Comets in 2014

(Comet Holmes after it's outburst in 2007)

An awesome year is just about to come to an end. We saw quite a few comets this year. But 2014 would also be quite amazing as far as comets are concerned. Here's a list of few of the comets that you should look out for.

Comet Holmes (27th March 2014) :- This one is a periodic comet that was last seen in October 2007. What makes this one special is that last time when we saw this comet it had an unexpected outburst. It's magnitude had suddenly and unexpectedly changed from 17 to 2.8 in a period of 48 hours. At one point in time it was difficult to observe even from a telescope and suddenly within a span of two days it became bright enough to be seen by the naked eyes.

Comet 209P/Linear (6th May 2014) :- This is also another periodic comet that was last seen on 3rd Feb 2004. The Earth would pass through the tail of the comet so hopefully it should be visible. What makes this one special is that as the Earth passes through it's tail it would cause a meteor storm producing 100 - 400 meteors per hour. The meteor shower would mainly be visible in the constellation of Camelopardalis.

Comet 4P/Faye (29th May 2014) :- Another periodic comet but not as exciting as the above two. The expected magnitude of this comet would be around 12.5.

Comet C/2013 A1 Siding spring (25th Oct. 2014) :- This comet would probably be invisible to the naked eye but what makes this one so exciting is that it would get extremely close to the planet Mars. Infact there is 1 of 1,20,000 chance that it would hit Mars on the 19th October. Kinda reminds me of the comet Shoemaker

This is just the basic information that i have as far as comets are concerned. I'll keep updating my blog as soon as i get more info....

How to identify Capricornus

Basic facts about Capricornus
  • Capricornus is not really a goat, It's half goat and half fish
  • It is the second faintest zodiac sign after cancer hence it's quite difficult to observe
  • The brightest star in Capricornus is Deneb Algedi which has an apparent magnitude of 2.85
            Where is it located?
Being a zodiac sign it's located on the ecliptic. It lies between Sagittarius and Aquarius and is surrounded by Aquila, Microscopium and Piscis Austrinus. Now if you are Starring at that part of the sky then you would notice few constellations that would stand out like Scorpius and Sagittarius that have relatively bright stars. The other thing that you would notice is Formalhaut which is the brightest star of Piscis Austrinus. Now if you follow the ecliptic you would first get Scorpius, Sagittarius then a patch of sky with really faint star followed by Aquarius. Now it's this patch of faint stars that we need to look at. First of all search for the brightest star amongst the faint patch. That star would be Deneb Algedi which is also the delta star of the constellation. Now you can imagine this constellation to be like a giant "V" or like a crooked triangle and Deneb Algedi is one of its vertex. The next brightest star is Beta Cap. which has a magnitude of 3.05 which forms the star close to the other vertex. The third brightest star is alpha 2 cap. this star is right next to the Beta cap. Once you find these three stars the rest of the constellation should be a little more easier to spot provided you have a clear sky.
The red line shown in the picture is the ecliptic.
Capricornus is not particularly an  exciting constellation as far as deep sky objects are concerned. but the one object that's worth observing is the M30. It has an apparent magnitude of 7.7 hence you would require an optical aid to view this object. It is a globular star cluster.


Other comets in 2013

Lovejoy (C/2013 R1)
This comet as of November 7th was spotted close to the Beehive cluster in the Cancer constellation with an apparent magnitude of 6.3. So it is visible through a small telescope or binoculars on a clear night.After November 19th the comet would be close to the Big dipper. It would make it's closest approach to the Sun on 25th December. It's estimated max brightness would be 5.9 from around 21st November to 28th November after which it'll steadily decrease. So this would be the best time to spot this comet. To know the current position of the comet use this link -

Comet Encke(2P/Encke)

Comet Encke is a periodic comet with a period of 3.3 years.It's moving from comma berenices to virgo, libra, scorpius and then ophiucus. It's max brightness would be 7.1 when it's in the constellation of Virgo on 16th November till 20th November then it's brightness would steadily decrease. It's tail is relatively short covering only 3 degrees of the sky. To know the current position of the comet use this link -

I'll keep updating my blog as i get more information on these comets.

comet ISON , 28th November 2013

This comet was discovered on 21st September 2012. It is also known as C/2012 S1. It is a Sun grazing comet which means that it would get extremely close to the surface of the Sun, on 28th November 2013 it would be at a distance of just 0.012 AU or 18,00,000 Km from the center of the Sun . It is also known as the comet of the century because at it's perihelion it's apparent magnitude is predicted to go upto -1.83. But there is a slight problem, at this stage it would be extremely close to the Sun which means that the Sun light might just overpower the light from the comet. I used the software "Stellarium" to look for it's apparent magnitude and this is what i found.
15th October - 9.21 (Apparent mag.), near Regulus
25th October -8.30, below Leo
5th November -6.88,  near Virgo
15th November -5.13,b/w Porrima and Spica
25th November -1.98, in libra
28th Novembar -(-1,83), near Acarb (Scorpius)
So i came to the conclusion that the best time to look for the comet would be right before dawn between 15th to 25th November because it would be bright enough and it wouldn't be that close to the Sun.
(this is the path of the comet before 15th October)
Now before reaching it's perihelion this comet would be bright and easily visible which is a spectacular sight in it self but what makes it even more interesting is that after it reaches it's perihelion it can turn even brighter. Although there is a possibility that it might get destroyed due to the Suns heat. The nucleus of the comet is around 5 Km so in this case we can be a little optimistic. 
(C/2012 S1 as captured by Hubble Space Telescope on 10−11 April 2013)
Not much is known about this comet as of yet. I would keep updating my blog as i get more information on this. Please share this post so that more and more people become aware of this comet. 

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Supermoon 23rd June 2013

What is a Supermoon???
A supermoon is a coincidence of a  new moon or a full moon with the closest approach it makes with the Earth's orbit. This closest point of approach is known as Perigee. At perigee the moon is around 3,57,210 Km away from the Earth whereas at Apogee it's around 4,05,978 Km.
Where to look??? 
First hint look at the moon, but if you want to know the exact location then the moon would be in the constellation of Capricon.
The difference wouldn't be much but it would still be worth watching.
It would occur on June 23 2013 at 11.32 UTC so it wouldn't be visible in most parts at it's Perigee but you can still catch a glimpse of it on 22nd night. The difference wouldn't be much.

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How to identify sagittarius constellation and its' various deep sky objects

As most of you would know the center of our milky way galaxy is in Sagittarius and it also contains many star clusters and nebulae. Although it contains many bright stars it is difficult to imagine the centaur hence the other famous asterism for this constellation is the tea pot. The few bright stars of this constellation are Kaus Australis, Kaus Meridionalis also known as Kaus Media, Nash, Kaus Borealis, Nunki, Ascella, Rukbat.
On the ecliptic it is placed between Scorpius and Capricornus. Above the ecliptic it is surrounded by Aquila, Serpenes Cauda and Scutum. Below the ecliptic there is Corona Australis and Telescopium. It has three relatively bright nebulae The Lagoon Nebula (M 8) ,The Omega Nebula (M 17) both these object have an apparent magnitude of 6.0 and the Trifid Nebula (M 20) it has an apparent magnitude of 6.3. Together these three Nebulas are known as the Sagittarius Triplet.
The Lagoon Nebula (M 8)

The Omega Nebula (M 17)
The Trifid Nebula (M 20) 
Apart from nebulas it also contains numerous star clusters. 
M 22, apparent magnitude- 5.1
M 24, apparent magnitude-4.6, it also contains a faint cluster ngc 6603.
M 28, apparent magnitude- 7.66
Apparent from these and many more objects one can also see the limbs of the milky way galaxy which extends all the way to Scorpius. The picture below shows the exact location of the Messier objects.

Diamonds on uranus and neptune

Studies suggest that under high enough pressures methane can form into diamond. Although such conditions do not occur on Earth, the theory has been tested under artificial conditions and found to be true. If this occurs on Neptune and Uranus, which have strong pressures and large amounts of free methane, then it would cause diamonds to rain down through the atmosphere towards their cores. This would also account for unusual heat signatures emitted by these planets.(I found the following information on facebook) :D

More information:

Dance of planets May 2013

What is "Dance of Planets"???
 Most star gazers would know that the planet Jupiter is in the Taurus constellation and that the Sun enters the constellation in the month of May and is often accompanied by the planet Venus and sometimes even Mercury. Now between 24th and 29th May the planet Jupiter,Mercury and Venus would be at a very close proximity(as seen from the Earth). The planets move at different speeds hence one would be able to make out the relative motion between them. This is known as the Dance of Planets.

Where and when to look???
Now because the Sun is in Taurus and you cannot see the planets when the Sun is in the sky. The best time to see the Dance of Planets would be at dusk right after sunset.

Hybrid solar eclipse on 3rd November 2013 and the difference between total, annular and hybrid eclipses

The year 2013 is not particularly exciting as far as eclipses are concerned  But at the end of the year we'll get a chance to witness a rare event. On the 3rd November 2013 there is going to be a hybrid solar eclipse. Now before i go into detail let me first explain what a hybrid solar eclipse really is. A total solar eclipse is the one in which the moon completely obscures the bright light of the Sun in such a way that the solar corona becomes extremely faint. An annular eclipse is the one in which the Earth is at such a distance from the Sun, that the Relative size of the Sun appears to be larger than the moon. Hence the Sun appears as a very bright ring,(as shown in the above picture). Whereas a hybrid eclipse is the one in which from some points on the Earth it's visible as a total eclipse whereas from other points it appears as an annular eclipse. The last hybrid eclipse had occurred on  8th April 2005. The Sun would be located in the Libra constellation. Partial solar eclipse would begin at 19:38 (UTC), total solar eclipse at 20:35 (UTC), greatest eclipse at 22:13(UTC), total end 23:48(UTC) and partial end at 0:45(UTC).
(These are the places from where the eclipse would be visible)
For more information on eclipses go to - 

How to identify Centaurus and Crux

            This is the constellation called Centaurus. It's a constellation present in the southern hemisphere but it is visible from the northern hemisphere during summer. The alpha star of Centaurus is Rigil kentaurus which is a star system consisting of Proxima centauri A, B and C. Proxima centauri C is also the closest star to our solar system. The problem with this constellation is that it is a little difficult to recognize. So the best way of recognizing it would be to first find the constellation Crux also known as the southern cross.Crux consists of four bright stars they are Gacrux, Mimosa, Acrux and Delta Crucius. On the left hand side of the star Mimosa you would notice two really bright stars these are Rigil kent. and Hadar which form the two front hooves of the centaur. Once you find these two stars you should be able to trace the rest of the constellation using a stellar chart. The other way of locating this constellation would be to first locate Lupus. This constellation is located below Scorpius and Libra and Lupus is the wolf that the Centaur is trying to kill. So Centaurus is located on the right side of Lupus.
            Centaurus has quite a few deep sky objects in it. NGC 5128 is one of the closest active galaxies to the Milky Way. It has an apparent magnitude of 7. It is said that it was created after an elliptical galaxy collided with a spiral galaxy. The dust cloud seen in the picture is because of the spiral galaxy.
It has a 8th magnitude planetary nebula also known as the blue planetary nebula.
It also consists of one of the largest and the brightest star cluster in the sky known as the omega cluster or NGC 5139. It covers an area larger than the full moon and appears as a 4th magnitude star. It is at a distance of around 17000 light years.
These are just a few prominent objects in the constellation. It has got many more relatively fainter nebulas, galaxied and star clusters.
(This is just a map giving the exact location of the deep sky objects)

How to identify Leo, Leo triplet and the role of Leo in Greek mythology

The constellation Leo lies on the Ecliptic between Virgo and Cancer. It consists of nine bright stars which are Regulus, Chertan, Denebola, Zosma, Algieba, Eta leonis, Adhafera, Rasalas and Elased. The brightest of them being Regulus which is a blue white star of apparent magnitude 1.4. Leo lies exactly below Ursa Major its head pointing in the direction of the big dipper whereas the star Denebola which also forms its tail pointing  in the direction of the dipper handle. In order to locate Regulus simply join the two stars, Dubhe and Merak  of the Ursa Major constellation and then extend that line the first bright star on the line would be Regulus. Once you've identified Regulus try to imagine an inverted question mark on top of Regulus. The names of the stars from the top are Elased, Rasalas, Adhafera, Algieba, Eta Leonis and finally Regulus. If you follow the pictures then you should be able to spot the lion. If you have a decent sized telescope and a clear night sky then there are few things that you should not miss while observing this constellation. One of the biggest attraction in the Leo constellation is the Leo triplet there are three galaxies which appear to be fairly close to each other, they are M95, M96 and M105. These three galaxies are around 9 and 10 magnitude. Apart from the Leo triplet there's aslo the M65 and M66 galaxy.
(The Leo triplet as seen from a deep field telescope)
Now lets move on to the mythology surrounding this constellation. According to the Greek mythology Eurystheus had given 12 tasks to Hercules. His first task was to bring back the pelt of the Nemean lion. It was said that the lions pelt was impenetrable. First Hercules tried to kill the lion with arrows but as its fur was impenetrable, he couldn't kill it. Eventually Hercules used his club and strangled the lion to death. But his task was not yet over as he had to remove the lions pelt and couldn't use his knife. Athena the goddess of wisdom noticed the heroes struggle and told him to use the lions' own claws to skin it's pelt. In order to immortalize this event Zeus, the king of Gods and the God of the sky put the lion in the celestial in the form of the Leo constellation. 
(This is how the Leo constellation would appear, although if you live in a place where there is a lot of light or where the air is relatively polluted then the constellation might not appear this bright)

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stellar events in 2013

Two commets, dance of planets,ring of fire and so much more........Ohhh...... 2013 is an awesome year :)

Asteroid 2013

An asteroid is comming close to Earth on 15th Feb 2013........ it is 150 ft long ....... for more info go to -

Virgo and Libra in Greek mythology

According to the Greek mythology Zeus gave the task of creating Earth and the various forms of life on it to the two Titan brothers Prometheus and Epimethius. Epimethius gave all the qualities to different animals for instance he gave venom to the poisonous animals like snakes and scorpions, claws to bear,wings to all the birds, etc. When he wanted to create man he realized that there is no unique quality left. So he went to Prometheus. He in turn went to heaven and brought down fire. With the help of fire man was able to cook, forge weapons and tools and basically progress. This in turn made Zeus furious and as an eternal punishment he tied Prometheus to rock where an eagle would keep biting into his liver, Zeus used to believe that fire should only be used by the Gods. Zeus in order to take revenge created woman.(I am certainly not an anti-feminist,but this is how the myth goes) He told Hepahestus to create a woman in his forges out of water and earth. Every God gave her a gift for instance Athena clothed her, Aphrodite gave her beauty. Hermes gave her speech. Zeus presented her with a beautiful box but gave her strict instruction that she should not open it. Out of curiosity Pandora did open that box and all the evil that was contained in that container such as illness, sadness, revenge, anger, envy, etc escaped on the Earth. At the bottom of the container laid the one thing that did not escape 'hope'. the Gods deserted the Earth one by one. Astraea goddess of innocence, purity and justice was the last one to leave. After leaving Astraea was placed among the stars in the form of the Virgo constellation and her balance became the Libra constellation.

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Pisces in Greek mythology

Typhon was one of the most powerful monster in Greek mythology. He was also a Titan the son of Oranos and Gaya. The Tiatans were defeated by the Olympians (In short they hated each other). One day Typhon suddenly appeared startling all the Olympians who took different forms to flee. Zeus took the form of a ram, Dionysus took the form of a goat, Apollo took the the form of a crow, Diana took the form of a cat,Hermes took the form of an ibis, Venus and her son Cupid were bathing on the banks of the Euphrates river and took the shape of a pair of fish. Minerva in order to immortalize the event placed the figures of the two fish in the skies in the form of the Pisces constellation. Now that we our on the subject of Pisces i'd like to say that it is not particularly a bright constellation and very difficult to spot. It has got no Messier objects in it and it lies on the ecliptic.

Hydra and Cancer in Greek mythology

According to the Greek mythology Eurystheus had given 12 task to Hercules. Out of these 12 his 2nd task was to defeat Hydra. A venomous serpent like monster that was raised by the Goddess Juno. The weird thing about Hydra was that it had many heads and if one of the heads were cut off than in it's place two more heads would grow. Hercules went to the den where Hydra lived and started chopping it's head and his nephew Lolaus started burning off the stumps to prevent the heads from growing. Juno in order to stop Hercules from slaying Hydra sent a crab. But Hercules crushed it under his foot. Eventually both the Hydra as well as the crab were killed and Juno in order to immortalize them sent them into the heavens in the form of Hydra and Cancer.

Eridanus in Greek mythology

Lets now move to the mythology of the constellation of Eridanus. It is located to the right hand side of the Orion and it starts a little above Rigel. The star right above Rigel is known as Cursa whereas the brightest star in the constellation is known as Achernar. According to the Greek mythology Phoeton was the son of Apollo(the Sun God). He was a demigod, once he asked his mother that where could he find Apollo. His mother told him to go all the way to India the land where the Greeks used to believe the Sun rises first and was also said to be the place where Apollo lived. When Apollo saw him for the first time in his palace he granted a wish to Phoeton. Phoeton wished to ride Apollo's chariot in spite of his repeated warnings. Apollo gave him the chariot and told him that the four horses are extremely aggressive and they are difficult to control. Then Phoeton left with the chariot. The horses became so violent and aggressive that the chariot was diverted from its usual path. At times it came to close to the Earth making the temperatures unbearable and sometimes it went to close to the heaven. On seeing this Zeus the king of Gods and the God of Skies and thunder took a lightning bolt and shot Phoeton. Phoeton immediately fell of his chariot and died. It is said that he fell into the river Eridanus. The constellation actually shows the way in which Phoeton fell. The star Achernar is the point where he fell into the river. 

Orion in greek mythology

Constellations and stars have always been associated with mythology. For instance Orion was an extremely good hunter. It is said that he was so good that the goddess Artemis also known as Diana (the moon goddess and the goddess of hunting) fell in love with him. Orion was always accompanied by his two dogs Sirius and Procyon. Once Orion wanted to cross a river, the river was so deep that he was submerged upto his neck. Apollo the Sun God who was also Artemis's brother in order to play a prank challenged Artemis to shoot at the floating target. Artemis shot the "target" and later realized that it was Orion. She became extremely sad. Zeus the king of Gods on seeing this took Orion along with his two dogs and gave him a place in the heaven. The two dogs Sirius and Procyon form the constellation of Cannis major and Cannis minor. Where the names of the dogs are given to the brightest stars of those constellation. Lepus is just an ordinary rabbit sent into heaven so that Orion would have some animal whom he can chase. It is also said that Orion is actually trying to either kill or save himself from Taurus.

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Few easy to spot Messier objects

Apart from Pleiades there are many more Messier objects that one can spot in the night sky for instance there is the Andromeda galaxy just a little above the star mu andromeda also know as the M31, it has an apparent magnitude of 3.4. Which means that it is visible to the naked eye. There is the M41 open cluster present in the Cannis major constellation right below the star Sirius,with an apparent magnitude of 4.5. There is the M42 Orion nebula obviously in the Orion constellation, with an A.P. of 4.0. The M44 Bee hive cluster in the Cancer constellation,with an A.P. of 3.7. The Bode's Galaxy also known as the M81,with an A.P. of 6.5. So its not visible to the naked eye but you can spot it if you use a telescope.The M92 which is a globular cluster in the Hercules constellation with an A.P. of 7.5. The M101 also known as the pin wheel galaxy in the Ursa major constellation with an A.P. of 7.9. M104 also known as the Sombrero galaxy in the virgo constellation with an A.P. 0f 9.5. There are many more objects worth spotting but these are few of my favourites.