09/17/2014 – Ephemeris – It’s Wednesday, do you know where the bright planets are?

September 17, 2014 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Wednesday, September 17th.  The sun will rise at 7:23.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 25 minutes, setting at 7:49.   The moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 2:06 tomorrow morning.

Let’s take our weekly look at the bright planets.  Mars and Saturn are now nearly side by side with Saturn to the right by 15 degrees, about the width of your fist and a half held at arm’s length.  Saturn will set at 10:04 p.m.  Saturn is in Libra, while Mars is entering Scorpius just above the star tonight called Dschubba.  Mars is closing in to a star that has the identical hue, and this year the same brightness, its rival Antares.  Indeed that’s what the star’s name means:  Ant as in anti, Ares the Greek god of war, and the counterpart of the Roman Mars.  They will be closest next week.  Mars will set at 10:25.  In the morning sky brilliant Jupiter will rise in the east-northeast at 3:43 a.m., while Venus, will rise at 6:30 a.m.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.  They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Evening planets

Looking southwest at Saturn and Mars with the stars of Scorpius and Libra at 9 p.m. on September 17, 2014. Created using Stellarium.

Saturn

Saturn through a telescope. However being so low in the sky even the moon Titan might be hard to see. September 17, 2014. Created using Stellarium.

Morning planets and stars.

The Moon, Jupiter and Venus with some of the bright stars of winter and spring at 6:45 a.m. on September 18, 2014. Created using Stellarium.

The Moon

The Moon at 6:45 a.m. on September 18, 2014. I doubt you’d see Earth shine (the rest of the Moon like this) with the crescent this wide. Created using Stellarium.

Jupiter

Jupiter through a telescope. Europa is transiting in front of Jupiter at 6:45 a.m. and will be very difficult or impossible to spot. Stellarium shows that the shadow of Europa is just about directly behind the moon. Created using Stellarium.

09/16/2014 – Ephemeris – My wife Judy passed away last Saturday

September 16, 2014 4 comments

Note:  This is the transcript of the program that went out over the air:

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Tuesday, September 16th.  The sun will rise at 7:22.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 28 minutes, setting at 7:51.   The moon, 1 day past last quarter, will rise at 1:12 tomorrow morning.

The love of my life, Judy passed away last Saturday after 48 years of marriage.  When I met her, arranged, by my sister, who herself succumbed to cancer last month, she didn’t know much about astronomy, about the same as is seen from our schools today.  I was working at the planetarium in Grand Rapids at the time and we went in after hours and viewed the sky.  Using flash cards I made up, she learned the constellations.  After we were married and I came back from the Air Force, she got a job as the planetarium director’s secretary and sales clerk.  She took the college Astronomy 101 course, and even produced a planetarium show for young kids using kids drawings projected on the dome for illustration.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.  They may be different for your location.

Addendum

This the extended version, some of what what I really wanted to say:

Judith Ann Moler 1943-2014

The love of my life, Judy passed away last Saturday, September 13, 2014 at the age of 71, after we’d been married 48 years.  I met her, arranged, by my sister Shirley, who herself succumbed to cancer last month.  It was kind of a mercy dinner to take this guy (me) out before he entered Air Force for basic training.  Shirley said I pretty much ignored her on previous occasions, but this time I was smitten.  I’m a pretty much buttoned down guy with the ladies, but it was maybe because I was going to change my life by entering the Air Force that opened me up.
After a few dates I told her I had this, um, problem.  I liked to go out on dark nights and observe the heavenly bodies.  She could join me or stay inside where it’s warm.  She gamely joined me.  I suspect it was to make sure these heavenly bodies were celestial and not terrestrial.  (Just kidding).  Judy didn’t know much about astronomy when we met, about the same as we see from our schools today.  I was working at the Planetarium of the Grand Rapids Public Museum at the time and we went in after hours and viewed the sky.  Judy got to make up her own constellations.  Later, using flash cards I made up, she learned many of the brighter real constellations.

After we were married and I got out of the Air Force we came back to Grand Rapids I got a job with NCR and Judy got a job as the planetarium director’s secretary and sales clerk.  By then the planetarium had a name, the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium, named for the Grand Rapids astronaut who died in the Apollo 1 fire in 1967.  Judy took the college Astronomy 101 course, and even produced a planetarium show for young kids using kids drawings projected on the dome for illustration.

She joined with us in trips to view the total solar eclipses of 1970 and 1972, but gave up her seat on the small plane we chartered in 1979 to view the total solar eclipse in February that year, being not too keen on flying, especially in small planes.  She even found a pilot we nicknamed, “Crash” LaMar, to fly the 5 of us brave souls to North Dakota to view this eclipse.  He could fly just fine, but had a problem keeping the wing tips from hitting the high snow banks when taxiing at the Bottineau, ND airport. I recall that once we had to get out and push, or was that my imagination?

We moved to the Traverse City area in 1971 to follow my job at the time working for NCR.
Around 1980 I was approached by the head of the Science and Math department Joe Rogers, at Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) to teach their 100 level astronomy course.  By then I had programs on the public radio station WIAA for 5 years, so my name was out there as an astronomical expert.  The problem was that I had never had any formal astronomical training*, despite that they hired me.  My other problem was that I frequently had to work out of town, so Judy stepped in to substitute teach on those nights I was out of town.  Actually she had more “formal” astronomy training than I did.

Judy was an instrumental part of the founding and operation of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society (GTAS), started in 1982 and many years thereafter.  She held down the fort at the NMC Observatory with other members of the GTAS on the night in May 1983 when Comet IRAS-Araki-Alcock buzzed 3 million miles from the Earth and the public wanted to see it because Paul Harvey featured it on his newscast, when I abandoned them and snuck out to the less known Leelanau School’s Lanphier Observatory in Glen Arbor to photograph the comet in peace.  I know, it wasn’t nice of me.

In 1986 our family flew down to Miami and drove down to Key Largo to join the teacher and students from the Leelanau School to observe Halley’s Comet at its closest to the Earth, which was too far south to see from Traverse City.  I had the brilliant or cockamamie idea of splitting our 24 hour days into two 12 hour days.  A daytime day to explore and enjoy the Keys and a night time day to observe the comet.  Judy gamely went along with it: 8 hours up and 4 hours of sleep then repeat.  I found that it worked for me, at least for the 6 days we tried it.  Judy, at least, didn’t complain, but our daughter couldn’t handle it.  She went on our day trips, but stayed at our resort sleeping all night.  Beside viewing and photographing Halley’s Comet, which lost its tail that week (bummer), we visited Theater of the Sea, Key West and toured the coral reefs in a glass bottomed boat, and the Everglades.

We had many more adventures, but these have come to mind now.

* I’m not self taught.  My astronomy education comes via the members of the Grand Rapids Junior Astronomy Club and my close association with John Wesley, a true genius, and Donn Cuson, and members of the Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomical Association, and one of its founding members the late Evelyn Grebel, who let me tinker with the planetarium in its early days, and countless others including my still good friends Jim and Evie Marron at whose home Judy and I watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin of Apollo 11 work on the Moon’s surface, and my friend and sometimes antagonist Dave Debruyn, now Emeritus Director of the Chaffee Planetarium.

I’ll have more of these remembrances in the days to follow, maybe with better sentence structure,  but they will not be filed under Ephemeris.  Look for the category Memories and the tag Judy.  It’s my way of coping and healing.

Obituary for Judith A. Moler

Judith (DelRaso) Moler, 71, of Traverse City passed away on Saturday, September 13, 2014 at Munson Medical Center. Judy was born on April 20, 1943 in Grand Rapids to Adolph and Edith (Antonini) DelRaso. She was married to Robert C. Moler on April 16, 1966 in Grand Rapids. Judy and Bob moved to Traverse City in 1971. She was a member of St. Patrick Catholic Church and was named St. Patrick’s Women of the Year in 1991. She volunteered, helping people with Alzheimer’s and with the Crop Walk. Judy was a member of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society. Judy was proud of her Italian heritage; she loved to cook Italian food and she perfected the family sauce with no sugar. Above all, Judy loved spending time with her family and friends. She will be missed by all who knew her.

Judy is survived by her husband of 48 years, Robert, daughter Stephany Farrell, mother Edith DelRaso, three grandchildren Christopher Farrell, Nicole Farrell and Bernadette Farrell, two brothers; Robert DelRaso and Carl DelRaso, and brother-in-law Donald (Terry) Moler. Also surviving are many nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her father Adolph DelRaso, sisters-in-law Gladys DelRaso and Shirley (Moler) Burnham.

Friends are welcome to visit with Judy’s family on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home, 305 Sixth Street Traverse City, MI 49684.

Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, September 18, 2014 at St. Patrick Catholic Church, 630 SW Silver Lake Rd., Traverse City, MI 49685, with visiting one hour prior. Rev. Fr. Greg McCullum will officiate. Burial will follow in Linwood Cemetery.

Those planning an expression of sympathy may wish to consider memorial donations to The Alzheimer’s Association or the American Diabetes Association.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and memories with Judy’s family at www.reynolds-jonkhoff.com.

The family is being served by the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home.

Categories: Ephemeris Program, Memories Tags:

09/15/2014 – Ephemeris – The mer-goat Capricornus

September 15, 2014 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Monday, September 15th.  The sun will rise at 7:21.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 31 minutes, setting at 7:53.   The moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 12:21 tomorrow morning.

Nearly 2000 years ago the southernmost of the constellations of the zodiac was Capricornus the water goat.  That’s why the latitude on the earth where the sun is overhead on the winter solstice is called the Tropic of Capricorn.  Not any more, Sagittarius, one constellation west and due south at 9 p.m., has that honor today.  Actually Capricornus does need the press.  It’s large, but made up of dim stars.  To me it looks like a 45 degree isosceles triangle, long side up, but which all the sides are sagging.  The constellation is found low in the south at 11 p.m. and tilted a bit from the upper right to the lower left.  The image that is supposed to be represented by the stars is that of a goat whose hind quarters are replaced by a fish’s tail, not a mermaid but a mer-goat.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.  They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Capricornus as represented by Stellarium

Capricornus as represented by Stellarium.

Capricornus the way I see it. Created ueing Cartes duCiel

Capricornus the way I see it. Created using Cartes duCiel.

Artist's conception

An artist’s rendering of Capricornus. A part of Stellarium’s functionality.

09/12/2014 – Ephemeris – There’s a star party tomorrow night at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

September 12, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, September 12th.  The sun will rise at 7:17.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 40 minutes, setting at 7:58.   The moon, 3 days before last quarter, will rise at 10:08 this evening.

Tomorrow night will be the last of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore held on Saturday by the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society for the year.  Never fear the GTAS has three more events planned in October:  a lunar eclipse on the 8th, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore’s 44th anniversary star party on the 21st, and a partial solar eclipse at sunset on the 23rd.  Saturday’s event will be held at the Dune Climb starting around 9 p.m., and the featured attractions will be the wonders of the summer Milky Way.  These are star clusters and nebulae or clouds of gas, some expelled by dying stars and others where new stars are being born.  The Dune observing events will be canceled if completely overcast or rain.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.  They may be different for your location.

Addendum

The Grand Traverse Astronomical Society (GTAS) is available to host sun and star parties around the Grand Traverse Area.  Below are photos from two recent visits to the Betsie Valley District Library in Thompsonville, MI.  First an evening visit inauguration of their new library building, and a daytime visit for the youngster’s reading program.  The photos courtesy of  Librarian Michelle Guerra and her staff.  Contact the society via email at info@gtastro.org.

He just saw Jupiter through the GTAS 25" telescope

He just saw Jupiter through the GTAS 25″ telescope.

What's in this telescope?  (A really small Jupite.)

What’s in this telescope? (A really small Jupiter.)

A  crowd gathers to view Saturn and Jupiter.

A crowd gathers to view Saturn and Jupiter.

Dueing both the evening and the daytime visits I take the folks through the sky using Stellarium pointing the constellations and telling their stories.

During both the evening and the daytime visits I take the folks through the sky using Stellarium pointing the constellations and telling their stories.

GTAS member Gary Carlisle shows the Sun through his telescope.

GTAS member Gary Carlisle shows the Sun through his telescope.

GTAS member Richard Kuschell shows his meteorite collection.  Always a hit.

GTAS member Richard Kuschell shows his meteorite collection. Always a hit.

Here I am showing the kids how a telescope works.

Here I am showing the kids how a telescope works.

Using a telescope solar filter to show how small the sun looks.

Using a telescope solar filter to show how small the sun looks.

09/11/2014 – Ephemeris – The waning gibbous moon and a strange double crater

September 11, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, September 11th.  The sun will rise at 7:16.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 43 minutes, setting at 8:00.   The moon, 3 days past full, will rise at 9:30 this evening.

It might be about 10 p.m. before the moon gets high enough to appreciate with a small telescope.  The terminator running across the moon is the sunset line.  It has gobbled most of the little round Sea of Crises at the upper right of the moon.  The Sea of Fertility just below it has two distinctive small craters in it with two parallel streaks of ejecta emanating from the one farthest from the terminator.  No one knows exactly what happened here, but it appears that a binary asteroid struck the moon at a low angle coming from the direction of the terminator and gouged out the two small craters, which are elongated in the direction of the streaks.  The crater names are Messier and Messier A, named after the French astronomer who cataloged some of the brightest interstellar objects.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.  They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Gibbous Moon

The gibbous Moon at 9 p.m. September 11, 2014. Created using Virtual Moon Atlas.

Messier Craters

Closeup of Messier (right) and Messier A with the twin ejecta streaks. Credit: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter via Virtual Moon Atlas.

These craters were named for the 18th century astronomer Charles Messier whose famous catalog of deep sky objects is a who’s who of the brightest star clusters, nebulae and galaxies for the amateur astronomer.  For instance M22 is not only a scenic state road in Michigan, but a beautiful bright globular star cluster in the constellation of Sagittarius.  To Messier the objects on his list were a quick check of objects to ignore.  He was looking for comets at the Paris Observatory.  He found 12 of them.

09/10/2014 – Ephemeris – Where are the bright planets this week?

September 10, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Wednesday, September 10th.  The sun will rise at 7:15.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 46 minutes, setting at 8:02.   The moon, 2 days past full, will rise at 8:54 this evening.

Let’s take our weekly look at the bright planets.  Mars and Saturn are now nearly side by side with Saturn to the right by 10 degrees, about the width of your fist held at arm’s length.  Saturn will set at 10:30 p.m.  Saturn in a telescope will suffer because it’s getting close to the horizon but it’s still possible to see those rings and its large moon Titan.  Reddish Mars is leaving Saturn in the dusk, leaving Libra, where Saturn is and will be entering Scorpius on Saturday.  Mars will set at 10:38 p.m., 8 minutes after Saturn.  In the morning sky brilliant Jupiter will rise in the east-northeast at 4:04 a.m., while the brighter Venus, will rise at 6:14 a.m.  Jupiter is increasing its distance from the sun, while Venus is retreating toward the Sun from our point of view.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.  They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Evening Planets

Saturn and Mars with the evening summer constellations at 9:30 p.m. September 10, 2014. Created using Stellarium.

Saturn

Saturn through the telescope at 9:30 p.m. September 10, 2014. Created using Stellarium.

Morning planets

Jupiter and Venus with the Winter constellations at 6:30 a.m. September 11, 2014. Created using Stellarium.

Jupiter

Telescopic view of Jupiter and its 4 Galilean moons at 6:30 a.m. on September 11, 2014. Created using Stellarium.

Moon

The waning gibbous Moon at 6:30 a.m. September 11, 2014. Created using Stellarium. Tomorrow the program will be about the moon and its features that will be visible late in the evening. The terminator will advance by a small bit between tomorrow morning and tomorrow evening.

Categories: Planets Tags: , , , ,

09/09/2014 – Ephemeris – Our address in the universe just changed

September 9, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, September 9th.  The sun will rise at 7:14.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 49 minutes, setting at 8:04.   The moon, 1 day past full, will rise at 8:19 this evening.

Two and a half years ago my wife and I took a week-long cruise around the Hawaiian Islands.  I always said I’d go back in a minute.  Well, now maybe I and you are already there… in spirit, anyway.  Astronomers at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and the University of Hawai’i announced the pinning down the dimensions of the local supercluster of galaxies containing over 100 quadrillion stars spread over a diameter of more than 500 million light years that they have dubbed Laniakea which in Hawaiian means “immense heaven”.  The lead researcher was R. Brent Tully of the University of Hawai’i. Also participating were two astronomers from France and one from Hebrew University.  So your ultimate address is: your address, City, State, Country, Earth, Solar System, Orion spiral arm, Milky Way Galaxy, Local Group, Laniakea supercluster, Universe, and maybe Multiverse.
Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.  They may be different for your location.

Addendum

The Bad Astronomer’s take on Laniakea.

Some videos illustrating Laniakea supercluster:

A 3D view

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