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(469219) 2016 HO3 ~ Asteroid (469219) 2016 HO3 was spotted on April 27, 2016 as some will have figured out from its designation. It is just 40-100 meters in diameter and is far too faint to view without a telescope. Still as a quasi-satellite, its main claim to fame is how it seems to orbit the Earth, like another Moon. This picture seems persuasive, but the reality is very different.
2006 Transit of Mercury ~ Okay citizens, you probably didn’t notice, but on 8 November 2006, Mercury passed over the face of the Sun. If you missed it, say you live in Europe, didn’t fancy damaging your eyes, or it was raining where you were, this is broadly what it looked like, one of fourteen such events this century and the last one for ten years.
2012 Transit of Venus ~ Transits of Venus across the face of the Sun rank among the rarest of planetary alignments, coming in pairs only eight years apart but separated by over a century. June 5/6, 2012 witnesses the next example following the events of June 8, 2004. There will not be another instance to vie for your attention, in over a hundred years…
99942 Apophis ~ Apophis is an asteroid with a diameter of only around 270 meters. Shortly after its discovery in 2004, it reached the highest level ever awarded on the Torino Scale, a measure by which scientists rank the likelihood of an asteroid hitting the Earth. This has since been downgraded, but it comes close enough for a good viewing in 2029.
AAVSO ~ The American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) is a non-profit scientific and educational organisation, made up of astronomers fascinated by stars that vary in their brightness; known together as the variable stars. Some varieties of variable stars include: pulsating, cataclysmic and eruptive variables, the eclipsing binary stars and rotating stars…
AccuWeather Astronomy ~ Previously only for UK visitors, this feature is now on offer globally from the Accuweather.com website. Bash in your location and get a current weather forecast, full details of cloud cover, ongoing lunar phases and the rise and set times of every planet, calculated exactly for where you are.
AKATSUKI Message Campaign ~ This Site of the Week recommendation updates every Friday, so if you’re quick you have three days left now until their deadline on January 10. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will send your personal message to Venus on an aluminium plate aboard their Climate Orbiter, providing you can stick to within 40 characters…
American Meteor Society ~ The American Meteor Society is an authoritative, attractive and accessible source of almost any information imaginable concerning meteorites, meteors and meteoroids; their smaller brethren the micrometeoroids and showier cousins known as fireballs and bolides. I found the Meteor Shower Calendar extremely helpful, but your mileage may vary.
An Atlas of the Universe ~ An astonishing website featuring 3D visualisations that zoom out from our own small corner to cover the entire visible universe from 14 billion light years away. There is detail on the nearest stars to our own Sun, the galaxies adjoining the Milky Way, the Virgo supercluster and those surrounding this one too. Stunning!
Apparent Magnitude ~ Is it a bird, is it a plane? Judging by what I’ve heard recently, it is probably Venus, most likely. Here is a list of the brightest objects in the sky, mainly planets rather than stars. The only stars to reach a negative magnitude are Sirius, Arcturus, Canopus, and Alpha Centauri, and you can’t see the last two from the UK.
Approaching Mars ~ Having reached the closest to us for 60,000 years back in August 2003, during October 2005 Mars once again gets very close and bright, only this time higher in the sky, much better placed for observation, but soon implicated in some less than helpful astrological configurations. So much trouble in the world…
Ask the Space Scientist ~ This site is an archive of all those perplexing space related questions, answered in a detailed yet accessible fashion by professional astronomer Dr. Sten Odenwald. You can email a further question if you wish, but otherwise it’s a great browse through the hundreds that have been asked already.
Aspects of Venus ~ As the 2012 transit of Venus across the face of the Sun fades into memory, here is a straightforward representation of several other significant points in the regular Venus cycle that may turn out to be more spectacular and far longer lived. The maxima of greatest elongation and greatest brilliancy in particular, can appear hard to ignore…
AstDyS-2 ~ This dynamically updating website provides a soure of reference primarily for astronomers, concerning the growing list of observed and numbered asteroids. In late 2015, this runs at around 1.25 million discoveries and as telescopes improve, so their number continues to grow. A further 82,000 or so new findings were added to this catalogue during 2014 alone.
Asteroid 2012 DA14 ~ On February 15, 2013 an asteroid named 2012 DA14, passes by closer to the Earth than some high-orbiting communications satellites. With a diameter of less than 50 meters this asteroid won’t be visible to the naked eye, even when it is the nearest to us at 19:25 Universal Time, coming within a mere 27,700 km of the Earth’s surface.
Asteroid Orbit Simulator ~ Part of NASA’s Near Earth Object (NEO) programme, this site enables you to enter the name or number of any known asteroid. At the click of a mouse you can then generate a complete set of orbital parameters, together with a graphic simulation of that asteroid’s orbit. A useful piece of work for those with Java enabled…