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10 Things for the Week of November 17 -23
Columnist: The Authors

10 Things for the Week of November 17 -23
15 November 2013

Space is a hot topic this week -- two launches and comet ISON is brightening as it is nearing its closest approach to the sun. Check out the below for all the latest, plus a few other "things."


MAVEN (Mars Atmospheric and Volatile EvolutioN) launches to Mars this Monday, November 18th.

MAVEN will obtain critical measurements of the Martian atmosphere to help understand dramatic climate change on the Red Planet over its history. Check out our MAVEN toolkit for all the launch events, times and details, as well as images and videos connected with this mission. Go MAVEN.


November 16th/17th is the Leonids meteor shower peak. Unfortunately, there will be a full moon which will make it difficult to view these bright and fast meteors. Don't be too discouraged though, this shower lasts through the end of November -- you just might be able to see one later in the month when the moon is waning.


This Monday, November 18th would have been astronaut Alan Shepard's 90th birthday. Shepard was the first American in space (1961) and the fifth person to walk on the surface of the moon (1971, Apollo 14).


In a six-minute flight, 60 miles up, FORTIS (Far-ultraviolet Off Rowland-circle Telescope for Imaging and Spectroscopy) will study comet ISON as it is nearing the sun. (Launches November 20th.) ISON will reach perihelion (closest approach to the sun) on November 28, 2013.


Did you know that comet ISON is a sungrazing comet? What does that mean? Learn all about sungrazing comets in our new Sungrazing Comets Infographic.


Also concerning the hot topic of the month -- ISON will be observed by the MESSENGER spacecraft this Tuesday, November 19th.


MESSENGER is not only going to be able to study comet ISON, but a day earlier (on the 18th) MESSENGER will take a look at comet Encke before this comet makes its own perihelion passage of the sun on November 21st at 0.336 AU.

Comet Encke is the source of the Taurids meteor shower, which take place every November (this showers' peak was Monday, November 4th ). Taurid meteors are known for their fireballs.


There have been reports that comet ISON is now naked eye visible. So go on out early in the morning this week and look torwards the southeast, you just might spot this comet near the star Spica in the constellation of Virgo.


Check out these images of comet ISON.


It's National Game and Puzzles Week next week. Try your puzzle skills in our game section of Solar System 101. There you will find puzzles that range from easy to insane.

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