Observing our Solar System

Comet 8P/Tuttle will be approaching its maximum brightness as it crosses Cassiopeia in the next-to-last week of December.

The Other Bright Comet of 2007-08

Comet 8P/Tuttle is now near its peak. Although nowhere near Comet Holmes in total brightness, its light is concentrated in a much smaller area, making it considerably more prominent when viewed from typical suburban locations.

This image, taken March 25th by assistant editor Sean Walker, shows the group of large sunspots that has recently come into view. Check them out!

Go See the Sun

If you have a solar filter or another way to safely view the Sun, be sure to check out the latest group of sunspots marching across its disk.

The yellow line shows the most likely path of the occultation, but the uncertainty in the asteroid's position is quite large. So the event could actually happen anywhere within the shaded area. And there's even a one-in-three chance that it will fall outside (though fairly near to) the shaded area.

Watch a Bright Star Wink Off and On

It's extremely unusual for a star that's visible to the unaided eye to be momentarily blotted out by a chunk of rock flying through outer space. But that's what's going to happen early on the morning of Thursday, April 17th, over the most densely populated section of the United States.

The bright dot at upper right is Mercury, shining at magnitude -0.3 to the upper right of the 1½-day-old Moon on March 11, 2005. North Americans witness a nearly identical scene at dusk on May 6, 2008, except that Mercury will be to the Moon's lower left.

This photo is cropped from a much larger image that's available on the photographer's website.

Catch Mercury at Its Best

Mercury is normally elusive, but it's putting on an extraordinarily good evening show for observers at mid-northern latitudes from late April through mid-May 2008.

Jupiter without moons

Jupiter Goes Moonless

For 18 minutes on the night of May 21-22, the King of Planets will be missing his entire court — as all four Galilean satellites disappear from view.


Mars Meets the Beehive

The Red Planet travels through one of the biggest and brightest star clusters in the sky from May 21st to the 24th. As a warm-up, stargazers watched Mars pass a hair's-breadth north of 5th-magnitude Eta Cancri on the evening of May 19th in easternmost America and the morning of the 20th in western Europe.

Venus often has picturesque conjunctions with celestial objects, but none more frequently then the Moon.

Venus Returns

Earth's sister planet has emerged from behind the Sun for a low evening apparition. See how early you can spot it in the twilight.