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Archive for September, 2019

09/30/2019 – Ephemeris – Autumn Stars talk tonight

September 30, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, September 30th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 46 minutes, setting at 7:25, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:40. The Moon, 2 days past new, will set at 8:55 this evening.

I will be giving a presentation Autumn Stars, Galaxies Myths, and Stories tonight at the Woodmere Avenue branch of the Traverse Area District Library at 7 p.m. Afterward if it’s clear members of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will bring their telescopes out to view Jupiter and Saturn. In the autumn season we lose the southern part of the Milky Way in the southwest, but there are number of of constellations that tell a famous story, that’s even made it to the cinema twice in recent years. There’s a star that evilly winks at us, and a huge galaxy the is visible to the naked eye that will crash into our Milky Way galaxy in the far future. Also the Native Americans around here have a constellation that paints the fall colors.

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

Addendum

09/27/2019 – Ephemeris – Apollo 50th anniversary talk tonight in Thompsonville

September 27, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, September 27th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 55 minutes, setting at 7:31, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:36. The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 7:09 tomorrow morning.

Tonight to commemorate the 50th anniversary the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon, I will present the illustrated talk Apollo and the Race to the Moon at 7 p.m. at the Betsie Valley District Library in Thompsonville. Afterwards, if it’s clear, members of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will host a star party featuring Saturn and Jupiter and some of the brighter deep sky objects. In the talk I’ll explore the Apollo 11 mission, the engineers, astronauts and all the crewed and robotic missions that paved the way for the successful lunar landings. I’ll also look at the Soviet space program their triumphs, plans, and ultimate failure to beat the Americans to the Moon.

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

Addendum

Apollo and the Race to the Moon Title

Apollo and the Race to the Moon Title slide

09/26/2019 – Ephemeris – Looking for Andromeda

September 26, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, September 26th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 58 minutes, setting at 7:33, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:35. The Moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 5:49 tomorrow morning.

In the east at 9 this evening can be found a large square of stars, the Great Square of Pegasus the flying horse. The square is standing on one corner. What look like its hind legs stretching to the left from the left corner star is another constellation, Andromeda the chained maiden. She is seen in the sky as two diverging curved strings of stars that curve upward. She was rescued by the hero Perseus, a nearby constellation, riding his steed Pegasus. Andromeda’s claim to astronomical fame is the large galaxy seen with the unaided eye just above the upper line of stars, the Great Andromeda Galaxy, about 2 and a half million light years away. To the unaided eye the galaxy appears as a small smudge of light. In binoculars the galaxy is a delicate spindle of light.

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

Addendum

Pegasus-Andromeda finder

Pegasus & Andromeda animated finder chart for 9 p.m. in late September. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

Andromeda at 9 p.m. with the Great Andromeda Galaxy. Created using Stellarium.

Andromeda at 9 p.m. with the Great Andromeda Galaxy. Created using Stellarium.

The Great Andromeda Galaxy (M31). Image taken by Scott Anttila.

The Great Andromeda Galaxy (M31). Image taken by Scott Anttila.

09/25/2019 – Ephemeris – Where are all the bright planets?

September 25, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Wednesday, September 25th. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 1 minute, setting at 7:34 p.m., and it will rise tomorrow at 7:34 a.m. The Moon, 3 days before new, will rise at 4:30 tomorrow morning.

Let’s look at the planets for this week. Mars, Venus and Mercury are too close to the Sun to be seen. Venus and Mercury are on the evening or east side of the Sun, Mars is on the west or morning side. Bright Jupiter will be low in the southwestern sky as it gets dark. With steadily held binoculars a few of the 4 largest satellites of Jupiter can be seen. Three of the four Jupiter’s Galilean satellites can be easily spotted in telescopes this evening. The moon Europa will be transiting across the face of the planet. Jupiter will set at 10:53 p.m. Saturn, the ringed planet, will be in the southern sky in the evening. It will pass the meridian, due south at 8:25 p.m. and will set at 12:51 a.m.

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

Addendum

Evening Planets

Jupiter and Saturn with the Teapot asterism of Sagittarius of the southern sky at 9 p.m. September 25, 2019. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic planets

Telescopic views of Jupiter and Saturn with the same magnification at 9 p.m. September 25, 2019. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Binocular Moon

The waning crescent Moon at 6 a.m. September 26, 2019. Created using Stellarium.

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 September 25, 2019. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 26th. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

09/24/2019 – Ephemeris – Cassiopeia the “W” shaped constellation

September 24, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, September 24th. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 4 minutes, setting at 7:36, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:33. The Moon, 3 days past last quarter, will rise at 3:13 tomorrow morning.

The stars of the autumn skies slowly are replacing the summer stars from the east. Look in the northeastern sky by 9 p.m. and you can find the W shaped constellation of Cassiopeia the queen. Cassiopeia is so far north that it never sets for us in Michigan. It is opposite the pole star Polaris from the Big Dipper. There’s a dim star that appears above the middle star of the W which turns the W into a very crooked backed chair. Cassiopeia, in Greek mythology, represents a queen of ancient Ethiopia, the W represents the profile of her throne. She enters in to the great autumn story whose other characters are also seen in the stars as the constellations Andromeda, Pegasus, Perseus, Cetus and her husband Cepheus.

For my retelling of the Greek myth that links these autumn constellations click here.

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

Addendum

Cassiopeia finder

Cassiopeia, in the northeast is opposite Polaris from the Big Dipper. For 9 p.m. in late September. Created using Stellarium. Artistic credit: Johan Meuris.

09/23/2019 – Ephemeris – Fall has fallen upon us

September 23, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, September 23rd. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 7 minutes, setting at 7:38, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:32. The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 2:01 tomorrow morning.

Fall has, well… fallen upon us and in a few weeks so will the leaves. At 3:49 (7:49 UT) this morning the Sun crossed overhead at the Earth’s equator heading south. At that same time the Sun theoretically set at the north pole and rose at the south pole. The day is called the autumnal equinox and the daylight hours today is 12 hours and 7 minutes instead of 12 hours exactly. That’s due to our atmosphere and our definition of sunrise and sunset. The reason for the cooler weather for us north of the equator now and the cold weather this winter is that the length of daylight is shortening, and the Sun rides lower in the sky, spreading its heat over a larger area, thus diluting its intensity.

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

Addendum

Sun's path through the sky on the equinox

The Sun’s path through the sky on the equinox day from Traverse City, MI. Created using my LookingUp program.

Sunrise on the autumnal equinox

That is not a pumpkin on the head of the motorcyclist. That’s the Sun rising as I’m traveling east on South Airport Road south of Traverse City Mi. on the autumnal equinox. This is the east-west section of the road. The Sun is rising over the hills some 6 miles to the east. Credit: Bob Moler.

Categories: Ephemeris Program, Equinox, Seasons Tags:

09/20/2019 – Ephemeris – Two local astronomy events this weekend

September 20, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, September 20th. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 17 minutes, setting at 7:44, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:28. The Moon, 1 day before last quarter, will rise at 11:19 this evening.

There are two local astronomical events tomorrow. The Leland Heritage Celebration will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Fishtown in Leland. The Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will be there to show the Sun through member’s telescopes, maybe spot the Moon plus give out NASA items for the kids. That evening from 9 to 11 p.m. members of the society will move to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore’s Dune Climb for this month’s star party featuring the planets Jupiter and Saturn and the wonders of the summer Milky Way. Rain will affect the Leland event, and heavy overcast will affect the Dunes event. Last month’s Dune event appeared earlier in the day to be clouded out, but it did clear up later on.

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

Addendum

Don Flegel at Fishtown

Don Flegel, in the foreground, with the society’s solar telescope assisting a person viewing the Sun at he Leland Heritage Festival 2017 at Fishtown. Don Flegel, in the foreground, with the society’s solar telescope assisting a person viewing the Sun at he Leland Heritage Festival 2017 at Fishtown. Man in the background in the blue cap is Gary Carlisle. Telescope in the middle is mine.

Preparing to start the star party

Preparing to start the May star party 3 years ago at the Dune Climb. A few of the telescopes are visible including the GTAS 25″ “Emmettron” telescope at the far right. Credit: Eileen Carlisle.