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02/28/2019 – Ephemeris – Looking ahead at March skies

February 28, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, February 28th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 6 minutes, setting at 6:28, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:20. The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 4:38 tomorrow morning.

Let’s look at the skies of March, which will start tomorrow. During March the increase in daylight hours are at its greatest, with spring 3 weeks away. Daylight hours will increase from 11 hours and 9 minutes tomorrow to 12 hours and 42 minutes on the 31st. Along with that, the altitude of the Sun at noon will increase from 38 degrees tomorrow to 49 ½ degrees at month’s end. Local noon, by the way for Interlochen and Traverse City, is about 12:50 p.m, which is mainly due to the fact that our standard time meridian happens to run through Philadelphia. That’s before daylight time starts in eleven days. Winter ends and spring will begin at 5:58 p.m. on the 20th.

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

Addenda

March Evening Star Chart

March Evening Star Chart

Star Chart for March 2019 (10 p.m. EDT March 15, 2019). Created using my LookingUp program. Click on image to enlarge.

The planets and stars are plotted for the 15th at 10 p.m. EST 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, West 75° longitude. (An hour 45 minutes behind our daylight saving time meridian during EDT). To duplicate the star positions on a planisphere you may have to set it to 1 hour 45 minutes earlier than the current time.

Note the chart times of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. are for the 15th. For each week before the 15th add ½ hour (28 minutes if you’re picky). 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.

March Morning Star Chart

March Morning Star Chart

Star Chart for March mornings 2019 (6 a.m. EST March 15, 2019). 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, and
  • Extend like a spike to Spica,
  • The Summer Triangle is in red.

Twilight Limits, Nautical and Astronomical

EST/EDT
Morning twilight Evening twilight Dark night Moon
Date Astro. Nautical Nautical Astro. Start End Illum.
2018-03-01 5h44m 6h17m 19h32m 20h06m 0.99
2018-03-02 5h42m 6h16m 19h33m 20h07m 1.00
2018-03-03 5h40m 6h14m 19h34m 20h08m 20h08m 20h40m 0.98
2018-03-04 5h38m 6h12m 19h36m 20h10m 20h10m 21h48m 0.93
2018-03-05 5h37m 6h11m 19h37m 20h11m 20h11m 22h54m 0.87
2018-03-06 5h35m 6h09m 19h38m 20h12m 20h12m 23h57m 0.79
2018-03-07 5h33m 6h07m 19h40m 20h14m 20h14m 0.70
2018-03-08 5h31m 6h05m 19h41m 20h15m 20h15m 0h58m 0.60
2018-03-09 5h29m 6h03m 19h42m 20h16m 20h16m 1h56m 0.50
2018-03-10 5h27m 6h02m 19h44m 20h18m 20h18m 2h50m 0.40
2018-03-11 6h26m 7h00m 20h45m 21h19m 21h19m 4h40m 0.31
2018-03-12 6h24m 6h58m 20h46m 21h20m 21h20m 5h25m 0.22
2018-03-13 6h22m 6h56m 20h47m 21h22m 21h22m 6h06m 0.15
2018-03-14 6h20m 6h54m 20h49m 21h23m 21h23m 6h20m 0.08
2018-03-15 6h18m 6h52m 20h50m 21h25m 21h25m 6h18m 0.04
2018-03-16 6h16m 6h50m 20h51m 21h26m 21h26m 6h16m 0.01
2018-03-17 6h14m 6h49m 20h53m 21h27m 21h27m 6h14m 0.00
2018-03-18 6h12m 6h47m 20h54m 21h29m 21h29m 6h12m 0.02
2018-03-19 6h10m 6h45m 20h55m 21h30m 22h21m 6h10m 0.06
2018-03-20 6h12m 6h47m 21h01m 21h36m 23h30m 6h12m 0.12
2018-03-21 6h10m 6h45m 21h02m 21h37m 6h10m 0.21
2018-03-22 6h08m 6h43m 21h03m 21h39m 0h39m 6h08m 0.31
2018-03-23 6h06m 6h41m 21h05m 21h40m 1h48m 6h06m 0.42
2018-03-24 6h03m 6h39m 21h06m 21h42m 2h54m 6h03m 0.54
2018-03-25 6h01m 6h37m 21h07m 21h43m 3h54m 6h01m 0.66
2018-03-26 5h59m 6h35m 21h09m 21h45m 4h48m 5h59m 0.77
2018-03-27 5h57m 6h33m 21h10m 21h46m 5h34m 5h57m 0.86
2018-03-28 5h55m 6h31m 21h12m 21h48m 0.93
2018-03-29 5h53m 6h29m 21h13m 21h49m 0.93
2018-03-30 5h51m 6h27m 21h14m 21h51m 0.98
2018-03-31 5h49m 6h25m 21h16m 21h52m 1.00

Twilight calendar was generated using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

See my blog post: Twilight Zone for the definitions of the different periods of twilight here: https://bobmoler.wordpress.com/2019/09/27/.

NASA Calendar of Planetary Events

Date Local Time Event
Mar 1 Fr 01:23 AM Moon South Dec.: 21.6° S
1 Fr Venus: 40.8° W
1 Fr 01:40 PM Moon-Saturn: 0.3° S
2 Sa 06:03 AM Moon Descending Node
2 Sa 04:28 PM Moon-Venus: 1.3° N
4 Mo 06:25 AM Moon Apogee: 406400 km
6 We 11:04 AM New Moon
6 We 07:48 PM Neptune Conjunction
13 We 06:13 AM Moon-Aldebaran: 2° S
14 Th 06:27 AM First Quarter
14 Th 09:43 PM Mercury Inferior Conj.
15 Fr 01:59 PM Moon North Dec.: 21.8° N
16 Sa 12:22 PM Moon Ascending Node
17 Su 09:01 AM Moon-Beehive: 0.5° N
18 Mo 07:59 PM Moon-Regulus: 2.5° S
19 Tu 03:47 PM Moon Perigee: 359400 km
20 We 05:58 PM Vernal Equinox
20 We 09:43 PM Full Moon
26 Tu 10:28 PM Moon-Jupiter: 2° S
28 Th 12:10 AM Last Quarter
28 Th 09:02 AM Moon South Dec.: 21.9° S
29 Fr 01:11 AM Moon-Saturn: 0.1° N
29 Fr 09:08 AM Moon Descending Node
30 Sa 11:08 PM Mars-Pleiades: 3.2° S
31 Su 08:14 PM Moon Apogee: 405600 km
Apr 1 Mo Venus: 34.6° W

All event times are given for UTC-5 hr: Eastern Standard or UTC-4 hr: Daylight Saving Time starting March 10th.

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 the entire year or calendar pages for your time zone.

Sun and Moon Rising and Setting Events

Ephemeris of Sky Events for NMC Observatory
March, 2019 – Local time zone: EST
  Sun Twilight* Moon Illum
Date Rise Set Hours End Start Phase R/S** Time Fractn
Fri 1 07:20a 06:30a 11:09 07:33p 06:17a Rise 05:22a 18
Sat 2 07:18a 06:31p 11:12 07:34p 06:15a Rise 06:02a 12
Sun 3 07:16a 06:32p 11:15 07:35p 06:13a Rise 06:36a 6
Mon 4 07:15a 06:34p 11:18 07:36p 06:12a Rise 07:06a 3
Tue 5 07:13a 06:35p 11:22 07:38p 06:10a Rise 07:33a 0
Wed 6 07:11a 06:36p 11:25 07:39p 06:08a New Set 06:41p 0
Thu 7 07:09a 06:37p 11:28 07:40p 06:06a Set 07:41p 2
Fri 8 07:07a 06:39p 11:31 07:42p 06:05a Set 08:43p 5
Sat 9 07:06a 06:40p 11:34 07:43p 06:03a Set 09:45p 10
*** Start EDT ***
Sun 10 08:04a 07:41p 11:37 08:44p 07:01a Set 11:49p 17
Mon 11 08:02a 07:43p 11:40 08:46p 06:59a Set 12:54a 25
Tue 12 08:00a 07:44p 11:43 08:47p 06:57a Set 02:00a 35
Wed 13 07:58a 07:45p 11:46 08:48p 06:56a Set 03:05a 45
Thu 14 07:57a 07:47p 11:49 08:50p 06:54a F Qtr Set 04:08a 56
Fri 15 07:55a 07:48p 11:53 08:51p 06:52a Set 05:06a 67
Sat 16 07:53a 07:49p 11:56 08:52p 06:50a Set 05:58a 77
Sun 17 07:51a 07:50p 11:59 08:53p 06:48a Set 06:42a 87
Mon 18 07:49a 07:52p 12:02 08:55p 06:46a Set 07:21a 94
Tue 19 07:47a 07:53p 12:05 08:56p 06:44a Set 07:54a 98
Wed 20 07:46a 07:54p 12:08 08:57p 06:42a Full Rise 07:35p 100
Thu 21 07:44a 07:55p 12:11 08:59p 06:40a Rise 08:52p 99
Fri 22 07:42a 07:57p 12:14 09:00p 06:39a Rise 10:07p 95
Sat 23 07:40a 07:58p 12:18 09:02p 06:37a Rise 11:20p 88
Sun 24 07:38a 07:59p 12:21 09:03p 06:35a Rise 12:30a 80
Mon 25 07:36a 08:00p 12:24 09:04p 06:33a Rise 01:36a 71
Tue 26 07:34a 08:02p 12:27 09:06p 06:31a Rise 02:37a 62
Wed 27 07:33a 08:03p 12:30 09:07p 06:29a Rise 03:32a 52
Thu 28 07:31a 08:04p 12:33 09:08p 06:27a L Qtr Rise 04:20a 42
Fri 29 07:29a 08:05p 12:36 09:10p 06:25a Rise 05:02a 33
Sat 30 07:27a 08:07p 12:39 09:11p 06:23a Rise 05:38a 24
Sun 31 07:25a 08:08p 12:42 09:12p 06:21a Rise 06:09a 17

* Nautical Twilight
** Moonrise or moonset, whichever occurs between sunset and sunrise

Created using my LookingUp for DOS output as CSV.

02/27/2019 – Ephemeris – All the classical planets from antiquity are now visible

February 27, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Wednesday, February 27th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 3 minutes, setting at 6:27, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:22. The Moon, 1 day past last quarter, will rise at 3:46 tomorrow morning.

Let’s look at the planets for this week. We have two evening planets visible now. Tiny and elusive Mercury should be visible low in the west from about 7 p.m. to about 7:45 p.m. It should be visible for the next few days. Binoculars are a big help in spotting it. Mars will be in the west-southwestern sky this evening and will set at 11:44 p.m. In the morning sky we have Jupiter which will rise tomorrow at 3:05 a.m. It is second to Venus in brightness. Saturn will be next to rise at 4:57 a.m. It will be to the upper right of Venus which will rise at 5:31 a.m. tomorrow. In small telescopes Saturn will show its rings and Venus will show a small slightly gibbous moon shape which will shrink and grow more full over the next months

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

Addendum

Evening planets

Mars and Mercury at 7 p.m. tonight February 17, 2019. Created using Stellarium.

Morning planets

Morning planets and the Moon at 6:30 a.m. Tomorrow February 28, 2019. The actual Moon image is below. Created using Stellarium.

Binocular Moon

The moon as it might appear in binoculars tomorrow morning, February 28, 2019. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic planets

Jupiter, Saturn and Venus with the same magnification at 6:30 a.m. tomorrow morning February 28, 2019. Ganymede is behind Jupiter at that hour. See the table of Jupiter moon events tomorrow morning. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Satellite Event Date UT EST
Ganymede Eclipse start 28 Feb 2019 06:16
Ganymede Eclipse end 28 Feb 2019 08:21 3:21 a.m.
Europa Shadow start 28 Feb 2019 11:09 6:09 a.m.
Ganymede Occultation start 28 Feb 2019 11:13 6:13 a.m.
Ganymede Occultation end 28 Feb 2019 13:23
Europa Shadow end 28 Feb 2019 13:31
Europa Transit start 28 Feb 2019 13:34
Io Eclipse start 28 Feb 2019 13:42
Europa Transit end 28 Feb 2019 15:58
Io Occultation end 28 Feb 2019 17:06

Jupiter satellites will have a busy morning.  Events with EST times are visible from Northern Michigan.  Events with UT only times are visible in other longitudes in the western hemisphere.

Times are provided by the Project Pluto:  https://www.projectpluto.com/jevent.htm.

Planets and the Moon on a single night

Planets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on February 27, 2019. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 28th. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

02/26/2019 – Ephemeris – Mercury at greatest eastern elongation from the Sun tonight

February 26, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, February 26th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours even, setting at 6:26, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:24. The Moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 2:49 tomorrow morning.

This evening the planet Mercury is at its greatest distance from the Sun to the east by an angle of 18 degrees. It’s called greatest eastern elongation from the Sun. Mercury has a very elliptical orbit of the Sun, and right now it’s near its closest to the Sun called perihelion, of 28.6 million miles (46.1 million km). In late winter and spring the ecliptic, the path in the sky that the planets appear near, meets the horizon at a steep angle near sunset, which allows us to see planets near and east of the Sun more easily. The same is true for the planets west of the Sun in the morning in the fall. Southern hemisphere observers see Mercury best when its is at aphelion, farthest from the Sun, 66 percent farther away.

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

Addendum

Northern hemisphere elongation of Mercury in the spring.

Looking at Mercury at greatest eastern elongation tonight February 26, 2019 from Northern Michigan displaying its orbit with a transparent horizon at sunset. Notice how lopsided the orbit appears, extending farther below the horizon (green line) than above. The yellow line is the ecliptic. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

The next greatest elongation of Mercury is the western elongation on April 11, 2019. Here we are looking at it from the southern hemisphere, where it’s autumn displaying its orbit with a transparent horizon at sunrise. Notice how lopsided the orbit appears, extending farther above the horizon (green line) than below. The yellow line is the ecliptic. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

Note the same is true for both northern and southern hemispheres:

Late winter and spring – planets near and east of the Sun are seen more easily after sunset.

Late summer and autumn – planets near and west of the Sun are seen more easily before sunrise.

02/25/2019 – Ephemeris – Cancer the crab

February 25, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, February 25th. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 57 minutes, setting at 6:24, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:25. The Moon, 1 day before last quarter, will rise at 1:46 tomorrow morning.

Between the stars Castor and Pollux in Gemini high in the southeast and the star Regulus in Leo the Lion in the east-southeast lies the dimmest constellation of the zodiac, Cancer the crab. To me its 5 brightest stars make an upside down Y. There’s the stars in the center of the constellation Asellus Borealis and Asellus Australis, the north and south donkeys. There’s a fuzzy spot between and just west of them called Praesepe, the manger. In binoculars it resolves into a cluster of stars called the Beehive cluster. We amateur astronomers also know it as M44, the 44th object on comet hunter Charles Messier’s list of objects that might be mistaken for comets.

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

Addendum

Cancer

The constellation Cancer finder chart. Click on image to enlarge. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

 

02/22/2019 – Ephemeris – Orion is a hard luck hero

February 22, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, February 22nd. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 48 minutes, setting at 6:20, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:30. The Moon, 3 days past full, will rise at 10:19 this evening.

We come back to the central constellation of the winter sky Orion the hunter, holding out in the south-southwest at 9 p.m. with his three stars of his belt in a straight line, with his shoulder stars above and knees below. In one Greek story he was killed by the sting of a scorpion so the gods made sure the rising of the constellation Scorpius would chase him out of the sky to the west. To the Greeks he was a hapless hero. Orion is mentioned in the Bible in the book of Job. The name for Orion in Hebrew is Kesil, meaning “Fool”. To the native peoples around the Great Lakes, the stars here are those of the Winter Maker, who stretches his arms from Aldebaran in Taurus to Procyon in Canis Minor. When he rides high the evening sky it is indeed winter.

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

Addendum

Orion

Orion as he is seen tonight at 9 p.m. February 22, 2019. Created using Stellarium.

Scorpius chases Orion from the skies

Scorpius, rising in the southeast, chases Orion, setting in the west, from the skies. February 23, at 2:44 a.m. any year.

02/21/2019 – Ephemeris – Greenspire School’s STEM Night is tonight

February 21, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, February 21st. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 45 minutes, setting at 6:19, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:32. The Moon, 2 days past full, will rise at 9:05 this evening.

Tonight the Greenspire School is sponsoring its annual STEM Night from 6 to 8 p.m. at the school on Red Drive at the Grand Traverse Commons. Red Drive is a block west of Silver Drive that connects to Silver Lake Road at Franke Road. STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will be there for the sixth year with Gary Carlisle finding out what comets are made of by helping the kids create dry ice comets. We’ll have other exhibits too, and telescope kits to raffle off. Other exhibitors have hands on activities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics for the whole family. There’s also cookies and hot chocolate.

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

Addendum

STEM Night

Grand Traverse Astronomical Society members at STEM Night. Credit: Eileen Carlisle.

02/20/2019 – Ephemeris – Theoretical all 5 bright planets are now visible

February 20, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Wednesday, February 20th. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 42 minutes, setting at 6:18, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:34. The Moon, 1 day past full, will rise at 7:47 this evening.

Let’s look at the planets for this week. We have two evening planets visible now. Tiny and elusive Mercury should be visible low in the west for about a half hour after 7 p.m. It should be visible for a little over a week. Binoculars are a big help in spotting it. Mars will be in the southwestern sky this evening and will set at 11:46 p.m. In the morning sky we have Jupiter which will rise tomorrow at 3:32 a.m. It is second to Venus in brightness. Saturn will be next to rise at 5:22 a.m. It is just to the right of Venus which will rise at 5:29 a.m. tomorrow. In small telescopes Saturn will show its rings and Venus will show a small slightly gibbous moon shape which will shrink and grow more full over the next months

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

Addendum

 

Evening planets

Mars, Mercury and bright stars in twilight at 7 p.m. February 20, 2019. Created using Stellarium.

Morning planets

Morning planets and the Moon at 6:30 a.m. February 21, 2019. Click on the image to enlarge. created using Stellarium.

Binocular Moon

The waning gibbous Moon as it should appear tomorrow morning with binoculars. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic planets

Jupiter, Saturn and Venus with the same magnification at 6:30 a.m. tomorrow morning February 21, 2019. See the table of Jupiter moon events tomorrow morning. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Satellite Event Date UT EST Notes
Ganymede Occultation start 21 Feb 2019 07:05:00 AM 2:05 a.m. Not visible from Michigan
Europa Shadow start 21 Feb 2019 08:36:00 AM 3:36 a.m.
Ganymede Occultation end 21 Feb 2019 09:15:00 AM 4:15 a.m.
Europa Transit start 21 Feb 2019 10:57:00 AM 5:57 a.m.
Europa Shadow end 21 Feb 2019 10:58:00 AM 5:58 a.m.
Io Eclipse start 21 Feb 2019 11:49:00 AM 6:49 a.m.
Europa Transit end 21 Feb 2019 01:21:00 PM 8:27 a.m. Not visible from Michigan

Jupiter satellite events are from https://www.projectpluto.com/jevent.htm

Planets and the Moon on a single night

Planets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on February 20, 2019. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 21st. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.