The Geminid meteor shower is set to peak Saturday (Dec. 13), and you can watch it live in a series of webcasts. Observer's Guide: Must-See Geminid Meteor Shower Peaks This Weekend The online Slooh Community Observatory will broadcast live views of the Geminids Saturday (Dec. 13) starting at 8 p.m. EST (0100 Dec. 14 GMT), and NASA officials will also host live views of the shower starting at 11 p.m. EST (0400 Dec. 14) GMT. The Virtual Telescope Project will also feature a live broadcast of the shower. Watch that one live here: http://www.virtualtelescope.eu/webtv/. You can watch the other two live webcasts in the windows below:
You can also see the Slooh webcast directly through the community observatory's website: Slooh.com.
From Slooh: "On the the evening of Dec. 13, under modest moonlight conditions, Slooh will capture the Geminid Meteor Shower using special visual and audio tracking equipment - giving viewers an incredible, real-time dual experience hunting 'shooting stars' by both their visual streaks and ionization 'sounds.'"
Viewers can ask Slooh questions on the meteor shower using the hashtag #sloohgeminids.
"The Geminids are very strange because they hit Earth sideways," Slooh astronomer Bob Berman said in a statement. "It is the difference between being in a car and slamming head on into somebody as opposed to someone backing into you sideways, perhaps coming out of a driveway and crunching into you gently. These meteors hit us gently. While Summer’s Perseids strike Earth at 37 miles per second, that’s amazingly fast, and the Leonids are even a little bit faster, hitting us at just over 40 miles a second, these Geminids hit us at only 22 miles a second."
NASA's Geminid webcast:
NASA officials will also answer viewer questions during a live chat from 11 p.m. EST to 3 a.m. EST (0400 GMT to 0800 GMT) on Dec. 13 to Dec. 14. You can ask questions in the chat window that will appear on the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center webpage shortly before the chat begins.
From NASA: "Geminids are pieces of debris from an object called 3200 Phaethon. Long thought to be an asteroid, Phaethon is now classified as an extinct comet. Basically it is the rocky skeleton of a comet that lost its ice after too many close encounters with the sun. Earth runs into a stream of debris from 3200 Phaethon every year in mid-December, causing meteors to fly from the constellation Gemini. When the Geminids first appeared in the early 19th century, shortly before the U.S. Civil War, the shower was weak and attracted little attention. There was no hint that it would ever become a major display."
Interstellar Spaceflight and Astrobiology with Cameron Smith
Anthropologist Cameron Smith will discuss the biological and cultural aspects of interstellar human spaceflight during a talk today (Dec. 3) at 7 p.m. EST (0000 GMT). Watch it live in the window below, courtesy of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Canada:
"The discovery of countless exoplanets and new ideas in propulsion physics have resurrected international interest in the ancient concept of humanity traveling far beyond Earth," Perimeter Institute officials wrote in a description of the talk. "Such voyages will take place over many generations, requiring careful attention to both biological and cultural change over time. In this talk, Cameron Smith will outline the foundations of a biocultural science of long-term space settlement."
Leonid Meteor Shower: The online Slooh Community Observatory and NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center will offer live webcasts overnight on Monday and Tuesday (Nov. 17-18) for the 2014 Leonid Meteor Shower. Latest Story: Leonid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight: Watch It Live
Slooh astronomers will offer live views of the 2014 Leonids beginning Monday night at 8 p.m. EST (5 p.m. PST/0100 GMT), and will feature live views from Slooh's flagship observatory at the Institute for Astrophysics in the Canary Islands, as well as views from the Prescott Observatory in Prescott, Arizona. The webcast, which is available at the Slooh.com website and below, will also include sounds of the meteors created by the ionization of the atmosphere as they streak toward Earth. Viewers can follow the webcast on Twitter and ask questions using the hashtag #SloohLeonids.
Meanwhile, astronomers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama will also offer a live webcast of the 2014 Leonid meteor shower using a telescope and a Ustream feed. The webcast will begin at 7:30 p.m. EST (6:30 p.m. CST/0030 GMT) on Monday night. Related: Leonid Meteor Shower Forecast: What to Expect
"We're predicting 10 to 15 meteors per hour," Bill Cooke, head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office at Marshall, said in a blog post. "For best viewing, wait until after midnight on Nov. 18, with the peak of the shower occurring just before sunrise." The Marshall webcast will be available on Ustream here, and embedded below.
More Leonid Meteor Shower Resources
- Leonid Meteor Shower Photos of 2002
- Leonid Meteor Shower of 2012: Photos
- How Meteor Showers Work: Infographic
- Leonid Meteor Shower: Bright Fireballs in November
- Meteor Showers and Shooting Stars: Formation, Facts and Discovery
Skywatching Webcast Replays
October 2014 solar eclipse webcast replay
The webcasts of the partial solar eclipse have concluded. A video of the eclipse is featured above. A wrap story will be posted to Space.com shortly.) Experts with the Slooh Community Observatory will host a live webcast of the partial solar eclipse set to occur on Oct. 23. FIRST PHOTOS: First Photos: The Partial Solar Eclipse of Oct. 23 . You can watch the eclipse webcast starting at 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT) directly through Slooh.com, or you can see it live in the window below:
Today's solar will last about three hours, as the moon appears to take a bite out of the sun. The October partial solar eclipse will begin at 5:07 p.m. EDT (2:07 p.m. PDT/2107 GMT), and be visible to potentially millions of skywatchers across North America.
The Slooh Community Observatory webcast will feature views of the partial solar eclipse from the Prescott Solar Observatory in Arizona, and feature commentary from solar scientist Lucie Green and Slooh astronomer Bob Berman, with Slooh's Geoff Fox acting as host. Viewers can ask questions during the webcast using the Twitter hashtag #sloohpartialeclipse.
NASA Webcast from Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
Griffith Observatory Webcast
In addition to the Slooh webcast, the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California will provide live views of the partial solar eclipse from its historic site. That eclipse webcast will begin at 5 p.m. EDT (2 p.m. PDT/2100 GMT) and can be found here:
Finally, the University of Arizona's SkyCenter atop Mount Lemmon in Arizona will provide its own live views from the Steward Observatory. That webcast will begin at 3 p.m. EDT (1 p.m. MDT/1900 GMT), and can be found here:
WARNING: NEVER look a the sun through binoculars or a telescope without using safety filters! Serious eye injury can result. Safety eclipse glasses, and special solar telescope filters are vital for safe viewing of any type of solar eclipse.
If you do not have safety equipment, you can build a pinhole camera or a solar projector with binoculars to safely view an eclipse indirectly.
- Solar Eclipses: An Observer's Guide: Infographic
- How to Safely Observe the Sun: Infographic
- How to Safely Photograph the Sun: A Photo Guide
- CAUTION! - How to SAFELY Observe the Sun
- Safely See the Sun – Build a Shoebox Pinhole Camera
- Safely View an Eclipse
- Make a Safe Sun Projector with Binoculars
Comet Siding Spring's Flyby of Mars Webcasts
(UPDATE: The first Slooh webcast has ended. The next event will begin at 8:30 pm ET.)The Slooh Community Observatory will broadcast a double feature about Comet Siding Spring's close pass by Mars today (Oct. 19). The first Slooh webcast will start at 2:15 p.m. EDT (1815 GMT), and the second will begin at 8:30 p.m. EDT (0030 Oct. 20 GMT). Full Story: Comet Buzzes Mars in Once-in-a-Lifetime Flyby . You can watch the webcasts live in the window below:
Comet Siding Spring is due to make a close pass with the Red Planet, flying only 87,000 miles (139,500 kilometers) from Mars. Officials monitoring spacecraft orbiting Mars are maneuvering them into safe positions so that they will not experience any ill affects from the icy wanderer's dust.
The Virtual Telescope Project will also host a webcast on Oct. 19 starting at 12:45 p.m. EDT (1645 GMT). You can watch the webcast here: http://www.virtualtelescope.eu/webtv/ A window of the webcast will appear below before the start time as well.
Planet Definition Debate
If you're confused about what exactly a planet is, don't feel bad: Astronomers are still arguing over the term eight years after the International Astronomical Union (IAU) came up with a controversial new definition that demoted Pluto to "dwarf planet" status.
The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) is putting on an event tonight (Sept. 18) at 7:30 p.m. EDT (2330 GMT) that could help crystallize your views. The event, which will be webcast live in the window below, is called "What Is a Planet?" and features three different experts presenting their viewpoints on the term, and on the ongoing debate.