Archive for December, 2009

The Geminids

Friday, December 11th, 2009

It’s already started, and it peaks on December 13-14. It’s the Geminid meteor shower. The Geminids are a very reliable meteor shower known for their multi-colored display. They would probably be everyone’s favorite meteor shower if they didn’t happen in December. But the cold temps (it was -6 here last night) tend to freeze the desire to go out and watch them. The Geminids are caused by 3200 Phaethon, an object believed to be the core of an extinct comet. The moon won’t be a problem this year, so if you can do it without freezing too badly, go out and enjoy the show.

The Triangulum Galaxy

Friday, December 4th, 2009

It’s getting to the time of year where a heavy coat and thermos of coffee are essential astronomy equipment. The last few days have really started feeling like winter in my part of the world. But if you brave the cold and venture out, the winter sky holds some real treats. One of them is the galaxy M33, the Triangulum Galaxy. There are times when, because of it’s appearance, M33 is called the Pinwheel Galaxy. However the name Pinwheel Galaxy officially refers to M101 – itself a worthy telescope target in the constellation Ursa Major. At magnitude 5.7, M33 can be seen with the naked eye if skies are sufficiently dark. Even under moderate light pollution, it makes a good telescopic target with a low power eyepiece. Being about 3 million light years away, M33 is part of the Local Group of Galaxies. It’s nearly face on view gives a great view of M33′s spiral structure. So heat up the coffee and take a look.

Finding M33 in Triangulum