10 Things for the Week of November 10 - 16
8 November 2013
How do you view the space around you? Do you go out at night and try to spot the planets, guess at the phase of the moon or pick out a constellation or two? Perhaps you use binoculars, or a telescope to aid your eye? Or are you an armchair-enthusiast, and search the web for cool space facts, videos, images, mission profiles, and visualizations?
This week we have a little bit for everyone: A meteor shower, and a comet you can view outside or in. (Yes, comet ISON is making its way to the sun (Thanksgiving Day) -- you just might spot it this week.) Also, remember two important mission milestones, a notable astronomer and much more.
1. VETERANS DAY
Veterans Day is Monday, November 11th. Veterans Day commemorates the end of World War 1. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs states that cessation took place: "...on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month."
2. VOYAGER 1
Before entering interstellar space Voyager 1 visited the gaseous planets Jupiter and Saturn as part of its grand tour of the solar system. And Tuesday, November 12th is the 33rd anniversary of Voyager 1's flyby of Saturn (1980). Besides imaging and studying the beautiful planet and its rings, Voyager 1 also discovered three new moons of Saturn, and imaged Titan, Mimas, Enceladus, Tethys, Dione, and Rhea.
Six years before both Voyager 1 and 2 even launched for the outer solar system, Mariner 9 made history at Mars. Mariner 9 was the first spacecraft to orbit another planet. Wednesday, November 13th is Mariner 9's 42nd anniversary of that orbit insertion.
4. THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE
On Wednesday, November 13th, asteroid 7644 Cslewis will make its closest approach to Earth at 1.381 AU. This asteroid is named after the author of "The Chronicles of Narnia."
5. COMING BY
Comet ISON will not make its closest approach to the sun until Thanskgiving Day, but that doesn't mean you can't view this comet yet. Go outside 45 minutes before dawn this week -- you just might be able to see ISON with binoculars or a small telescope. Look 20-25 degrees above the horizon at the constellation of Virgo. (ISON will be near the star Spica.)
6. EYES ON ISON
Wondering about comet ISON's trajectory as it is nearing our sun? We have a comet ISON visualization tool for you.
You would not be able to interact with space the way you can from the comfort of your chair today without your computer. Come Friday (November 15th), it will be 42 years since the invention of the computer microprocessor.
8. 275TH: WILLIAM HERSCHEL
Friday, November 15th is the 275th anniversary of the birth of astronomer, William Herschel (1738-1822). Herschel was the astronomer who discovered the first planet with the help of a telescope. The planet was Uranus -- the tilted planet.
Herscel also discovered four moons of the solar system: Titania and Oberon of Uranus, and Mimas and Enceladus of Saturn. Mimas looks like the Death Star of Star Wars fame. And Enceladus is quite the intriguing moon: blue tiger stripes and ice-shooting geysers.
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.
Did you know that every 33 years, or so, viewers on Earth may experience a Leonid storm that can peak with hundreds to thousands of meteors seen per hour depending on the location of the observer. Click on the link below to learn more about meteor storms.
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