07/20/2018 – Ephemeris – Two astronomy events this weekend

July 20, 2018 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Friday, July 20th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 5 minutes, setting at 9:21, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:17. The Moon, 1 day past first quarter, will set at 1:57 tomorrow morning.

There are two astronomy events in the Grand Traverse region this weekend, starting tonight with a twilight talk and a star party at the Betsie Valley District Library in Thompsonville. It starts at 8:30 p.m. with a talk about Mars throughout history and how it has fascinated astronomers and the public alike through the ages. After which Jupiter and Saturn will be visible. If cloudy, the talk will go on as scheduled, though the observing part will be rescheduled to a later date. Tomorrow, Saturday there, will be viewing at the Northwestern Michigan College’s Rogers Observatory starting at 9 p.m. Jupiter and Saturn will be featured there too. The Observatory is located south of Traverse City on Birmley road.

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

Addendum

Folks out to see the planets

A group of folks out to see the planets with the member’s and society’s telescopes. Credit staff of the Betsie Valley District Library.

Scooter girl

Scooter girl checking out the view through the rear finder of the society’s 25″ “Dobinator”. Credit staff of the Betsie Valley District Library.

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07/19/2018 – Ephemeris – The Moon passes the evening planets one by one over the next week

July 19, 2018 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Thursday, July 19th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 7 minutes, setting at 9:22, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:16. The Moon, at first quarter today, will set at 1:29 tomorrow morning.

The Moon is making its monthly journey around the sky. Tonight it will be west or to the right of Jupiter. Tomorrow night Jupiter will be directly below the Moon. Next Tuesday night Saturn will appear below and left of the Moon. Next Thursday night Mars will appear below and to the left of the Moon. Mars at that time will be actually far south of the Moon, so that event usually doesn’t show in almanacs. Mars, being very close to us is in a part of its orbit that takes it south of the Earth’s orbital plane. We see that plane as the ecliptic or path of the Sun. We see the same situation when Venus is close to the Earth, and it is north or south of the ecliptic. The Moon can pass them without being listed as a conjunction.

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

Addendum

Moon and the evening planets

Here’s the Moon passing each of the superior evening planets in the 8 days from July 20 to July 27 2018. By the time the Mon will pass Mars it will truly be an evening planet. Mars will be at opposition with the Sun that day. Note that the Moon’s size is exaggerated by a factor of 4 to show its phase at this scale. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

07/18/2018 – Ephemeris – Our weekly look at the bright planets

July 18, 2018 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Wednesday, July 18th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 8 minutes, setting at 9:23, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:15. The Moon, 1 day before first quarter, will set at 1:01 tomorrow morning.

It’s Wednesday and time to look for and at the bright planets. Four of them are in the evening sky. The brilliant beacon of Venus will be visible in the western twilight from about 9:40 p.m. until it sets at 11:21 p.m. Mercury, is fading and is far below and right of Venus, setting at 10:18 p.m. Jupiter will be in the south as it gets dark. It is only outshone by Venus, the Moon, and for a few weeks by Mars at its closest. Jupiter will set at 1:42 a.m. Saturn will start the evening low in the southeast and will stay relatively low, above the Teapot of Sagittarius. It will be due south at 12:14 a.m. and will set at 4:40 a.m.. Mars will rise at 10:20 p.m. and is now only 36.8 million miles (59.2 million km) away, in telescopes it appear to be 23.7″ (seconds of arc) in diameter.  It will be due south and at its highest in the sky at 2:35 a.m. at 21 degrees altitude.

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

Addendum

Evening planets

Evening planets from Mercury to Saturn and Moon at 9:50 p.m., July 18, 2018. Click on image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

Mars in the south

Mars at its highest in the south with Saturn at 2:35 a.m. Click on image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

Binocular Moon

The moon as it might be seen in binoculars this evening. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic view of Jupiter, Saturn and Mars at 11 p.m. on July 18. All at the same magnification. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Planets and the Moon on a single night sunset 071818 to sunrise 071918

Planets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on July 18, 2018. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 19th. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

 

07/17/2018 – Ephemeris – Finding Cygnus the swan

July 17, 2018 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Tuesday, July 17th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 10 minutes, setting at 9:24, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:14. The Moon, 2 days before first quarter, will set at 12:32 tomorrow morning

High in the east northeast as it gets dark flies the constellation of Cygnus the swan. This constellation is also known as the Northern Cross. The cross is seen lying on its side with the bright star Deneb at the head of the cross to the left. The rest of the cross is delineated in the stars to the right. As a swan, Deneb is the tail, the stars of the crosspiece of the cross are the leading edges of wings as Cygnus flies south through the Milky Way. There are faint stars that also define the tips and trailing edges of its wings. It is a very good portrayal of a flying swan, like the mute swans we see on the wing. In Cygnus we are looking in the direction that the Sun and the Earth are traveling as we orbit the center of the Milky Way.

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

Addendum

Cygnus finder animation

Animated Cygnus finder chart. Included also are, beside Deneb, the other stars of the Summer Triangle: Vega and Altair and their constellations Lyra the harp and Aquila. See if you can find them. Created using Stellarium.

07/16/2018 – Ephemeris – Lyra the harp, Hermes’ invention

July 16, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, July 16th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 12 minutes, setting at 9:24, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:13. The Moon, 3 days before first quarter, will set at 12:02 tomorrow morning.

Very high up in the eastern sky at 11 p.m. can be found a bright star just north of a small, narrow, but very distinctive parallelogram of stars. They are the stars of the constellation Lyra the harp. The bright star is Vega, one of the twenty one brightest first magnitude stars. Vega is actually the 5th brightest night-time star. The harp, according to Greek mythology, was invented by the god Hermes. The form of the harp in the sky, is as he had invented it: by stretching strings across a tortoise shell. Hermes gave it to his half-brother Apollo, who in turn gave it to the great musician Orpheus. The Sun has a motion with respect to most stars around it. Its direction is towards the vicinity of Lyra.

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

Addenda

Annimated Lyra finder chart

Animated Lyra finder chart. with Vega and the other named stars of the Summer Triangle. The lyre image not supplied by Stellarium but is from The World’s Earliest Music by Hermann Smith, Figure 60, A Project Gutenberg Ebook, and captioned “The Chelys or Greek Tortoiseshell Lyre”. Click on the image to enlarge Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

Last Saturday night’s wild Sun ‘n Star Party

Last Saturday night the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society, myself included, and the rangers and volunteers of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore held our Sun ‘n Star Party at the Dune Climb.  I live 20 miles southeast of the Dune Climb, and about half way between Traverse City and Interlochen.  It’s also the location for which the Ephemeris sunrise and sunset times are calculated for.  We rely on the GOES East satellite imagery to show us the cloud patterns and movement.  Saturday morning was pretty overcast and hot.  GOES East showed that a big clearing was heading for us.  At 1 p.m. I emailed our members that the event was a GO, and began to pack up the car with my two telescopes, and assorted items.  Meanwhile some raindrops were showing up on the windshield.  A check with weather radar on my phone confirmed that some rainstorms were popping up between my location and Lake Michigan.  This is rather normal when it’s hot and humid in the afternoon, and wouldn’t affect the Dune area close to the lake.  In driving to the Dune Climb I drove through some rain showers, but the skies cleared by the time I got within 5 miles from the lake.

The solar observing from 4 to 6 p.m.was great, except for no sunspots.  We had 2 solar telescopes that did reveal some prominences.  The sky was clear.  The storm clouds were receding to the east.  Of course we couldn’t see much to the west because the dune was in the way.  Its angular altitude averaged 12 degrees.  Some of us stayed there and ate our dinner.  By 7:30 the wind came up from the southwest.  A check of the GOES East satellite showed us a large, roughly square cloud the width of the lake slowly moving northward that was just south of us.  Just after 8 p.m. we noticed clouds looming from the south, then fog was overtaking the tops of the dunes to the southwest.  Shortly thereafter we were socked in.  At a little after 9 p.m. Marie Scott the ranger in charge of this event gave introductions, and handed the microphone to me, who introduced our members and went over what we were supposed to see that night.  We couldn’t track this cloud anymore by satellite because it was between the daytime color imagery and the nighttime infrared imagery.  However around 10 p.m. someone spotted Vega, nearly overhead.  And while I was swinging my 11″ Dobsonian towards it, someone else called out Jupiter.  Looking around the fog was lifting.  The night was salvaged.  We stayed over an hour after the official 11 p.m. to watch Mars rise near the end of the star party, and finally view some of the wonders of the dark summer sky.

This was the fourth of seven monthly star parties scheduled at the Dunes this year.  It was the first we didn’t cancel due to weather.  We generally cancel one or two of then a year, but to start the year with three was depressing.

 

07/13/2018 – Ephemeris – Sun ‘n Star Party set for tomorrow at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

July 13, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, July 13th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 17 minutes, setting at 9:26, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:10. The Moon, 1 day past new, will set at 10:04 this evening.

Tomorrow afternoon and evening will be what we call a Sun & Star Party at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Hosted by the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society and the rangers of the park. This event will be held at the Dune Climb. From 4 to 6 p.m., the Sun will be featured using two types of telescopes, one showing the Sun’s photosphere in what we call white light, looking for sunspots, and another showing the chromosphere above it in the light of hydrogen giving a completely different view.

Starting at 9 p.m. will be a star party, actually mostly a planet party, viewing the planets Venus, Jupiter and Saturn, plus near the end of the night, Mars. There will be other celestial wonders visible in the deepening twilight. If cloudy one or both events will be cancelled. The astronomers will be back Sunday night if that night is clear.

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

Addendum

Dune Climb Setup

This in the beginning of setup for the October 21, 2917 star party at the dune climb. Taken early while there was enough light. The dune blocks up to 12 degrees from the southwest to northwest, but the rest of the horizon is quite low. Venus will be high enough to clear the dune for during the day and early evening.

Setting up my telescopes at the Dune Climb

My equipment at the Dune Climb on October 21, 2017. My 11″ Dobsonian is in the foreground. The tripod for my Celestron 8 is laying on the ground behind it yet to be set up.
I pointed the Dobsonian at a variety of deep sky objects, while the C8 was pointed to Saturn and tracking that night.

07/12/2018 – Ephemeris – A partial solar eclipse today will be visible from south Australia

July 12, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, July 12th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 18 minutes, setting at 9:27, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:09. The Moon is new today, and won’t be visible.

There’s a minor partial solar eclipse late tonight our time

for extreme southern Australia and Tasmania. This will be followed in two weeks with a total lunar eclipse for mostly Africa and Asia. Two weeks and a day after that their will be a partial solar eclipse from northeastern Canada to Asia. When is the next solar eclipse visible here in northern Michigan? That would be June 10, 2021. The Sun will rise with the eclipse more than half over with the Moon taking a big bite out of the left side of the Sun. It will be all over by 6:40 a.m. However, for Canada north of Minnesota, the Sun will rise as a ring of fire because the Moon won’t be big enough to block the entire disk of the Sun. But on April 8, 2024 the Sun will be totally eclipsed in the US from Texas to Maine.

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

Addendum

Maps for the solar eclipses discussed captured from the calendar function of Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts):

Partial Solar Eclipse Map 2018-07-13

Partial Solar Eclipse Map for July 13, 2018. Mid eclipse 11 p.m. EDT July 12. Click on image for the actual NASA full size image. Eclipse predictions by Fred Espenak NASA/GSFC.

Partial Solar Eclipse Map 2018-08-11

Partial Solar Eclipse Map for August 11, 2018. Click on image for the actual NASA full size image. Eclipse predictions by Fred Espenak NASA/GSFC.

Annular Solar Eclipse Map 2021-6-10

Annular Solar Eclipse Map for June 10, 2021. Click on image for the actual NASA full size image. Eclipse predictions by Fred Espenak NASA/GSFC.

Total Solar Eclipse Map 2024-04-08

Total Solar Eclipse Map for April 8, 2014. Click on image for the actual NASA full size image. Eclipse predictions by Fred Espenak NASA/GSFC.

Here’s a link to NASA’s table of the solar eclipses of the 2020s which has links to global and interactive Google maps for each eclipse:  https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEgoogle/SEgoogle2021.html.