11/21/2017 – Ephemeris – The constellation of the fish has me looking for the fish

November 21, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Tuesday, November 21st. The Sun will rise at 7:47. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 21 minutes, setting at 5:09. The Moon, 3 days past new, will set at 7:50 this evening.

High in the south at 8 or 9 p.m. are the four bright stars of the Great Square of Pegasus, the upside down flying horse. Lying along the left and bottom sides of that square is the constellation of Pisces the fish, one of the 12 constellations of the Zodiac that lie along the path of the sun, moon and planets. Even though the constellation is called the fish, the two fish themselves are not represented in the stars, at least that’s how I see it. What can be traced in the stars is the rope, that’s tied to their tails, anchored at the extreme southeastern part of the constellation. The right or western end of the Pisces is the asterism, or informal constellation, of the Circlet. It’s the loop of 5 stars, the rope around the tail of one of the two fish. The other end, without a loop, ends up under Andromeda.  Artists have always supplied the fish.

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

Addendum

Pisces finder chart

Animated Pisces finder chart base at November 21, at 9 p.m. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

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11/20/2017 – Ephemeris – The Moon is near Saturn tonight and the approaching signs of winter

November 20, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Monday, November 20th. The Sun will rise at 7:46. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 23 minutes, setting at 5:09. The Moon, 2 days past new, will set at 7:04 this evening.

Tonight the two day old Moon will appear near Saturn. The ringed planet will appear to the left and a bit below the thin crescent Moon before they set about an hour later. The approaching winter season and the resumption of standard time have dropped sunset to 5:09 in the Interlochen/Traverse City area. Our sunset will drop another 11 minutes before slowly recovering 19 days from now. Two to three hours later another sign of the approaching winter season will appear, as the constellation of the giant hunter Orion rises in the east. He is resplendent with his nearly vertical belt of three stars rising, framed to the left and right by the bright stars reddish Betelgeuse and bluish Rigel. He will dominate our evening skies until April.

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

Addendum

Saturn and the Moon

The Moon and Saturn at 6 p.m. November 20, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Orion rising

Finder chart for the rising Orion at 9 p.m., November 30, 2017. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

11/17/2017 – Ephemeris – Capricornus the sea-goat

November 17, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Friday, November 17th. The Sun will rise at 7:42. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 30 minutes, setting at 5:12. The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 7:34 tomorrow morning.

This morning, if it’s clear the exceedingly thin crescent Moon will appear to the right of Venus at 7 a.m. or later with Jupiter above them. This evening, however we look to the constellation Capricornus the sea-goat and member of the Zodiac. 2000 years ago the southernmost of the constellations of the zodiac was Capricornus. 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, has that honor today. Capricornus is 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 low in the southwest at 8 p.m. and tilted a bit from the upper left to the lower right 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.

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

Addendum

Jupiter-Venus-Moon

Jupiter, Venus and the Moon at 7 a.m. November 17, 2017. Created using Stellarium. The Moon’s crescent is too thin to record, however the earth shine glow is and will be visible.

Capricornus

Animated Capricornus finder chart for 9 p.m. November 17, 2017. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

11/16/2017 – Ephemeris – The Leonid meteors will reach their peak numbers tonight and tomorrow

November 16, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, November 16th. The Sun will rise at 7:40. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 32 minutes, setting at 5:13. The Moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 6:33 tomorrow morning.

The Famous Leonid meteor shower, which has had spectacular displays about every 33 years is forecast to reach two peaks this year, near noon our time, today and tomorrow. So the numbers of meteors, forecast during those peaks, of about 10 per hour near dawn our time probably won’t pan out, but you never know. None of these meteors will be seen before midnight. The last great 33 year peak was in 1998, so we’re a ways away from the next one. The responsible body for these meteors is the comet Tempel-Tuttle. Every time the comet passes through the inner solar system the sun’s heat liberates gas, dust and small grains of rock. These small grains end up in close orbits to the comet, and like the comet, return again and again.

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

Addendum

Leonid radiant

Leonid Meteor Shower Radiant finder chart fir 6 a.m., November 17, 2017. Click on image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium ans GIMP.

Note that there is another meteor shower radiant in the image, below the star Procyon.  It’s the Alpha Monocerotids.  It will reach its peak on the 21st. with an expected zenithal hourly rate (ZHR) of only 5 meteors an hour.  By the way the zenithal hourly rate is the expected rate if the radiant was directly overhead, at the zenith.  In 1995 this shower had for five minutes an estimated ZHR of 460, which was within a 30 minute outburst.  The next big outburst isn’t expected until 2043, but not very much is known about this meteor shower.   So keep an eye out, it could surprise us.

The radiant point wasn’t well known before the 1995 outburst, when it was thought to be closer to α Monocerotis, the unnamed bottom star in Monoceros the unicorn.  There was a meteor shower called the Monocerotids listed before this shower was identified.  So even though the radiant is actually in Canis Minor we are stuck with its name.

Much of the above information comes from the International Meteor Organization 2017 Meteor Shower Calendar.  This and next years calendars are located at https://www.imo.net/resources/calendar/.

11/15/2017 – Ephemeris – All the bright planets are visible for observers at both dusk and dawn

November 15, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Wednesday, November 15th. The Sun will rise at 7:39. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 34 minutes, setting at 5:14. The Moon, 3 days before new, will rise at 5:32 tomorrow morning.

Let’s take our weekly look at the bright planets. Mercury is briefly visible in binoculars in the southwest in the evening, setting at 6:06 p.m., and will reach it’s greatest elongation from the Sun in 8 days. Saturn is sinking low in the southwestern sky. Saturn’s rings are still spectacular in telescopes, but since Saturn is so low in the sky the thick atmosphere makes Saturn fuzzy and seemingly to go in and out of focus. Saturn will set at 7:12 p.m. Tomorrow in the morning sky, Mars, heading away from the Sun will rise in the east at 4:16 a.m., Jupiter, also moving away from the Sun, will rise at in the east-southeast at 6:14, leaving Venus behind after their conjunction two days ago, which will rise at 6:30.

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

Addendum

Evening Planets

Saturn and Mercury very low in the southwest at 6:45p.m. November 15, 2017. That’s about half an hour after sunset. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

Tlescopic Saturn

Saturn and its brightest moon Titan in the evening November 15, 2017. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Morning Planets

Mars Jupiter Venus and the Moon at 7 a.m., November 16, 2017. The Moon is actually a thin crescent as seen below. Created using Stellarium.

The Moon

The Moon as it might be seen in binoculars. This was created using Hallo Northern Sky. However it doesn’t show earth shine that should easily be seen in binoculars.

Planets and the Moon on a single night

Planets at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on November 15, 2017. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 16th. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

11/14/2017 – Ephemeris – The constellation of Perseus the hero

November 14, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Tuesday, November 14th. The Sun will rise at 7:38. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 37 minutes, setting at 5:15. The Moon, half way from last quarter to new, will rise at 4:29 tomorrow morning.

About half way up from the east northeastern horizon to the zenith at 9 p.m. and below the letter W shaped constellation of Cassiopeia the queen is Perseus the hero. It’s kind of an odd shape for a hero, To me it looks like a maybe the cartoon road runner running along the road. To those who’s imagination doesn’t run to Loony Tunes, its shape is also like the Greek letter pi. It’s two brightest stars are Mirfak and Algol the demon star. Look at the area around Mirfak with binoculars and you will see a large group of stars just below naked eye visibility. It’s called the Alpha Persei association. That because Mirfak is Alpha Persei. The group is about 557 light years away, which means, is quite close, but farther away than the Pleiades, below and right of them.

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

Addendum

Perseus with Cassiopeia and Andromeda in the northeast at 9 p.m. October 20, 2016. Created using Stellarium and GIMP

Perseus with Cassiopeia and Andromeda in the northeast at 9 p.m.  Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

11/13/2017 – Ephemeris – Close conjunction of Venus and Jupiter is visible this morning

November 13, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Monday, November 13th. The Sun will rise at 7:36. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 39 minutes, setting at 5:16. The Moon, 3 days past last quarter, will rise at 3:26 tomorrow morning.

This morning the planets Venus and Jupiter will appear a bit less than the moon apart after rising at 6:22 a.m. Venus is heading back to the Sun, actually around the back of the Sun. Jupiter is separating itself from the Sun. The velocity of a planet in its orbit decreases the farther from the Sun it is. This was discovered by Johannes Kepler back in he 17th century. Venus is closer to the Sun than the Earth, so after it passed the Earth back on March 25th passing between us and the Sun. It moved ahead of us reaching its greatest western separation from the Sun on June 3rd, is now heading around the bend, so to speak, behind the Sun, on January 9th. The Earth moves faster than Jupiter, so it is appearing to move away from the Sun.

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

Addendum

Venus and Jupiter in conjunction

Venus and Jupiter in conjunction at 7 a.m. November 13, 2017. Venus will be 6 times brighter than Jupiter. They will appear half the width of the Moon apart. Created using Stellarium