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astronomy

OSIRIS-REx and a Closer View of Bennu

Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin

By Dr. Lisa Will, Resident Astronomer at the Fleet Science Center

What can scientists hope to learn from one of the oldest asteroids in our solar system? The possibilities are endless, and soon we’ll know a whole lot more as the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft dips to its lowest orbit yet around the asteroid Bennu. It’s already giving us an amazing close-up view, but that’s only the beginning.

April’s (Meteor) Showers

by Jori Wuerth

 

It’s that time of the year again! Every year in April, the earth moves through the comet trail of C/1861 G1 Thatcher. This comet, sends dust and tiny bits of ice into the atmosphere, leaving a beautiful display of lights dancing across the sky.

The radiant for the Lyrids is near the bright star Vega in the constellation Lyra. This year, the peak viewing hours are expected to take place on Tuesday, April 23, before dawn. The Lyrid meteor shower, which started on April 16, will continue to appear in the sky through Thursday, April 25.

Countdown to the New Horizons Flyby!

Credit: NASA

The New Horizons flyby is coming soon!

By Dr. Lisa Will, Resident Astronomer at the Fleet Science Center

 

TESS Shares First Science Images!

by Dr. Lisa Will, Resident Astronomer at the Fleet Science Center

This week, the NASA spacecraft TESS released its first science images.  Launched in April 2018, TESS stands for “Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.” The goal of its planned two-year mission is to discover small, Earth-like planets using the “transit” method of planet detection, looking for small dips in the light of a star due to a planet passing in between it and our perspective from Earth.

Fleetster Friday: Meet Mary Anderson

It’s #FleetsterFriday! This week, we’d like you to meet the Fleetster who has been working here the longest. Mary Anderson, one of the Fleet’s Console Operators, has been with the Fleet since it opened in 1973! Mary has been the primary Console Operator for all of The Sky Tonight planetarium shows—unless, of course, she’s off chasing eclipses and taking amazing astronomy photos! The Sky Tonight planetarium show on Wednesday, September 5, will be Mary’s last before she retires, so don’t miss it!

April’s shooting stars!

A shot of the 2012 Lyrid meteor shower as it peaked in the skies over Earth.

The Lyrid meteor shower will dazzle the skies this weekend. This meteor shower—one of the oldest meteor showers known to man—occurs every April when the Earth crosses the orbital path of the Comet Thatcher. Tiny bits of ice and dust from this comet hit the Earth’s atmosphere, causing a streak of light across the sky—a meteor!

The Lyrids are known for uncommon surges that can sometimes bring the rate up to 100 per hour. Those rare outbursts are not easy to predict, but they’re one of the reasons the tantalizing Lyrids are worth checking out.

Launch Delay for the James Webb Space Telescope

By Dr. Lisa Will, Fleet Science Center's Resident Astronomer

 

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has long been described as the “successor” to the Hubble Space Telescope. Because Hubble won’t last forever, JWST has been designed to push beyond the boundaries of what we’ve learned from Hubble and is planned for launch before Hubble loses functionality .

 

First Date: A Fleet Love Story

The Fleet has members throughout the United States. But Dr. Stephen Skaper and his wife, Dr. Laura Facci, are our only international members. While living in San Diego, Stephen joined the Fleet the year we opened, and over the past 45 years, he and Laura have supported us while they lived here, then in England and now in Italy, where they are semi-retired.

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