With all the talk of asteroid YU55 whizzing by the Earth recently, I though it would be appropriate to point out a few things. Asteroid YU55 was interesting from a statistical standpoint because of the rarity of its close approach to Earth. YU55 was interesting from an intellectual standpoint because we can gain all kinds of new information about asteroids with our telescopes (both optical and radio) from such a close pass.
But visually, it should have been interesting to only the most dedicated (and obsessed) star gazers. At closest approach and looking through a large telescope it only looked like an extremely faint and slow moving ‘star’. Yet everyone wanted to see it!
In my perspective, there are much more interesting (and beautiful) things to see in the night sky both naturally occurring and man-made. The planet Jupiter for example, is that bright ‘star’ high in the east after dark. Ever see Jupiter’s four Galilean moons, its cloud bands, or its red spot? How about nebulae, galaxies, or star clusters?
One only needs to come to a Bowman Observatory viewing night (free) to do so. Located on Julian Curtiss School grounds, the observatory is open (weather permitting) on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month, from 7 to 9 p.m.
Speaking of rare sights, check out my picture of the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle Discovery streaking though the skies over the Bowman Observatory. That was a sight to see. Can you find the Little Dipper in the picture?
My passion is taking images of the night sky, which I find both intellectually stimulating and beautiful. In the weeks and months ahead I hope to share them with you.