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Giant Magellan Telescope world's largest observatory.
Greetings fellow SkyWatchers! This week starts off on an exciting note as one of the most prolific and predictable meteor showers of the year happens tonight - the Geminids! Thanks to the one-day old Moon, this year dark skies could produce as many (or more!) as 100 meteors per hour during peak times. Think that's enough for one week? Then think again... Comet C/2004 Q2 Macholz is smoking up the southern skies and has become the premier object of December! As much as I hate to say it, the Moon is back again but that doesn't mean that we can't take the time to do some "shallow sky" work and explore lunar features. As always, there are things here for all observers, so join me on the dark side...
Because here's what's up!
When it's complete, the Giant Magellan telescope (GMT) will be the world's largest observatory, with a primary mirror 25.4 metres (83 feet) across - 4.5 times the collecting power of any telescope on Earth. The GMT is scheduled to be completed in 2016, in a remote location in Northern Chile, which has some of the best viewing conditions in the world. The observatory will be built using 7 primary mirrors arranged in a flower pattern, and reuse the manufacturing equipment that helped build the Large Binocular telescope mirrors now being installed on Mt. Graham.
Cassini took this image of Saturn's rings on October 27 as it swung past the dark side of the planet during its first close pass after it arrived. The image also contains three of Saturn's moons: Mimas, Janus, and Prometheus. Although it's normally quite bright, the B ring looks dark from this side, when it's not being illuminated directly by the Sun.
An unpiloted Progress spacecraft is being readied at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to ferry food and additional supplies to the crew of Expedition 10 on board the International Space Station. An additional 70 food containers have been added to the spacecraft's manifest to refill the station's onboard supplies. If all goes well, Progress 16 will launch on December 23, and dock with the station 2 days later.
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