Kitt Peak Nightly Observing Program
Splendors of the Universe on YOUR Night!
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Click here for the “Best images of the OTOP” Gallery and more information.
Comets were once harbingers of doom—unpredictable and terrifying celestial sights. We now know that comets are balls of ice, rock, and dust tens of kilometers across. As comets approach the Sun, the ices vaporize and sometimes form long, spectacular tails. Comet 46P/Wirtanen has an unusually short period of 5.4 years. It’s closest approach to earth this time around brought it just over 7 million miles from Earth (on December 16th, 2018)
Mars, the red planet, has a thin carbon dioxide atmosphere, clouds, dust storms, and polar caps made of dry ice. Images of dry riverbeds from orbiting spacecraft show us that liquid water once flowed on the Martian surface.
The same side of the Moon always faces Earth because the lunar periods of rotation and revolution are the same. The surface of the moon is covered with impact craters and lava-filled basins. The Moon is about a fourth of Earth’s diameter and is about 30 Earth-diameters away.
Albireo (β Cyg)
Named long before anyone knew it was more than one star, Albireo (β Cygni) comprises of a set of stars marking the beak of Cygnus, the swan. Through a telescope, we see two components shining in pale, but noticeably contrasting colors: orange and blue. The difference in color is due to the stars’ difference in temperature of over 9000°C! The brighter orange component, Albireo A, is actually a true binary system, though we can’t resolve two stars in the telescope. The fainter blue component, Albireo B, may be only passing by, and not gravitationally interacting with Albireo A at all. Albireo is about 430 light-years away.
Your Telescope Operator and Guide. Thank you for joining me this evening! See you soon!!
The web page for the program in which you just participated is at
Nightly Observing Program. Most of the above images were taken as
the Overnight Telescope Observing Program. For more information on this unique experience please visit Overnight Telescope Observing Program.
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