Fwd: STARGAZER column for Saturday, Jan. 1, 2005
- Info about the comet! For any night cachers out there who happen to
look up from their gpsrs!
Begin forwarded message:
> From: Pjderrick@...
> Date: January 1, 2005 10:27:41 AM CST
> To: Pjderrick@...
> Subject: STARGAZER column for Saturday, Jan. 1, 2005
> STARGAZER column for Saturday, Jan. 1, 2005
> Comet Machholz Greets the New Year
> Happy New Year! The Stargazer hopes 2005 proves to be your best year
> yet. Astronomically, Mother Nature is doing her part by offering a
> New Year's treat--Comet Machholz.
> Discovered last Aug. 27 by amateur astronomer Don Machholz, the
> comet, officially named Comet Machholz, C/2004 Q2, became visible in
> our skies in December and will be at its best this month.
> Although is not especially bright and lacking the prominent tail for
> which comets are known, Machholz is still interesting. It is visible
> to naked eyes under dark skies, and can be seen in binoculars from
> urban areas, although not yet easily. But what it lacks in brightness
> it makes up for in size. Passing relatively near Earth (nearly as
> close as Venus gets to us), it appears larger than most comets--about
> the size of a full Moon.
> Conveniently, it is visible in the evening as the skies darken, and
> remains in view well past midnight. Over the next few nights it
> passes just over 10 degrees to the upper right of the bright reddish
> star, Aldebaran, the "eye of the bull." (The width of your fist held
> at arm's length is 10 degrees.) At 8 p.m., Aldebaran is 5-6 fists
> above the eastern horizon, above the familiar Orion.
> The evening of Jan. 8, with the comet at its brightest, it passes 2
> degrees (four moonwidths) to the right of the Pleiades star cluster.
> If it has developed a visible tail by then, the tail will be pointed
> toward the Pleiades, producing a beautiful sight in binoculars.
> The evening of Jan. 17, Machholz is in Perseus and passes 2 degrees
> below the star, Algol, then Jan. 22 3 degrees above the brighter star,
> Mirfak. By February the comet will have dimmed notably as it swings
> past Cassiopeia. Mar. 9 it passes near Polaris, the North Star, and
> then through the Big Dipper in late April and early May, by which time
> it will be quite faint.
> For more detailed information see skyandtelescope.com.
> Next Two Weeks: Average sunrise: 7:28 a.m.; average sunset: 5:36 p.m.
> (for Waco, TX)
> * Today Earth reaches perihelion, when it is nearest the Sun in its
> elliptical orbit.
> * The Moon is at 3rd quarter Monday (Jan. 3).
> * The mornings of Jan. 6-11, reddish Mars passes to the upper left of
> the slightly brighter reddish star Antares, providing an opportunity
> to see how Antares, which means "rival of Mars," got its name.
> * Fri. (Jan. 7) morning, the crescent Moon, Mars and Antares form a
> triangle low in the southeast.
> * The morning of Jan. 8, near the southeastern horizon 45 minutes
> before sunrise, Mercury is just above brilliant Venus with a crescent
> Moon to their upper right and the Mars-Antares pair 12 degrees above
> the Moon.
> * The morning of Jan. 13, Venus and Mercury pass less than a
> moonwidth from each other.
> * The Moon is new Jan. 10.
> Naked-eye Planets. (The Sun, Moon and planets rise in the east and
> set in the west due to Earth' west-to-east rotation.) Evening:
> Saturn, rising at sunset, is in the sky all night. Morning: Mercury
> and Venus, the "evening star," are near the southeastern horizon just
> before dawn, with Mars a bit further up and much brighter Jupiter high
> above them.
> Astronomy Class. The Stargazer's 4-session "Learning the Night Sky"
> class will be Jan. 3-6 from 7-9 p.m. The cost is $25 per person with
> family discounts and scholarships available. Call or email for
> information or to register.
> Stargazer appears every other week in the Waco Tribune-Herald and
> other Texas newspapers. Paul Derrick is an amateur astronomer who
> lives in Waco. Write him at 918 N. 30th St., Waco, TX 76707, call or
> fax at (254) 753-6920, or e-mail at pjderrick@....
> Copyright 2005 by Paul Derrick. Permission is granted for free
> electronic distribution as long as these paragraphs are included.
> Please obtain permission from the author for publication in any other
> form. To be added to (or removed from) the free e-mail distribution
> list, send your e-mail address (and name) to pjderrick@....
> * * See the Stargazer Web site at http://www.stargazerpaul.com * *