Comet-Mars encounter coming Sunday: See it through Martian eyes

Simulation of how comet C/2013 Siding Spring will appear in Martian skies around midnight October 18-19, 2014 from the Curiosity rover’s location near Mars’ equator. Credit: Solarsystemscope.com

No one knows exactly how Comet Siding Spring will look from the Red Planet when it blows by just 83,263 miles (134,000 km)  from its surface. Certainly a whole lot brighter than we see it from Earth!  The close shave will happen around 1:28 p.m. CDT this Sunday October 19th.

I spotted it last night at about magnitude +11 not far from Mars in a 15-inch (37-cm) telescope from northern Minnesota. The comet was a faint smudge, but then my eyes were 151 million miles from the duo. Distances like can suck the drama right out of a comet. Seen up close from Mars, it would drop the jaws of a entire crew of astronauts.

If Comet Siding Spring were passing by Earth instead of Mars it would be only 1/3 the distance of the moon from Earth. Credit: NASA

When nearest, Siding Spring is expected to shine at magnitude -5 or about twice as bright as Venus. Mind you, that estimate considers the entire comet crunched down into a dot. But for those who remember, Comet Hale-Bopp’s appearance in spring 1997, it shown at zero magnitude, 100 times fainter than Siding Spring, and made for one of the most impressive naked eye sights in years.

More recently, Comet McNaught climaxed at magnitude -5 in the daytime sky near the sun in January 2007. It was plainly visible in binoculars and telescopes in a blue sky if you knew exactly where to look and took care to avoid the sun. Martians will be far luckier as their comet will appear in a dark sky.


Comet C/2013 Siding Spring as it rises and sets over the Curiosity Rover this weekend October 18-19. Click the control to start, to pause and for other options. Credit: Solarsystemscope.com

To help you picture it the folks at Solarsystemscope.com, famed for their simulations of the dearly departed Comet ISON, have created another gem, a look at Comet Siding Spring as it wheels across the robotic gaze of the Curiosity Rover in the next few nights.

Artist view of the comet passing closest to Mars this Sunday. At the time, the Mars orbiters from the U.S., Europe and India will be huddled on the opposite side of the planet to avoid possible impacts from comet dust. Credit: NASA

Seen from Mars, the comet bobs along Eridanus the River southwest of Orion, passing high in the southern sky overnight. What a sight! The comet nucleus is only about 0.4 miles (700 meters) across, but the coma or atmosphere fluffs out to around 12,000 miles (19,300 km). Seen from the ground, Siding Spring would span about 8°of sky or 16 full moons from head to tail. Moving at 1.5° per minute, it will be fast enough to see crawl across the heavens in real time with the naked eye. Ah, if only we could be there.

Rest assured we’ll get the latest images and results from the rovers and orbiting spacecraft posted here asap.

Comet Siding Spring seen from Earth as it crosses the rich star clouds of the constellation Ophiuchus on October 16. Credit: Damian Peach

As usual, several outlets will be featuring live webcasts and special programs Sunday. Here are two:

* SLOOH starting at 1:15 p.m. CDT (6:15 p.m. UT) Sunday Oct. 19
* Gianluca Masi’s Virtual Telescope site starting at 11:45 a.m. CDT (4:45 p.m. UT)

An exciting weekend lies ahead!

Rosetta update Oct. 16 – new selfie, landing site close-up, more great videos

Rosetta’s Philae lander snapped a ‘selfie’ at comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko from a distance of about 9.9 miles from the surface of the comet. The image was taken on October 7 and captures the side of the Rosetta spacecraft and one of Rosetta’s 46-foot-long (14-m) solar wings, with the comet in the background. Click to enlarge. Copyright: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

Scope out these new images from the Rosetta probe now less than a month away from dropping the Philae lander onto Comet 67P C-G’s dusty-icy surface. The first picture was taken by the the landers’ Comet Infrared and Visible Analyzer (CIVA) looking out from Rosetta toward the comet. You might remember Philae’s first selfie back on September 7 taken from 31 miles (50 km) away. This new image brings us to within 9.9 miles (16 km) of the comet’s surface.

The photo’s a composite of two images made with two separate exposures to capture the dark comet and Rosetta insulation (one exposure) and the bright solar array. The image is the last from Philae before the lander separates from Rosetta on November 12 and gently floats down to the comet’s surface.

Not only is the comet larger in the new photo but a very distinct jet of gas of vaporizing ice and dust is visible near the junction of the neck and larger lobe.

A new mosaic image from the Rosetta spacecraft shows Philae’s primary landing site up close. Touchdown is expected at 10 a.m. CST on Nov. 12  Click to enlarge. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

A new mosaic image from Rosetta spacecraft shows Site J, the primary landing site on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko for the mission’s Philae lander. Rosetta is the first mission to orbit a comet and to attempt a soft landing on one.

The mosaic comprises two images taken by Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera on Sept. 14, 2014, from a distance of about 19 miles (30 kilometers). The image scale is 1.6 feet (0.5 meters) per pixel. The red ellipse is centered on the landing site and is approximately 1,600 feet (500-m) in diameter or a third of a mile. That’s just a walk around the block!


New video from Mattias Malmer titled “Rising over the edge” – A synthetic 3D view of 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko October 8

On November 12, the Rosetta spacecraft will release Philae at 3:03 a.m. Central Standard Time (9:03 a.m. Greenwich Time); 7 hours later it will land at Site J at around 10 a.m. CST (4 p.m. Greenwich).


Cheops Ascent by Mattias Malmer

If you like that video, here’s another in 3D (use red-blue anaglyph glasses to see best). Cheops is the name of the boulder in the photo located on the neck of the comet. It’s about 148-feet (48-m) across. The “synthetic” in the video titles refers to Malmer’s method creating them. He takes real images and digitally drapes them on a model of the comet to create a three-dimensional appearance.

Auroras in the north tonight Oct. 14-15

Aurora low in the northern sky around 10:30 p.m. CDT this evening October 14, 2014. Credit: Bob King

Earlier this evening, a glancing blow from a solar blast that left the sun on October 10th jiggled Earth’s magnetic domain to produce a modest display of northern lights. Forecasters originally expected the coronal mass ejection (CME) to miss Earth. My astronomy class and I noticed a low arc in the north as early as 8:30 p.m. A half hour later, the arc broke apart into a beautiful set of evenly-spaced rays across the northern sky.

These slowly faded back to a quiet glow as if the aurora decided to take a nap and then re-brightened about 9:30. Right now at 11 p.m. the display has returned to a quiet arc about 5 degrees above the northern horizon directly below the Big Dipper. Something about it reminds me of a pale green feather boa.

The Kp index, a measure of how magnetically disturbed the upper atmosphere is, hit 5 this afternoon and evening, the mark of a minor geomagnetic storm. Auroras are usually seen across the northern border states when Kp=5. Credit: NOAA

NOAA space weather shows a G1 minor geomagnetic storm underway since the afternoon. Activity may be dropping off now, but it’s hard to say for sure, so keep a lookout for auroras tonight if you live in the northern states and southern Canada. Besides aftereffects of the solar blast, a chance for more auroras will continue the next couple nights due to “solar sector boundary crossings”. These are changes in the direction of the magnetic field within the solar plasma (electron and proton mix) that continually streams from the sun called the solar wind.

Trick or treat – time for the Halloween fireballs!

A Taurid fireball photographed Oct. 28, 2005 by Hiroyuki Lida of Toyama, Japan. At top is the constellation Orion and his three Belt stars. Credit: Hiroyuki Lida

We don’t normally associate October with big meteor showers. That’s reserved for the August Perseids and December Geminids. But just in time for Halloween, this month offers some tasty treats.

October is Taurid fireball season with two separate showers radiating from in and near the constellation Taurus the Bull. Both make for weak displays with counts of 10 or fewer meteors an hour. But what they lack in number they make up in brilliance. While most shower meteors originate from sand to peanut-sized rocks, the Taurids have a large proportion of larger pebble pieces. When the big stuff burns up overhead, it produces bright fireballs.

Both showers are spawned by material left behind by Comet 2P/Encke which orbits the sun once every 3.3 years – one of the shortest known. When Earth intersects the debris stream the rocks strike the atmosphere fast enough to completely vaporize as flashes of light called meteors.

The Taurids are a pair of small showers that trace back to Comet 2P/Encke. They’re active all this month and next and appear to radiate from Taurus the Bull. The radiants slowly travel from west to east across the sky during that time – I’ve marked where they are in early November. Source: Stellarium

The Southern Taurids are active now through late October with the Northern Taurids taking over around Halloween and carrying the ball through November. Because of the unusually large proportion of fireballs from these dual showers, the American Meteor Society (AMS) notes an increase in the number of fireball reports from September through November each year.

Comet Encke and the trail of dust and debris it leaves behind in its orbit photographed by the Spitzer Space Telescope. Some of that material burns up in Earth’s atmosphere as Taurid meteors. Credit: NASA

Taurids travel slower than most meteor streams because Comet Encke’s tight little orbit only reaches into the asteroid belt. Since they don’t have as far to “fall” as they return to Earth’s vicinity, they’re not traveling as fast as some other showers like the Perseids, whose parent comet strays into remote space 51 times Earth’s distance from the sun.

Because of how Earth and the Taurid stream encounter each other, the Taurids play catch-up as they approach Earth somewhat from behind rather than head-on. Combined with their slower-than-usual speeds, they hit the atmosphere at only 61,000 mph (98,000 km/hr). OK, that’s still darn fast but more than twice as slow as the familiar Perseid meteors.

9-hour composite image of the Taurid meteor shower taken on November 4-5, 2008 taken with an all-sky camera in Walker County, Georgia. Credit: NASA

While you probably won’t make a one-night vigil for the Taurids as you would richer showers, be on the lookout for bright meteors this fall.

Taurus rises in the evening hours in the east, so you can start watching from about 10 o’clock all the way to dawn. If you spot a meteor and can trace it backward toward the direction of the Seven Sisters or Pleiades star cluster, chances are you’ve spotted the flaming farewell of a piece of Encke’s Comet.

Next week, we’ll take a closer look at another October meteor shower, this one originating from Halley’s Comet called the Orionids. Stay tuned.

Earth and Mars, space pals forever

This single shot of Earth and Mars together was taken on May 24, 2014 with NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft as it orbited the moon. Click to see full, hi-res photo. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

Yesterday we watched the total lunar eclipse from Mercury. Today, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) expands our gaze to encompass both Earth and Mars together in space.

LRO’s viewing post was none other than the moon located 240,000 miles from Earth. On May 24th, instead of staring down at the lunar surface, NASA engineers sent commands to the spacecraft to point its Narrow Angle Camera toward Earth. On that date the two worlds were in conjunction from LRO’s perspective.


Mars and Earth from lunar orbit

Mars was about 70 million miles away (112.5 million km) away at the time or 300 times farther away from the Moon than the Earth. That’s why it’s only a tiny dot in the sky.

Moon-facing hemisphere of Mars on May 8, 2014 seen from lunar orbit. Instruments on LRO sometimes use stars and planets for calibration or other special observations. During one of these off-Moon observations, LROC imaged Mars. The planet is so small in LRO’s camera it could only make out the two larger features shown above. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

I know a commercial photographer who takes pictures of babies when they’re asleep. She has to invest a lot time into each of her photos, much of it spent waiting for the children to fall asleep! Likewise the LRO team. To make sure they got the timing and exposure right, the team practiced on Mars weeks in advance.

Seeing the two planets in the same frame seems to shrink the distance between them and tempt us to shove off from home on an exploratory visit.

The LRO folks put it this way:

“The juxtaposition of Earth and Mars seen from the Moon is a poignant reminder that the Moon would make a convenient waypoint for explorers bound for the fourth planet and beyond! In the near-future, the Moon could serve as a test-bed for construction and resource utilization technologies. Longer-range plans may include the Moon as a resource depot or base of operations for interplanetary activities.”

Ever seen a lunar eclipse from Mercury? Me neither … till now


Wednesday’s lunar eclipse photographed by NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft at Mercury

As millions of us awoke at dawn and trundled outside to watch the total lunar eclipse this week another set of eyes was keeping tabs from afar. 66 million miles away, NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft turned its camera toward Earth to capture several images of the moon disappearing into our planet’s shadow. Laced together, they make for a brief but fascinating glimpse of planetary bodies in motion.

Two of the still images showing Earth and moon before and during Wednesday morning’s total eclipse. Credit: NASA

The animation was constructed from 31 images taken two minutes apart from 5:18 to 6:18 a.m. EDT. The images start just before the Moon entered the umbra, the darkest part of the Earth’s shadow.

“From Mercury, the Earth and Moon normally appear as if they were two very bright stars,” noted Hari Nair, a planetary scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, in Laurel, Md. “During a lunar eclipse, the Moon seems to disappear during its passage through the Earth’s shadow, as shown in the movie.”

MESSENGER photographed Earth and moon on May 6, 2010 from 114 million miles (183 million km) away. Credit: NASA

Because the moon is so much darker than Earth its brightness has been increased 25 times to show its disappearance more clearly. I’ve included another picture of the Earth and moon against the starry backdrop of deep space also photographed by MESSENGER. Sure puts things in perspective. While not as breathtaking as photos of Earth taken by the Apollo astronauts, seeing our tiny home floating in the void effectively communicates how improbable our existence is. Thank goodness life got a grip and kept it. After 3.5 billion years of evolution the double helix has proven itself a force with which to be reckoned.

The 133-mile-wide double ringed crater Vivaldi captured at sunrise. The low sun highlights valleys and chains of secondary impact craters radiating away from it. Credit: NASA

MESSENGER has been in orbit around Mercury since March 2011 studying the chemical composition of the surface, measuring planet’s magnetic field, mapping polar ices and of course taking pictures. Enjoy a few recent ones.

Hollows on the floor of an unnamed crater on Mercury. Hollows may be areas “eaten away” by the ceaseless bombardment of particles in the solar wind. Or they may form when heat from volcanic activity melts away softer rocks. No one knows for sure. Credit: NASA

Moon and illusion in the Hyades tonight

The waning gibbous moon moves across the Hyades star cluster tonight October 11. This map shows the view through binoculars around 10 p.m. CDT. Moon is to scale. Source: Stellarium

Now that the eclipse is behind us, the moon has trotted off to the east out of the limelight.

It’s in that lengthly phase called waning gibbous, a period of 6+ days between full moon and last quarter. Can I coax you out for another look?

Tonight the moon will cross the Hyades star cluster that forms the V-shaped face of Taurus the Bull. Merely having the moon in Taurus hints at how close we are to the start of winter. Two months hence, the Bull, along with Orion the Hunter, will dominate the southern sky at 10 o’clock.

Taurus the Bull from the 19th century star atlas Urania’s Mirror.

But tonight around 10, Taurus makes its appearance in the eastern sky. Because the moon is still fat and bright you’ll better appreciate its passage through the Hyades with binoculars. By happy circumstance, the entire cluster neatly fits into the field of view of most pairs.

Orange-red Aldebaran is Taurus’ brightest star and completes the cluster’s V with a flourish. Don’t be deceived. This star is an impostor that by chance lies in the same line of sight as the star cluster. The Hyades form a gravitationally bound group of stars 153 light years distant and were born from the same cloud of gas and dust 625 million years ago. Aldebaran? Only 65 light years away and as solitary as our sun.

The moon moves its own diameter every hour as it orbits the Earth. You can see that motion overnight tonight as the moon approaches and then conjuncts with Aldebaran tomorrow morning. The map shows the view from northern Minnesota / Wisconsin. Source: Stellarium

Over the course of the night, the moon will slowly work its way across the Bull’s face, occulting or covering a number of fainter cluster stars along the way. One such star is 63 Tauri shining at magnitude +5.6. A small telescope 4-inches or larger will show the moon creep up to the star and suddenly blank it from view around 10:10 p.m. Central Daylight Time. Depending on your location, the moon’s path across the Hyades will shift a little north or south, and you may see different stars occulted.

Aldebaran-Sun comparison. Aldebaran is an orange giant star 44 times the sun’s size. The sun will also puff out like Aldebaran several billion years in the future when it starts burning helium in its core as Aldebaran is today. Credit: Wikipedia

By 5 a.m. CDT tomorrow morning Oct. 12 the moon will be in conjunction with Aldebaran about 1º to its north. Here we see yet another of nature’s illusions. The moon not only outshines Aldebaran by 26,000 times, it’s huge in comparison. But make no mistake, Aldebaran’s the giant here. Next to it, the sun looks puny and faint.

With a diameter 44 times solar, Aldebaran’s searing orange photosphere would reach all the way to the planet Mercury if put in place of the sun and overall shine 500 times as bright.

Another noteworthy star to look for in your binoculars is the pair called Theta 1,2 Tauri. Both belong to the Hyades although small uncertainties in their distances make it unclear if they’re a physical double star or like Aldebaran, a chance alignment. Once the moon’s out of the way, this is a fun star to try and split with your naked eye. Like two tiny pearls in a starry brooch, they make for a pleasing sight.

Awestruck in the valley of the comet

As jets spray dust and icy vapors in the distance, tall cliffs rise up on either side of the boulder-strewn valley which forms part of the neck of comet 67P/C-G. I combined two separate Rosetta photos to provide a more panoramic view. The picture spans 0.9 miles (1.5 km). Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

Suit up! We’re going for a hike across one of the starkest and most beautiful valleys in the solar system. The Rosetta spacecraft took this photo of the neck region of Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko on October 2 from a distance of only 11.8 miles (19 km). I can’t help but see it as an invitation to explore.

Imagine crunching through dust and pebbles as you pick your way along the boulder field. When you finally stop to rest and look up, craggy cliffs tower against a sky black as crows wings and crazy with stars. Then you notice the sparkles. They’re subtle like ice crystals catching sunlight on a bitter cold morning. And it dawns on you you’re seeing comet dust dancing in the sunlight as it slowly settles to the powdery ground beneath your feet.

Boulder Cheops, taken by Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera on September 19, 2014, from a distance of 17.7 miles (28.5 km). The boulder’s about 148 feet (45 m) across. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Along another part of the comet’s neck, Rosetta’s narrow angle OSIRIS camera photographed the largest boulder – named Cheops – in a different rocky landscape. It reminded the Rosetta scientists of the famous pyramids at Giza, the largest of which was built as the tomb for the Pharoah Cheops. Spanning a little more than three school buses in length, the boulder rests on a rocky,dusty plain. Look closely and you’ll see what appears to be the same darker dust / rock fragments filling cracks in the bright boulder’s surface.

Wider context showing the boulder field with Cheops just below center. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

Boulders on the moon and other cratered asteroids, planets and moons are easy to explain as impact ejecta from meteorites and small asteroid impacts. But the origin of comet rocks isn’t so straightforward. Were they formed as exposed pieces of the comet’s crust as ices vaporized and the surface deflated or even collapsed? Or might they have tumbled down from the cliffs above?

Hopefully we’ll get an answer to their origin as the mission continues. This past week Rosetta has been orbiting 12.4 miles (20 km) from the comet, but the decision has now been made to dip down to just 6.2 miles (10 km) next Wednesday October 15. At that altitude, the spacecraft will orbit 67P/C-G about every 66 hours. It’ll also get an even sharper view of the Philae’s landing site in preparation for the November 11th touchdown.

MOM sees Mars in 3D

This 3D picture was made from multiple images by India’s Mars Orbiter on September 28, 2014. To see it in 3D, don a pair of red-blue glasses or follow the instructions below to make a pair of your own. Credit: ISRO

Not long after India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) successfully put itself in orbit about the Red Planet in late September, the spacecraft took this 3D image and tweeted:

Use this template to make a pair of 3D glasses for viewing the Mars photo and any other 3D image that use the red-blue combo to see in 3D. Click for larger version.

“What sorcery is this? Get your 3D glasses to look at Mars the way I do.” The photo is a combination of images taken on September 28 from an altitude of about 46,300 miles (74,500 km). If you don’t have 3D glasses, MOM provided instructions on making your own by using the cutout provided along with a couple pieces of cellophane and red and blue markers. Very innovative. If any of you make a pair, let us know how well it works.

The dark, comma-shaped feature below the center of the disk will be familiar to many telescopic observers of the planet. It’s comprised of the heavily-cratered highland region called Sinus Sabaeus and the flat, rock-free plain Sinus Meridiani (fat end). NASA’s Opportunity Rover landed in Sinus Meridiani (a.k.a. Meridiani Planum) on January 25, 2004 and still takes pictures and measurements to this day.

Regular 2D Mars showing the large dust storm in the planet’s northern hemisphere this fall. The southern ice cap is just visible along the bottom edge of the planet. Credit: ISRO

Both 2D and 3D photos show a significant dust storm blasting across Mars’ northern hemisphere and a pink-tinted southern polar ice cap. The color might come from dust in the atmosphere or rained out on the cap itself.

Another photo of Mars released on October 7 shows Mars from an altitude of 41,350 miles (66,543 km) and features the Elysian region rich in ancient volcanoes. Credit: ISRO
Dark region towards south of the cloud formation is Elysium – the second largest volcanic province on Mars. Credit: ISRO

MOM transmitted a more recent photo on October 7 taken of a different hemisphere of Mars showing the Elysium region known for its many ancient volcanoes. To help you appreciate how many volcanoes dot the area I’ve included a separate, color-coded image taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Mars’ volcanoes – seen in white and brown tones here – range in age from more than 3.7 billion years to as young as 500 million. It may still be active today. This color-coded map shows the Elysium region and the location of the first spacecraft from Earth to successfully land on the Red Planet – NASA’s Viking 1 mission which touched down July 20, 1976. Credit: NASA

Total lunar eclipse – what a beauty!

The moon just coming out of eclipse over Spring Lake north of Duluth, Minn. this morning October 8. Details: 200mm telephoto, ISO 800, 1 second exposure. Credit: Bob King

I hope your sky was clear for the total lunar eclipse. It sure wasn’t here. A big bank of clouds moved in before totality. I was shocked when I looked at the window to see a clear sky in the east and not a single star – or moon – in the west. That’s why man invented the car.

Moon around mid-totality with the planet Uranus (left) for company. Credit: Bob King

25 miles north of town the burnt orange moon slid out from under the clouds. It was already mid-eclipse, but no matter. I pulled over to the side of the road to enjoy the sight as twilight crept up from behind.

In binoculars Uranus was plain to see near the lower edge of the moon where the color was deep, rich and red. Up along the lunar topside the color graded to a pale straw yellow.

The full moon departs Earth’s shadow over a spruce bog tinged with fall color north of Duluth Wednesday morning around 7 a.m. Credit: Bob King

Clouds threatened again sending me fleeing to a lake shore and finally another roadside. Around 6:30 a.m. traffic picked up. Everyone driving south or west on their way to work and school got the astronomical treat of their life – the moon emerging from total eclipse right out the front windshield. Sweet!

The partially eclipsed moon glows against Earth’s setting shadow (the purple band) this morning. Full moons are directly opposite the sun, setting around sunrise and rising at sunset. When you look at the moon during eclipse you’re staring directly down the shadow cone cast by the planet. Credit: Bob King

For a total lunar eclipse to happen, the moon must be full and lie in the same plane as Earth’s orbit. Since the moon’s orbit is tilted 5°, it normally misses Earth’s shadow at full, passing a few degrees above or below it.

The moon partially covered in Earth’s shadow seen from Dayton, Ohio this morning. At the moon’s distance, the planet’s shadow is surprisingly small – only big enough to cover the Seven Sisters (Pleiades) star cluster. Credit: John Chumack

The full moon orbits behind the Earth opposite the sun; as the sun rises the moon sets. At the moon’s distance of 240,000 miles, the Earth’s shadow, both penumbra and umbra, spans a little more than 2° or about the size of the Pleiades star cluster.

Seems pretty small, doesn’t it?

But viewed from the ground, Earth’s shadow reaches from one end of the western horizon to the other. In the evening, the shadow is equally broad but appears in the eastern sky. This morning we had the unique opportunity to see the partially eclipsed moon in Earth’s distant shadow at the same time as seeing the much bigger near-shadow of the planet. Wild thought.

Full sequence of this morning’s total lunar eclipse. Details: Canon 6D camera, 80mm refractor, 2-second exposure at ISO 6400. Credit: John Chumack