02/17/2020 – Ephemeris Extra – The Moon will cover the planet Mars in morning twilight tomorrow, Tuesday the 18th.

February 17, 2020 Leave a comment

Sorry, I missed this until now. Tomorrow morning the 18th Mars will be occulted by the Moon. For Northern Lower Michigan Mars will disappear shortly after 7:10 a.m. The exact time depends on your location, so I can’t be more specific.  At that time the Moon and Mars will be in the southeastern sky. Mars is now first magnitude, but will fare poorly in the morning twilight, so I’d suggest finding the Moon and Mars at least 15 minutes earlier with binoculars or telescope. Mars will reappear at the Moon’s unlit side around 8:37 a.m. This is after sunrise, so a telescope will be required to spot it.  Hoping for clear skies, though the weather forecast isn’t promising.

Occultation map

A map of where the occultation of Mars will be visible. Created using Occult4.

Mars Occultation Start

Where Mars will disappear at the Moon’s sunlit edge. Created using Stellarium.

Mars Occultation End

Mars will reappear at the Moon’s unlit edge around 8:36 a.m. give or take. Created using Stellarium.

02/17/2020 – Ephemeris – A look at Orion and his hunting dogs

February 17, 2020 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for President’s Day, Monday, February 17th. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 32 minutes, setting at 6:13, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:39. The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 4:27 tomorrow morning.

The great winter constellation or star group Orion the Hunter, is located in the southern sky at 9 p.m. His elongated rectangle of a torso is vertical. In the center of the rectangle are three stars in a line that make his belt. As a hunter, especially one of old, he has two hunting dogs. The larger, Canis Major can be found by following the three belt stars of Orion down and to the left. There lies the brilliant star called Sirius, also known as the Dog Star. It’s in the heart of a stick figure dog lower in the south facing Orion that appears to be begging. Canis Minor is just two stars found by extending Orion’s shoulder stars eastward where we find bright Procyon, the little dog star in the southeast.

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

Addendum

Orion and his hunting dogs

Orion and his hunting dogs with pointers as seen at 9 p.m. in mid February. Created using Stellarium.

02/14/2020 – Ephemeris – Love is in the air, and in space too

February 14, 2020 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for St Valentine’s Day, Friday, February 14th. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 23 minutes, setting at 6:09, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:43. The Moon, 1 day before last quarter, will rise at 1:02 tomorrow morning.

As I said before today is St. Valentine’s day. However one of the symbols of this Christian Saint’s day, beside the red hearts, is the pagan Roman god of love Cupid, the cute counterpart of the Greek god Eros. Cupid supposedly made people fall in love by shooting them with little love darts with his bow. One of those darts is in the sky as the constellation Sagitta the arrow which is visible on summer evenings and now in the early morning. The Roman goddess of love is represented brilliantly in the evening sky as the planet Venus. On St Valentine’s Day, 20 years ago the NEAR-Shoemaker spacecraft entered orbit of the asteroid Eros, and soft landed on it 364 days later. They say love is in the air. Apparently love is in space too.

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

Addendum

Sagitta the arrow

Sagitta the arrow at 6 a.m. these mornings, located within the Summer Triangle of the bright stars Vega, Altair and Deneb. It will be seen at a more convenient time this summer. Created using Stellarium.

Six views of asteroid 433-Eros in February 2000. Images from NASA's NEAR-Shoemaker spacecraft.

Six views of asteroid 433-Eros in February 2000. Images from NASA’s NEAR-Shoemaker spacecraft.

Bonus

Heart Nebula

IC 1805 (Heart Nebula) Credit: s58y [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Pluto hearts us

Pluto on July 8, 2015 from the New Horizons spacecraft on approach showing its love for us, or it’s just a heart shaped feature on Pluto’s lower right edge. This is a back & white image colorized by information captured by “Ralph”, a visible and infrared imager. The detail in all these pictures is provided by LORRI the long range imager. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute.

Categories: Holiday Tags: , , ,

02/13/2020 – Ephemeris – Orion’s Belt stars

February 13, 2020 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Thursday, February 13th. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 21 minutes, setting at 6:07, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:45. The Moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 11:48 this evening.

Orion’s belt of three stars is one of the most noticeable star groupings in the sky. There are no other group of three bright stars in a straight line visible anywhere else in the sky. The star’s names from left to right are Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka. They are actually a bit farther away than the other bright stars of Orion. Alnilam, the center star is over three times the distance of red giant Betelgeuse above them and over twice as far as blue white giant star Rigel below them. Alnilam is 375 thousand times brighter than the Sun according to the SIMBAD Astronomical Database. These three stars were also known as Frigga’s Spindle by the Norsemen. Frigga also known as Freya is the goddess from which we get the name of the day of the week Friday.

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

Addendum

Torso of Orion centered on his belt. Created using Stellarium.

Torso of Orion centered on his belt. The torso of Orion is more upright this month. But I’m leaving it tilted so the star names don’t over print the stars. Created using Stellarium.

02/12/2020 – Ephemeris – A look at the bright planets after a month

February 12, 2020 2 comments

Ephemeris for Wednesday, February 12th. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 18 minutes, setting at 6:06, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:46. The Moon, half way from full to last quarter, will rise at 10:32 this evening

It’s been a month since we’ve viewed the bright planets, so let’s have a look. Brilliant Venus is dominating the evening sky in the southwest until it sets at 9:47 p.m. Less noticed is tiny Mercury, below and right of Venus and near the horizon, perhaps best seen in binoculars. It will set at 7:41 p.m. In the morning sky Mars is first to appear and will rise in the east-southeast at 4:40 a.m. It’s brighter than it was last month, it’s 27 million miles closer at 171 million miles. Jupiter will rise at 5:54 a.m. in the east-southeast. This second brightest planet is approaching Saturn in our skies, and will continue until near Christmas. Saturn itself, will rise at 6:30 a.m. in the east-southeast.

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

Addendum

Venus and Mercury in twilight

Venus and Mercury in the twilight at 6:45 p.m. Created using Stellarium.

The Moon and Spica

The Moon and Spica at 7 a.m. in the southwest. Created using Stellarium.

Mornng planets

The morning planets at 7 a.m. Created using Stellarium.

The planets through a telescope

Telescopic views of the planets at the same magnification with Venus tonight at 6:45 p.m. February 12, 2020. Mercury is too small to show a disk at this magnification. At 7 a.m. on the 13th Mars is too tiny to show a disk. Twilight is too bright and Saturn is too low to show its moons. But Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is turned toward the Earth.  Can you spot it? Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Planets and athe Moon at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on January 8, 2020. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 9th. Click on the image to enlarge.  Created using my LookingUp program.

Planets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on February 12, 2020. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 13th. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

 

02/11/2020 – Ephemeris – The elusive planet Mercury is appearing in the evening twilight

February 11, 2020 Comments off

I’m back with Ephemeris for Tuesday, February 11th. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 15 minutes, setting at 6:05, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:48. The Moon, 2 days past full, will rise at 9:15 this evening.

The elusive planet Mercury is making it first evening appearance in the sky for this year. Yesterday was its greatest eastern elongation from the Sun of 18 degrees angular distance. It hasn’t changed much for tonight, but will shortly start creeping back towards the Sun. Mercury should be spotted by 6:30 in the evening way below and right of the much brighter Venus in the western sky. It might take binoculars to spot that early, but 15 minutes later it should be visible without them, but be much lower in the sky. Mercury has an 88 day orbit of the Sun, but we are viewing it from another moving planet, so greatest elongations and conjunctions with the Sun occur at roughly 116 day intervals, known as the synodic period.

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

Addendum

Mercury E Elong_1630-021120

Venus and Mercury in the western sky at 6:30 p.m.  (about 25 minutes after sunset)  Created using Stellarium.

Categories: Ephemeris Program, Planets Tags: ,

02/10/2020 – Ephemeris Extra – Back again

February 10, 2020 4 comments

I’m now back home and will continue my therapy at home or as an outpatient.  I can now walk unaided but they’d prefer that I use a walker.  I want to thank the doctors, nurses, therapists and assistants at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, MI for getting me back this far so fast.  I also want to thank those who called and wrote to Interlochen Public Radio about missing the program.  I missed it too.  The programs will air again starting tomorrow with a look at Mercury in the evening.  Also to those who wrote comments on this blog, I thank you.  It means a lot to me.

Categories: Ephemeris Extra Tags: