06/14/2019 – Ephemeris – I’m giving the talk Apollo and the Race to the Moon tonight at the Library in Thompsonville

June 14, 2019 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Flag Day, Friday, June 14th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 33 minutes, setting at 9:29, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:56. The Moon, 3 days before full, will set at 4:55 tomorrow morning.

Tonight the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will host a star party… well a Moon party at the Betsie Valley District Library in Thompsonville, MI. It starts at 8:30 p.m. With what I like to call a twilight talk by yours truly, the title of which is Apollo and the Race to the Moon. I’ll explore the Apollo 11 mission and the events leading up to it both in the United States and the USSR. The bright Moon tonight will uncover all the Apollo landing areas, even though there too small to be seen from the Earth, though they will be shown in the presentation. Twilight talks at the library also involves a slide or planetarium-like presentation, so if it’s cloudy we’ll also explore the starry nights of summer inside. So come out clear or cloudy.

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

Addendum

Saturn V vs. N1

Comparison between The United States Saturn V and the Soviet N-1. Click on the Image to enlarge. Credit Karl Tate, Space.com.

06/13/2019 – Ephemeris – Project Mercury

June 13, 2019 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Thursday, June 13th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 32 minutes, setting at 9:29, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:56. The Moon, 3 days past first quarter, will set at 4:23 tomorrow morning.

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon we’ll look at the first human space mission program, Mercury. It was taken over from the Air Force by the newly organized NASA space agency in 1958. It’s mission to launch a man in orbit, having him survive for at least a day and return him to the Earth. Alan Shepard crewed the first Mercury launch on a suborbital hop on May 5th, 1961, 25 days after the Soviet Union launched Yuri Gagarin on a single orbit of the Earth. On the third Mercury Launch John Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth in his Friendship 7 capsule. In all there were 6 flights in the Mercury program. Of the seven Mercury astronauts, only Deke Slayton never flew on Mercury for medical reasons buy flew in the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975.

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

Addendum

The 7 Mercury Astronauts

The seven Mercury astronauts were (from left) Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, Deke Slayton, Gus Grissom, John Glenn, Gordon Cooper and Scott Carpenter. Credits: NASA

The Mercury Capsule

The Mercury Capsule diagram. Not shown is the Retropack on the back of the heat shield held on by straps.  The Retropack contained solid rockets to slow the capsule so it can descend from orbit. Credit: NASA.

06/12/2019 – Ephemeris – Let’s look at the bright planets for this week

June 12, 2019 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Wednesday, June 12th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 31 minutes, setting at 9:28, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:56. The Moon, 2 days past first quarter, will set at 3:53 tomorrow morning.

Let’s look at the bright planets for this week. Mars and Mercury will be low in the west-northwestern sky under the stars Castor and Pollux, which are nearly horizontally arraigned this evening. Mercury is 5 times brighter than Mars, which is a bit above and left of it. Mercury will set at 11:11 p.m. with Mars setting shortly after. Jupiter will start the evening low in the southeast. It far brighter than any star and will be visible all night, setting shortly before sunrise. It’s in Ophiuchus. In the morning sky we have Saturn which will rise at 11:06 p.m., in the east-southeast. It’s in Sagittarius. Both Jupiter and Saturn are easily visible in the predawn skies for very early risers. Venus is too close to the Sun to be seen.

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

Addendum

Evening planets

The Moon and the evening planets at 10:30 p.m. June 12, 2019. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

Binocular Moon

The gibbous Moon as it might appear in binoculars or a small telescope tonight at 10:30 p.m. June 12, 2019. Created using Stellarium.

Morning planet

Jupiter and Saturn at 4:30 a.m. June 13, 2019. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic planets

Jupiter and Saturn with the same magnification but at different times. Jupiter at 10:30 p.m. June 12 2019 while Saturn is for tomorrow morning.. 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 June 12, 2019. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 13th. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

06/11/2019 – Ephemeris – The crater Copernicus on the Moon

June 11, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, June 11th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 31 minutes, setting at 9:28, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:56. The Moon, 1 day past first quarter, will set at 3:26 tomorrow morning.

Tonight, visible on the waxing gibbous Moon in binoculars or a small telescope the terminator, the sunrise line crosses the prominent crater Copernicus. This crater is nearly half way from the top to the bottom of the Moon. It is 56 miles (93 km) in diameter and 2 miles (3.5 k m) deep. The low Sun angle accentuates the depth of the crater. As large craters goes, Copernicus is rather new, being somewhat younger than 1.1 billion years old, a quarter of the Moon’s age. A dramatic image taken by the Lunar Orbiter spacecraft in 1966, in preparation for the Apollo lunar landings of an oblique view of the crater peeking over a crater wall was, at that time, dubbed the Picture of the Century”.

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

Addendum

Binocular Moon

The Moon tonight, June 11, 2019 showing the crater Copernicus. Created using Virtual Moon Atlas.

Closeup of Copernicus

Closeup of Copernicus with the small double crater Fauth south of it. Created using Virtual Moon Atlas.

Picture of the Century

Picture of the Century taken by the lunar Orbiter 2. Copernicus in an oblique photo from the south. Not the double crater Fauth at the bottom of the Image. Credit: NASA/Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP).

06/14/2019 – Ephemeris – Jupiter at opposition

June 10, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, June 10th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 30 minutes, setting at 9:27, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:56. The Moon, at first quarter today, will set at 2:59 tomorrow morning.

The planet Jupiter now rises around sunset. Today at 11:11 a.m. it will be officially in opposition from the Sun. This isn’t some conflict, but the simple fact that Jupiter will be opposite the Sun in our sky. It then becomes an evening planet and for this summer will become a dazzling fixture in our evening sky. Jupiter is the second brightest planet after Venus, which is now in the morning Sun’s twilight glare. Watch for it in Wednesday’s planet report. Though the second brightest planet Jupiter by far is the largest planet and an easy planet to view in a small telescope. It’s mass exceeds the combined masses of all the other planets times two. Currently NASA’s Juno spacecraft is orbiting it.

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

Addendum

Jupiter is the largest planet.  Its average distance from the Sun is 5.2 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun or 5.2 times the Earth’s distance from the Sun.  Here is how its size changes from conjunction with the Sun to opposition.

Jupiter at conjunction and opposition

The apparent size difference between Jupiter at conjunction and at opposition as seen in a telescope. The Jupiter at opposition is its appearance tonight. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

 

06/07/2019 – Ephemeris – My presentation and viewing opportunities this weekend

June 7, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, June 7th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 27 minutes, setting at 9:25, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:57. The Moon, 3 days before first quarter, will set at 1:23 tomorrow morning.

I will be giving a presentation Apollo and the race to the Moon tonight at this evening’s meeting of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society at 8 p.m. at Northwestern Michigan College’s Rogers Observatory. The 1960’s were a heady time in the undeclared race with the Soviet Union for supremacy in space, where it seemed that the US was continually playing catch up. In 1968 spy satellites showed that the Soviets had a massive rocket ready to go. After the meeting there will be a star party starting at 9 p.m.

Tomorrow there will be weather permitting a Sun and Star Party at the Sleeping Bear Dunes Dune Climb from 4 to 6 p.m. and 9 to 11 p.m. Both nights feature the Moon and Jupiter.

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

Addendum

A Sun Party at the Dune Climb. Credit: Eileen Carlisle.

Preparing to start the star party

Preparing to start the May star party 3 years ago at the Dune Climb. A few of the telescopes are visible including the GTAS 25″ “Emmettron” telescope at the far right. Credit: Eileen Carlisle.

06/06/2019 – Ephemeris – The 75th anniversary of D-Day, the astronomical connection

June 6, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, June 6th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 26 minutes, setting at 9:25, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:57. The Moon, 3 days past new, will set at 12:40 tomorrow morning.

Today is the 75th anniversary of the greatest battle of World War II was the invasion of Normandy on D-Day, a date governed by the position of the Moon. The full moon on June the 6th, 1944 gave light for the gliders and paratroopers to carry out their operations at midnight. Plus the high tides were near noon and midnight and the low tides near dawn. The idea was to hit the beach at low tide to enable the landing craft to operate without hitting the obstacles the Germans planted in the tidal zone. It was great for the landing craft, but the troops had a lot of open beach to cover to get to some sort of shelter. The best days for the invasion were the 5th, 6th and 7th of June. Bad weather on the 5th caused a one day postponement.

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