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Comet 17/P Holmes


A small and very faint comet has surprised observers around the world by overnight becoming bright enough to see with the unaided eye.

Comet Holmes, which was discovered in November 1892 by Edwin Holmes, in London England, was no brighter than magnitude 17 in mid-October - that's about 25,000 times fainter than the faintest star that can normally be seen without any optical aid. In order to view an object this faint, one would need a moderately large telescope.

But the comet's brightness has suddenly rocketed all the way up to 3rd-magnitude, brightening nearly 400,000-times in less than 24-hours! On this astronomers scale, smaller numbers mean brighter objects. From urban locations, a 3rd-magnitude object might be hidden by light pollution, but under rural skies it would be clearly visible.

Messier marathon planner


I reported previously about the Messier marathon, a race to find as many Messier objects in one night. The Messier Planner is a great tool one can use in order to prepare a marathon night. Or just use it as a handy planner for an sudden night of star watching.



DeepskyLive is a great java applet which behaves like an online star atlas, capable of showing stars up to magnitude 11.5 and deep-sky objects up to magnitude 16. You can easily locate different deepsky objects and print out detailled finder charts. Very handy if you don't have your own star atlas at hand.

Google Sky


In the latest version of Google Earth, an interactive sky map of the universe has been added. With Google Sky, people can explore millions of stars and galaxies; the data has been supplied by different organisations, among which the ESA.



While Opportunity is getting prepared to enter the Victoria crater, large dust storms are raging across the Martian dune planes. As dust collocation on the robots weakens their battery life, scientists anxiously await the end of the storms.

In the mean time, all we can do is have a look at PanCam, another amateur site which is doing great stuff with the photographic material being sent from Mars.


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