Astronomy: Keep Looking Up!
Moon Phase Millions!
Planets in Our Solar System
Discussion: Why Isn't Pluto a Planet? --C.G.P. Grey
National Geographic Encyclopedia
Celestia: Free Solar System Simulation Software
We are using Celestia to better understand what we are seeing in the night sky as Jupiter and Venus reflect the light of the Sun after sunset and change position. Celestia is available as a free download for Windows and Mac.
Geminids Meteor Shower December 10-17
Leftovers from an Asteroid collision, or a Burned-Out Comet?
After the first recorded sighting of the Geminids meteor shower in 1862, astronomers began searching for the parent comet. Most meteor showers result from debris fragments from a comet's nucleus when it passes close to the Sun. This debris orbits the Sun along with the comet, forming a stream of meteoroids that become shooting stars when they hit Earth's atmosphere. In 1983, NASA's Infrared Astronomical Satellite discovered a curious object moving in the same orbit as the Geminids. The orbital match was so good that it had to be the source of the debris, but it wasn't behaving like a comet. The source of the Geminids was apparently a rocky asteroid! Scientists have two theories:
Asteroid Smash! The Geminid object is the "winner" of a collision between two asteroids in the belt between Mars and Jupiter that produced a debris trail of pieces and caused a very elliptical orbit that crosses the orbit of the inner planets.
The Leftover: The Geminid object is an example of a comet that has finally burned off all of its ice and gas particles so it no longer forms a tail, or coma, as it travels close to the Sun.
Scientists named the asteroid/comet object Phaethon, for the son of the Greek god Helios, the god of the Sun.
The peak nights for the Geminids will be December 13 and 14. The Moon will be a waning gibbous during the shower’s peak. That means the moon will rise in mid-evening and shine all the way until daybreak. You should watch the eastern sky until about 9 or 10 pm. Once the Moon rises, it will be more difficult to see the meteors. On a dark, moonless night, the Geminid meteor shower often produces 50 or more meteors per hour, or about one every minute and a half!
BBC: Earth, Sun, & Moon
BBC: Astronomy & Space
Planet Science: Solar System
Explore space and create a habitable planet. http://astroventure.arc.nasa.gov/
Daylight Savings Time:
HubbleSite: Tonight's Sky
Educated Earth: Videos, Photos, Articles
Starry Night: Computer Planetarium
Starry Night is a simpler Windows program that shows you how the night sky looks from your location on Earth. Download and extract the zip file below:
Prezi: Solar System Tour
Solar System Music Review--Mr. Parr
Prezi: Reasons for Seasons
Moon Phases Music Review--Mr. Parr
Moon Phases Rap--Mr. Lee
EarthSky: Moon Phases
Lunar Observer Simulator