Asteroids – Giant Balls of Light Streaking Across the Sky


Asteroids — Astronomy is one of the most exciting sciences due to numerous celestial phenomena that are simply awesome and beautiful to see. Not only that, the universe as a whole is a mysterious fact that may never be fully explained by science.

There are new discoveries such as the existence of distant galaxies and black holes that are constantly revealed by space exploration programs. The reason why we are so fascinated by these celestial objects is because many of them pose as threats to our human existence. Whatever cataclysm that occurs far away can cause destruction to our planet.

Most of these strange occurrences happen in extremely long distances from Earth and are too far away to cause a catastrophe. However, there are some that are relatively near to us. Among these are the asteroids which are large rocks, having a diameter that can reach miles.

These celestial objects have become the talk of town by astronomers, soothsayers, and the public due to fears that if just one of them strikes us, the human race will be wiped out. Scientists are still looking for evidence that support the theory about the extinction of dinosaurs caused by huge asteroid impacts.

It is very important to separate the facts from fiction regarding asteroids. By virtue of popular culture as represented by science fiction books and movies, one of the wildest ideas is that these space objects are allegedly used by aliens to dominate our world. Certain forms of extraterrestrial life are suspected to be found in impact zones, spawning a strange epidemic and causing havoc to humans. However, the most popular concept is asteroids hitting Earth and using our latest technological advances to avert the said disaster.

In order to allay our fears, the scientific community is always conducting research on the nature and composition of these celestial bodies. Their studies have helped us understand the truth about asteroids. These are actually debris that can range from a golf ball up to gigantic rocks as large as continents. Since they have no particular orbits unlike planets and moons, they can and have many times actually struck our planet.

Nevertheless, the ones that have penetrated our Earth’s atmosphere are called meteorites and these are typically small. Some are known as meteors because have been thoroughly burned and have totally turned to dust. The chances of a direct hit from a giant asteroid are relatively small, but astronomers are not taking this fact for granted. By using giant telescopes that are strategically placed in different sites around the world, they constantly observe the heavens for tell-tale signs of asteroids that may stray into a dangerous collision path with our planet.

Another fact is that an asteroid belt exists between Mars and Jupiter. This is where most asteroids come from. Astronomers have separated these into classes based on their material composition and proximity to the said planets. Those that are the nearest to Mars belong to the Class S, while the ones that are closest to Jupiter are known as Classes C, D, and V.

The latter classes are called Centaur asteroids and they have particular material compositions and are known to drift the vast space from Jupiter to Uranus. To gain a first-hand look at these celestial behemoths, scientists have sent space probes to fly near them. The asteroid called Ida was observed by the probe Galileo from a distance of approximately 1,000 miles and was found to have its own moon. Some probes have actually landed on asteroids and have sent amazing photographs for us to enjoy.

Everybody is given the opportunity to do something, such as being able to appreciate the magnificence of astronomy. It doesn’t matter from where you are in this planet because one thing you could do to appreciate these wonders is by just looking up.

Every night, it is very pleasing to see the stars, moon, and maybe comets in the sky. Come to think of it, even people in the past saw the same thing you are seeing right now. It seems like a never-ending journey when you look up the sky, knowing that there is something everlasting about the cosmos. Everything outside the universe has been there for like eternity such as the moons, planets, and stars and until now it hasn’t changed.

We all know how to look up. Every night, we see the wonderful lights of the stars and to think this goes on indefinitely during night time. It’s like having Christmas lights but only for free. Just like the saying goes, “The best things in life are free”. This is even one of the best ways to show your children how beautiful our world is and maybe when they learn to appreciate it they would love to know more about it.

It’s a good start in showing them how a star and moon looks like and how the moon shines so bright during the night. Teaching them to look up is a good start.

You should be grateful that you are given the chance to see because not all people are given this kind of gift. Just like the stars at night, we appreciate it so much and wonder how it is made beautifully. The pleasurable thing about astronomy is learning how to become more and more expert in star gazing that you understand it more each time you look up.

Asteroids – Giant Balls of Light Streaking Across the Sky

Asteroids - Giant Balls of Light Streaking Across the Sky

The following are some ways you can dedicate in to your hobby of astronomy much more exciting:

Try to go somewhere away from the city where there are less lights coming from you place. Some rural areas are recommendable but make sure it is safe and you are familiar with the place.

Recognize what you are looking at. Some fun ways to start learning are the constellations, knowing where some famous stars and planets are directed.

Know about some history. Being knowledgeable about the remarkable breakthrough in astronomy will make your experience worthwhile. It should have its history since it has been there even before we were born.

Take someone with you who knows a lot about astronomy. They will be very grateful to share what they know about astronomy. While star gazing, a simple picnic will do it.

Be aware of the weather and also some updates or research if there will be meteor showers, comets, and other significant astronomy events that will happen to make your experience more thrilling and worthwhile.

When everything is set, bring all the necessary equipment needed. Once you’ve started, get yourself more involved and deepen your understanding with astronomy.

The year moves on, and so does the night sky. In the Northern Hemisphere, summer’s deep sky objects start to make an appearance in the late evenings — favourite bright stars such as Vega in Lyra and Arcturus in Bo?�tes make a return from the east, and with them some stunning Messier deep sky objects. A couple of hours’ observing in late April revealed some real stunners, including M13, and M92.

Much lower down, I should have been able to see M3 in the constellation Canes Venatici, and M57 (the Ring Nebula) in the constellation of Lyra, but pretty bad light pollution from local industry towards my eastern horizon severely restricts observing low down deep sky objects with low surface brightness, such as planetary nebulae, galaxies and star clusters.

I always tend to use a 26mm or 20mm eyepiece initially when viewing deep sky objects, following successfully lining them up in my finderscope. Sometimes, as in the case of M81 (Bode’s Nebula) and M82 (the Cigar Galaxy) in Ursa Major, the smaller eyepiece and wider angular field of view allows for some attractive framings of deep sky objects together.

When it is time for closer inspection, I increase the magnification with my x2 Celestron Barlow lens. In my location, with moderate light pollution and no filter, most deep sky objects, being so faint, really don’t bear greater magnification with a 200mm aperture reflector, except of course, bright star clusters and objects such as M42, the Orion Nebula.

So what my bagging of these two superb globular clusters, both of which looked stunning at x80 magnification? Both are globular clusters. M92 alternatively known as NGC 6341 was discovered in 1777 by Johann Elert Bode, and has an apparent magnitude of +6.4 making it one of the more conspicuous globular clusters. Charles Messier independently rediscovered it and catalogued it on March 18, 1781. It lies 26,700 light years distant in our galaxy’s halo, like M13 in the constellation of Hercules.

M92 is visible to the naked eye under very good conditions and a showpiece through either a telescope or binoculars. It has a mass of approximately 330,000 suns, and has an angular size of 14 arc minutes, astonishingly it is closing in on the central regions of the Milky Way at a staggeringt 112 km/sec!

So much or M92, what about the superb ‘Great globular cluster in Hercules’, otherwise known as M13 or NGC6205? It’s at a similar distance of about 25,100 light years, has an apparent magnitude of +5.8, and has an angular size of 20 arc minutes.

It was discovered by Edmond Halley in 1714, and is one of the best known globulars in the of the Northern celestial hemisphere. M13 contains several 100,000 stars, and in 1974 was a target for one of the first radio messages addressed to possible extra-terrestrial intelligent races, sent by the large radio telescope at Arecibo.
Both M13 and M92 are gems in the northern night sky, and summer’s the time to start making the most of them!

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