Zapped By Zodiacal Light

Every fall, a big, faint, cone-shaped glow towers in the eastern sky at the start of dawn called the zodiacal light. It resembles the Milky Way’s smoky appearance but has a smoother texture, and instead of being comprised of stars, originates from comet and asteroid dust. Dust and fine rocky grit sloughed by comets as…
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Mars Cleans Up Its Act / September Opens With A Binocular Comet

OK, Mars isn’t completely clear, but the dust is finally settling, making the planet’s dark surface markings much easier to see. I noticed this two nights ago when I hauled out my 10-inch scope for a look. The night was calm and no leaf stirred, often a sign of “steady seeing,” when planets appear sharp…
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Perseid Meteor Shower Kicks Into High Gear This Weekend

It’s time for the Perseids again! This has to be the most fun shower of the year. The sky is often clear, weather pleasant and nobody worries too much about staying up late. You’ve probably already seen a smattering of shower meteors this week, but the peak night will be Sunday (Aug. 12-13) when up…
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Lively, Green Comet PanSTARRS Glows Before Dawn

Yesterday, I said that getting up before dawn isn’t easy especially in summer, when the sun rises so early. And while I may not rise with the birds for the space station I will for a comet. Comet PanSTARRS (C/2017 S3) has become active in the past couple weeks after an “outburst” at the end…
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′Oumuamua, First Interstellar Visitor, Turns Out To Be A Comet

Surprise! ′Oumuamua (oh-MOO-ah-MOO-ah), the first known interstellar object to travel through our solar system, appears to be a comet, not an asteroid. Using observations from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based observatories, an international team of scientists have confirmed that there was something affecting its motion other than the gravitational force of the sun and planets. After…
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