Saturday, August 14, 2010

A day in the sky

The meteor shower
Last night I had a chance to watch the meteor shower for a little while. I've never seen one before but really wanted to see at least one real meteor burn up in the atmosphere. Not another almost undetectable flash of light in the distance, but a real flash of light streaking across the sky.

So at around midnight last night I went out on a small patch of grass near where I live (unfortunately the light pollution from Aarhus, where I live, is intense) to see if I could get lucky. After the walk and the adjusting to the darkness, I spent around 10 minutes looking for meteors.

First a small flash in the periphery of my vision, then a few minutes later a streak across the sky. Then nothing for 5 minutes and just as we were about to head back home, a small fireball streaked across the sky.
It was clearly something that burned up at a very high speed and not just an almost imperceptible flash. It appeared to light up the immediate surroundings (of itself, not of us) and vanished again in short order.
But what a sight! It's the first "real" meteor I've ever seen and as much as I had hoped to be able to see the shower itself, that single meteor made me very happy that astronomy is one of my interests.
It almost looked like the meteor in this post from the Bad Astronomer.

Another cool thing in the sky yesterday was an amazingly bright Jupiter. You can see it to the East/South-East around midnight (in Denmark) and it is incredibly bright easily visible to the naked eye and very easy to distinguish from the "surrounding" stars. Go have a look after the Sun has set (Jupiter has just moved over the horizon, but you should wait until around midnight unless you have a clear view of the horizon).

I it also possible to see Mars, Venus and Saturn crowding together in the West just shortly before sundown (they've just moved below the horizon as I write this). I haven't been able to see them myself, partly because I've forgotten to look for them, but if you get a chance to watch the Western sky around sundown, have a look for the planets.

Instead of getting pictures of the previously mentioned meteors and planets, I took a couple of pictures of the sunset today. Our balcony is facing West so we get to see the Sun set every day of the year. It's an amazing sight some days and today was no exception.

Zoomed in a bit, it looks like everything is on fire.

And as the Sun set even further, the light changed even more into the red part of the spectrum and the lower part of the sky took on an awesome colour (crimson?).

It's been another great day for watching the sky.