11/30/2021 – Ephemeris – Previewing December skies

November 30, 2021 Leave a comment

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, November 30th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 4 minutes, setting at 5:03, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:00. The Moon, 3 days past last quarter, will rise at 4:24 tomorrow morning.

Let’s look ahead at the skies of December. We are now in the holiday season and about to celebrate the southernmost travel of the Sun in the sky and its return northward. The Sun will stop its travel south, the winter solstice on the 21st at 10:59 a.m. That will make that day the shortest day in terms of daylight hours. However, the earliest sunset and latest sunrise don’t coincide with that date. The reason is the Earth is closer to the Sun than average and is moving faster in its orbit than it normally does. It skews the sunrise and sunset times, making them later than they would be on average. We have a comet, C/2021 A1 (Leonard), that will be bright enough to be visible in binoculars coming into view in the morning later this week and into the next.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

December Evening Star Chart

December Evening Star Chart

Star Chart for December 2021 (9 p.m. EST December 15, 2021). Click on image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program. Click on image to enlarge.

The planets and stars are plotted for the 15th at 9 pm EST in the evening and 6 a.m. for the morning chart. These are the chart times. Note that Traverse City is located approximately 45 minutes behind our time meridian, West 75° longitude. (An hour 45 minutes behind our daylight saving time meridian during EDT).

December Morning Star Chart

Star Chart for December mornings, 2021 (6 a.m. EST December 15, 2021). Click on image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

For a list of constellation names to go with the abbreviations click here.

  • Pointer stars at the front of the bowl of the Big Dipper point to Polaris, the North Star.
  • The leaky bowl of the Big Dipper drips on Leo.
  • Follow the arc of the handle of the Big Dipper to the star Arcturus, then
  • Follow the spike to Spica.
  • The Summer Triangle is in red.
  • GemR on the star charts is the radiant of the Geminid meteor shower, which peaks on the morning of the 14th.

Twilight Limits, Nautical and Astronomical

      EST        
  Morning Twilight Evening Twilight Dark Night Moon
Date Astro. Nautical Nautical Astro. Start End Illum.
2021-12-01 6h20m 6h56m 18h15m 18h51m 18h51m 4h24m 0.07
2021-12-02 6h21m 6h57m 18h15m 18h50m 18h50m 5h45m 0.02
2021-12-03 6h22m 6h57m 18h15m 18h50m 18h50m 6h22m 0
2021-12-04 6h23m 6h58m 18h15m 18h50m 18h50m 6h23m 0.01
2021-12-05 6h24m 6h59m 18h15m 18h50m 18h50m 6h24m 0.05
2021-12-06 6h25m 7h00m 18h15m 18h50m 19h27m 6h25m 0.12
2021-12-07 6h26m 7h01m 18h15m 18h50m 20h43m 6h26m 0.21
2021-12-08 6h27m 7h02m 18h15m 18h50m 22h00m 6h27m 0.31
2021-12-09 6h28m 7h03m 18h15m 18h50m 23h14m 6h28m 0.41
2021-12-10 6h28m 7h04m 18h15m 18h50m 6h28m 0.52
2021-12-11 6h29m 7h05m 18h15m 18h50m 0h25m 6h29m 0.62
2021-12-12 6h30m 7h05m 18h15m 18h51m 1h32m 6h30m 0.71
2021-12-13 6h31m 7h06m 18h15m 18h51m 2h38m 6h31m 0.79
2021-12-14 6h31m 7h07m 18h16m 18h51m 3h42m 6h31m 0.87
2021-12-15 6h32m 7h07m 18h16m 18h51m 4h46m 6h32m 0.92
2021-12-16 6h33m 7h08m 18h16m 18h52m 5h50m 6h33m 0.97
2021-12-17 6h29m 7h05m 18h13m 18h48m 0.99
2021-12-18 6h30m 7h05m 18h13m 18h48m 1
2021-12-19 6h30m 7h06m 18h13m 18h49m 0.99
2021-12-20 6h31m 7h07m 18h14m 18h49m 0.96
2021-12-21 6h31m 7h07m 18h14m 18h50m 18h50m 19h11m 0.92
2021-12-22 6h32m 7h07m 18h15m 18h50m 18h50m 20h16m 0.86
2021-12-23 6h32m 7h08m 18h15m 18h51m 18h51m 21h23m 0.78
2021-12-24 6h33m 7h08m 18h16m 18h51m 18h51m 22h31m 0.7
2021-12-25 6h33m 7h09m 18h17m 18h52m 18h52m 23h40m 0.6
2021-12-26 6h34m 7h09m 18h17m 18h53m 18h53m 0.49
2021-12-27 6h34m 7h09m 18h18m 18h53m 18h53m 0h50m 0.38
2021-12-28 6h34m 7h10m 18h19m 18h54m 18h54m 2h02m 0.27
2021-12-29 6h34m 7h10m 18h19m 18h55m 18h55m 3h18m 0.18
2021-12-30 6h35m 7h10m 18h20m 18h55m 18h55m 4h38m 0.1
2021-12-31 6h35m 7h10m 18h21m 18h56m 18h56m 6h00m 0.04

Twilight calendar was generated using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

See my blog post: Twilight Zone for the definitions of the different periods of twilight here: https://bobmoler.wordpress.com/2018/09/27/.

NASA Calendar of Planetary Events

     Date     Time    Event
Dec  1  We            Venus: 41.4° E
     3  Fr   9:58 am  Moon Descending Node
     4  Sa   2:34 am  Total Solar Eclipse (Antarctica, Southern Ocean)
     4  Sa   2:43 am  New Moon
     4  Sa   5:01 am  Moon Perigee: 356800 km
     5  Su   9:25 pm  Moon South Dec.: 26.3° S
     6  Mo   7:48 pm  Moon-Venus: 1.9° N
     7  Tu   8:52 pm  Moon-Saturn: 4.2° N
     9  Th   1:07 am  Moon-Jupiter: 4.6° N
    10  Fr   8:36 pm  First Quarter
    14  Tu   1:44 am  Geminid Shower: ZHR = 120
    16  Th   7:12 pm  Moon Ascending Node
    17  Fr   9:16 pm  Moon Apogee: 406300 km
    18  Sa  11:36 pm  Full Moon
    19  Su  11:32 pm  Moon North Dec.: 26.3° N
    21  Tu   4:20 am  Moon-Pollux: 2.9° N
    21  Tu  10:59 am  Winter Solstice
    22  We   5:28 am  Moon-Beehive: 3.6° S
    22  We  10:00 am  Ursid Shower: ZHR = 10
    26  Su   9:24 pm  Last Quarter
    27  Mo   4:17 am  Mars-Antares: 4.5° N
    28  Tu  11:49 pm  Mercury-Venus: 4.2° N
    30  Th   8:07 pm  Moon Descending Node
    31  Fr   3:13 pm  Moon-Mars: 0.9° N

All event times are given for UTC-5 Eastern Standard Time.

Sky Events Calendar by Fred Espenak and Sumit Dutta (NASA’s GSFC),
http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SKYCAL/SKYCAL.html.

If you go to the above site, you can print out a list like the above for the entire year or calendar pages for your time zone.

Sun and Moon Rising and Setting Events

LU                  Ephemeris of Sky Events for Interlochen/TC
December, 2021    Local time zone: EST
+-----------------------------------------------------------------------+
| DATE |  SUN     SUN  DAYLIGHT|   TWILIGHT*    |MOON  RISE OR    ILLUM |
|      |  RISE    SET    HOURS |  END    START  |PHASE SET** TIME FRACTN|
+=======================================================================+
|Wed  1| 08:00a  05:03p  09:03 | 06:12p  06:50a |      Rise 05:45a    8%|
|Thu  2| 08:01a  05:03p  09:01 | 06:12p  06:51a |      Rise 07:09a    3%|
|Fri  3| 08:02a  05:02p  09:00 | 06:12p  06:52a |      Rise 08:33a    0%|
|Sat  4| 08:03a  05:02p  08:59 | 06:12p  06:53a |New   Set  05:18p    1%|
+------+-----------------------+----------------+-----------------------+
|Sun  5| 08:04a  05:02p  08:57 | 06:12p  06:54a |      Set  06:17p    4%|
|Mon  6| 08:05a  05:02p  08:56 | 06:12p  06:55a |      Set  07:27p   11%|
|Tue  7| 08:06a  05:02p  08:55 | 06:12p  06:56a |      Set  08:43p   19%|
|Wed  8| 08:07a  05:02p  08:54 | 06:12p  06:57a |      Set  10:00p   28%|
|Thu  9| 08:08a  05:02p  08:53 | 06:12p  06:58a |      Set  11:14p   39%|
|Fri 10| 08:09a  05:02p  08:52 | 06:12p  06:59a |F Qtr Set  12:25a   49%|
|Sat 11| 08:10a  05:02p  08:51 | 06:12p  06:59a |      Set  01:32a   60%|
+------+-----------------------+----------------+-----------------------+
|Sun 12| 08:11a  05:02p  08:51 | 06:12p  07:00a |      Set  02:37a   69%|
|Mon 13| 08:11a  05:02p  08:50 | 06:12p  07:01a |      Set  03:41a   78%|
|Tue 14| 08:12a  05:02p  08:49 | 06:13p  07:02a |      Set  04:45a   85%|
|Wed 15| 08:13a  05:02p  08:49 | 06:13p  07:02a |      Set  05:50a   91%|
|Thu 16| 08:14a  05:03p  08:49 | 06:13p  07:03a |      Set  06:53a   96%|
|Fri 17| 08:14a  05:03p  08:48 | 06:14p  07:04a |      Set  07:56a   99%|
|Sat 18| 08:15a  05:03p  08:48 | 06:14p  07:04a |Full  Rise 04:34p  100%|
+------+-----------------------+----------------+-----------------------+
|Sun 19| 08:16a  05:04p  08:48 | 06:14p  07:05a |      Rise 05:19p   99%|
|Mon 20| 08:16a  05:04p  08:48 | 06:15p  07:05a |      Rise 06:12p   97%|
|Tue 21| 08:17a  05:05p  08:48 | 06:15p  07:06a |      Rise 07:11p   93%|
|Wed 22| 08:17a  05:05p  08:48 | 06:16p  07:06a |      Rise 08:16p   87%|
|Thu 23| 08:18a  05:06p  08:48 | 06:16p  07:07a |      Rise 09:23p   80%|
|Fri 24| 08:18a  05:06p  08:48 | 06:17p  07:07a |      Rise 10:31p   71%|
|Sat 25| 08:18a  05:07p  08:48 | 06:18p  07:08a |      Rise 11:40p   62%|
+------+-----------------------+----------------+-----------------------+
|Sun 26| 08:19a  05:08p  08:49 | 06:18p  07:08a |L Qtr Rise 12:50a   51%|
|Mon 27| 08:19a  05:08p  08:49 | 06:19p  07:08a |      Rise 02:02a   40%|
|Tue 28| 08:19a  05:09p  08:50 | 06:20p  07:09a |      Rise 03:18a   30%|
|Wed 29| 08:19a  05:10p  08:50 | 06:20p  07:09a |      Rise 04:37a   20%|
|Thu 30| 08:19a  05:11p  08:51 | 06:21p  07:09a |      Rise 06:00a   11%|
|Fri 31| 08:20a  05:12p  08:52 | 06:22p  07:09a |      Rise 07:20a    5%|
+-----------------------------------------------------------------------+
* Nautical Twilight
** Moonrise or moonset, whichever occurs between sunrise and sunset

Generated using my LookingUp for DOS program.

Comet Leonard

Comet 2021 A1 Leonard in the morning Dec 2021

Comet Leonard’s positions at 6:30 am on the dates indicated. The labels are Month-Day Total Magnitude. The star’s position relative to the horizon and the position of Mars are for November 27th. The star field will be shifting to the upper right each morning at 6:30 from the November 27th date. Comets always appear dimmer than their magnitude suggests because they are extended objects, not points like stars. Also, comet magnitudes can be unpredictable. Plus, the comet tails will not appear as long. The tail may not actually be visible visually. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts). Reprinted from my article in the December 2021 issue of the Stellar Sentinel, the newsletter for the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society.

This is our best shot at spotting the comet. After it passes the Sun and enters the evening sky, the comet will hug the southwest to southern horizon in twilight. I’ll have more on Comet Leonard in the rest of the programs this week.

11/29/2021 – Ephemeris – Orion is rising in the evening sky

November 29, 2021 Leave a comment

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Monday, November 29th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 6 minutes, setting at 5:04, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:59. The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 3:07 tomorrow morning.

In the east, the central winter constellation Orion the hunter throws a leg over the horizon between 8 and 9 p.m. as Robert Frost told in his poem Star-Splitter. The upright rectangle that is his body on December evenings is tilted to the left as he rises, with a bright red star Betelgeuse at the top left of the rectangle, his shoulder. At the opposite corner is blue-white Rigel, a knee. In the center of the rectangle is a line of three stars nearly vertically aligned as he rises, which represents Orion’s belt. The Anishinaabe native peoples of this area call him the Wintermaker. His rising in the evening heralds the coming of winter.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Orion and Wintermaker rising animation

The stars of Orion and Wintermaker rising in this 4-step animation: Stars only, Western constellation lines and bright star names, Western constellation figure, Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) constellation figure. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

11/26/2021 – Ephemeris – Native American Heritage Day

November 26, 2021 Leave a comment

This is Ephemeris for Native American Heritage Day, Friday, November 26th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 11 minutes, setting at 5:05, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:55. The Moon, 1 day before last quarter, will rise at 11:33 this evening.

It’s also Black Friday, the day retail stores theoretically make it into the black, profit-wise. When looking at the sky and the few constellations of the native Anishinaabe people of our area, I am saddened there aren’t more of them. There were heroes, warriors, animals, fantastic and real, just like the Greek ones we learned of the European world. But they were lost in the attempted assimilation of these people into white society. It’s like the Borg of Star Trek: “You will be assimilated”. The atrocities of the Indian boarding schools are slowly coming to light, while certain powerful people want all the racial unpleasantness swept under the rug.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Anishinaabe November Sky

The Anishinaabe November Sky. Clockwise (sort of) from the top or North. The Fisher (Big Dipper); Loon (Little Dipper); Exhausted Bather (Hercules), in the northwest; high in the west, the Crane (Cygnus); nearly overhead, the Moose (Pegasus); and in the east the Wintermaker (Orion). Click on the image to enlarge it. Created using Stellarium. The Anishinaabe constellation drawings are from Ojibwe Sky Star Map Constellation Guide by Annette S. Lee, William Wilson, Jeffrey Tibbets and Carl Gawboy available locally and online. They are part of the latest editions of Stellarium, a free planetarium program. Links to it are on the right. Other information and links are available within Stellarium.

11/25/2021 – Ephemeris – Happy Thanksgiving

November 25, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 25th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 13 minutes, setting at 5:06, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:54. The Moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 10:24 this evening.

We are regaled with stories of the first Thanksgiving dinner between the Native Americans and the Pilgrims. The Mayflower was headed for the Virginia Colony but were diverted by a storm. Their first landfall in the New World was Newfoundland, where they picked up supplies. Intending to head south to Virginia, the passage became too hazardous, so they put into Cape Cod, where they stayed. Back in those days, the ship’s position was determined rather crudely. Latitude was measured by the height of the north star at night and the sun at noon. Distance and speed were measured with a log thrown overboard with a rope with knots on it. The knots counted over a period of time gave the ship’s speed and distance, which was recorded in a “log” book.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). Times may be different for your location.

Addendum

Mayflower

Credit: Scholastic

Categories: History Tags: ,

11/24/2021 – Ephemeris – Let’s search for the naked-eye planets for this week

November 24, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Wednesday, November 24th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 15 minutes, setting at 5:07, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:53. The Moon, 3 days before last quarter, will rise at 9:19 this evening.

Let’s search for the naked-eye planets for this week. Venus will be visible in the southwestern evening twilight by 5:30 tonight. It’s a fat crescent in telescopes. Venus will set at 7:49 pm. By 5:45 pm, both Jupiter and Saturn should be able to be spotted in the southern sky. Saturn will be dimmer, and to its right. It will set first at 9:54 pm, with Jupiter following at 11:19 pm. Saturn’s rings are a beautiful sight in a telescope of even modest power, but the planet will appear tiny. Jupiter, however, is still quite large, in binoculars it might seem that it only has two moons tonight, since Io and Europa are together on one side, and Ganymede and Callisto are together on the other side.

The astronomical event times given above and below are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Evening Planets in twilight

The evening planets Venus, Saturn and Jupiter at 5:45 pm this evening, November 24, 2021. Created using Stellarium.

Binocular Moon

The Moon as it might appear in binoculars or small telescope, tomorrow morning, November 25, 2021. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic views of the naked-eye planets

Telescopic views of the bright planets (north up) as they would be seen in a small telescope, with the same magnification, this evening at 7 pm, November 24, 2021. Apparent diameters: Venus, 35.32″, 33.4% illuminated; Saturn 16.15″, its rings 37.61″; Jupiter, 39.07″. The ” symbol means seconds of arc (1/3600th of a degree.) Click on the image to enlarge it. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Planets and the Moon on a single night

The naked-eye planets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise on a single night, starting with sunset on the right on November 24, 2021. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 25th. Click on the image to enlarge it. Created using my LookingUp program.

 

 

11/23/2021 – Ephemeris – NASA to launch a mission to crash into an asteroid overnight tonight

November 23, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, November 23rd. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 17 minutes, setting at 5:07, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:51. The Moon, half-way from full to last quarter, will rise at 8:17 this evening.

As of last Sunday night, it was GO for launch of NASA’s DART Mission at 1:21 am Eastern Standard Time tomorrow morning on a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base. DART stands for Double Asteroid Redirection Test. The DART spacecraft is to smash into a small asteroid named Dimorphos, that slowly orbits another somewhat larger asteroid, Didymos. Dimorphos orbits at only 7 inches per second, so even the smallest impact should alter the orbit noticeably. About a week before the planned collision, DART will release a small CubeSat to arrive 3 minutes after the collision to survey the crash site. In 2024 the European Space Agency will launch a satellite to survey the asteroid pair and note any long-term effects, to see if this technique for diverting asteroids is feasible.

Addendum

DART at Didymos and Dimorphos to scale

DART spacecraft with Dimorphos and Didymos. The DART spacecraft is not to scale with the asteroids. See below. CREDIT: NASA/JHUAPL

Dart and asteroids to scale

Dart and asteroids to scale with terrestrial landmarks. Credit: NASA/JHUAPL

11/19/2021 – Ephemeris – The Earth is being stalked by an asteroid

November 19, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Friday, November 19th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 25 minutes, setting at 5:10, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:46. The Moon, at full today, will rise at 5:23 this evening.

We’re being stalked by an asteroid. Its name is, and I’m not going to say it twice: Kamo`oalewa or 2016 HO3 for short. It was discovered with the Pan-STARRS telescope at Haleakala on Maui on April 27, 2016. Which explains the name. It’s Hawaiian for something that oscillates. It’ll make big circles in the evening sky for a while, then it will retreat while the Earth moves ahead of it and almost overtakes it. It will oscillate in the morning sky for a while, I mean years. Then it will head around the Earth’s orbit and go back to the evening or trailing part of the orbit and the sky and do it all over. It never seems to get closer than 5 million miles away. Some astronomers think it might be a chunk of the Moon blasted off by an asteroid impact.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

2016HO3 (Kamo`oalewa) orbit

Kamo`oalewa (2016 HO3) orbit around the Sun, and shows how it interacts with the Earth. Credit: NASA/JPL.

Check out all the weirdness that is Kamo’oalewa here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/469219_Kamo’oalewa.

11/18/2021 – Ephemeris – An almost total eclipse of the Moon will be visible early tomorrow morning

November 18, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Thursday, November 18th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 27 minutes, setting at 5:11, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:45. The Moon, 1 day before full, will set at 7:58 tomorrow morning.

Should our normal November clouds depart in the early morning hours tomorrow, we will be treated with a very deep partial eclipse of the Moon. At 4:03 am, the Moon will be 97% immersed into the Earth’s inner shadow, with lower left edge peeking out into sunlight. I haven’t heard of any massive volcanic eruptions in our Southern Hemisphere, so the light leaking and bent though the Earth’s atmosphere from all the simultaneous sunrises and sunsets during the eclipse won’t be too diminished and give us a coppery hue in the shadow. The shadow will touch the Moon at its top edge at 2:19 am. The maximum will occur at 4:03 am, and the last bit of the shadow will depart at the lower right edge of the Moon at 5:47 am.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Partial Lunar Eclipse 11/19/21 4:05 EST maximum

November 19, 2021, partial lunar eclipse maximum at 4:05 am EST. Orientation of the Moon and shadow could be different if not viewing from Northern Michigan. Created using Stellarium.

Lunar Eclipse Diagram

Lunar Eclipse Diagram for November 19, 2021. Effects of the eclipse on the Moon at P1 and P4 are not visible. U1 is the Moon at the beginning of the partial eclipse. U4 is the Moon at the end of the partial eclipse. A duskiness on the Moon’s face on the side closest to the umbral shadow will be visible just before and after the partial eclipse. Note that this diagram is not at the same orientation that an observer might experience. Created from a NASA PDF document on the NASA Eclipse Website. https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse.html.

11/17/2021 – Ephemeris – Let’s search for the naked-eye planets for this week

November 17, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Wednesday, November 17th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 29 minutes, setting at 5:12, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:44. The Moon, 2 days before full, will set at 6:54 tomorrow morning.

Let’s search for the naked-eye planets for this week. Venus will be visible in the southwestern evening twilight by 5:30 tonight. It’s a fat crescent in telescopes. Venus will set at 7:48 pm. By 5:45 pm, both Jupiter and Saturn should be able to be spotted in the southern sky. Saturn will be dimmer, and to its right. It will set first at 10:19 pm, with Jupiter following at 11:42 pm. Saturn’s rings are a beautiful sight in a telescope of even modest power, but the planet will appear tiny. Jupiter, however, is still quite large, and its four biggest moons are spread out and might all be glimpsed in binoculars. In the morning sky, Mars is starting to make its appearance, rising at 6:33. Binoculars might be able to pick it out low in the east-southeast until 7:15 am.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Evening Planets in twilight

The evening planets Venus, Saturn and Jupiter at 5:45 pm this evening, November 17, 2021. Created using Stellarium.

The Moon in binoculars or small telescope

The Moon in binoculars or small telescope as it might appear tonight, November 17, 2021. Created using Stellarium.

Mars in morning twilight

Mars in twilight, tomorrow morning at 7 am, November 18, 2021. Create using Stellarium.

Telescopic views of the naked-eye planets

Telescopic views of the bright planets (north up) as they would be seen in a small telescope, with the same magnification, this evening at 7 pm, November 17, 2021. Apparent diameters: Venus, 31.89″, 38.3% illuminated; Saturn 16.32″, its rings 38.01″; Jupiter, 39.95″. Mars in the morning is not shown, but is 3.70″ in diameter. The ” symbol means seconds of arc (1/3600th of a degree.) Click on the image to enlarge it. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

In the image above, Jupiter’s moon Europa is shown. Actually, before 7:03 pm, it will be hidden in Jupiter’s shadow. Watching it appear is kind of cool. Eclipses of Jupiter’s moons happen all the time. The information for the satellite events is published in Sky and Telescope Magazine. Also tonight, farther to the west, farther out than Ganymede, is the star 45 Capricorni, about the same brightness as the Jovian moons, and nearly in line with them. Don’t mistake it for one of the moons, especially before Europa appears.

Planets and the Moon on a single night

The naked-eye planets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise on a single night, starting with sunset on the right on November 17, 2021. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 18th. Click on the image to enlarge it. Created using my LookingUp program.

11/16/2021 – Ephemeris – How China retrieved a sample from the Moon, and what Chang’e 5 is up to next

November 16, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, November 16th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 31 minutes, setting at 5:13, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:42. The Moon, 3 days before full, will set at 5:49 tomorrow morning.

China’s Chang’e sample return mission of late last year was quite a feat. The spacecraft had an orbiter that orbited the Moon, and sent a lander with an ascent rocket. After the lander secured its samples, it put them in the ascent rocket, which launched back up to the orbiter. The samples were placed in a reentry capsule attached to the orbiter, which left the Moon’s orbit and headed back to the Earth. Near Earth, it ejected the reentry capsule and swung past Earth and headed out to the Earth-Sun Lagrangian point 1 between the Earth and Sun. There are already several satellites in halo orbits around L1, because it’s a great spot to be to study the Sun unobstructed by the Earth, and detect Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) about an hour before they reach Earth. NASA, NOAA and the European Space Agency all have satellites out there.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Chang'e 5 Descent Capsule

Chang’e 5 Descent Capsule lands. It looks like a miniature Russian Soyuz Descent capsule. Credit Chinese Space Agency via Global Times.

Earth-Sun Lagrangian Points

Earth-Sun Lagrangian Points. These are where a small body can stay. L1, 2 and 3 are unstable, so some little effort is needed to keep a spacecraft near there. L4 and L5 are stable. Source: Wikimedia Commons, Xander89. Click to enlarge.