10/20/2021 – Ephemeris – Let’s search for the naked-eye planets for this week

October 20, 2021 Leave a comment

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Wednesday, October 20th. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 44 minutes, setting at 6:49, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:06. The Moon, is full today, the Hunter’s Moon, and will rise at 7:07 this evening.

Let’s search for the naked-eye planets for this week. Venus should be visible in the southwestern evening twilight by 7:10 tonight. It will set at 8:44 pm. By 7:30 pm, Jupiter will be spotted in the south-southeastern sky. Jupiter should be easy to spot at that hour. Saturn will be dimmer, and to its right. They will be visible for a while after midnight in the southwest, with Saturn setting first at 1:04 am, and Jupiter following at 2:24. Saturn’s rings are a beautiful sight in a telescope of even modest power, but the planet will appear tiny. In the morning sky, Mercury will be visible and low in the east-southeast by 7:15 am. It will reach its greatest separation from the Sun in six days.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT-4 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Venus in twilight

Venus seen in twilight at 7:10 pm, about 20 minutes after sunset tonight, October 20, 2021. Created using Stellarium.

Full Hunters Moon rising

Full Hunter’s Moon rising at 7:11 this evening, October 20, 2021. Created using Stellarium.

Jupiter and Saturn

Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon at 7:30, about 40 minutes after sunset tonight, October 20, 2021. Created using Stellarium.

Mercury and Arcturus in the morning twilight

Mercury and the star Arcturus in the morning twilight at 7:15 am, about 50 minutes before sunrise tomorrow morning, October 21, 2021. Don’t confuse the two. Click on the image to enlarge it. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic naked-eye planets_10/20/2021

Telescopic views of the bright planets (north up) as they would be seen in a small telescope, with the same magnification, this evening at 8 pm, October 20, 2021. Apparent diameters: Venus, 22.70″, 53.7% illuminated; Saturn 17.08″, its rings 39.80″; Jupiter, 43.68″. Mercury at 7:15 am on the 21st and not plotted, 7.68″, 38.1% illuminated. The two Jovian moons transiting the face of the planet are usually not visible, though their shadows can be spotted. The ” symbol means seconds of arc (1/3600th of a degree.) Click on the image to enlarge it. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Planets and the Moon overnight tonight

The naked-eye planets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise on a single night, starting with sunset on the right on October 20, 2021. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 21st. Click on the image to enlarge it. Created using my LookingUp program.

10/19/2021 – Ephemeris – Introducing the DART mission

October 19, 2021 Leave a comment

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Tuesday, October 19th. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 47 minutes, setting at 6:50, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:05. The Moon, 1 day before full, will set at 7:54 tomorrow morning.

Last Saturday morning, the Lucy mission to Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroids was launched. These asteroids are forever locked in Jupiter’s orbit and will never be a hazard to the Earth. Next month, NASA will hopefully launch a mission to a much closer asteroid Didymos, which is considered a potentially hazardous asteroid. The asteroid has a diameter of a bit less than a half mile (780 meters). It also has a satellite named Dimorphos, which has acquired the nickname Didymoon, 520 feet (160 meters) in diameter. The mission called DART for Double Asteroid Redirection Test will see how the impact of a spacecraft hitting the small Didymoon will affect its orbit around the larger asteroid.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT-4 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

The DART Mission

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission is NASA’s contribution to the international Asteroid Impact & Deflection Assessment (AIDA) program to determine the effectiveness of a spacecraft kinetic impact of an asteroid in altering its orbit. Credit: NASA.

10/18/2021 – Ephemeris – Jupiter is stationary today

October 18, 2021 Leave a comment

This is Ephemeris for Monday, October 18th. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 50 minutes, setting at 6:52, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:03. The Moon, 2 days before full, will set at 6:49 tomorrow morning.

The planet Jupiter is stationary today after moving westward for the last four months, as the Earth passed it in our race around the Sun. And it will resume its normal prograde or eastward motion against the stars and constellations of the Zodiac. During this retrograde time it had seemed to move closer to Saturn. Now that it and Saturn are appearing to resume their eastward motion, Jupiter again will appear to open up the distance between them. The ancient Greeks had a devil of a time trying to model this behavior, because they started with two false premises. One, that the Earth was stationary in the center of the universe; and two, that the Sun, Moon, and planets moved in uniform circular motion because they were perfect.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT-4 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Jupiter and Saturn retrograde loops in 2021

Jupiter and Saturn’s apparent motions seen against the constellation of Capricornus in 2021, including their retrograde loops. Click on the image to enlarge it. The tracks begin on the right. By the end of 2021 neither planet recovers all the eastern progress they lost in their retrograde loops. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

10/15/2021 – Ephemeris – NASA mission to Trojan Asteroids

October 15, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Friday, October 15th. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 59 minutes, setting at 6:57, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:59. The Moon, 3 days past first quarter, will set at 3:25 tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow opens up a window to launch a satellite named Lucy to the Trojan asteroids of Jupiter. Lucy is named for a fossil of a human ancestor discovered in Africa. After launch, Lucy will make two gravitational assist passes of the Earth to get up enough velocity to reach Jupiter’s orbit and pass near Five asteroids in the leading L4 cloud of Trojans. Its orbit will take it back to the Earth, where another gravitational assist will send it to a double asteroid in the trailing Trojan group. On its way out it will pass close to a tiny main belt asteroid DonaldJohanson, named after the discoverer of the Lucy fossil. The mission will last 12 years. After that, Lucy will orbit between the Earth’s orbit and each of the Trojan swarms in turn.

Lucy is scheduled to launch on an Atlas V on Saturday, 16 October 2021 at 09:34 UT (5:34 a.m. EDT) from Cape Canaveral. If the launch can’t take place then, they have something like 22 more days in which they can get it launched.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT-4 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Animation showing Jupiter and zTYrojan asteroids during one Jovian year

Animated GIF showing Jupiter and Trojan Asteroids during one Jovian year, which repeats. Credit: Astronomical Institute of CAS/Petr Scheirich.

Lucy misssion in Jupiter's rotating frame

The Lucy spacecraft orbits as seen in the rotating frame of Jupiter’s orbit. Lucy’s orbits are actually ellipses. (I wish they would take the stars out, they should appear as circular trails centered on the Sun from Jupiter’s rotating frame.) Click on the image to enlarge it. Credit: Southwest Research Institute.

 

10/14/2021 – Ephemeris – What is a Trojan Asteroid?

October 14, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Thursday, October 14th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 2 minutes, setting at 6:59, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:58. The Moon, 2 days past first quarter, will set at 2:13 tomorrow morning.

The Moon is near Jupiter tonight. On this Saturday, the 16th, the window opens up for the launch of NASA’s Lucy mission to Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids. More about the mission tomorrow, but what’s a Trojan asteroid? The Trojan asteroids are over 10,000 in number that lie in Jupiter’s orbit. One group, the Greeks, orbit around the L4 point 60 degrees ahead of Jupiter. The other, the Trojans orbit the L5 point 60 degrees behind Jupiter. Named after participants of the Trojan War, they are collectively named Trojan asteroids. Other planets, including the Earth, have Trojan asteroids. Trojan asteroids orbit the L4 and L5 gravitational equilibrium points in a planet’s orbit of the Sun, discovered by Joseph-Louis Lagrange in 1772. The first Trojan asteroid, was named Achilles after a warrior in the Trojan War, and was discovered in 1906. As new asteroids were found in these special positions, they were also given names from Homer’s Iliad.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT-4 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Jupiter's Trojan Asteroids

The two “camps” of Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroids. The Greek camp at L4 and the Trojan camp at L5. Credit Astronomy.com/Roen Kelly.

Other planets have Trojan Asteroids in their orbits. Earth has one, Mars has four, Uranus has two, Neptune has 28.  These are not the final numbers, just what has been found so far. Apparently, Venus has a temporary one. When the term Trojan Asteroids is used without reference to a planet, they are assumed to belong to Jupiter.

10/13/2021 – Ephemeris – Let’s search for the naked-eye planets for this week

October 13, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Wednesday, October 13th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 5 minutes, setting at 7:01, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:57. The Moon, 1 day past first quarter, will set at 1:00 tomorrow morning.

Let’s search for the naked-eye planets for this week. Venus should be visible in the southwestern evening twilight by 7:20 tonight. It will set at 8:37 pm. By 7:45 pm, Jupiter will be spotted in the south-southeastern sky. The Jupiter should be easy to spot at that hour. Saturn will be dimmer, and to its right. It will be above and left of the Moon tonight. They will be visible for a while after midnight in the southwest, with Saturn setting first at 1:31 am, and Jupiter following at 2:52. Saturn’s rings are a beautiful sight in a telescope of even modest power, but the planet will appear tiny. Jupiter’s 4 brightest moons are spread out, two on each side of the planet tonight. They might all be visible in binoculars.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT-4 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Venus in twilight

Venus seen in twilight at 7:20 pm, about 20 minutes after sunset on October 13, 2021. Created using Stellarium.

Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon

Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon at 7:45, about 45 minutes after sunset in this view to the south-southeast. Click on the image to enlarge it. Created using Stellarium.

Slight gibbous Moon as it might appear tonight

The slight gibbous Moon as it might appear tonight in binoculars or small telescope. It appears here right side up as it would appear in the sky at 9 pm. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic views of the naked-eye planets

Telescopic views of the bright planets (north up) as they would be seen in a small telescope, with the same magnification, this evening at 9 pm, October 13, 2021. Apparent diameters: Venus, 21.15″, 56.8% illuminated; Saturn 17.29″, its rings 40.27″; Jupiter, 44.63″. 9 pm is also the best time to find the Great Red Spot on Jupiter’s face. Io will be in transit of the face of Jupiter until 7:53 pm. After that, Io will be increasing its distance from the planet. The ” symbol means seconds of arc (1/3600th of a degree.) Click on the image to enlarge it. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Planets and the Moon overnight tonight

The naked-eye planets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise on a single night, starting with sunset on the right on October 13, 2021. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 14th. It looks like Mercury will be far enough from the Sun next week to spot in the morning. Click on the image to enlarge it. Created using my LookingUp program.

10/12/2021 – Ephemeris – It’s Ada Lovelace Day!

October 12, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Ada Lovelace Day, Tuesday, October 12th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 8 minutes, setting at 7:02, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:56. The Moon, at first quarter today, will set at 11:50 this evening.

Saturn has stopped its retrograde or westward motion against the stars of Capricornus and today has resumed its normal eastern motion.

Ada Lovelace, or more properly Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, was the daughter of Lord Byron and worked for Charles Babbage, and is considered the first computer programmer. She devised a way to use the same punch cards that were used on the Jacquard loom to store and run her programs, even though Babbage was unable to complete his mechanical computer the Analytic Engine in the mid 1800s. This day is set aside to celebrate the accomplishments of all the women of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, (STEM). The computer language Ada, named after her, was created for the US Department of Defense.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT-4 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Ada Lovelace

Ada, Countess of Lovelace (1815-1852) considered the first computer programmer, even though the machine she wrote code for was never completed. Credit: Science & Society Picture Library.

Part of the Analytical Engine

Part of Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine on display, in 1843, left of center in this engraving of the King George III Museum in King’s College, London. Unknown engraver.

10/11/2021 – Ephemeris – It’s Indigenous Peoples Day

October 11, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Indigenous Peoples Day, Monday, October 11th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 11 minutes, setting at 7:04, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:54. The Moon, 1 day before first quarter, will set at 10:46 this evening.

Today the United States celebrates Columbus Day, a Monday near the date Christopher Columbus landed on a Caribbean island, and found people who got there at least 15 thousand years earlier. Due to superior technology, and nothing else really, the Europeans conquered the peoples of the continents they called the Americas, deeming the indigenous peoples, incorrectly, as savages. My astronomical journey started with learning the constellations and stories from the ancient Greeks. About nine years ago I began to investigate the constellations and stories of the Anishinaabe peoples, whose ancestral lands we live on, which turn out to be as rich and meaningful as those I learned in my youth from the Old World.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT-4 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Anishinaabe North America is Turtle Island

The Anishinaabe saw North America as Turtle Island. Credit: www.rabbitandbearpaws.com.Of course, some whites still think the Earth is 6,000 years old and flat.

10/08/2021 – Ephemeris – How the Fisher paints the trees their autumn colors

October 8, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Friday, October 8th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 20 minutes, setting at 7:09, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:51. The Moon, 2 days past new, will set at 8:35 this evening.

The tree leaves are beginning to turn to reds and yellows as we advance into autumn. The native Anishinaabe peoples, whose homeland we share, have a story about how that came to be. Of how a magical weasel-like creature called the Fisher or, in their native language, Ojiig, brought summer to the Earth from Skyland. For his trouble, he was shot with an arrow in his only vulnerable spot, the tip of his tail. As he fell to Earth Gichi Manitou, the Great Spirit, caught him and placed him in the sky where we see the Great Bear and the Big Dipper. Every late autumn night we see his tail, the handle of the dipper, slowly swooping down to the horizon where his bloody tail paints the trees with their autumn colors.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT-4 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Fisher brushing his tail along the horizon

An animation of the Fisher brushing his tail along the horizon on autumn nights. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

The Anishinaabe constellation drawings are from Ojibwe Sky Star Map Constellation Guide  by Annette S. Lee, William Wilson, Jeffrey Tibbets and Carl Gawboy available locally and online.  They are part of the latest editions of Stellarium, a free planetarium program.  Links to it are on the right.  Other information and links are available within the Stellarium.

Here’s one of the links: http://www.nativeskywatchers.com/.  It also contains links to Lakota star maps and lore.

10/07/2021 – Ephemeris – The loneliest star in the sky

October 7, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Thursday, October 7th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 23 minutes, setting at 7:11, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:49. The Moon, 1 day past new, will set at 8:06 this evening.

There’s a bright star that appears for only seven and a half hours on autumn nights. It’s appearance, low in the south-southeast at 9 p.m., is a clear indication of the autumn season. The star’s name is Fomalhaut, which means fish’s mouth. That’s fitting because it’s in the constellation of Piscis Austrinus, the southern fish. At our latitude it’s kind of the fish that got away, because Fomalhaut appears to be quite alone low in the sky. The dimness of the constellation’s other stars and location close to the horizon make the other stars hard to spot. The Earth’s thick atmosphere near the horizon reduces their brightness by a factor of two or more, so Fomalhaut, one of the brightest stars in the sky, keeps a lonely vigil in the south.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT-4 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Fomalhaut in October 2021

Fomalhaut at 9 pm, October 7, 2021. This year it has two bright planets relatively nearby, By they’re just passing through, albeit slowly. Normally the closest first magnitude star to Fomalhaut is Altair, the southernmost of the Summer Triangle stars. Created using Stellarium.