Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2015 November 30
Explanation: This huge swirling mass of stars, gas, and dust occurs near the center of a nearby spiral galaxy. Gorgeous spiral NGC 3521 is a mere 35 million light-years distant, toward the constellation Leo. Spanning some 50,000 light-years, its central region is shown in this dramatic image, constructed from data from the Hubble Space Telescope. The close-up view highlights this galaxy’s characteristic multiple, patchy, irregular spiral arms laced with dust and clusters of young, blue stars. In contrast, many other spirals exhibit grand, sweeping arms. A relatively bright galaxy in planet Earth’s sky, NGC 3521 is easily visible in small telescopes, but often overlooked by amateur imagers in favor of other Leo spiral galaxies, like M65 and M66.
It’s up before dawn, a small fuzzy patch of light in binoculars. It’s still just below the limit for viewing with the unaided eye, but may improve.
UPDATE NOVEMBER 30, 2015: Comet C/2013 US10 (Catalina) will gradually become easier to spot this week, but still requires optical aid. Some observers are reporting that the comet is becoming visible in binoculars. If you have not seen Comet Catalina, the mornings ahead should provide a good opportunity to have a first glimpse at this celestial visitor. Current magnitude ranges between 6.5 and 6.1 (very close to the limit of viewing with the unaided eye), and may improve. Using binoculars, the comet will appear as a small fuzzy patch of light.
A small telescope may even show a hint of its tails. Yes, it’s showing two tails! Some recent pictures even show a faint third tail between the main two tails. Using a telescope, the tails may be seen very faint, and are a lot easier to see using a camera, as it captures more light and details than the human eye. During the next days Comet Catalina will ascend in the predawn sky and should become brighter and easier to see.
Most comets do show two tails, by the way: a dust tail and a plasma tail of ionized gas. These tails point away from the sun and are usually not related to the direction of travel. Instead, the tails are related to how the gases and dust react to solar heat.
Comet Catalina was closest to the sun on November 15, so it has been difficult to observe because of its nearness to the horizon just before sunrise. The hope is that the comet will brighten enough to become visible from the eye from a dark site, during the first days of December, as it moves higher in the eastern, predawn sky. Observations made recently show the comet’s brightness has remain steady, but a higher position in the sky will provide a better contrast. If it improves, Comet Catalina might be visible to the eye at a visual magnitude of 5 or 6, which means it would be within the limit for viewing with the unaided eye from dark sky sites. It’ll be in the predawn sky, near the planets and moon in early December. Comets have been shown to be unpredictable, so it may become brighter or fainter. Sometimes comets even disintegrate. But this comet is well worth following! Follow the links below to learn more – and check back to this post periodically. We’ll provide updates.
To read more on dates and times to see the comet, please visit EarthSkyNews.
The Seven of Wands Reversed
Employ caution and courage in your ventures. Knowledge is your ally, arrogance your enemy.
There may be delays in reaching your goals. You may become disassociated from those around you. Try to keep your lines of communication open.
The Food Charm
Your health vibration is very high! You are energetic and feel you can accomplish anything. This aspect reflects positive vibrations due to diet. This will continue for a few weeks.
Your Daily Influences represent events and challenges the current day will present for you. They may represent opportunities you should be ready to seize. Or they may forewarn you of problems you may be able to avoid or lessen. Generally it is best to use them as tips to help you manage your day and nothing more.
Ancestors represents the ongoing influence and remarkable contributions those who came before us have made to our state of being. Ancestors also reminds us that sometimes old wisdom is the best wisdom–especially when events are moving in ways we do not understand. Ancestors can bring comfort to a shaken spirit. It is a card of warmth in the sense that it reminds us that the spirit of past generations remains with us and can be called upon for guidance at any time.
As a daily card, Ancestors suggests that you may be well served to by exploring your family tree to find solutions to current dilemmas. When searching for solutions to conflicts in your life, you might do well by asking yourself what a grandparent or great grandparent would do in your current situation.