10/23/2019 – Ephemeris – Our weekly look at the bright planets

October 23, 2019 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Wednesday, October 23rd. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 36 minutes, setting at 6:45, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:09. The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 3:24 tomorrow morning.

Let’s look at the bright planets for this week. Venus and Mercury are too close to the Sun to be seen. They are on the evening or east side of the Sun. Bright Jupiter will be low in the southwestern sky as it gets dark. It will set at 9:23 p.m. Jupiter is moving at nearly its fastest to the east now and next year will be where Saturn is now. Saturn, the ringed planet, will be in the south-southwestern sky in the evening, and will set at 11:06 p.m. Next year it will be a bit farther east. Jupiter is approaching Saturn in our sky. They will cross paths late next year on December 21st, something they do about every 20 years. Mars will rise in the east at 6:36 a.m.

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

Addendum

Evening planets

Saturn and JUpiter with the Teapot of Sagittarius in the southwest tonight at 8 p.m. October 23, 2019. Created with Stellarium.

Telescopic planets

Telescopic views of Jupiter and Saturn with the same magnification at 8 p.m. tonight October 23, 2019. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Morning planets

Mars and the Moon at 7 a.m. tomorrow October 24, 2019. At thi scale the program shows the Moon as a blob. Created using Stellarium.

Binocular Moon

The Moon as it might be seen in binoculars, including earth shine, at 7 a.m. tomorrow October 24, 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 October 23, 2019. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 24th. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

10-22-2019 – Ephemeris – Capricornus, one weird goat

October 22, 2019 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Tuesday, October 22nd. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 39 minutes, setting at 6:46, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:08. The Moon, 1 day past last quarter, will rise at 2:08 tomorrow morning.

Nearly 2000 years ago the southernmost of the constellations of the zodiac was Capricornus the water goat. That’s why the latitude on the Earth where the sun is overhead on the winter solstice is called the Tropic of Capricorn. Not any more, Sagittarius, one constellation west and between Jupiter and Saturn this year, has that honor today. Actually Capricornus does need the press. It’s large, but made up of dim stars. To me it looks like a 45 degree isosceles triangle, long side up, but which all the sides are sagging. The constellation is found low in the south at 9 p.m. The image that is supposed to be represented by the stars is that of a goat whose hind quarters are replaced by a fish’s tail, not a mermaid but a mer-goat.

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

Addendum

Capricornus finder animation for tonight at 8 p.m. October 22, 2019. click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

10/21/2019 – Ephemeris – Sleeping Bear Dunes 49th Anniversary Star Party tonight

October 21, 2019 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Monday, October 21st. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 42 minutes, setting at 6:48, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:07. The Moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 12:55 tomorrow morning.

A star party celebrating the 49th anniversary of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore will be held tonight, October 21 2019, starting at 8 p.m. at the Dune Climb but only if it’s clear. It will be hosted by the Park Rangers and the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society. The society invites all to come, to view the Milky Way, which will span the skies from horizon to horizon. The park has one of the darkest skies in the Lower Peninsula, and the Milky Way is especially impressive in late summer and early autumn. It’s our galaxy, containing all the individual stars we see, plus all the star clusters and nebulae we can see in our telescopes. And we can look out of it to the Great Andromeda Galaxy.

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

Addendum

Sunset on the 40th anniversary star party

Sunset on the 40th anniversary star party which was held at the Dunes Overlook on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Credit Eileen Carlisle.

Preparing to start the star party

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

10/18/2019 – Ephemeris – Capella rising

October 18, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, October 18th. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 51 minutes, setting at 6:53, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:03. The Moon, 3 days before last quarter, will rise at 9:59 this evening.

For those with the advantage of a low northeastern horizon, will see a bright star slowly rising, much slower than the stars in the east, or notice its change in position from night to night, moving in the northeast. The star is Capella, northernmost of the bright winter stars. It never quite sets for locations north of the latitude of Ludington (44° N), meaning it’s circumpolar like the Big Dipper. It’s slow motion, due to its position close to the north pole of the sky sometimes makes it seem odd. I’ve gotten several calls about it over the years. Capella is the brightest star in the constellation Auriga the charioteer, a constellation I see as a pentagon, with a small triangle of three stars on one side.

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

Addendum

Capella rising animation

Capella rising animation at half hour intervals from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. October 18th. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

10/17/2019 – Ephemeris – Fomalhaut, the loneliest star in the sky

October 17, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, October 17th. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 54 minutes, setting at 6:55, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:01. The Moon, half way from full to last quarter, will rise at 9:18 this evening.

There’s a bright star that appears for only seven and a half hours on autumn evenings. 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 faint 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 times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Fomalhaut

Fomalhaut, Saturn and the southern evening stars at 9 p.m. tonight, October 17, 2019. Click on image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

Categories: Ephemeris Program, stars Tags:

10/16/2019 – Ephemeris – The bright planets and another talk I’m giving tonight

October 16, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Wednesday, October 16th. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 57 minutes, setting at 6:56, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:00. The Moon, 3 days past full, will rise at 8:44 this evening.

Let’s look at the bright planets for this week. Mars, Venus and Mercury are too close to the Sun to be seen. Venus and Mercury are on the evening or east side of the Sun, Mars is on the west or morning side. Bright Jupiter will be low in the southwestern sky as it gets dark. It will set at 9:46 p.m. Saturn, the ringed planet, will be in the south-southwestern sky in the evening, and set at 11:32 p.m.

Tonight at 7 p.m. I will be giving an illustrated talk Apollo and the Moon Race at the main branch of the Traverse Area District library on Woodmere in Traverse City. It traces the events from Sputnik to the last Apollo mission to the Moon, the tumultuous 15 years of the space race between the United Stares and the Soviet Union.

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

Addenda

The planets this week

Evening planets

Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon at 8:30 p.m. tonight October 16, 2019. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic planets

Telescopic views of Jupiter and Saturn with the same magnification at 8:30 p.m. tonight October 16, 2019. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Binocular Moon

The waning gibbous Moon at 9:30 tonight October 16, 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 October 16, 2019. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 17th. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

Apollo and the Race to the Moon

Apollo and the Race to the Moon Title

Apollo and the Race to the Moon Title slide

10/15/2019 – Ephemeris – The celestial Fisher paints the fall colors

October 15, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, October 15th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours even, setting at 6:58, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:59. The Moon, 2 days past full, will rise at 8:14 this evening.

The tree leaves are turning 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 the 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 the Great Spirit, Manitou caught him and placed him in the sky where we see the Great Bear (Ursa Major) and the Big Dipper. Every autumn late at night we see his tail, the handle of the dipper, swoop down to the ground where his tail paints the leaves with his blood.

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

Addendum

Fisher brushing his tail along the horizon

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

The constellation art is part of the latest versions of Stellarium. Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) constellation art by Annette S Lee and William Wilson from Ojibwe Sky Star Map Constellation Guide, ISBN 978-0-615-98678-4.

See the version of the story I learned:  The story of the Fisher Star.

There are other variations of the story, and other adventures of the Fisher.  Perform an Internet search for: Fisher or Fisher Star or Ojiig.