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Archive for May, 2017

05/31/2017 – Ephemeris – Wednesday is bright planets day on Ephemeris

May 31, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Wednesday, May 31st. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 19 minutes, setting at 9:19, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:00. The Moon, 1 day before first quarter, will set at 2:19 tomorrow morning.

Let’s take our weekly look at the bright planets. Mars is still in the west-northwest after sunset and fading. It appears left of the bottom edge of the constellation Auriga. It will set at 10:43 p.m. Dominating the evening sky now is Jupiter in the south. The bright blue-white star Spica is seen below and left of it. In even the smallest telescopes Jupiter’s four largest moons can be seen. They shift positions night from to night and sometimes even as you watch. Jupiter will set at 4:09 a.m. Saturn can now be seen late in the evening after it rises in the east-southeast at 10:15 p.m. At 5 a.m. both Saturn and Venus will be in the morning twilight. Brilliant Venus will be low in the east tomorrow morning after rising at 4:05 a.m.

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

Addendum

Early evening planets

Mars, Jupiter and the Moon in twilight at 10 p.m., May 31, 2017. Created using Stellarium.  Click on the image to enlarge.

Jupiter and moons

Jupiter and its four Galilean moons as they might be seen in a telescope at 10 p.m,. May 31, 2017. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Binocular Moon

The moon as seen in binoculars, tonight at 10 p.m., May 31, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Saturn seen in the evening

At 11 p.m., May 31, 2017 Saturn can be seen low in the southeast. Created using Stellarium.

Saturn and moons

Saturn and its brightest moons overnight May 31/June 1, 2017. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Morning planets

Venus and Saturn at 5 a.m. June 1, 2017. Created using Stellarium. Click on the image to expand.

Telescopic Venus

Venus as seen through a telescope at 5 a.m. June 1, 2017. This is displayed at a larger scale/magnification than the Jupiter or Saturn images above. Created using Stellarium.

Planets on a single night

Planets at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on May 31, 2017. The night ends on the left with sunrise on June 1. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

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05/30/2017 – Ephemeris – Amateur astronomer detects an impact on Jupiter

May 30, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, May 30th.  Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 17 minutes, setting at 9:19, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:00.  The Moon, 2 days before first quarter, will set at 1:44 tomorrow morning.

Last Friday several amateur astronomers photographing Jupiter with video CCDs captured a flash in the high northern latitude of Jupiter.  Part of the reason for videos is to stack the individual images to average out the turbulence of the atmosphere they were looking through.  It’s a fantastic technique.  The flash was probably due to the impact of an asteroid.  The first objects to have been seen to crash into Jupiter were the chunks of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 that crashed into Jupiter over a one week period in July of 1994.  Since then several flashes have been seen, all of them captured and confirmed by amateur astronomers.  Amateurs have also discovered storms on Saturn for the Cassini spacecraft to study.

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

Addendum

Jupiter Impact image

Jupiter Impact alert Image annotated. Note the white spot at the top of Jupiter. Credit Sauveer Pendranghelu, Afa, Corsica, France via Damian Peach’s tweet.  Click on image to enlarge.

 

05/29/2017 – Ephemeris – We remember too those who died reaching for the stars

May 29, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Memorial Day, Monday, May 29th.  Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 16 minutes, setting at 9:18, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:01.  The Moon, 3 days before first quarter, will set at 1:04 tomorrow morning.

Today we pause to remember those who gave their lives for our country.  For purposes of this program that includes those courageous enough to sit on top of or beside a million pounds of explosives to be launched into space.  From the three astronauts who died in the Apollo one file in 1967, the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986, to the disintegration of the Columbia in 2003, 17 Americans and other nationals have died in NASA space accidents.  The Russians too have lost cosmonauts in the exploration of space.  Brothers and sisters in the quest for knowledge and to expand the horizons of human habitation.  Per aspera, ad astra,  Through difficulties to the stars!

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

Addendum

A listing of Astronaut and Cosmonaut deaths:  http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/history/q0114.shtml

05/26/2017 – Ephemeris – Can you spot the extremely young Moon tonight?

May 26, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Friday, May 26th.  Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 11 minutes, setting at 9:15, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:03.  The Moon, 1 day past new, will set at 10:16 this evening.

It’s spring and a great time to see if you can spot the young moon.  The official time when the moon was new was 3:44 p.m. yesterday afternoon (19:44 UT 25 May 2017), which would make the moon a bit less than 31 hours old if spotted before it sets an hour after the Sun.  This requires crystal clear skies and a very low northwestern horizon.  Binoculars are a definite help.  Spotting the earliest moon after new moon is one of the challenges amateur astronomers pit their observing skills with.  Another is the Messier Marathon, in which one tries to observe all 110 of Charles Messier’s catalog entries of dim objects on a single night, which is theoretically possible around March 24th.

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

Addendum

Young Moon

A 39 hour old Moon with Jupiter taken by Greg Hogan on September 2, 2016.

I got this from EarthSky.org.  Here’s a search I made of the young moon that has some other images:  http://earthsky.org/?s=young+moon

05/25/2017 – Ephemeris – Another look at Leo the lion

May 25, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Ascension Thursday, Thursday, May 25th.  Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 9 minutes, setting at 9:14, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:04.  The Moon is new today, and won’t be visible.

The constellation Leo the lion is now high in the southwest at 10:30 pm.  It’s below the Big Dipper higher up near the zenith.  Leo is marked by two sets of easily recognizable stars.  The front of him is a backward question mark of stars, also known as the Sickle that mark his head and mane, along with the front part of his body.  Regulus is the star at the bottom of that backwards question mark.  It’s the Little King Star.  The hind end of him is a triangle of stars ending with another bright star, but not as bright as Regulus.  It’s Denebola which means Lion’s tail.  It was thought when the sun was in this constellation long ago that the lions were driven by the heat to quench their thirst in the Nile river.   Ancient physicians thought medicines were poison when the Sun was here too.

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

Addendum

Finding Leo the lion

Animation on how to find Leo the lion at 10:30 p.m., May 25, 2017. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.  Click on image to enlarge if necessary.

05/24/2017 – Ephemeris – Let’s take our weekly look at the bright naked eye planets

May 24, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Wednesday, May 24th.  Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 7 minutes, setting at 9:13, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:04.  The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 6:20 tomorrow morning.

Let’s take our weekly look at the bright planets.  Mars is still in the west-northwest after sunset and fading.  It appears near the left edge of the constellation Auriga.  It will set at 10:49 p.m.  Dominating the evening sky now is Jupiter in the south.  The bright blue-white star Spica is seen below and left of it.   In even the smallest telescopes Jupiter’s four largest moons can be seen.  They shift positions night from to night and sometimes even as you watch.  Jupiter will set at 4:09 a.m.  At 5 a.m. both Saturn and Venus will be in the morning twilight.  Saturn will be low in the south-southwest.  It will rise in the east-southeast at 10:45 p.m.  Brilliant Venus will be low in the east tomorrow morning after rising at 4:16 a.m.

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

Addendum

Evening Planets

Mars and Jupiter with the spring constellations in the fading twilight at 10 p.m., May 24, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Jupiter and moons

Jupiter and its four Galilean moons as they might be seen in a telescope at 10 p.m,. May 24, 2017. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Morning Planets

Venus and Saturn at 5 a.m. May 25, 2017. Created using Stellarium. Click on the image to expand.

Saturn and moons

Saturn and its brightest moons at 5 a.m. May 25, 2017. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Telescopic Venus

Venus as seen through a telescope at 5 a.m. May 25, 2017. This is displayed at a larger scale/magnification than the Jupiter or Saturn images above. Created using Stellarium.

Planets on a single night

Planets at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on May 24, 2017. The night ends on the left with sunrise on May 25. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

05/23/2017 – Ephemeris – The Big Dipper as seen in many lands

May 23, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, May 23rd.  Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 6 minutes, setting at 9:12, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:05.  The Moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 5:38 tomorrow morning.

The Big Dipper is overhead at 10 in the evening, it’s seven stars shining brightly. The Big Dipper is not an actual constellation, recognized internationally. It’s part, the hind part, of Ursa Major, the great bear. The Big Dipper is an asterism or informal constellation. It is a distinctly North American constellation. For fugitive slaves, fleeing the southern states in the days before the Civil War, the Drinking Gourd, as they called it, showed the direction north to freedom. In England the dipper stars become the Plough, or Charles’ Wain (Charlemagne’s Wagon), In France, known for culinary delights it was the saucepan, or the cleaver. So many cultures saw what was familiar to them in these seven bright stars.

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

Addendum

The many faces of the Big Dipper

The Big Dipper as I imagine it from some lands facing southwest and looking straight up. The X in the picture is the zenith point. We cycle through the stars only, the Big Dipper or the Saucepan, The Plough (plow in the U.S.), Charles Wain, and finally the Cleaver. Created using my LookingUp program.

Do you know any other asterisms or informal constellations assigned to these stars, add a comment.