Sunday, January 11, 2009

Running out Winter

Winter's settling in: leaden sky, low, filtered sun, and persistent, penetrating chill. Even so, the days are getting longer, and last night's full moon near-perigee was impressively bright for those who could see it. But it's not astronomical spring until 7:44a EDT on 20 March (11:44 UT (USNO AA Earth's Season's). We switch to daylight time on the 8th, the second Sunday in March.

In the meantime, Venus dominates the evening twilight, we miss two eclipses (an annular eclipse on the 26 Jan and a penumbral on 6 Feb), and in February, we experience the first of the year's three Friday the 13ths.

We're in a comet-dry spell, but our observing luck may be improving. This winter's big event looks to be a relatively bright comet, denoted C/2007 N3 Lulin, which may be visible to the unaided eye around its closest approach to Earth on 24 Feb, well placed for viewing in Leo. ... Watch this space and hope the weather holds!

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