This stuff never gets old
I gave my “Tour of the Solar System, and Beyond!” presentation using SpaceEngine to students in my after-school astronomy club. I cover several out-of-the-ordinary things that I’ve never seen discussed in other solar system talks: particles in Saturn’s rings, Mercury’s double sunrise, Pluto and Charon tidally-locked with each other, ringed asteroid Chariklo, UFO-like moon Pan in Saturn’s rings, and more.
I had one student in particular who was asking all the right questions – that was wonderful! My wife tells me he wants to be an astronaut. So did I at his age… but I think he may have a much better chance at it!
Venus, Saturn and Mars continue to appear in the southeastern predawn sky all week.
By next week, Saturn will have moved a bit closer to Venus and Mars.
By the end of the month, Saturn will appear very near Venus and Mars; a crescent Moon will join the grouping of planets on March 28th. This type of conjunction is what I call an “accident-causer.” Get your camera out, and drive safely!
The Moon appears near the star Regulus after sunset on March 15th.
The Moon appears near the star Spica after sunset on March 19th.
- The Moon is a Waxing Gibbous – visible to the southeast in early evening, up for most of the night.
- The Full Moon occurs on March 18th – rising at sunset, visible high in the sky around midnight, and visible all night.
- After March 18th, the Moon will be a Waxing Gibbous – rising after sunset, visible high in the sky after midnight, and visible to the southwest after sunrise.
If you click on the Moon image above, or click this link, you will go to NASA’s Moon Phase and Libration, 2022 page – it will show you what the Moon looks like right now. If you click the image on that page, you will download a high-rez TIFF image annotated with the names of prominent features – helpful for logging your lunar observations!
Latest Moon Image from Rik Hill:
The Sun once again has five named sunspots; AR 2965 us quite large!
Spaceweather.com says “ANOTHER CME IS COMING: On March 13th, an unstable filament of magnetism in the sun’s far-southern hemisphere exploded. The resulting CME could deliver a glancing blow to Earth’s magnetic field on March 17th. Minor G1-class geomagnetic storms are possible when the CME arrives.”
The Sun seen in 193 angstroms on March 14th.
AR 2965 has some serious coronal loop activity! The south polar region has a moderately sized coronal hole.
The Sun seen in 304 angstroms on March 14th.
Surprisingly few prominences over the last few days; AR 2965 looks very “angry” in this video.
Videos courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams.
You can view the Sun in near real-time, in multiple frequencies here: SDO-The Sun Now.
You can create your own time-lapse movies of the Sun here: AIA/HMI Browse Data.
You can browse all the SDO images of the Sun from 2010 to the present here: Browse SDO archive.
Amateur Solar Astrophotography
Solar wind speed is 417.3 km/sec ▼ with a density of 3.6 protons/cm3 ▼ at 1154 UT.
Click here to see a near real-time animation of the corona and solar wind from the Solar & Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO).
- Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) discovered this month: 138, this year: 628 (+81), all time: 28,634 (+81)
- Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs): 2263 (-7 updated 2022-03-15)
- Total Minor Planets discovered (MPC): 1,165,956 (-32 updated 2022-03-15)
- Total Minor Planets discovered (NASA): 1,113,527 (updated 2021-08-17) – This value has not changed for months. I emailed the site manager offering to keep it updated for them.
Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
|Asteroid||Date(UT)||Miss Distance||Velocity (km/s)||Diameter (m)|
|2022 ED4||2022-Mar-15||2.1 LD||17||17|
|2022 DP3||2022-Mar-15||3 LD||10.8||41|
|2022 EG3||2022-Mar-15||13.7 LD||6.5||8|
|2022 EF4||2022-Mar-16||6.9 LD||12.1||25|
|2019 PH1||2022-Mar-17||12.3 LD||15.9||37|
|2022 EU3||2022-Mar-17||14.2 LD||5||14|
|2022 DB2||2022-Mar-18||11 LD||8.6||52|
|2016 FZ12||2022-Mar-19||2.2 LD||8.3||16|
|2022 DX||2022-Mar-19||8.5 LD||1.5||8|
|2022 ER5||2022-Mar-20||2.1 LD||12.3||27|
|2022 EE4||2022-Mar-21||18 LD||16.9||33|
|2022 DG3||2022-Mar-21||18.3 LD||7.2||37|
|2020 SQ||2022-Mar-21||2.8 LD||6||12|
|2022 EA5||2022-Mar-23||14.9 LD||8||19|
|2013 BO76||2022-Mar-24||13.3 LD||13.8||271|
|2011 GE3||2022-Mar-26||7.6 LD||7||22|
|2012 FX35||2022-Mar-26||13.7 LD||5.9||25|
|2022 EL5||2022-Mar-29||7.1 LD||3||12|
|2010 GD35||2022-Mar-29||17.7 LD||12.5||43|
|2020 FW5||2022-Mar-30||8.9 LD||13.1||27|
|2022 EK1||2022-Mar-30||19 LD||7.6||44|
|2022 DX4||2022-Mar-31||16.7 LD||6||40|
|2007 FF1||2022-Apr-01||19.4 LD||12.8||155|
|2021 GN1||2022-Apr-02||14.4 LD||14.3||19|
|2016 GW221||2022-Apr-02||9.8 LD||5.9||41|
|2022 EN2||2022-Apr-04||18.7 LD||5.6||41|
|2012 TV||2022-Apr-05||19.2 LD||18.1||32|
|2020 GH1||2022-Apr-09||16.8 LD||7.2||28|
|2017 TO2||2022-Apr-10||17.9 LD||11.6||78|
|2020 TQ6||2022-Apr-18||13.4 LD||15.4||43|
|2017 UR2||2022-Apr-22||19.4 LD||9.3||10|
|2020 VN1||2022-Apr-25||19.3 LD||2.3||9|
|2017 XO2||2022-May-01||18.8 LD||12.4||118|
|2017 HG1||2022-May-04||18.2 LD||6||11|
|2019 JE||2022-May-11||4.9 LD||7.2||20|
I laughed REALLY HARD at this one!
On March 14, 2022, the NASA All Sky Fireball Network reported 4 fireballs!
Position of the planets & several spacecraft in the inner solar system on March 15th:
Position of the planets in the middle solar system:
Position of the planets in the outer solar system:
Solar System News
Has it been TEN years already!?
James Webb Space Telescope
HiRISE - Beautiful Mars
International Space Station
Juno Images Europa
418.34 ppm #CO2
See a list of current NASA missions here: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions?mission_status=current
ex·o·plan·et /ˈeksōˌplanət/, noun: a planet orbiting a star other than the Sun.
* Confirmed Planets Discovered by TESS refers to the number planets that have been published in the refereed astronomical literature.
* TESS Project Candidates refers to the total number of transit-like events that appear to be astrophysical in origin, including false positives as identified by the TESS Project.
* TESS Project Candidates Yet To Be Confirmed refers to the number of TESS Project Candidates that have not yet been dispositioned as a Confirmed Planet or False Positive.
March 11, 2022
Five Planets, Including Two Microlensing Super-Earths
This week’s new planets include two super-Earth microlensing planets—a further indication that microlensing detections are ramping up and pushing to smaller-mass planets. The new planets are KMT-2017-BLG-2509L b, OGLE-2017-BLG-1099L b, OGLE-2019-BLG-0299L b, KMT-2021-BLG-0912L b, and KMT-2018-BLG-1988L b. These bring the archive’s total confirmed planet count to 4,940. Only 60 discoveries to go to hit the 5,000-planet milestone!
Access all of these new data from the Planetary Systems Table and its companion table, Planetary Systems Composite Parameters, which offers a more complete table of planet parameters combined from multiple references and calculations. Microlensing planet data have also been added to the Microlensing Planets Table. – NASA
SpaceWeather.com Realtime Aurora Gallery: https://spaceweathergallery.com/aurora_gallery.html
Latest Aurora Oval Forecast
- Visit an International Dark Sky Park: https://www.darksky.org/our-work/conservation/idsp/parks/
- If you live in Michigan, visit the Michigan Dark Skies site: https://sites.lsa.umich.edu/darkskies/
Messier Tour: M9
Messier 9 (M9) is a globular cluster located in the southern constellation Ophiuchus. It has the designation NGC 6333 in the new General Catalogue. The cluster lies at a distance of 25,800 light years from Earth. With an apparent magnitude of 8.42, it is too faint to be seen with the naked eye.
The cluster was discovered by Charles Messier, who added it to his catalogue on May 28, 1764. Messier described the object as a “nebula, without star, in the right leg of Ophiuchus,” and noting that “it is round & its light is faint.”
William Herschel was the first to resolve individual stars in M9 almost two decades after Messier had discovered it. Herschel observed the cluster on May 3, 1783 and, describing it as a “nebula between Eta and Rho Ophiuchi,” he noted, “With a 10-feet reflector, and a magnifying power of 250, I see several stars in it, and make no doubt a higher power, and more light, will resolve it all into stars. This seems to be a good nebula for the purpose of establishing the connection between nebulae and clusters of stars in general.” – messier-objects.com
The cluster is positioned above the galactic bulge; when I travelled to M9 in the SpaceEngine app, I was amazed at how many stars there were around it in the Milky Way’s halo.
Cover Image: Messier 9. Credit: NASA, ESA, Digitized Sky Survey 2 (Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin)
Messier Object List: [Link]
Software Apps used for this post:
NASA Eyes on the Solar System: an immersive 3D solar system and space mission simulator – free for the PC /MAC.
Stellarium: a free web-based planetarium app. It’s a great tool for planning observing sessions.
SpaceEngine – Explore the universe in 3D and VR!
Worldwide Telescope – operated by the American Astronomical Society (AAS).