Archive for July, 2010

Something is Missing….

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

The before and after you could expect to see through a small telescopeWith Jupiter now returning to prime time for viewing (currently rising around midnight) amateur astronomers will be turning their view to this old favorite and it’s four large moons. But with just one glance you’ll notice something has changed. Normally, Jupiter’s two large cloud belts are easily visible through even a modest telescope. But when you look now, you’ll only see one. The South Equatorial Belt began fading late last year, and since May has all but disappeared. This sort of thing has happened before, most recently in 2007 when the belt faded slightly. And in the past the belt has always come back, often making a rather dramatic return. As scientists don’t completely understand the mechanism that causes this, there’s no sure way to know when the belt will be back. But based on precedent, it could be anytime in the next two years.  Until then, enjoy a slightly different view of our solar system’s largest planet.

Gamma Delphini

Monday, July 5th, 2010

There are a lot of good binary pairs out there, and one of the best is in the often overlooked constellation Delphinus.  Gamma Delphini is easily found at the “nose” of this little constellation. It has a magnitude of 4.27 and is about 101 light years away. And it is made up of a yellow-white dwarf star and and orange subgiant. There is speculation that the orange subgiant may harbor a planetary system. So the next time you’re exploring the Summer Triangle, just look a bit to the east for this binary treat.