01/17/2018 – Ephemeris – Our weekly look at the bright planets

January 17, 2018 1 comment

Ephemeris for Wednesday, January 17th. The Sun will rise at 8:15. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 15 minutes, setting at 5:31. The Moon, 1 day past new, will set at 6:17 this evening.

Let’s take our weekly look at the bright planets. All of the bright naked eye planets save one are in the morning sky now, but Venus sets 2 minutes after the Sun. At 7 this morning Jupiter is in the south-southeast and is a lot brighter than Mars, below and left of it. Saturn is just rising in the southeast. Jupiter will rise at 3:07 tomorrow with Mars following at 3:35. And Saturn will rise at 6:39. Saturn’s rise times will increase by 3 to 4 minutes each morning. It will be in a lot better position to spot in the coming weeks. The morning sky you’ll see at 7 a.m. will be the same stars as in the late spring sky with the summer triangle just rising. Scorpius is rising with the red star Antares below left of Mars, and Orion as I mentioned yesterday has fled over the western horizon.

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

Addendum

Morning Planets

Jupiter and Mars are easily visible, but Saturn is low and problematic at 7 in the morning. Created using Stellarium.

Jupiter and its moons

Jupiter and its moons at 7 a.m. this morning January 17, 2018. Io and Europa will be eclipsed and occulted by Jupiter after this time.

Planets at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on January 17, 2018. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 18th. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

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01/16/2018 – Ephemeris – More thoughts about Orion and the Wintermaker

January 16, 2018 1 comment

Ephemeris for Tuesday, January 16th. The Sun will rise at 8:15. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 13 minutes, setting at 5:29. The Moon is new today, and won’t be visible.

We come back to the central constellation of the winter sky Orion the hunter, now in the southeast at 9 p.m. with his three stars of his belt in a straight line, with his upper shoulder stars above and knees below. In one Greek story he was killed by the sting of a scorpion so the gods made sure the rising of the constellation Scorpius would chase him out of the sky to the west. To the Greeks he was a hapless hero. Orion is mentioned in the Bible in the book of Job. The name for Orion in Hebrew is Kesil, meaning “Fool”. To the native peoples around the Great Lakes, the stars here are those of the Wintermaker, who stretches his arms from Aldebaran in Taurus to Procyon in Canis Minor. When he is in the evening sky it is indeed winter.

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

Addendum

As the scorpion approaches Orion makes a hasty exit

When the scorpion (Scorpius) crawls over the southeastern horizon, Orion takes a powder to the west. This is about 5 a.m. in mid January. Created using Stellarium.

Orion-Wintermaker finder animation

Orion-Wintermaker finder animation for 9 p.m., January 16. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

01/15/2018 – Ephemeris – A river in the sky

January 15, 2018 1 comment

Ephemeris for Martin Luther King Day, Monday, January 15th. The Sun will rise at 8:16. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 11 minutes, setting at 5:28. The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 7:49 tomorrow morning.

There is a long and sinuous constellation that’s part of the winter sky. It is Eridanus, which depicts a river. The river starts near the lower right corner of Orion, near the bright star Rigel and flows to the right then down near the southern horizon, then it meanders below the horizon. One has to travel to the far southern United States or even farther south to see the southern terminus of the river, the bright star Achernar. Writers over the ages have seen here the Nile and the earth circling river Ocean of the flat earth days. One of its stars is close to us and famous. It’s Omicron 2 Eridani a triple star system and the fictional home to Mr. Spock and other Vulcans of the Star Trek franchise. No real planet has been found there. Yet.

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

Addendum

Eridanus

An animation of the constellation Eridanus which is a river that flows from Rigel in Orion to the star Achernar below our southern horizon at latitude 45 degrees north. Create using Stellarium and GIMP.

Vulcan's home star

Keid, Omicron 2 Eridani, fictional home of Mr. Spock. Created using Stellarium.

 

01/12/2018 – Ephemeris – A look at Gemini the very unusual twins

January 12, 2018 1 comment

Ephemeris for Friday, January 12th. The Sun will rise at 8:18. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 6 minutes, setting at 5:24. The Moon, half way from last quarter to new, will rise at 5:16 tomorrow morning.

The constellation Gemini, the Twins is visible half way up the sky in the east at 9 p.m. The namesake stars of the two lads will be on the upper left edge of the constellation, nearly vertically aligned. Castor is above, while Pollux, a slightly brighter star is below it. Lines of stars from Castor and Pollux to the right delineate the lads. In Greek mythology Castor and Pollux were twins, and half brothers, Castor was fathered by a mere mortal, while Pollux was fathered by Zeus in the famous Leda and the swan affair. The brothers, however were inseparable, and when Castor was killed during the quest for the Golden Fleece, Pollux pleaded with Zeus to let him die also. Zeus granted his wish, so they both appear in the sky together forever.

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

Addendum

Gemini

Gemini as it should appear at 9 p.m., January 12, 2018. Created using Stellarium.

Gemini with Castor and Pollux

Gemini with Castor and Pollux. A closeup with a different way to link the stars with constellation art.  Created with Stellarium.

01/11/2018 – Ephemeris – This morning the Moon passes Jupiter and Mars

January 11, 2018 1 comment

Jan 11. This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Thursday, January 11th. The Sun will rise at 8:18. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 5 minutes, setting at 5:23. The Moon, 3 days past last quarter, will rise at 4:19 tomorrow morning.

This morning the thin crescent Moon will be poised over Jupiter and Mars in the east southeast at 7 a.m. It will make a pretty sight for the eye and camera. I follow many amateur astronomers on Twitter with clearer skies than ours who take many great pictures of planetary conjunctions, the Moon and other wonders of the heavens.

There is space mission orbiting Jupiter right now. It doesn’t make great discoveries that shake up the astronomical world enough to make the national news. The Juno mission skims close and then away from Jupiter in order to ferret out its internal structure. It does contain a camera for the public that reveals the spectacular cloud formations of Jupiter’s polar cloudscapes.

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

Addendum

The Moon, Jupiter and Mars

The Moon with Jupiter and Mars this morning January 11, 2018 at 7 a.m. Created using Stellarium.

Jupiter's clouds

Some of Jupiter’s clouds photographed by NASA’s Juno spacecraft.

Ride along with Juno on its 6th close encounter (perijove 6) with Jupiter.  Jove is another Roman name for Jupiter, by Jove!

Jupiter: Juno Perijove 06 from Seán Doran on Vimeo.

01/10/2018 – Ephemeris – One lone, but invisible, bright planet in the evening, the rest in the morning

January 10, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Wednesday, January 10th. The Sun will rise at 8:18. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 3 minutes, setting at 5:22. The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 3:20 tomorrow morning.

Let’s take our weekly look at the bright planets. While Uranus and Neptune are evening planets, they require binoculars or a telescope to spot. All of the bright naked eye planets save one are in the morning sky now, but Venus is too close to the Sun to be seen. So is Saturn, but that’s in the morning sky along with Mercury. At 7 this morning Jupiter is in the east-southeast and is a lot brighter than Mars, just below and left of it. Jupiter will rise at 3:29 tomorrow with Mars following at 3:40. If you want to take a crack at Mercury, it will rise this morning at 6:52 And Saturn will rise at 7:07 this morning. Saturn’s rise times will increase by 3 to 4 minutes each morning. The morning sky you’ll see at 7 a.m. will be the same stars as in the late spring sky with the summer triangle just rising.

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

Addendum

Morning planet animation

Morning planets with an animation of the Moon’s motion on the morning of the 10th & 11th. Created using Stellarium and GIMP. I’ll be covering the Moon’s apparent proximity to the planets tomorrow. Click on image to enlarge.

Binocular Moon

The fat waning crescent Moon as it might be seen in binoculars at 7 a.m. January 10, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Jupiter and moons

Jupiter with only two of its moons visible at 7 a.m. January 10, 2018. Io and Europa will be visible before 5:27 a.m. before ducking into Jupiter’s shadow. Created using Cartes du Ciel.

Satellite Event           Date      UT     EST
Europa Eclipse start:   10 Jan 2018 10:27  5:27 a.m.
Io Eclipse start:       10 Jan 2018 10:28  5:28 a.m.
Io Occultation end:     10 Jan 2018 13:42  Daylight
Europa Occultation end: 10 Jan 2018 14:56  Daylight

Satellite events are from the Pluto Project:  https://www.projectpluto.com/jevent.htm

Planets at sunset and sunrise of a single night

Planets at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on January 10, 2017. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 11th. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

01/08/2018 – Ephemeris – The Pleiades in Greek myth

January 8, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, January 8th. The Sun will rise at 8:19. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 1 minute, setting at 5:20. The Moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 1:17 tomorrow morning.

The large and bright constellation of Orion is now in the southeast at 9 p.m. It is seen as an upright rectangle of bright stars, with a belt of three stars in the center. Orion is a minor character in Greek mythology. Orion was the son of Neptune, and was a hunter. He had an ill-fated romance with Merope, whose father King Oenopion, had him blinded. After having his sight restored, Orion became a companion of Diana goddess of the hunt and they wanted to marry. Apollo, Diana’s brother disapproved of Orion also and was able to trick Diana into accidentally killing Orion with an arrow. The heart-broken Diana then placed Orion in the sky with his hunting dogs, were we see him to this day.

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

Addendum

Hyades and Pleiades

The Pleiades (right) and the Hyades (left) in this photograph I took January 4, 2016.

Named Pleiads

The named stars of the Pleiades. This is also showing more stars than can be seen with the naked eye. This is the number of stars that can be seen in binoculars, which is the best way to observe them. Most telescopes are offer too much magnification to fit all the stars in. A thirty power wide-angle eyepiece can just fit all the stars in. Created using Stellarium.