Venus and Jupiter shine quite close together on the sky’s dome before sunrise, having showcased the closest planet-planet conjunction of the year on August 18. Jupiter, the fainter of these two bright beauties, is your ticket to locating the Beehive star cluster, also known as the Praesepe or Messier 44.
In a clear, dark sky, the Beehive cluster is visible as a faint smudge of light to the unaided eye. But this wondrous star cluster bursts into a sparkling array of stars through ordinary binoculars. Because Jupiter and the Beehive still sit somewhat close to the glare of dawn right now, it may be hard to spot the Beehive tomorrow, on August 20.
Will lava soon hit glacier ice, unleashing an explosion that would spew ash and steam high in the atmosphere? The Icelandic Meteorology Office (IMO) is monitoring Bárðarbunga, a volcano more than 2,000 meters in elevation, located beneath Vatnajökull, the country’s largest glacier. Since midnight on the morning of August 18, the IMO has detected about 950 earthquakes at Bárðarbunga. Aviation alert code has been raised to orange.
Scientists head out to the Gulf of Mexico every summer to measure the size of the dead zone—an area with oxygen levels that are too low to support most marine life.
Celebration of the Curiosity Mars Rover, a fully equipped analytical laboratory rolling around on the surface of another planet, narrated by Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Felicia Day.
The Trifid Nebula (Messier 20) is one of the many binocular treasures in the summer Milky Way. Its name means divided into three lobes, although you’ll likely need a telescope to see why. On a dark, moonless night, you can star-hop upward from the spout of the Teapot in Sagittarius to another famous nebula, the Lagoon, also known as Messier 8. In the same binocular field, look for the smaller and fainter Trifid Nebula as a fuzzy patch above the Lagoon. Follow the links inside to learn more.
The Trifid Nebula is a stellar nursery, a cluster of recently born stars, a bright red hydrogen emission nebula, a lovely blue reflection nebula, and an interesting dark nebula divided into 3 …
The sky’s two brightest planets – Venus and Jupiter – staged 2014′s closest planet-planet conjunction before dawn on August 18. Central Europe had the best view of these two bright worlds less than a moon diameter apart, but they have beautiful from around the world for many days … and will stay beautiful for many days more. Don’t miss the planets on August 22 and August 23, when the waning crescent moon will be nearby. Thanks to EarthSky friends on Facebook, who captured these beautiful photos over the past few mornings.
Every individual star that can be seen with the eye, in all parts of the sky, lies within the confines of our Milky Way galaxy. The galaxy is estimated to be some 100,000 light-years wide and only about 1,000 light-years thick. That’s why the starlit band of the Milky Way, which is visible in the evening this month, appears so well defined in our sky. Gazing into it, we’re really looking edgewise into the thin plane of our own galaxy.
It’s said that once you’ve seen a green flash, you’ll never go wrong in matters of the heart. Here’s all you need to know to see the legendary green flash, plus great pics.