Monday, December 31, 2007

Martian Merriment Tonight & ASTEROID COMING 30th!

For several weeks our dusky red planet has been holding court, but tonight - New Year's Eve - will usher in another year with the war-god planet at the helm.  As always, all directions are written for the world's mid-northern latitudes. 

After all the revelry and midnight ticks into 12:01 a.m., face southward to see a very brilliant Sirius, our "dog star" shining in his whitest garb.  Sirius is now our Winter Star, and at its highest peak.  But the fiery Mars, equal to Sirius in brightness, glares nearly overhead (if you live in the mid-northern latitudes).  Glancing down below Mars stands Orion, and off to your left shoulder you'll note Saturn dominating the eastern sky.  Remember Regulus, sometimes called the "sickle of Leo" and shines at the heart of that constellation?  This star will be easily seen to the upper right of the cabal.

Does this foretell anything I wonder, that the fierce, yet most promising planet will see in 2008?  For numerologists, this is the year #1 which I arrived at in this manner:  2+0+0+8=10=1+0=1.  Mars is the 4th planet from our own star, and January has landed in the House of 5.  (1+4=5...hm? and take that even further, 145=1+4+5=10=1+0=1)  The year adds up to a number which adds up to itself, literally.  We've concentrated so much science on these rocky slopes and craters, and as many already know, we all may be gaining an abundance of incredibly important cosmic knowledge on January 30th.  That is, IF the anticipated asteroid known as 2007 WD5 impacts the Martian scape.  If so, it would gouge out a crater roughly a mile across - easily visible by any of the 3 craft now orbiting the planet.  Still, most scientists predict a near-miss of only about 55,000 miles, but the odds of a direct hit are 1 in 75.  UPDATE: as of 1/3/08 the odds of impact are now 1 in 25 In November of 1979, this same asteroid slipped past the red planet at a startling distance of 400,000 miles.  Now it's back, and much closer

Most likely, it'll be another near-miss.  But no one can refine the asteroid's orbit and trajectory, as it is presently a blip in Taurus with the bright moon blocking true vision.  However, if a collision does occur it will raise quite a bit of ruddy dust.

More than anything, it can provide us with answers to cosmic mysteries about our own earth, and this solar system.  Faithful rovers Spirit and Opportunity are still doing their work on the red planet, and since Mars is now near its closest to earth, Hubble may get a shot of some of the splat.  Once again, there's a big "IF" in the middle of all this.  

Moving along into New Year's Day, comet Tuttle will be passing closest to earth since its 1858 discovery.  It will not return until 2048. 

On January 2nd earth will reach perihelion, its closest to our sun for the entire year, only 1/30 closer than at aperihelion (its farthest from the sun) in July. 

Finally, on the 3rd, there may be a brief but very spectacular meteor shower called the Quadrantids, or "Quads".  They make a truly fine display, especially if you're in North America.  Though brief, they're very intense with more than 100 meteors an hour being visible, under ideal conditions.  Start looking around 6:40 UT or 1:40 a.m. EST. 

A fiery red rusty planet is escorting this new year into history, and whatever underlying mysteries this holds I'm sure the truth of cosmic science will not fail to delight and amaze

A Very Happy and Safe New Year J-Land!

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 Basics courtesy of Sky & Telescope, R&L, Gryphon, star charts   

 

 

  

13 comments:

bhbner2him said...

Sounds all rather exciting, busy and mysterious.  -  Barbara

jeanno43 said...

Well only time will tell if it means anything and whether the planets do hold real sway over us.  I wish you a very happy and healthy 2008

http://journals.aol.co.uk/jeanno43/JeannettesJottings/

ma24179 said...

I read about the asteroid that may hit mars. I also read about asteroids that may hit us. It's a scary thought but from my understanding they can stop things like that from happening by destroying the asteroid or redirecting it's course. Technology is amazing. Hope you have a Happy New Year. -Missy

lanurseprn said...

Interesting stuff!! Happy New Year!!
Pam

pharmolo said...

Thanks for the astronomy update, Cathy and Happy New Year!

Guido
http://journals.aol.co.uk/pharmolo/NorthernTrip/

preciousone25 said...

Interesting!!  Happy New Year!!

Joann

buggieboo1 said...

very interesting!


~~Happy New Year~~

Sharon

http://journals.aol.com/buggieboo1/ImASurvivor/



ksquester said...

I walk Luke the Wonder Dog every night late.................I have seen the beautiful Mars.   Wish you could view my view here in the desert.   Anne

wwfbison said...

I would love to see the Quads, I am jotting a note to take a look.  I wish you a happy new year, may 2008 be a good year for you.
Lisa

nightmaremom said...

Happy New Year my friend... my 2008 bring you all good things
hugs
d

attitudeslc said...

I love when you post these.  I feel mystified, and stumped and then you bring it all together in the end.  

Merry New Year Dear Friend!
~Rosemary

aimer said...

I love your astronomy posts. You always share such fascinating information.--Sheria

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