My own animated goodby to 2013, and just in time for the new year, you can grab a free download of the APOD’s 2014 calendar, the printable PDF from Astronomy Picture of the Day. You want to select the one for your hemisphere depending on which side of the equator you are on, and if you run it on your tablet or other electronic device it is filled with clickable links to the original images.
The folks at APOD have done it again, with yet another amazing picture. This time Göran Strand did a mosaic image of the full moon over a snowfield, with the lights of Östersund, Sweden peeking over the horizon in all directions. Check out his other images at his site, he creates some truly astounding graphics.
The folks over at Planet Science have a new weekly online web comic called Cosmic Comics. The story starts out with three friends from Australia (yes, the site is from Down Under) figuring out how to use a telescope to look for an asteroid, and what happens when they find one. This is a great educational site, be sure to stop by their Extra’s Section to see what other fun stuff they are up to, and share the link with anybody you know in K-12.
This amazing moonrise video was made in a single take, with no stop motion, no compositing, and no CGI effects of any kind. After watching this I wasn’t terribly surprised to learn that the man who filmed it, Mark G, is a professional photographer with some really tasty optical gear. He got about two kilometers behind the Mount Victoria Lookout in New Zealand so the people looked really small, making the moon look very large indeed. This is another one from the Astronomy Picture of the Day site, one of my favorite online destinations.
The Geminid Meteor Shower is under way once more, with peak viewing over the next 2 nights, the 13th and 14th. You can get some great viewing tips here or at the first link. What makes the Geminids stand out is their frequency; with up to 100 meteors per hour, they are one of the best displays going. Add to that a New Moon, and if you have clear skies and can get away from the light pollution it should be quite a show. Meteor showers are named for the constellation they appear to be coming from, so set out your lawn chair facing to the constellation Gemini for the best viewing.
Over at the Albert Einstein Planetarium this afternoon there will be a presentation explaining (in very simple terms) how we can take a huge amount of raw data out of any one of our observatories and turn it into an actual understanding of how the Universe works. Converting that data into quantitative science (things we can measure, test, and extrapolate rules from) and pictures or videos that allow us to see those rules in action is the real goal of astronomy. If you would enjoy having a better understanding of this process, stop by the Universe of Data: How we get Science out of Space Telescopes presentation and let Jonathan McDowell, an Astrophysicist from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, give you the introduction. If you do make it, be sure to say hi.