Enjoying EarthSky? Subscribe.

137,326 subscribers and counting ...

March 2015 guide to the five visible planets

In early March, look for the moon near Jupiter.

In early March, look for the moon near Jupiter.

Three of the five visible planets are in good view in March 2015. Venus and Jupiter shine first thing at nightfall. Jupiter will be near the moon in early March, closest around March 2. Meanwhile, Saturn adorns the late night and predawn sky.

Slushy wave off coast of Nantucket

View larger. | Slushy waves on a Nantucket beach, February 20, 2015.  Photo by Jonathan Nimerfrosh.

Slushy waves on a Nantucket beach, February 20, 2015. Photo by Jonathan Nimerfroh.

As you well know if you live there, the eastern United States has been in a deep freeze throughout February, 2015. Wave after wave of ice and snowstorms have hit the region. Now, from a photographer and surfer in Nantucket, Jonathan Nimerfroh, we have this amazing photo from February 20, 2015 of an ocean wave, just before it freezes solid. He calls it a slurpee wave.

Watch Sunday spacewalk, last of three

NASA astronaut Terry, Virts Flight Engineer of Expedition 42 is seen working to complete a cable routing task while near the forward facing port of the Harmony module on the International Space Station. February 21, 2015. Image credit: NASA

NASA astronaut Terry, Virts Flight Engineer of Expedition 42 is seen working to complete a cable routing task while near the forward facing port of the Harmony module on the International Space Station. February 21, 2015. Image credit: NASA

On Sunday (March 1, 2015) two NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) will perform the last of Expedition 42’s scheduled spacewalks. The spacewalk will begin around 6:10 a.m. Central Time and is expected to last about 6 hours, 45 minutes. NASA Television coverage on Sunday will begin at 5 a.m. Central time. Watch here

Meteor shower at 40,000 feet

View larger. | Alpha Centaurid Meteor Shower @ 40,000 ft by Colin Legg Photography

Alpha Centaurid Meteor Shower @ 40,000 ft by Colin Legg Photography

Leave it to Colin Legg – one of the most amazing sky photographers we know – to catch a meteor shower from the window seat of an airplane. Colin wrote to EarthSky:

Valentines day (night), red eye flight back to Perth.

Amazingly, the Alpha Centaurid meteor shower was active!

Moon between Gemini stars and Procyon on February 28

2015-february-28-castor-pollux-procyon-night-sky-chart

Tonight’s bright waxing gibbous moon will be bright enough to erase many stars from the blackboard of night. Even so, three stars should be brilliant enough to withstand tonight’s moonlit glare – the Gemini stars, Castor and Pollux, plus Procyon the Little Dog Star. In late February and early March, the moon passes south of the Castor and Pollux, and north of Procyon, the brightest star in the constellation Canis Minor the Lesser Dog.

Monster black hole at cosmic dawn

Artist's impression of a quasar with a supermassive black hole in the distant and early universe.  Image via Zhaoyu Li/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Misti Mountain Observatory.

Artist’s impression of a quasar with a supermassive black hole in the distant and early universe. Image via Zhaoyu Li/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Misti Mountain Observatory.

The farther away we look in space, the deeper we are looking into the past. Astronomers looked 12.8 billion light-years from Earth – to a time only 900 million years after the Big Bang – to see what is currently the brightest quasar known in the early universe. They say it’s seven times brighter than the most distant quasar known. What’s more, it harbors a black hole with mass of 12 billion suns. So it’s the most luminous quasar, with the most massive black hole, among all the known very distant quasars. As if that weren’t enough, this quasar and its monster black hole are located at a special place and time in our universe, at what’s sometimes called the cosmic dawn.

How do Phobos and Deimos look from Mars?

Phobos and Deimos seen from Mars surface.  You can also see the star Aldebaran and the famous Pleiades star cluster.

Phobos and Deimos seen from Mars’ surface. You can also see the star Aldebaran and the famous Pleiades star cluster. Image via NASA.

The larger Martian moon, Phobos, is only about about 14 miles (23 km) across. The smaller one, Deimos, is about half that size. These little moons orbit Mars more closely than our moon orbits Earth, but remember … they’re small. Deimos looks like a bright star in Mars’ sky. Phobos looks like a shining gray-white potato! See some pics, and learn some fascinating details about the moons of Mars, as seen from Mars’ surface.

What color is this dress?

Some say gold and some say blue. Here’s why you see what you see, from the guys at AsapSCIENCE.

Another breathtaking view of Comet Lovejoy

Comet Lovejoy on December 27, 2015 from the Fermi Dark Energy Camera

Comet Lovejoy on December 27, 2015 from the Fermi Dark Energy Camera. Image via Fermilab’s Marty Murphy, Nikolay Kuropatkin, Huan Lin and Brian Yanny

Fermilab’s Dark Energy Camera took a break from studying one of the greatest mysteries in modern cosmology – dark energy – to capture this stunning view of Comet Lovejoy – an extremely photogenic comet – on December 27, 2014. At the time this image was taken, the comet was passing about 51 million miles from Earth – a short distance for the Dark Energy Camera, which is sensitive to light up to 8 billion light-years away.

Are a star’s brightness and luminosity the same thing?

Image credit: NASA

Image credit: NASA

When we talk about the luminosity of a star, we are referring to the star’s intrinsic brightness. We are not talking about the star’s apparent magnitude – its brightness as it appears from Earth. For instance, most every star that you see with the unaided eye is larger and more luminous than our sun. The stars that we see at night are millions – even hundreds of millions – of times farther away than the sun. Regardless, you can still see these distant suns because many of them are hundreds or thousands of times more luminous than our local star.