03/26/2019 – Ephemeris – Mars is approaching the Pleiades this week

March 26, 2019 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Tuesday, March 26th. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 27 minutes, setting at 8:02, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:33. The Moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 2:38 tomorrow morning.

Daylight time and spring time are catching up with us with the Sun setting now just after 8 p.m. By 9 p.m. tonight the brighter stars appear and most of the well known constellations will be recognizable. Looking off to the west at that time the famous star group of the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters will appear. Folks with good eyesight can see six or maybe even seven of its stars. Tonight, right below the Pleiades is a bright reddish star. It would be the 22nd of the first magnitude stars, except it’s not a star. It’s a wanderer, according to the ancient Greeks, one of seven*. They called it Ares the god of war. The Romans turned it into Mars. Over the week Mars will be closing in and passing by the Pleiades this weekend.

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

Addendum

Pleiades, Mars, zodiacal light

The western sky at 10:22 last night March 25, 2019. Mars appears below the Pleiades in zodiacal light. Credit, mine – Canon EOS Rebel T5 18mm f.l., f/3.5, 8 sec. ISO 12,800.

Mars passing the Pleiades

Mars tiptoeing past the Pleiades nightly from March 26th to April 1st, 2019 at 9 p.m. Looking west. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

The letter V of stars to the left of the Pleiades is the Hyades, in mythology the half sisters to the Pleiades.  It is also the face of Taurus the bull.

* We get the word planet from the Greek planētes meaning wander.  Five are the classical planets, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.  The other two are the Sun and Moon.  The other celestial objects were the fixed stars.  Other things that appear in the sky, like comets, novae and meteors were thought to be in the Earth’s atmosphere.

03/25/2019 – Ephemeris – Zodiacal light is visible in the west again

March 25, 2019 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Monday, March 25th. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 24 minutes, setting at 8:01, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:35. The Moon, 3 days before last quarter, will rise at 1:37 tomorrow morning.

With the bright moon out of the sky for nearly two weeks it’s time to look for the zodiacal light. It’s is a faint but towering glow that can be seen after the end of astronomical twilight on moonless nights. It is seen in the west in the evening in late winter and early spring and in the east in the morning in late summer and early autumn. The axis of the glow is the ecliptic, the apparent annual path of the Sun in the sky, along which lie the constellations of the zodiac. Right now the end of astronomical twilight is about 9:45 p.m. and advancing at a rate of a minute or two each night. Go to a spot with a dark western sky, no big cities or towns out that way. Zodiacal light is caused by dust spread out around the Sun.

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

Addendum

Zodiacal Light

Much enhanced Zodiacal Light from the my back yard at 9:31 p.m. March 16, 2018, 5 minutes after the official end of astronomical twilight. Note the Pleiades top left of center and the constellation of Ares below and right of center. Canon EOS Rebel T5 18mm f.l., f/3.5, 6 sec. ISO 12,800 . The clouds on the left appear to be illuminated by the lights of the towns of Beulah and Frankfort 20+ miles away.

Added ecliptic line

I’ve added the approximate ecliptic line from a Stellarium view of the same date and time.

03/22/2019 – Ephemeris – The Great Underwater Panther

March 22, 2019 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Friday, March 22nd. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 14 minutes, setting at 7:57, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:40. The Moon, 2 days past full, will rise at 10:07 this evening.

The Anishinabe peoples of the Great Lakes Region, which includes the Ottawa, Chippewa and Ojibwe Indians have one constellation of winter I know of. It is The Winter Maker which uses many of Orion’s stars and whose arms stretch from Aldebaran in Taurus the bull to Procyon the Little Dog Star, embracing the whole of the winter sky. Now that spring is here he is sinking into the west. The first constellation of spring is Curly Tail, or the Great Underwater Panther. Which uses the stars of Leo the lion’s backward question mark as its tail and the small knot of stars that are the head of Hydra the water snake below Cancer the crab as its head. Keep off the thinning ice or break through and be snatched by the great panther that lives below.

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

Addendum

Great Underwater Panther animation

Great Underwater Panther finder animation relating western to Anishinaabe constellations for 9 p.m. March 22, 2019. Click on the image to enlarge.  Created using Stellarium.

The constellation art is part of the latest versions of Stellarium. Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) constellation art by Annette S Lee and William Wilson from Ojibwe Sky Star Map Constellation Guide, by A. Lee, W Wilson, C Gawboy, J. Tibbetts.  ISBN 978-0-615-98678-4.

03/21/2019 – Ephemeris – Are day and night really equal at the equinoxes?

March 21, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, March 21st. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 11 minutes, setting at 7:56, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:42. The Moon, 1 day past full, will rise at 8:52 this evening.

What we had yesterday was the vernal equinox, the start of spring. The word equinox means “equal night”. Yesterday’s daylight hours were 12 hours and 8 minutes. What’s with the 8 minutes? The rising or setting Sun is a mirage. The Earth’s atmosphere acts like a lens and makes the Sun appear higher in the sky than when it is when near the horizon. When the bottom edge of the Sun touches the horizon the Sun is actually still completely below the horizon geometrically. If the Earth had no atmosphere sunrises would occur 4 minutes later, and sunsets would occur 4 minutes earlier around here. That would completely correct the 12 hour 8 minutes daylight time of yesterday to 12 hours even.

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

Addendum

Atmospheric Refraction

How the atmosphere bends the light of the Sun or Moon rising or setting to appear higher than it actually is. Credit Francisco Javier Blanco González, 2017.

I took a look at the related atmospheric refraction effect last month: https://bobmoler.wordpress.com/2019/02/19/02-19-2019-ephemeris-the-moon-aint-just-super-near-the-horizon/.

 

03/20/2019 – Ephemeris – The first look, of spring, at the bright planets

March 20, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Wednesday, March 20th. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 8 minutes, setting at 7:55, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:44. The Moon, at full today, will rise at 7:35 this evening.

Let’s look at the planets for this week. Looking down we see the Earth which will reach a point in its orbit at 5:58 p.m. (21:58 UT) where spring will start. Mars will be in the west-southwestern sky this evening. It will set at 12:37 a.m. Mars is fading as the Earth, in its inner and faster orbit is leaving Mars behind. In the morning sky we have Jupiter which will rise tomorrow at 2:55 a.m. in the east-southeast It is second to Venus in brightness. Saturn will be next to rise at 4:40 a.m., also in the east-southeast. Venus will rise at 6:26 a.m. also in the east-southeast By 7 in the morning they will be strung out from the southeast to the south. They will be a beautiful sight as morning twilight advances.

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

Addendum

Mars and the Moon in the evening

Mars and the Moon and the bright stars on the first day of spring at 9 p.m. March 20, 2019. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

Binocular Moon

The full moon, and super moon at that, at 9 p.m. March 20, 2019. Created using Stellarium.

Morning planets

Morning planets and the constellations at 7 a.m. tomorrow March 21, 2019. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic planets

Jupiter, Saturn and Venus with the same magnification at 7 a.m. tomorrow morning March 21, 2019. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Planets and the Moon on a single night

Planets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on March 20, 2019. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 21st. Note the motion of the Moon from sunrise and sunset. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

03/19/2019 – Ephemeris – Spring and a super-moon happen tomorrow

March 19, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, March 19th. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 5 minutes, setting at 7:53, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:46. The Moon, 1 day before full, will set at 7:55 tomorrow morning.

Today and tomorrow are busy days, astronomically speaking, for the Earth, Sun and Moon. This afternoon at 3:47 the Moon will reach the perigee point in its orbit of the Earth, its closest point of 223,200 miles (359,400 km) center to center. With the full moon just 30 hours later this will make the Moon a super-moon, the third in a row. The Moon will be full enough to call tonight’s moon a super-moon too when it rises around 6:16 p.m. The next event will be the coming of spring, when the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator heading northward. For a point in the Pacific Ocean, on the equator the Sun will be directly overhead at 5:58 p.m. our time or 21 hours, 58 minutes Universal Time or Greenwich Mean Time.

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

Addendum

Mini Moon and Super Moon

Mini Moon and Super Moon for 2017. Trouble is the Moon appears alone with nothing to compare it to when it is seen in the sky. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Sun's path through the sky on the equinox

The Sun’s path through the sky on the equinox day from Traverse City, MI. Created using my LookingUp program. (This is from a couple of years ago. The actual length of daylight depends on when during the day the moment of the equinox occurs.  I’ll have more on that Thursday.)

03/15/2019 – Ephemeris – The era of US crewed space launches begins

March 15, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Ides of March, Friday, March 15th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 53 minutes, setting at 7:48, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:53. The Moon, 1 day past first quarter, will set at 5:07 tomorrow morning.

Two weeks ago, the United States began to get back in the human space launch business with the launch of a test Crew Dragon space capsule on a Falcon 9 rocket, all made by SpaceX. The 6 day mission to dock with the International Space Station and then return to the Earth was an apparent success as everything appeared to go smoothly. After a successful in-flight abort test with the same capsule in a few months, another test with a crew will be flown. Boeing’s Starliner capsule is not far behind with a possible uncrewed launch in April. Both companies have abort tests to get behind them before crews can be launched. SpaceX is expected to launch a crew as early as June.

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

Addendum

NASA

Crew Dragon Demo-1 liftoff

SpaceX Falcon 9 Crew Dragon Demo-1 liftoff. Credit NASA.

Docking

NASA-SpaceX Demo-1 Screen Cap of docking at the ISS. Credit NASA.

Inside the Crew Dragon

Inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon with Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques. Credit NASA/SpaceX.

Splashdown

NASA-SpaceX Demo-1 Crew Dragon Capsule splashdown in the Atlantic. Credit NASA/SpaceX.