Red, purple and green streamers of the aurora borealis dazzled viewers in North America on Friday and were seen much farther south than normal, with people in California, Arizona and Texas reporting they could see it, according to AccuWeather, Inc. Typically, the spectacular display is only visible in northern locales like Alaska, North Dakota, Canada and Iceland.
Jupiter and Venus to 'join' in the evening sky on Wednesday – CBC News
On Wednesday, you can see two of the brightest planets in the night sky come together.
If you’re looking toward the west after sunset, you’ll be able to see two bright “stars” in the sky: Those are actually Jupiter and Venus, and they’ve been getting closer and closer every night.
“It is an apparent close approach from our perspective, as the planets are in fact hundreds of millions of kilometres apart,” said Paul Delaney, professor emeritus with York University’s department of physics and astronomy.
“Nonetheless, winter sky watchers will have noticed the steady approach of these planets over the last several weeks. It peaks on March 1 — a great photo opportunity.”
Venus — often referred to as the “evening star” or “morning star” depending on where it is in the sky — is the brightest of the two and can be found low in the west.
Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, can be found just above and to the left of Venus.
How and when to see them
One of the best things about conjunctions is that you don’t need binoculars or telescopes to see them. If you do happen to have a pair of binoculars, however, you can get a great closeup view of the pair.
“Venus and Jupiter will be within about half a degree (or the width of the full moon) together in the sky,” said Elaina Hyde, director of York University’s Allan I Carswell Observatory.
“This means with most binoculars, you will be able to see them together.”
What makes it even more interesting is that you can also see four of Jupiter’s brightest moons. And if you take a look through a pair of binoculars over several nights, you will be able to see how the moons move night after night.
On Wednesday, however, three of the moons will be visible to the left of Jupiter, beginning with Io (closest to the planet), followed by Ganymede and then Callisto.
“At magnitude –2.1 and –4, the planets Venus and Jupiter are two of our brightest objects to see in the night sky,” Hyde said in an email.
“Venus and Jupiter are somewhat common conjunctions, occurring about once a year, but if you have clear skies it should still be a very fun object to view.”
Delaney recommended people watch the planets a few days before and after the close conjunction on March 1, as it illustrates just how the planets move as they orbit the sun.
If your area doesn’t have clear skies on Wednesday, Hyde said the observatory plans to livestream images of the event on its YouTube channel, weather permitting. The Virtual Telescope Project will also be hosting a livestream. You can also check your local astronomy clubs for any observing sessions.
“Any time the brightest planets, as seen from Earth, ‘get together,’ it is worth the look,” said Delaney. “While these planets do enter conjunction reasonably often (every few years), I never tire of watching their dance with respect to the background stars.”
Solar Storm That Caused Dazzling Auroral Display Could Linger
A coronal mass ejection, an explosion of magnetic fields and plasma from the sun’s atmosphere, hit Earth early Friday with more force than initially forecast. These events can disrupt Earth’s magnetic field causing auroral displays, as well as disrupting satellites, communication and electric grids.
Read more: A Swedish Resort Lets You See the Northern Lights From Your Room
The US Space Weather Prediction Center had originally expected a G2 level storm Friday on its five-step scale, the event measured in at G4, one of the strongest triggered on Earth since 2017.
The impacts from the coronal mass ejection have trailed off, but energy coming from what scientists call a “coronal hole” will continue at least through Saturday and that could mean the aurora could be seen by viewers across Europe, Asia and North America through Sunday, the UK Met Office said on its website.
There are currently eight sunspot clusters visible on the side of the sun facing Earth, however another coronal mass ejection blasting toward us isn’t forecast, the UK Met Office said.
An airplane-sized asteroid will pass between the Earth and moon’s orbits Saturday
An asteroid dubbed “city killer” for its size will pass harmlessly between the moon and the Earth Saturday evening.
The asteroid 2023 DZ2 will pass at a distance of over 100,000 miles, less than half the distance between the Earth and the moon. It’s about 160 feet long — about the size of an airliner. An asteroid that size could cause significant damage if it hit a populated area, hence its nickname.
“While close approaches are a regular occurrence, one by an asteroid of this size (140-310 ft) happens only about once per decade, providing a unique opportunity for science,” NASA Asteroid Watch tweeted.
Astronomers from the International Asteroid Warning Network, established about 10 years ago to coordinate international responses to potential near-Earth object impact threats, will be monitoring and learning from this asteroid.
NASA Asteroid Watch called the opportunity “good practice” in case “a potential asteroid threat were ever discovered.”
Near-Earth objects are asteroids or comets that pass close to the Earth’s orbit, and they generally come from objects that are affected by other planets’ gravity, moving them into orbits that push them close to Earth, according to the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.
The European Space Agency maintains a risk list of 1,460 objects, which catalogs every object with a non-zero chance of hitting Earth over the next 100 years. Asteroid 2023 DZ2, which is in orbit around the sun, is not on the risk list.
Large asteroid to zoom between Earth and Moon
On Saturday, the 2023DZ2 will come within a third of the distance from the Earth to the Moon.
A large asteroid will safely zoom between Earth and the Moon on Saturday, a once-in-a-decade event that will be used as a training exercise for planetary defence efforts, according to the European Space Agency.
The asteroid, named 2023 DZ2, is estimated to be 40 to 70 metres (130 to 230 feet) wide, roughly the size of the Parthenon, and big enough to wipe out a large city if it hit our planet.
At 19:49 GMT on Saturday, it will come within a third of the distance from the Earth to the Moon, said Richard Moissl, the head of the ESA’s planetary defence office.
Though that is “very close”, there is nothing to worry about, he told AFP news agency.
Small asteroids fly past every day, but one of this size coming so close to Earth only happens about once every 10 years, he added.
The asteroid will pass 175,000km (109,000 miles) from Earth at a speed of 28,000 kilometres per hour (17,400 miles per hour). The Moon is roughly 385,000km (239,228 miles) away.
An observatory in La Palma, one of Spain’s Canary Islands, first spotted the asteroid on February 27.
Last week, the United Nations-endorsed International Asteroid Warning Network decided it would take advantage of the close look, carrying out a “rapid characterisation” of 2023 DZ2, Moissl said. That means astronomers around the world will analyse the asteroid with a range of instruments such as spectrometers and radars.
The goal is to find out just how much we can learn about such an asteroid in only a week, Moissl said. It will also serve as training for how the network “would react to a threat” possibly heading our way in the future, he added.
The asteroid will again swing past Earth in 2026, but poses no threat of impact for at least the next 100 years – which is how far out its trajectory has been calculated.
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