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Archive for November, 2017

11/30/2017 – Ephemeris – Previewing December skies

November 30, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Thursday, November 30th. The Sun will rise at 7:58. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 5 minutes, setting at 5:03. The Moon, 3 days before full, will set at 5:07 tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow starts the last month of the 2017. We are now in the holiday season and about to celebrate the southernmost travel of the Sun in the sky and its return northward. The Sun will stop its travel south, the winter solstice on the 21st at 11:29 a.m. That will make that day the shortest day in terms of daylight hours. However the earliest sunset and latest sunrise don’t coincide with that date. The reason is the Earth is closer to the sun than average and moving faster in its orbit of the sun than it normally does. It skews the sunrise and sunset times, making them later than they would be on average. That makes the sunset times bottom out about December 9th. at 5:02 p.m. And that latest sunrise will top out on January 2nd at 8:20 a.m.

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

Addenda

December Evening Sky Chart

December 2017 star chart

Star Chart for December 2017 (9 p.m. December 15, 2017). Created using my LookingUp program. Click on image to enlarge.

The planets and stars are plotted for the 15th at 9 p.m. EDT in the evening and 6 a.m. for the morning chart. These are the chart times. Note that Traverse City is located approximately 45 minutes behind our time meridian. (An hour 45 minutes behind our daylight saving time meridian. during EDT and 45 minutes behind our daylight standard time meridian. during EST). To duplicate the star positions on a planisphere you may have to set it to 1 hour 45 minutes (Daylight Time) or 45 minutes (Standard Time) earlier than the current time if you are near your time meridian.

Note the chart times of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. are for the 15th. For each week before the 15th add ½ hour. For each week after the 15th subtract ½ hour. The planet positions are updated each Wednesday on this blog. For planet positions on dates other than the 15th, check the Wednesday planet posts on this blog.

December Morning Star Chart

Star Chart for December 2017 mornings

Star Chart for December 2017 mornings based on 6 a.m. December 15th. Created using my LookingUp program. Click on image to enlarge.

For a list of constellation names to go with the abbreviations click here.

  • Pointer stars at the front of the bowl of the Big Dipper point to Polaris the North Star.
  • Follow the arc of the handle of the Big Dipper to the star Arcturus.
  • The Summer Triangle is in red
  • GemR is the Geminid meteor shower radiant. Peaks on December 14th, the Moon will not interfere this year.

Twilight

Evening nautical twilight ends at 6:16 p.m. EST on the 1st, decreasing to 6:21 p.m. EDT on the 31st.
Evening astronomical twilight ends at 6:51 p.m. EST on the 1st, decreasing to 6:56 p.m. EDT on the 31st.
Morning astronomical twilight starts at 6:20 a.m. EST on the 1st, and increasing to 6:35 a.m. EDT on the 31st.
Morning nautical twilight starts at 6:56 a.m. EST on the 1st, and increasing to 7:10 a.m. EDT on the 31st.

NASA Calendar of Planetary Events

  Date      Time    Event
Dec 01  Fr          Venus: 9.4° W
    03  Su  8:00 am Moon-Aldebaran: 0.8° S
    03  Su 10:47 am Full Moon
    04  Mo  3:42 am Moon Perigee: 357500 km
    05  Tu  6:43 am Moon North Dec.: 20° N
    07  Th  4:30 am Moon-Beehive: 2.5° N
    07  Th  7:39 pm Moon Ascending Node
    08  Fr  5:25 pm Moon-Regulus: 0.7° S
    10  Su  2:51 am Last Quarter
    12  Tu  8:40 pm Mercury Inferior Conjunction with the Sun
    13  We 11:27 am Moon-Mars: 4.5° S
    14  Th  1:07 am Geminid Meteor Shower: ZHR = 120!
    14  Th  9:26 am Moon-Jupiter: 4.7° S
    18  Mo  1:31 am New Moon
    18  Mo  8:27 am Moon Apogee: 406600 km
    19  Tu  4:31 am Moon South Dec.: 20.1° S
    21  Th 11:29 am Winter Solstice
    21  Th  3:18 pm Saturn Conjunction with the Sun
    22  Fr  5:04 am Moon Descending Node
    22  Fr 10:00 am Ursid Meteor Shower: ZHR = 10
                    Note:  The Ursid radiant is near the Little Dipper’s
                           bowl
    26  Tu  4:20 am First Quarter
    30  Sa  7:25 pm Moon-Aldebaran: 0.7° S
Jan 01  Mo          Venus: 1.9° W

Sky Events Calendar by Fred Espenak and Sumit Dutta (NASA’s GSFC),
http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SKYCAL/SKYCAL.html

If you go to the above site you can print out a list like the above for an entire year
or calendar pages for your time zone.

Sun and Moon Rising and Setting Events

     LU                  Ephemeris of Sky Events for Interlochen/TC
December, 2017    Local time zone: EST
+-----------------------------------------------------------------------+
| DATE |  SUN     SUN  DAYLIGHT|   TWILIGHT*    |MOON  RISE OR    ILLUM |
|      |  RISE    SET    HOURS |  END    START  |PHASE SET** TIME FRACTN|
+=======================================================================+
|Fri  1| 08:00a  05:03p  09:03 | 06:12p  06:50a |      Set  06:22a   96%|
|Sat  2| 08:01a  05:03p  09:01 | 06:12p  06:51a |      Set  07:38a   99%|
+------+-----------------------+----------------+-----------------------+
|Sun  3| 08:02a  05:02p  09:00 | 06:12p  06:52a |Full  Rise 05:36p  100%|
|Mon  4| 08:03a  05:02p  08:59 | 06:12p  06:53a |      Rise 06:32p   97%|
|Tue  5| 08:04a  05:02p  08:57 | 06:12p  06:54a |      Rise 07:35p   92%|
|Wed  6| 08:05a  05:02p  08:56 | 06:12p  06:55a |      Rise 08:43p   84%|
|Thu  7| 08:06a  05:02p  08:55 | 06:12p  06:56a |      Rise 09:54p   75%|
|Fri  8| 08:07a  05:02p  08:54 | 06:12p  06:57a |      Rise 11:04p   64%|
|Sat  9| 08:08a  05:02p  08:53 | 06:12p  06:58a |      Rise 12:13a   54%|
+------+-----------------------+----------------+-----------------------+
|Sun 10| 08:09a  05:02p  08:52 | 06:12p  06:59a |L Qtr Rise 01:19a   43%|
|Mon 11| 08:10a  05:02p  08:51 | 06:12p  06:59a |      Rise 02:23a   33%|
|Tue 12| 08:11a  05:02p  08:51 | 06:12p  07:00a |      Rise 03:25a   24%|
|Wed 13| 08:11a  05:02p  08:50 | 06:12p  07:01a |      Rise 04:27a   16%|
|Thu 14| 08:12a  05:02p  08:49 | 06:13p  07:02a |      Rise 05:27a   10%|
|Fri 15| 08:13a  05:02p  08:49 | 06:13p  07:02a |      Rise 06:26a    5%|
|Sat 16| 08:14a  05:03p  08:49 | 06:13p  07:03a |      Rise 07:22a    2%|
+------+-----------------------+----------------+-----------------------+
|Sun 17| 08:14a  05:03p  08:48 | 06:14p  07:04a |      Rise 08:16a    0%|
|Mon 18| 08:15a  05:03p  08:48 | 06:14p  07:04a |New   Set  05:46p    1%|
|Tue 19| 08:16a  05:04p  08:48 | 06:14p  07:05a |      Set  06:34p    3%|
|Wed 20| 08:16a  05:04p  08:48 | 06:15p  07:05a |      Set  07:27p    6%|
|Thu 21| 08:17a  05:05p  08:48 | 06:15p  07:06a |      Set  08:23p   12%|
|Fri 22| 08:17a  05:05p  08:48 | 06:16p  07:06a |      Set  09:22p   19%|
|Sat 23| 08:18a  05:06p  08:48 | 06:16p  07:07a |      Set  10:22p   27%|
+------+-----------------------+----------------+-----------------------+
|Sun 24| 08:18a  05:06p  08:48 | 06:17p  07:07a |      Set  11:24p   36%|
|Mon 25| 08:18a  05:07p  08:48 | 06:18p  07:08a |      Set  12:28a   46%|
|Tue 26| 08:19a  05:08p  08:49 | 06:18p  07:08a |F Qtr Set  01:35a   56%|
|Wed 27| 08:19a  05:08p  08:49 | 06:19p  07:08a |      Set  02:43a   67%|
|Thu 28| 08:19a  05:09p  08:50 | 06:20p  07:09a |      Set  03:55a   77%|
|Fri 29| 08:19a  05:10p  08:50 | 06:20p  07:09a |      Set  05:08a   86%|
|Sat 30| 08:19a  05:11p  08:51 | 06:21p  07:09a |      Set  06:22a   93%|
+------+-----------------------+----------------+-----------------------+
|Sun 31| 08:20a  05:12p  08:52 | 06:22p  07:09a |      Set  07:32a   98%|
+-----------------------------------------------------------------------+
* Nautical Twilight
** Moonrise or moonset, whichever occurs between sunset and sunrise

 

11/29/2017 – Ephemeris – The Bright planets this week

November 29, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Wednesday, November 29th. The Sun will rise at 7:57. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 7 minutes, setting at 5:04. The Moon, 3 days past first quarter, will set at 3:54 tomorrow morning.

Let’s take our weekly look at the bright planets. Mercury is dropping back to the Sun and is fading as its phase changes to a crescent  It will be below and left of Saturn tonight and actually brighter than Saturn. Saturn is sinking low in the southwestern sky. It is becoming harder to spot each evening. Tonight it will set at 6:24 p.m. The morning sky is now host to three planets, though Venus, the brightest will rise at 7:03 this morning and will be fighting twilight as it rises. It’s way on the other side of the Sun, and very tiny in telescopes, though nearly fully illuminated. It’s 156 million miles (251 million km) away. First to rise in the morning is Mars which will rise in the east at 4:07 a.m. tomorrow, Jupiter, will follow and rise at 5:34 a.m. tomorrow.

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

Addendum

Evening planets

Mercury and Saturn at 5:45 p.m., about 45 minutes after sunset, November 29, 2017. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

Binocular Moon

The Moon as it might be seen in binoculars at 7 p.m., November 29, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Morning planets

Mars and Jupiter at 7 a.m., November 30, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Jupiter and moons

Jupiter and its 4 Galilean moons as they might be seen in a telescope at 7 a.m. November 30, 2017. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Planets at sunset and sunrise of a single night

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

11/28/2017 – Ephemeris – Though it appears bright, the Moon is pretty dirty

November 28, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Tuesday, November 28th. The Sun will rise at 7:56. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 8 minutes, setting at 5:04. The Moon, 2 days past first quarter, will set at 2:44 tomorrow morning.

The Moon tonight is a waxing gibbous phase, and each night until it’s full it will get brighter and brighter, drowning out the fainter stars. The Moon is almost too bright to comfortably view in a telescope. One can get a moon filter for the eyepiece, or wear sunglasses or opt for higher magnification. It is after all daytime on the Moon and it’s essentially the same distance from the Sun as we are. A saving grace is that the Moon isn’t white. It’s a dirty gray, reflecting on average only 13.6 percent of the light it gets from the Sun. Just think how bright it would appear if it were 100% reflective, over 7 times brighter than it appears now. The face of the Moon hasn’t appeared to change at all since before we landed there 48 years ago.

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

Addendum

Moon albedo comparison

Moon albedo comparison. Actually about 50% vs. 100%. The Moon is less reflectant than that.. Sunday’s super moon image created via Stellarium.

11/27/2017 – Ephemeris – Ross 128b the second closest known exoplanet

November 27, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Monday, November 27th. The Sun will rise at 7:54. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 10 minutes, setting at 5:05. The Moon, 1 day past first quarter, will set at 1:37 tomorrow morning.

The second closest exoplanet to the solar system has been discovered. That was earlier this year around a star named Ross 128. It’s name is Ross 128 small letter b. The star Ross 128 is a nearby red dwarf star, whose distance is a shade under 11 light years away, The star is thought to be twice the age of the Sun, We’d be in big trouble if the Sun were that old, but Ross 128 is just getting started. The exoplanet is about 35% more massive than the Earth. It’s distance from the star averages 4.6 million miles and its year is a bit under 10 Earth days. At that rate I’d be over 28 hundred years old. Astronomers don’t know the size or the density of the planet since it doesn’t pass in front of its star. These measurements will have to wait on larger telescopes.

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

Addendum

Ross 128

The star Ross 128. It’s actually much fainter than is suggested here in the diagram from Sky and Telescope magazine’s website.. Mars’ position is for November 2017.

11/24/2017 – Ephemeris – Fomalhaut, the loneliest star, has a little buddy

November 24, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Friday, November 24th. The Sun will rise at 7:51. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 15 minutes, setting at 5:07. The Moon, 2 days before first quarter, will set at 10:30 this evening.

The lonely bright star low in the south at 8 p.m. these evenings is Fomalhaut the harbinger of autumn in my book, and about to leave as winter approaches.  Fomalhaut means fishes mouth and is located at the head of Piscis Austrinus, a very dim constellation.  Fomalhaut is a young white star only about 400 million years old with a disk of dust surrounding it.  Near an outer dust ring, 15 years ago the Hubble Space Telescope discovered a spot.  Four years later astronomers discovered that the spot moved along the dust lane and announced the first direct discovery of an exoplanet.  In 2010 and 2012 the planet now dubbed Fomalhaut b or Dagon was observed again and it really does orbit Fomalhaut in a very eccentric orbit.

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 8 p.m. on November evenings. Created using Stellarium.

Fomalhaut b

Fomalhaut b and it’s path around its star. Credit: NASA, ESA, and P. Kalas (University of California, Berkeley and SETI Institute)

11/23/2017 – Ephemeris – Mercury is at it’s greatest eastern elongation tonight

November 23, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 23rd. The Sun will rise at 7:49. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 17 minutes, setting at 5:07. The Moon, 3 days before first quarter, will set at 9:33 this evening.

Mercury is going to reach its greatest elongation or apparent separation from the Sun this evening. It will be 22 degrees east of the Sun. Because Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun, it is never seen far from it. And because it has the most eccentric orbit of all the planets its greatest elongations are between 17 and 27 degrees from the Sun. Other than that the best times of the year to see Mercury are late winter and early spring evenings and late summer and early autumn mornings. Being an autumn evening means that Mercury is almost too low to spot after sunset. The southern hemisphere is in spring, so Mercury tonight will be much easier seen. Also their best view is when Mercury is farther from the Sun.

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

Addendum

There are rather clinical charts.  The horizontal line through the W (western compass point) is the horizon.  Grid marks are 10 degrees apart.

Mercury from  45 degrees north

Diagram showing the poor placement of Mercury at greatest eastern elongation tonight in autumn from 45 degrees north latitude. Mercury is about 8.5 degrees altitude at sunset. The orange line is the ecliptic, the path pf the Sun on the celestial sphere. Created using Stellarium.

Mercury at sunset at E elong S 45 Lat_112317

Diagram showing the great placement of Mercury at greatest eastern elongation tonight in southern hemisphere spring from 45 degrees south latitude. Mercury is nearly 19 degrees altitude at sunset. The orange line is the ecliptic, the path pf the Sun on the celestial sphere. Created using Stellarium.

11/22/2017 – Ephemeris – A look at the bright planets for Thanksgiving week

November 22, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Wednesday, November 22nd. The Sun will rise at 7:48. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 19 minutes, setting at 5:08. The Moon, half way from new to first quarter, will set at 8:39 this evening.

Let’s take our weekly look at the bright planets. Mercury is briefly visible in binoculars in the southwest in the evening, setting at 6:11 p.m., and will reach it’s greatest elongation from the Sun tomorrow evening. 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 6:49 p.m. Tomorrow in the morning sky, Mars, heading away from the Sun will rise in the east at 4:11 a.m., Jupiter, also moving away from the Sun, will rise at in the east-southeast at 5:54 a.m., leaving Venus behind after their conjunction 9 days ago, which will rise at 6:47 a.m..

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

Addendum

Evening Planets

Mercury, Saturn and the Moon at 5:45 p.m., a bit more than a half hour after sunset, November 22, 2017. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic Saturn_1800-112217

Saturn as it might be seen in a telescope tonight. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Star Charts).

Binocular Moon_1845-112217

The Moon as it might be seen tonight.  Created using Stellarium.

Morning Planets_0715-112317

The morning planets Mars, Jupiter and Venus at 7:15 a.m. November 23, 2017, about a half hour before sunrise on a really flat horizon.  Created using Stellarium.

 

Planets at sunset and sunrise of a single night

Planets at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on November 22, 2017. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 22nd. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

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.

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.