Spooky Astronomy 2017!

The Ghost of Jupiter! Credit: HST/ NASA / ESA .

The Ghost of Jupiter! Credit: HST/NASA/ESA.


Ok, needed to get that out of my system. Good morning and welcome to a Top Ten Spooky Halloween Astronomy! This is a list of cool facts relating to such a creepy, haunted time of the year! Enjoy!

10- Sure, Halloween means "All Hallow's Eve" and was originated at a British Isles sacred festival, but the significance of the particular day of celebration was actually due to astronomy. Astronomers realized that October 31 is a "cross-quarter day"- a day in between the autumnal equinox and winter solstice! However, due to our planet's rotation changing little by little through the years, the true cross-quarter day in modern times is actually November 5, but October 31 is fixed for traditional purposes of Halloween holiday.

9-Auroras are spectacular and oftentimes ghostly colors streaming across the sky. The ISS and other radio instruments on board other satellites have captured the eerie sounds of auroras! (Refer to my post September 25, 2017 to listen!)

8-The Ghost Head nebula is 50-light years across and resides in our little sister galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud. 

7-The Ghost of Jupiter nebula is a planetary nebula (NGC 3242) in the constellation Hydra, discovered in 1785 by Herschel. 

6-The Cat's Eye Nebula is a planetary nebula 3 light years away, sloughing off layers and layers of colorful gaseous layers. 

5-The year 2004 was the last time we had a lunar eclipse close to Halloween (October 27, 2014 to be exact)!

4-Black Widow Pulsars almost literally drains the life-force out of its orbiting companion star! More details on this from my previous post!

3-The Perseus Cluster of Galaxies, as revealed by the Chandra Space Observatory using powerful x-ray imaging, shows this cluster to be nicknamed "The Perseus Skull"!

The Perseus Skull! OOOOOOOH SPOOKY! Image credit: A. Fabian ( IoA Cambridge ) et al.,  NASA

The Perseus Skull! OOOOOOOH SPOOKY! Image credit: A. Fabian (IoA Cambridge) et al., NASA

2-Orson Welles's 1938 radio dramatization of War of the Worlds was widely played on Halloween. Most people did not realize it was a radio program, and in hearing the destruction of Martians to Earth, there was mass chaos!

1-The Witch Head Nebula is a ghostly blue reflection nebula in the constellation Orion. It is a reflection nebula due to its reflecting the host star's light, emitting blue colors. 

The Witch Head Nebula! Image credit:  NASA/STScI Digitized Sky Survey/Noel Carboni

The Witch Head Nebula! Image credit: NASA/STScI Digitized Sky Survey/Noel Carboni

Thank you for reading, and next week, we'll take a look into the Drake Equation!

Caitlin Ahrens