in comets can be converted to small diamonds. One such comet,
Hypatia, exploded over the Sahara Desert 28 million years ago and
produced ‘Libyan Desert Glass’, some of which is on display for visitors
to Stargazers Astronomy Tours. A piece of this glass was found in
Tutenkahamen’s tomb carved into the shape of a scarab beetle, so
highly prized was it by the ancient Egyptians.
Experience Rosetta’s amazing journey herehttp://sci.esa.int/where_is_rosetta/
Go here to view updates on the Rosetta:http://sci.esa.int/rosetta/ http://rosetta.jpl.nasa.gov/ or
Coming closer to Earth...
View these happenings at a Stargazers Tour or on your own.
Below, an artist’s rendition of what the lander would have looked like leaving the
spacecraft. An initial landing spot was chosen near the rim of a crater.
Once settled in,
science instruments worked as planned, and 64 hours of
data was relayed back to Earth during communications windows, when
flew above the lander’s new horizon. It is hoped that the comet itself will tilt and
allow the solar panels to recharge the batteries.
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