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Archive for June, 2014

06/19/2014 – Ephemeris – The constellation Hercules

June 19, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, June 19th.  Today the sun will be up for 15 hours and 33 minutes, setting at 9:30.   The moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 1:50 tomorrow morning.  Tomorrow the sun will rise at 5:57.

Orion, the hard luck Greek hunter gets a splashy constellation in the winter sky, but the greatest hero of all, Hercules, gets a dim group of stars on the border between the spring and summer stars.  At 11 p.m. Hercules is high in the southeast.  It is located above and right of the bright star, Vega in the east.  Hercules’ central feature is a keystone shaped box of stars, called the Keystone, which represents the old boy’s shorts.  From each top corner extend lines of stars that are his legs, from the bottom stars, the rest of his torso and arms extend.  So in one final indignity he’s upside down in our sky. Some see him crouched down, club upraised holding the Hydra about to throttle it.  [For those with a telescope it contains the beautiful globular star cluster M13.]

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

Addendum

The constellation Hercules and his neighbors.

The constellation Hercules and his neighbors. Created with Stellarium.

On Tuesday I mentioned that for the Anishinabek people around the Great Lakes, Corona Borealis is a Sweat Lodge.  Incidentally the Pleiades, only seen in the sky at the same time as Corona Borealis on autumn evenings on opposite ends of the sky, are the seven stones of the Sweat Lodge ceremony.  The stars of Hercules represents one poor fellow, who couldn’t stand the heat of the sweat lodge and is splayed on the snow near by.

M13

M13, the Great Globular Star Cluster in Hercules. Credit: Scott Anttila

 

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06/18/2014 – Ephemeris – The bright planets for this week

June 18, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Wednesday, June 18th.  Today the sun will be up for 15 hours and 33 minutes, setting at 9:30.   The moon, 1 day before last quarter, will rise at 1:18 tomorrow morning.  Tomorrow the sun will rise at 5:56.

It’s Wednesday and once again time to locate the bright planets for this week.   Brilliant Jupiter will be in the west-northwestern sky in Gemini as darkness falls tonight.  It’s getting lower each night and will set at 11:13 p.m. tonight.  Reddish Mars is in Virgo in the southwest as darkness falls.  It’s 83 million miles (135 million km) away now, and will set at 2:25 a.m.  Saturn will be low in the south-southeast as darkness falls.  It’s in the faint constellation of Libra the scales this year.  It will pass due south at 10:57 p.m.  It will set at 3:59 a.m.  Saturn’s in perfect position for viewing with a small or large telescope.  Brilliant Venus will rise in the east at 4:10 a.m. in morning twilight.

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

Addendum

Evening Planets

The bright evening planets and stars at 10:30 p.m., June 18, 2014. Created using Stellarium.

Jupiter

Jupiter and moons in a telescope on June 18, 2014. Due to the low altitude of Jupiter not all the moons may be visible and Jupiter will suffer color fringes due to atmospheric dispersion. Created using Stellarium.

Mars

Mars through a telescope on June 18, 2018. Note that Mars is not fully illuminated, and appears as a gibbous disc. This effect will increase for another month. Created using Stellarium.

Saturn

Saturn and its moons through a telescope on June 18, 2018. Titan is easy to spot, the other moons will be more difficult. Created using Stellarium.

Venus and the Moon

Venus and the Moon at 4:30 a.m. on June 19, 2014. Created using Stellarium.

Moon

The Moon as seen in binoculars on June 19, 2014. Created using Stellarium.

Venus

Venus as seen in a telescope on June 19, 2014. Created using Stellarium.

06/17/2014 – Ephemeris – The constellation Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown

June 17, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, June 17th.  Today the sun will be up for 15 hours and 33 minutes, setting at 9:30.   The moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 12:46 tomorrow morning.  Tomorrow the sun will rise at 5:56.

High in the south at 11 p.m. can be found a small but easily spotted constellation of Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown.  It is located just east or left of the kite shaped constellation of Boötes, with its bright star Arcturus at the base.  The Northern Crown is a semicircle of stars, like a tiara, with a brighter star Gemma at the bottom.  Despite the obvious allusion of stars to diamonds and the sound of the star’s name, this is not a gem studded crown.  Gemma means blossom, so Corona Borealis may represent a floral crown.  According to Greek mythology it belonged to Princess Ariadne, daughter of King Minos of Crete.  She was abandoned by Theseus, whom she helped out of the Labyrinth of the Minotaur.

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

Addendum

Corona Borealis with Boötes

Corona Borealis with Boötes. Created with Stellarium.

For the Anishinabek peoples around the Great Lakes, Corona Borealis is a Sweat Lodge.

06/16/2014 – Ephemeris – Dates of the earliest sunrise and latest sunset

June 16, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, June 16th.  Today the sun will be up for 15 hours and 33 minutes, setting at 9:29.   The moon, half way from full to last quarter, will rise at 12:11 tomorrow morning.  Tomorrow the sun will rise at 5:56.

Yesterday saw the earliest sunrise for the year.  My sunrise times will start to show a change on Thursday.  The day-to-day change in sunrise times are now a few seconds.  The summer solstice, or longest day will be this Saturday, and the latest sunset won’t occur until next week Thursday.  The reason these dates don’t coincide has to do with the tilt of the earth’s axis and the earth’s slightly elliptical path around the sun.  Actually the disparity between these dates is more pronounced at the winter solstice when the Earth is closer to the sun and moving faster.  Yup, the sun is farther away now than it was in December.  Actually we’re moving slower now, so summer lasts a few days longer than winter.

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

 

06/13/2014 – Ephemeris – Saturn’s Rings and the Cassini Division

June 13, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, June 13th.  Today the sun will be up for 15 hours and 31 minutes, setting at 9:28.   The moon, at full today, will rise at 9:54 this evening.  Tomorrow the sun will rise at 5:56.

Saturn rings are the wonder of the solar system.  While we know that Saturn isn’t the only planet with rings.  Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune have them plus at least one asteroid.  Nowhere are they as grand as at Saturn.  The rings actually outshine the planet.  Now they are opening to their widest extent, and will continue to open a bit more until 2017, before closing again for 7 ½ years.  Last Friday during the star party at Northwestern Michigan College’s Rogers Observatory, I was able to spot the break in the rings called Cassini’s Division.  It’s caused by the orbital resonance of the moon Mimas and the ring particles at that distance from Saturn.  Mimas orbits Saturn once to the ring particles at the division orbiting twice.

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

Addendum

Saturn and rings

Saturn and rings from the Cassini spacecraft, plus the aurora oval in ultraviolet. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

06/12/2014 – Ephemeris – Jupiter is making up for lost time and is heading rapidly eastward

June 12, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, June 12th.  Today the sun will be up for 15 hours and 31 minutes, setting at 9:28.   The moon, 1 day before full, will set at 6:38 tomorrow morning.  Tomorrow the sun will rise at 5:56.

The planet Jupiter which is the brilliant star-like object in the west is starting to pick up its eastward motion in the stars.  Several months ago as the earth was passing Jupiter when it was rising in the east at sunset, it had stopped its eastward motion against the stars and headed westward.  This retrograde motion was due to Earth in essence passing the slower moving Jupiter.  Now that it’s on the other side of the sun Jupiter is making up for lost time because it and Earth are now moving in opposite directions.  This I see in the week to week setting times of Jupiter.  Stars rise and set 4 minutes earlier each night.  For Jupiter its down to three minutes, meaning it’s moving eastward.  When we see it again in December it will have blown past Cancer to Leo, but it will later backtrack into Cancer.

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

Addendum

Jupiter in the next 180 days

Jupiter’s apparent motion over the next 180 days. Note by December Jupiter will slow and will begin its retrograde loop as the Earth catches up with it again. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

06/11/2014 – Ephemeris – It’s 11 p.m., do you know where your bright planets are?

June 11, 2014 Comments off

Actually yes we do.  Three are visible at 11 p.m., One, Mercury is MIA too close to the sun to be seen.  And the 5th bright planet is a morning person planet.  Uranus and Neptune are beyond the scope of this radio program.  Well, on with the transcript:

Ephemeris for Wednesday, June 11th.  Today the sun will be up for 15 hours and 30 minutes, setting at 9:27.   The moon, 2 days before full, will set at 5:40 tomorrow morning.  Tomorrow the sun will rise at 5:56.

It’s Wednesday and once again time to locate the bright planets for this week.   We have lost Mercury to the bright twilight glow, and the fact that it’s getting dimmer as a crescent.  Brilliant Jupiter will be in the western sky in Gemini as darkness falls tonight.  It’s getting lower each night and will set at 11:36 p.m. tonight.  Reddish Mars is in Virgo in the south-southwest as darkness falls.  It’s 80 million miles (128 million km) away now, and moving away, and will set at 2:49 a.m.  Saturn will be low in the southeast as darkness falls.  It’s in the faint constellation of Libra the scales this year.  It will pass due south at 11:26 p.m.  Brilliant Venus will rise in the east at 4:14 a.m. in morning twilight.

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

Addendum

Evening Planets

The evening planets at 11 p.m. on June 11, 2014. Created using Stellarium.

Jupiter

Jupiter and moons at 10 p.m., June 11, 2014 Callisto is in Jupiter’s shadow and wont emerge until 11:09 p.m. when Jupiter will be less than 5 degrees above the horizon in Michigan. Created using Stellarium.

Mars

Mars through a telescope at 11 p.m., June 11, 2014. The large dark feature Syrtis Major is rotating onto the Earth side face of the planet from the left. Created using Stellarium.

Saturn

Saturn and some of its brighter moons at 11 p.m. June 11, 2014. The moon Titan can be seen in small telescopes, but larger scopes may be necessary to pick out the other satellites. Created using Stellarium.

Moon

The Moon as seen in binoculars at 11 p.m., June 11, 2014. Created using Stellarium.

Venis in twilight

Venus in morning twilight at 5 a.m., June 12, 2014. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic Venus

A telescopic view of Venus as it would be seen at 5 a.m., June 12, 2014. Created using Stellarium.