11/20/2019 – Ephemeris – Where are the naked-eye planets this week

November 20, 2019 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Wednesday, November 20th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 24 minutes, setting at 5:10, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:47. The Moon, 1 day past last quarter, will rise at 1:24 tomorrow morning.

Let’s look at the naked-eye planets for this week. Venus is starting to make an evening appearance. It will be briefly visible low in the west-southwest before it sets at 6:33 p.m. Jupiter will be very low in the southwestern sky as it gets dark. It will set at 6:55 p.m. Saturn, the ringed planet, will be in the south-southwestern sky in the evening, and will set at 8:26 p.m. Jupiter is approaching Saturn in our sky. Mars is in the morning sky and will rise in the east-southeast at 5:22 a.m. It’s not very bright because it’s 226 million (365 million km) miles away, but it’s getting slowly closer to the Earth. Mercury can be spotted after it rises in the east at 6:11 a.m. It will be getting brighter over the next two weeks.

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

Addendum

Evening planets

Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn against a lake horizon at 6 p.m. November 20, 2019. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic planets

Telescopic views of Venus, Jupiter and Saturn with the same magnification at 6 p.m. tonight November 20, 2019. In the morning, Mars is to tiny. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Morning planets

Mars and Mercury in the morning at 7 a.m. November 21, 2019. Created using Stellarium.

Binocular Moon

The Moon as it might be seen in binoculars, including earth shine, at 7 a.m. tomorrow November 21, 2019. Created using Stellarium.

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 November 20, 2019. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 21st. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

 

11/19/2019 – Ephemeris – Spying Capella low in the northeast

November 19, 2019 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Tuesday, November 19th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 26 minutes, setting at 5:11, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:46. The Moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 12:09 tomorrow morning.

As I was driving northward in the country at 6:15 Saturday night under partly cloudy skies I spied a bright star low in the north-northeast. It was Capella, the northernmost of the 21 first magnitude stars, and the 4th brightest star visible from our earthly location near 45 degrees north latitude. It’s in the pentagon shaped constellation of Auriga the Charioteer, which I couldn’t make out due to the clouds and the fact I was driving. Capella has the same color as the Sun, but there the similarity ends. Capella is made up of two massive stars that are so close that they appear as one. Capella is 43 light years away. At that distance a star the brightness of the Sun would barely be visible to the naked eye.

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

Addendum

Low northern stars about an hour after sunset

Low northern stars about an hour after sunset on November 19, 2019. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

11/18/2019 – Ephemeris – More about the Leonid meteor shower that just reached peak this morning

November 18, 2019 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Monday, November 18th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 28 minutes, setting at 5:12, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:44. The Moon, 1 day before last quarter, will rise at 10:56 this evening.

The Leonid meteor shower should have reached its peak early this morning hindered by a bright waning gibbous Moon. In past years, usually every 33 years the Leonid meteors have a super peak, called a meteor storm, where thousands of meteors streak through the skies. These appear for a brief period over a rather small geographic area. In 1966 it occurred principally over the Rocky Mountains. The comet responsible is 55P/Comet Tempel-Tuttle, independently discovered by two astronomers Tempel and Tuttle in 1865 & 1866. The comet has a 33 year orbit of the Sun, and its orbit crosses very close to the Earth’s orbit. Comets are notorious litter bugs, shedding gas, dust and pebble sized debris as they come close to the warming rays of the Sun.

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

Addendum

Leonid meteor shower as seen from space

The Leonid meteor shower as seen from space. The time is set for today so the Earth’s blue dot is lost in the stream of meteors crossing the Earth’s orbit (3rd one out from the Sun) just above the 9 o’clock position. The long ellipse is the orbit of Comet Tempel-Tuttle and the purple dot near the aphelion near Uranus’ orbit is the calculated current position of the comet. The flurry of dots are the calculated positions of meteors that whose orbits have been calculated. Click on the image to enlarge. Credit: NASA’s CAMS video camera surveillance network, and were calculated by meteor astronomer Peter Jenniskens of the SETI Institute and NASA Ames Research Center. This visualization is developed and hosted by Ian Webster.

These interactive animations can be found on the International Meteor Organization website:  https://www.imo.net. under Resources and Meteor Shower Calendar.

11/15/2019 – Ephemeris – The Leonids in the moonlight

November 15, 2019 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Friday, November 15th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 35 minutes, setting at 5:14, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:40. The Moon, 3 days past full, will rise at 7:45 this evening.

We are coming into a period where the Leonid meteor shower will be at its peak, as the Earth passes through the debris left by Comet Tempel-Tuttle on past trips through the inner solar system. We are having a bright Moon now which will diminish their numbers. The Leonids are only visible after midnight, and that’s when the Moon is highest in the sky. The meteors will appear to come from the top of a backward question mark that is the head of the constellation Leo the lion. They will be seen all over the sky, but can be traced back to that point. The Leonids are most numerous about every 33 years, which is about 13 years from now. Otherwise we get about 15 meteors an hour at peak when the Moon isn’t out.

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

Addendum

Leo rising at around 2 a.m. on the morning of November 20. Note the radiant .

Leo rising at around 2 a.m. on the morning of November 18. Note the radiant in the sickle asterism of Leo. Created using Looking Up, my own program.

New Meteor News!

I’ll have more next week, but we may be able to witness a meteor storm on the evening of the 21st and morning of the 22nd.  It is the Alpha Monocerotids.  They will seem to come from the constellation of Monoceros the unicorn.  That constellation lies in the blank spot in the triangle between Orion, Canis Major and Canis Minor.  The radiant will rise at 10:30 p.m.

Check this out:  https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/will-the-unicorn-give-us-a-meteor-storm-on-november-22

11/14/2019 – Ephemeris – Saturn is not only Lord of the Rings, but also King of the Moons

November 14, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, November 14th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 37 minutes, setting at 5:15, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:39. The Moon, 2 days past full, will rise at 6:57 this evening.

This news item is a month old, but it’d kind of cool. Jupiter may be the king of the planets, but it is not the king of the Moons. In a recent announcement from the International Astronomical Union. Saturn has edged out Jupiter in the number of moons that orbit it. Twenty new moons or satellites have been recently been discovered around the ringed planet bringing its total number up to 82. Jupiter’s total number of moons stands at 79. The discovery of the 20 latest moons was done with the Subaru 8.2 meter telescope on Mauna Kea on the island of Hawai’i by a group headed by Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science. 17 of these new satellites orbit Saturn in similar orbits backward from most of the rest of the moons.

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

Addendum

A diagram of Saturn's entire moon system and ring system

Bottom panel: The outer irregular moons of Saturn, with a scale of 1 pixel = 40,000 km. Moon groups, as well as ungrouped moons, are individually listed. They are graphed by their inclination, as well as the closest/furthest points in their orbit from Saturn (perichron and apochron) Middle panel: The middle moons of Saturn, with a scale of 1 pixel = 4,000 km. Although Saturn’s middle moons can be resolved, the inner moons and its rings are still difficult to resolve
Top panel: The inner moons of Saturn, with a scale of 1 pixel = 400 km. On the left, the rings of Saturn are labeled, and on the right, the inner moons are labeled. Click on the image to enlarge. Credit: Exoplanetaryscience.

Check it out in Bad Astronomy:  https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/another-score-for-saturn-20-newly-discovered-moons-for-the-ringed-planet.  The satellite diagram it contains shows Saturn not to scale with the satellite orbits.  At that scale Saturn would be a small dot.  These satellites are far out, really!

For more on all of Saturn’s moons:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moons_of_Saturn.

 

11/13/2019 – Ephemeris – Venus is starting to make an appearance in the evening sky

November 13, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Wednesday, November 13th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 40 minutes, setting at 5:16, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:38. The Moon, 1 day past full, will rise at 6:18 this evening.

Let’s look at the bright planets for this week. Venus is starting to make an evening appearance. It will be briefly visible low in the west-southwest before it sets at 6:28 p.m. Jupiter will be very low in the southwestern sky as it gets dark. It will set at 7:17 p.m. Jupiter is moving at nearly its fastest to the east now and next year will be where Saturn is currently. Saturn, the ringed planet, will be in the south-southwestern sky in the evening, and will set at 9:15 p.m. Next year it will be a bit farther east. Jupiter is approaching Saturn in our sky. Mars is in the morning sky and will rise in the east-southeast at 5:25 a.m. It’s not very bright because it’s 230 million (370 million km) miles away, but it’s getting slowly closer to the Earth.

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

Addendum

Evening planets

Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn tonight, November 13 at 6 p.m. Created using Stellarium.

Binocular Moon

The waning gibbous Moon at 8 p.m. tonight November 13, 2019. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic evening planets

Telescopic views of Jupiter and Saturn with the same magnification at 6 p.m. tonight November 13, 2019. Venus is too close to the horizon to easily see its tiny gibbous shape. In the mrning, Mars is to tiny. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Mars in the morning

Mars in the morning at 6:30 a.m. November 14, 2019. Created using Stellarium.

Planets and the Moon on a single night sunset 110619 to sunrise 110719

Planets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on November 13, 2019. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 14th. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

11/12/2019 – Ephemeris – November meteor showers

November 12, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, November 12th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 42 minutes, setting at 5:17, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:36. The Moon, at full today, will rise at 5:45 this evening.

November is a month with three meteor showers and all this year are affected by the bright moon, at least on the dates of their peak activity. They are the South Taurids which peaked last month but are seen through the 20th of this month; the North Taurids, which are at peak now, and whose members can be seen through December 10th; and the Leonids, which peak next Monday whose members can be seen until the end of the month. At peak on a dark night neither of these showers will produce more than 20 per hour. Both the Taurid meteor showers, which seem to emanate from the constellation of Taurus the Bull are related to Encke’s Comet the shortest periodic comet which orbits the Sun in only 3.3 years.

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