10/23/2017 – Ephemeris – The loneliest star in the sky

October 23, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Monday, October 23rd. The Sun will rise at 8:08. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 35 minutes, setting at 6:44. The Moon, half way from new to first quarter, will set at 9:27 this evening.

There’s a bright star that appears for only seven and a half hours on autumn evenings from northern Michigan. It’s appearance, low in the south at around 10:30 p.m. tonight, 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 faintness of the constellation’s other stars and location close to the horizon make the dim 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 in the south at 8 p.m. on November 15, 2012. Created using Stellarium.

Fomalhaut in the south at 9:30 p.m. on October 23, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

 

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10/20/2017 – Ephemeris – Last star party at Sleeping Bear Dunes this year is tomorrow night

October 20, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Friday, October 20th. The Sun will rise at 8:04. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 44 minutes, setting at 6:49. The Moon, 1 day past new, will set at 7:43 this evening.

A star party celebrating the 47th anniversary of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore will be held tomorrow evening, October 21 2017, starting at 8 p.m. at the Dune Climb if it’s clear. This is a change in location from some of the earlier notifications. It will be hosted by the Park Rangers and the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society. The society invites all to come, especially those with telescopes willing to share the wonders of 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. Please call 231-326-4700, ext. 5005 if in doubt about weather conditions. A decision will be made by 2 hours before the event.

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

10/19/2017 – Ephemeris – Bits of Halley’s Comet will rain down on Earth this weekend

October 19, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Thursday, October 19th. The Sun will rise at 8:03. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 47 minutes, setting at 6:50. The Moon is new today, and won’t be visible.

The Orionid meteor shower is ramping up. This is the second of two visits of bits of Halley’s* comet this year, and every year, really. These are particles shed by the comet in past visits to the inner solar system. They are pretty much evenly strewn out along its orbit. The comet itself is now out past Neptune, and will reach aphelion, its farthest distance from the Sun around 2024, poised to head back to the inner solar system in 2061. It was last spotted in 2003 when it was just inside Neptune’s orbit. Anyway the Orionid meteors will appear to come from above the left side of constellation of Orion, about where the tip of his club is. They are best seen this weekend, in the early morning sky, with a possible 20 per hour visible.
Orionid meteor shower Saturday a.m.

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

* A contemporary of Edmund Halley, Samuel Pepys,  spelled his name Hawley.  We presume he pronounced it that way.

Addendum

Orionid radiant

The Orionid meteor shower radiant at 5 a.m. October 21, 2017. The radiant rises at 11 p.m., so the meteors will be visible from then into morning twilight. Dispite the lication of the radiant, the meteors will b e seen all over the sky.  However true Orionids can be traced back to the radiant point. Created using Stellarium.

10/18/2017 – Ephemeris – Our weekly look at the naked eye planets

October 18, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Wednesday, October 18th. The Sun will rise at 8:01. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 50 minutes, setting at 6:52. The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 7:39 tomorrow morning.

Let’s take our weekly look at the bright planets. Jupiter, for all intents and purposes is gone from the evening sky. It will cross into the morning sky next week Thursday. Saturn too is sinking lower in the southwestern sky in the evening. Saturn’s rings are still spectacular in telescopes, but since Saturn is so low in the sky the turbulence of the thick atmosphere makes Saturn fuzzy and seemingly to go in and out of focus. Saturn will set at 9:52 p.m.

Tomorrow in the morning sky, Mars, heading away from the Sun will rise in the east at 5:33 a.m., Venus, is heading closer to the Sun, will rise at 6:16 in the east. Mercury has moved into the evening sky 10 days ago, but will not be easily visible even at its greatest elongation a month from now.

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

Addendum

Saturn in the evening

Saturn and the constellations of the evening tonight at 8:00 p.m., October 18, 2017. Click on the image to enlarge.  Created using Stellarium.

Saturn and moons

Saturn and its brightest moons on the evening of October 18, 2017. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Mars and Venus

Mars and Venus at 7 a.m. October 19, 2017. Create using Stellarium.

Planets and the Moon on a single night

Planets at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on October 18, 2017. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 19th. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

Categories: Ephemeris Program, Planets Tags: , ,

10/17/2017 – Ephemeris – The Fisher paints the autumn leaves red

October 17, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Tuesday, October 17th. The Sun will rise at 8:00. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 53 minutes, setting at 6:54. The Moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 6:35 tomorrow morning.

This morning, if it’s clear the red planet Mars will appear just to the right of the thin crescent Moon. Mars isn’t the only thing that’s red now. So are the maple leaves as we advance into autumn. The native Anishinaabek peoples have a story about how that came to be. Of how a magical weasel-like creature called the Fisher or 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 we see his tail swoop down to the ground where his tail paints the leaves red with his blood.

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

Addenda

The Moon and the morning planets this morning

The Mon with the morning planets

The Moon and Mars at 6:30 this morning October 17, 2017. Click on image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

At 00:21 UTC on the 18th Venus will be south of the Moon.  It will be visible from Asia.

The Fisher (Ojiig) paints the trees with the autumn colors

Autumn colors

Autumn colors. My image.

Fisher brushing his tail along the horizon

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

The constellation art is part of the latest versions of Stellarium. Ojibwe (Anishinaabek) 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.

 

 

 

10/16/2017 – Ephemeris – Andromeda, the chained princess

October 16, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Monday, October 16th. The Sun will rise at 7:59. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 56 minutes, setting at 6:55. The Moon, 3 days before new, will rise at 5:29 tomorrow morning.

The stars of the constellations Andromeda the chained princess look like they’re supposed to be the hind legs of Pegasus the flying horse which is high in the southeast at 9 p.m. Andromeda is high in the east She is seen in the sky as two diverging curved strings of stars that curve to the left and up from the leftmost star of the Great Square of Pegasus. Her predicament was caused by her boastful mother Cassiopeia, and the wrath of the god Poseidon. She was rescued by the hero Perseus, a nearby constellation, riding his steed Pegasus. Andromeda’s claim to astronomical fame is the large galaxy barely visible to the unaided eye just above the upper line of stars, the Great Andromeda Galaxy 2.5 million light years away.

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

Addendum

Andromeda and friends

Andromeda and neighboring constellations that are related to her story. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

Andromeda at 9 p.m. with the Great Andromeda Galaxy. Created using Stellarium.

Andromeda at 9 p.m. with the Great Andromeda Galaxy. Created using Stellarium.

The Great Andromeda Galaxy (M31). Image taken by Scott Anttila.

The Great Andromeda Galaxy (M31). Image taken by Scott Anttila.  It appears here more extensive than it appears visually to the naked eye or in telescopes.

10/13/2017 – Ephemeris – The bright star Regulus dips behind the Moon Sunday morning

October 13, 2017 1 comment

Note:  The original program recorded for this day was erroneous in the timing and appearance of this event.  Occurring about an hour later than reported here.  The Interlochen personnel may or may not replace the original program with the one below.  Also those who downloaded the audio from ephemeris.bjmoler.org before late Thursday night may have downloaded the incorrect mp3.

Ephemeris for Friday, October 13th. The Sun will rise at 7:55 a.m.. It’ll be up for 11 hours and 5 minutes, setting at 7:00 p.m. The Moon, 1 day past last quarter, will rise at 2:08 tomorrow morning.

On Sunday morning the Moon will pass in front of, or occult the bright star Regulus, the brightest star in Leo the lion. This will happen as morning twilight starts. Regulus will disappear at the left edge of the crescent Moon at around 5:47 a.m. A telescope or binoculars may be needed to spot Regulus. Go out at least 5 or 10 minutes early to make sure you can spot the star. Regulus will reemerge at 6:25 at the 11 o’clock position on the dark part of the Moon. Earth shine on the night side of the Moon may be bright enough to see its dark edge. Observers west of us in the United States except the northern most states west of Minnesota will also get a view. Those in specific locations in the northern tier of states will get to see Regulus just graze the north edge of the Moon.

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

Addendum

Occultation start

Occultation of Regulus by the Moon disappearance at around 5:47 a.m. for northern Michigan. Created using Stellarium.

Occultation end

Occultation of Regulus by the Moon reappearance at around 6:25 a.m. for northern Michigan. Created using Stellarium.

Occultation Map

Map showing the locations where the occultation of Regulus will be visible. For the area bounded by heavy lines the occultation will occur at night. Click on image to enlarge. Credit: Occult4 by IOTA.