The peak night of the 2014 Geminid meteor shower will probably occur on the night of December 13 (morning of December 14). The night before (December 12-13) may offer a decent sprinkling of meteors as well. And you could try watching on December 14-15, if all else fails. The meteors tend to be few and far between at early evening, but intensify in number as evening deepens into late night. Don’t let the late-night moonlight discourage you from watching after midnight, or during the peak viewing hours. Geminid meteors are bright!
Ten oddities and misconceptions about space that you may – or may not – have heard before.
Old Man Winter seems to have gone maverick in the Northern Hemisphere over the last few years. Take 2014 as an example. It’s on track to be the warmest globally in more than a century of record-keeping, with May, June, August, and September all setting world heat records for those particular months. Yet February only managed to tie for 21st warmest globally, mainly because of two regions of prolonged cold across North America and central Eurasia.
Here is the sun’s innermost planet, Mercury, imaged on September 15, 2014 by the MESSENGER spacecraft. This is of the highest resolution images of Mercury ever obtained. MESSENGER has been orbiting Mercury since 2011, but now the craft’s fuel is nearly depleted. It is slipping toward Mercury in orbit, and space engineers have been periodically boosting it higher. MESSENGER will impact Mercury in March 2015. For now, we’re getting some of the best-ever Mercury pics.
November 20, 1889. Happy birthday, Edwin Hubble! The Hubble Space Telescope is named for this astronomer. How did this honor come to be? Hubble’s work was pivotal in changing our entire cosmology: our idea of the universe as a whole.
Lake-effect snow is nothing new for those north and east of Lakes Erie and Ontario. When it happens, snow totals climb over three to four feet (over a meter) in less than 24 hours. In isolated spots around the Buffalo, New York area this week, over five feet (1.5 meters!) of snow fell earlier this week, and a second round is happening and expected to continue through Friday.
Faced with lousy soil conditions, some plants came up with a novel solution – eating meat. They may look all stationary and defenseless, but don’t be fooled. Carnivorous plants would eat you if they had the chance.
On November 3, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a disaster declaration for the area impacted by the Kilauea lava flow. The new lava has been slowly making its way across the Big Island of Hawaii since June 27. So far, the lava has destroyed one home.
November 14 1963. On this date, a cook aboard a trawler called Ísleifur II – sailing south of Iceland – spotted a column of dark smoke rising from the surface of the sea. The ship’s captain thought it be a boat on fire and turned his vessel to investigate. What they found was an island in the process of being born: explosive volcanic eruptions originating from below the sea surface, belching black columns of ash. The new island was later named Surtsey, for Surtur, a fire jötunn (a mythological race of Norse giants). Click inside for its story.
As of Thursday morning, November 13 – after initially failing to attach to the surface – Philae is now stable and is sending back pictures.