03/30/2017 – Ephemeris – Have you ever seen zodiacal light?

March 30, 2017 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Thursday, March 30th.  The Sun will rise at 7:26.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 41 minutes, setting at 8:07.  The Moon, 3 days past new, will set at 11:23 this evening.

After you spot the moon tonight, hang around outside at the end of astronomical twilight, about 9:50 p.m. look to the west at Taurus the bull and Gemini, trying to block out the Moon.  Then broaden your gaze.  There will be a very faint triangular glow with broad base at the horizon leaning a bit to the left, with its apex near the V of the face of Taurus the bull and the bright star Aldebaran to the right of Orion.  This glow is called Zodiacal Light, caused by the reflected sunlight off a cloud of dust located in the plane of the solar system.  Most of the large bodies of the solar system orbit the sun close to a single plane.  Zodiacal Light is best seen on spring evenings and autumn mornings where it tilts to the right.

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

Addendum

Zodiacal Light and Comet Hale-Bopp April 1997

Zodiacal Light and Comet Hale-Bopp April 1997. My image.

03/29/2017 – Ephemeris – It’s Wednesday, do you know where your bright planets are?

March 29, 2017 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Wednesday, March 29th.  The Sun will rise at 7:28.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 38 minutes, setting at 8:06.  The Moon, 2 days past new, will set at 10:10 this evening.

In the evening sky tonight, replacing Venus will be the elusive planet Mercury.   This tiny planet might be seen to the upper right of the Sun’s setting point starting about 9 p.m.  It will set at 9:49 p.m.  Mars is still hanging on, in the west, and will set at 11:10 p.m.  The thin sliver of a crescent Moon is seen left of and above Mercury and Below Mars tonight.  This might be a good time to spot Earth shine on it’s night side.  Jupiter will rise in the east at 8:47 p.m. a half hour before the star Spica, which it will be seen to hang out with this year.  Jupiter will be still seen in the morning sky low in the southwest at 6 a.m.  Saturn at the same time is in the south above the Teapot figure of Sagittarius.  It will rise tomorrow at 2:33 a.m. in the east-southeast.

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

Addendum

Evening twilight planets

Mercury, Mars and the Moon low in the west at 9 p.m. March 29, 2017. Note the Moon as seen below is a thin crescent which cannot be displayed properly at this scale. Created using Stellarium.

Thin crescent Moon

The thin crescent Moon at 9 p.m. March 29, 2017. Created using Hallo Northern Sky. The program does not have the capability to show earth shine to fill out the rest of the sphere which may be detected with the naked eye or in binoculars.

Jupiter rising

Jupiter low in the east-southeast at 10 p.m. tonight, March 28, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Jupiter and its moons

Jupiter and its moons tonight March 29, 2017 at 10 p.m. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Morning planets and stars

Jupiter and Saturn with the morning constellations of summer at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning March 30, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Saturn and moons

Saturn and its moons at 6 a.m. March 30, 2017. It is shown at the same scale as Jupiter above. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Planets and Moon at sunset and sunrise of a single night

Planets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on March 29, 2017. The night ends on the left with sunrise on March 30. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

03/28/2017 – Ephemeris – Mercury is visible in the evening sky now

March 28, 2017 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Tuesday, March 28th. The Sun will rise at 7:30. It’ll be up for 12 hours and 35 minutes, setting at 8:05. The Moon, 1 day past new, will set at 8:56 this evening.

Mercury is in the evening sky now for it’s spring appearance. Mercury is best seen when it’s near its farthest from the Sun on spring evenings and autumn mornings. Mercury will reach its greatest elongation east of the Sun this coming Saturday with a 19 degree angle of separation from the Sun. This tiny planet is brighter before eastern elongating than after it. I find that the optimal time to look for Mercury is about 45 minutes after sunset. That makes it about 8:50 p.m. At that time Mercury will be low in the west only 9 degrees above the horizon. That’s a bit less than the width of a fist held at arm’s length above the lake or sea horizon, or the base of distant trees that are on your level. Mercury will be visible for about a week or so.

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

Addendum

Mercury near the western horizon at 8:50 p.m. or 45 minutes after sunset. Also shown is its orbit as it appears tonight. The Moon and Uranus are not actually visible in the twilight glare. Mars will be visible a bit later. The Moon will appear between Mercury and Mars tomorrow night. Created using Stellarium.

03/27/2017 – Ephemeris – 5 more new moons before the Great American Total Solar Eclipse!

March 27, 2017 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Monday, March 27th.  The Sun will rise at 7:32.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 31 minutes, setting at 8:04.  The Moon is new today, and won’t be visible.

The Moon will be officially new at 10:57 this evening.  Later this year there will occur at total solar eclipse visible from a narrow path the crosses the United States from Oregon to South Carolina.  It will cross the cities of Casper Wyoming, Kansas City, just south of St Louis, Carbondale, Illinois; Nashville, Columbia and Charleston South Carolina.  Carbondale is about the closest spot to us at about 600 miles.  We will see about 75-80 percent of the Sun blocked by the Moon here in northern Michigan.  The is generally a solar eclipse about every six new moons, the exception is an occasional solar eclipse on two consecutive new moons, except they will occur in opposite polar regions and are rarely total.  The Moon’s orbit is tilted by 5° to the Sun’s path.  This time the Moon is way south of the Sun.

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

Addendum

August 21, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse Path of Totality

A screen cap of the map showing the path of totality of the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse from NASA’s eclipse page. Credit: NASA and Google Maps.

The points are GE greatest eclipse, path width 71.27 miles (114.7 km); and GD greatest duration of totality, 2 minutes and 40.2 seconds.

Eclipse shadow animation

An animation of the Moon’s shadow as it will cross the Earth’s surface August 21, 2017. Credit A.T. Sinclair/NASA

NASA’s Eclipse page:  https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/

Solar Corona

The solar corona displayed during the July 10, 1072 total solar eclipse from Prince Edward Island. Credit Bob Moler.

Diamond Ring

Diamond ring at the end of totality of the total solar eclipse July 10, 1972. Credit Bob Moler.

Baily's Beads

Baily’s Beads – sunlight streaming through the valleys at the edge of the Moon at the end of totality, March 7, 1970, outside Bladenboro NC. Credit Bob Moler.

On May 5th, I’ll be giving a talk about the upcoming total solar eclipse.  How to enjoy its partial phases here and along the path of totality.

 

03/24/2017 – Ephemeris – Finding Leo

March 24, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, March 24th.  The Sun will rise at 7:37.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 22 minutes, setting at 8:00.  The Moon, 3 days before new, will rise at 6:24 tomorrow morning.

At 10 p.m. the spring constellation of Leo the lion will be high in the east-southeast.  It can be found by locating the Big Dipper high in the northeast and imagining that a hole were drilled in the bowl to let the water leak out.  It would drip on the back of this giant cat.  The Lion is standing or lying facing westward.  His head and mane are seen in the stars as a backwards question mark.  This group of stars is also called the sickle.  The bright star Regulus is at the bottom, the dot at the bottom of the question mark.  A triangle of stars, to the left of Regulus, is the lion’s haunches.  Leo contains some nice galaxies visible in moderate sized telescopes.  The stars in Leo’s part of the sky are sparser than those in the winter sky.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.
Add info on Mercury in the evening sky.

Addendum

Leaky Dipper drips on Leo.

Leaky Big Dipper drips on Leo. Created using mu LookingUp program.

Ursa Major and Leo

Ursa Major with the Big Dipper in her hind end and Leo. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

03/23/2017 – Ephemeris – a single headed Hydra

March 23, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, March 23rd.  The Sun will rise at 7:39.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 19 minutes, setting at 7:59.  The Moon, 3 days past last quarter, will rise at 5:48 tomorrow morning.

In the southern evening sky can be found the constellation of Hydra the water snake.  Unlike the mythical monster Hercules fought of the same name this Hydra has but one head, which is its most distinctive part.  At 9 p.m. look to the south.  The head of Hydra is located directly to the left of Procyon the bright star in Orion’s little dog Canis Minor, and to the right of the star Regulus in Leo.  Hydra’s head is a small distinctive group of 6 stars that make a loop and the snake’s slightly drooping head.  At that time the sinuous body of Hydra sinks below the horizon in the southeast.  As it gets later in the evening the rest of Hydra’s body will slither to just above the southeastern horizon below the planet Jupiter this year and the bright star Spica in the constellation of Virgo.

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

Addendum

Hydra

Finding Hydra animation for 9 p.m. March 23rd 2017. Created using Stellarium.  Click on image to enlarge.

03/22/2017 – Ephemeris – Wednesday is bright planet day but we seem to be missing one of them

March 22, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Wednesday, March 22nd.  The Sun will rise at 7:41.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 16 minutes, setting at 7:57.  The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 5:09 tomorrow morning.

It’s still dark enough to see the morning planets again during these Ephemeris play times.  But it won’t last.  Jupiter will be seen in the morning in the southwest above the star Spica.  It will rise tonight at 9:19 p.m. in the East.  Saturn can be glimpsed this morning above the Teapot figure of Sagittarius in the south.  It will rise tomorrow at 3 a.m. in the east-southeast.  The crescent Moon will be in the east-southeast.  In the evening sky tonight Venus is essentially gone, just 3 days from passing inferior conjunction, it might be seen to the upper right of the Sun’s setting point.  I once spotted it this close to conjunction in the bright twilight.  It will set at 8:35 p.m.  Mars is still hanging on, in the west, and will set at 11:11 p.m.

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

Addendum

Morning planets

Jupiter, Saturn and the crescent Moon at 7 a.m. this morning March 22, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Venus 15 minutes after sunset

Venus at 15 minutes after sunset on a flat horizon 3 days before inferior conjunction from 45 degrees north latitude. Venus is seen at 3 degrees, 24 minutes above the horizon and practically invisible. Mercury is getting ready for its appearance in the west next week. We will visit it in more detail on Friday.  Created using Stellarium.

Jupiter rising

Jupiter rising and the constellations of winter and spring at 10 p.m. this evening March 22, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic Jupiter

Jupiter and its moons at 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. today, March 22, 2017. orientation of Jupiter is as it appears on the sky at those times. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Saturn and its moons

Saturn and its moons at 7 a.m. March 22, 2017. It is shown at the same scale as Jupiter above. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Binocular Moon

The waning crescent Moon at 7 a.m. as it might be seen in binoculars. Created using Stellarium.

Planets and Moon at sunset and sunrise of a single night

Planets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on March 22, 2017. The night ends on the left with sunrise on March 23. Note that Venus is visible at both sunrise and sunset at least on these charts. Click on image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.