10/22/2014 – Ephemeris – The bright planets this week plus a preview of Thursday’s partial solar eclipse

October 22, 2014 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Wednesday, October 22nd.  The sun will rise at 8:06.  It’ll be up for 10 hours and 39 minutes, setting at 6:46.   The moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 7:46 tomorrow morning.

Tonight Saturn will be low in the west-southwest before it sets at 7:56 p.m.  Mars will be low in the southwest at 9 p.m. and will set at 9:40 p.m.  The sky will stay devoid of bright planets until Jupiter rises at 1:56 a.m. tomorrow morning.  Jupiter is visible this morning in twilight in the south-southeast along with the brighter stars of winter visible, a preview of colder evenings to come.  Tomorrow evening, weather permitting, we will get to see part of a partial solar eclipse.  The exact times depend on your location, though shouldn’t deviate from these by a few minutes for the Interlochen Public Radio listening area (northwestern lower Michigan).  The eclipse will start around 5:32 p.m. and will continue till sunset around 6:44 p.m.  Use proper eye protection or use pinhole projection.

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

Addendum

Evening Planets

Saturn and Mars at 7:30 p.m. on October 22, 2014. Created using Stellarium.

Jupiter and the morning stars

Jupiter and the morning constellations at 6:30 a.m., October 23, 2014. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic Jupiter

Jupiter through a telescope at 6:30 a.m. October 23, 2014. The unnamed moon is Io. Created using Stellarium.

Solar Eclipse coverage

Coverage of the partial solar eclipse of October 23, 2014. Credit: NASA.  Click image for more information.

Setting partially eclipsed sun

The setting partially eclipsed sun from Traverse City. Created using Stellarium.

Pinhole projection

Partially eclipsed sun using a series of pinholes projected on a reasonably white surface.

10/21/2014 – Ephemeris – There’s a star party tonight at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

October 21, 2014 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Tuesday, October 21st.  The sun will rise at 8:05.  It’ll be up for 10 hours and 42 minutes, setting at 6:47.   The moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 6:44 tomorrow morning.

Tonight if it’s clear the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will join the rangers at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore for their 44th anniversary celebration with a star party  at Stop number 3, the Dunes Overlook on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.  The event will run from 8 to 10 p.m. featuring the wonders still visible among the northern summer stars along with those appearing in the autumn skies.  To get a heads up on the status of the star party call 231-326-4700, extension. 5005, for a message after 4 p.m.  The Orionid meteor shower is also at peak now with the meteors seeming to come from between the constellations Orion and Gemini.  The Orionids are visible from 11 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.  The Orionids will be visible in diminishing numbers through the first week in November.

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

Addendum

Views from the anniversary party in 2010.  Credit:  Eileen Carlisle.

Views from the anniversary star party in 2010. Credit: Eileen Carlisle.

Views from the anniversary party in 2010.  Credit:  Eileen Carlisle.

Views from the anniversary star party in 2010. Credit: Eileen Carlisle.

Views from the anniversary party in 2010.  Credit:  Eileen Carlisle.

Views from the anniversary star party in 2010. Credit: Eileen Carlisle.

10/20/2014 – Ephemeris – Looking for the Pleiades or Seven Sisters

October 20, 2014 Leave a comment

Oct 20.  This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Monday, October 20th.  The sun will rise at 8:04.  It’ll be up for 10 hours and 45 minutes, setting at 6:49.   The moon, 3 days before new, will rise at 5:43 tomorrow morning.

A marvelous member of the autumn skies can be found low in the east northeast after 9 in the evening.  It is the famous star cluster called the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters.  I might also add the ‘Tiny Dipper’.  Many people can spot a tiny dipper shape in its six or seven stars, and mistake it for the Little Dipper.  As nearsighted as I am, though corrected, I’ve never been able to see more than a few stars and a bit of fuzz.  However with binoculars, even I can see over a hundred stars appear along with the dipper shape of the brightest.  The fuzz I saw was unresolved stars, but in photographs the Pleiades actually contain wisps of the gas they are passing through currently.  In Greek mythology the sisters were daughters of the god Atlas.

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

Addendum

Pleiades finder chart

Looking to the east northeast at the Pleiades: 9 p.m.. Created using Stellarium.

The Pleiades, about what you'd see in binoculars.

The Pleiades, about what you’d see in binoculars.

10/17/2014 – Ephmeris – There’s a star party Saturday at the NMC Rogers Observatory

October 17, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, October 17th.  The sun will rise at 8:00.  It’ll be up for 10 hours and 54 minutes, setting at 6:54.   The moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 2:47 tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow night the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will host a Star Party at Northwestern Michigan College’s Rogers Observatory from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. On tap, if it’s clear will be the wonders of both the summer and the autumn skies,  The summer Milky Way is still visible moving off to the southwest with its star clusters and nebulae.  The autumn sky has star clusters too, including the famous Pleiades, best seen in binoculars or telescope finders, and the wonderful Double Cluster.  The autumn sky is also host to the closest spiral galaxy to us the Great Andromeda Galaxy, which will get a whole lot closer in 4 billion years.  Come on out to the observatory on Birmley Road, about 2 miles south of South Airport Road.

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

Addendum

The Pleiades, about what you'd see in binoculars.

The Pleiades, about what you’d see in binoculars.

Double Cluster as it would be seen in a small telescope.

Double Cluster as it would be seen in a small telescope.

Great Andromeda Galaxy

The Great Andromeda Galaxy (M31) as seen in binoculars. Visually even in a telescope the hub of this galaxy is all that is seen. However it also can be seen with the naked eye.  However a telescope can also show its two satellite galaxies.

 

10/16/2014 – Ephemeris – Comet Siding Spring will buzz Mars this Sunday

October 16, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, October 16th.  The sun will rise at 7:59.  It’ll be up for 10 hours and 57 minutes, setting at 6:56.   The moon, 1 day past last quarter, will rise at 1:50 tomorrow morning.

Sunday afternoon our time the comet C/2013 A1 also known a Siding Spring will pass 86 thousand miles (140 thousand km) from Mars.  The three NASA Mars satellites, Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Maven plus the two rovers Opportunity and Curiosity; the European Mars Express and the latest to arrive, India’s Mars Orbital Mission or MOM will all be studying the comet.  Protection of the satellites is key.  The satellite’s orbits have all been phased so as to be behind the planet from the expected possible debris of the comet when Mars passes its closest to the comet’s orbit 101 minutes after the comet itself passes.  Early next week we may have some spectacular photos of Comet Siding Spring.

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

Addendum

Siding Springs Orbit

Two views of Comet Siding Springs orbit past Mars. Credit: NASA.

Planned science observations

Planned science observations of Comet Siding Spring by NASA spacecraft and rovers at Mars. Credit: NASA.

Siding Spring Links:

10/15/2014 – Ephemeris – Looking for the bright planets this week

October 15, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Wednesday, October 15th.  The sun will rise at 7:57.  It’ll be up for exactly 11 hours, setting at 6:57.   The moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 12:53 tomorrow morning.

Let’s check out the bright planets for this week.  Saturn is very low in the west-southwestern sky at 8 p.m. and difficult to spot.  It will set at 8:22 p.m.  Mars is right of the spout of the Teapot of Sagittarius low in the southwest.  Mars is in the constellation of Ophiuchus as astronomers draw constellation boundaries,  it will set at 9:46.  Comet Siding Spring will pass close to Mars this coming Sunday the 19th.  More on that tomorrow.  In the morning sky brilliant Jupiter will rise in the east-northeast at 2:18 a.m.  It’s moving from Cancer to Leo now.  Venus is too close to the sun to be seen.  On the 25th of this month Venus will be in superior conjunction with the sun, that is it will move behind the sun, and will enter the evening sky.

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

Addendum

Saturn and Mars

Saturn and Mars low near the setting southern summer stars at 8 p.m. October 15, 2014. Created using Stellarium.

Jupiter and the Moon

Jupiter and the Moon among the stars of winter at 6 a.m. October 16, 2014. Created using Stellarium.

The Moon

The Moon slightly after last quarter as seen in binoculars at 6 a.m. October 16, 2014. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic Jupiter

A telescopic view of Jupiter and its moons as they would be seen at 6 a.m. October 16, 2014. Created using Stellarium.

10/14/2014 – Ephemeris – The loneliest star

October 14, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, October 14th.  The sun will rise at 7:56.  It’ll be up for 11 hours and 3 minutes, setting at 6:59.   The moon, 1 day before last quarter, will rise at 11:57 this evening.

There’s a bright star that appears for only seven and a half hours a night on autumn evenings.  It’s appearance, low in the south, is a clear indication of the autumn season.  At 9 p.m. tonight it’s low in the southeast.  The star’s name is Fomalhaut, which means fish’s mouth.  That fits because it’s in the constellation of Piscis Austrinus, the southern fish.  At our latitude it’s the fish that got away, because Fomalhaut appears to be the loneliest star in the sky.  The dimness of the constellation’s other stars and location close to the horizon make the fainter stars hard to spot.   They would be overhead in Australia.  The earth’s thick atmosphere near the horizon reduces the stars brightness by a factor of two or more.

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

Addendum

Fomalhaut

Fomalhaut appears quite alone in the south-southeast at 10 p.m. October 14, 2014. Created using Stellarium. Click on the image to enlarge.

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