29 September 2012

Comets and Galaxies

One of my primary resources for astronomy information is Sky & Telescope Magazine, and the companion website skyandtelescope.com. I have been a loyal subscriber and follower of this publication for decades, and find the news and information relevant and timely for the amateur astronomer. Two articles recently caught my attention, and I'd like to share them here.

Comet Hale Bopp
Astronomers have discovered a comet that in 2013 may become a very major event. Comet C/2012 S1 was discovered last week, and when it comes in close to the Sun in late 2013, could rival Hale-Bopp as a major comet in the night sky. Let's stay tuned for updates on this one. Comets are wonderful and rare, and a bright one like Hale-Bopp was unbelievable, visible from big cities and spectacular from dark locations. I have memories of driving on highway 101 in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1997, looking at a comet through the windshield of my car.


Hubble eXtreme Deep Field
The Hubble eXtreme Deep Field Observing Team has published a new image revealing 5,500 galaxies, the most distant as old as 13.2 billion years, meaning that it "emitted its photons only 450 million years after the Big Bang." Images like this are not just beautiful, but profound in their richness of information, revealing how far and wide our universe really is, and just how much more there is to discover.

Images courtesy NASA.

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