Archive for the ‘Celebration’ Category

03/08/2022 – Ephemeris – International Women’s Day

March 8, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for International Women’s Day, Tuesday, March 8th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 32 minutes, setting at 6:39, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:06. The Moon, 2 days before first quarter, will set at 1:25 tomorrow morning.

The planet Venus is the only major planet named after a goddess. Satellites of the planets are named after both male and female deities. When asteroids were discovered between Mars and Jupiter they began to receive female deity names, however errant asteroids that that came close to the Earth’s orbit received male names. Venus, named after the Roman goddess of love, by convention, has female names for its land forms. But before that convention was adopted the first bright radar feature found on Venus, in 1967, was Maxwell Montes, named after James Clerk Maxwell whose work in the 19th century predicted radio waves. It is by reflected radio waves (radar) by which that feature had been found using the Arecibo radio telescope.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.


Venus Map

Radar map of Venus produced by the radar altimeter of the Pioneer Venus Orbiter, 1978-1992. Note Maxwell Montes at the top, part of Ishtar Terra, a continent-like land mass. Another large land mass is Aphrodite Terra in the center right. Click on the image to enlarge it.  Credit: NASA.

04/12/2021 – Ephemeris – Human space flight began 60 years ago today

April 12, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Monday, April 12th. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 21 minutes, setting at 8:24, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:01. The Moon, 1 day past new, will set at 9:05 this evening.

60 years ago today Yuri Gagarin a Soviet Air Force pilot became the first cosmonaut and first person to orbit the Earth in his Vostok-1 spacecraft. The event has been celebrated around the world since 2001 as Yuri’s Night. Gagarin was strictly a passenger on his flight, but was given a key to override the automated functions of the spacecraft to take over manually if needed. He ejected from the capsule as planned to land by parachute. His flight came three weeks before the United States and NASA launched Alan Shepard on his sub-orbital flight in his Freedom 7 Mercury Capsule on May 5th 1961. It wasn’t until February 20th the next year that John Glenn made three orbits of the Earth in his Friendship 7 Capsule to match Gagarin’s feat.

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


Yuri Gagarin in space helmet
Yuri Gagarin in his space suit and helmet.
Vostok-1 rocket at launch
Vostok-1 rocket at launch carrying Yuri Gagarin on his single orbit of the Earth. The current Soyuz rocket is a direct descendant of the R-7 used for Yuri Gagarin’s flight and the Soviet’s first ICBM.
Vostok capsule upopn landing
The Vostok capsule upon landing. Gagarin was ejected from the capsule at 7 kilometers altitude to land with his own parachute rather than trying to survive a rough hard earth landing in the capsule.
Yuri's Night logo
Yuri’s Night logo

06/03/2019 – Ephemeris – We’re starting Ephemeris’ 45th journey around the Sun

June 3, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, June 3rd. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 23 minutes, setting at 9:22, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:59. The Moon is new today, and won’t be visible.

With this program Ephemeris begins its 45th journey around the Sun. While this short program mostly covers the wonders visible in the heavens with the naked eye, binoculars or small telescope, as last week has shown we also cover news developments, hopefully whetting your appetite to dig deeper. Over the last 44 years we’ve seen the rise and demise of the Space Shuttle program, the fantastic images and data brought back by the Hubble Space Telescope, the planetary probes Viking, Voyager, Galileo, Cassini, MESSENGER, New Horizons, Rosetta, Dawn and others to visit all the planets in the solar system plus asteroids, dwarf planets, and comets. Discoveries beyond the solar system boggle the mind. Let’s go for another orbit around the Sun on spaceship Earth.

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


02/02/2015 – Ephemeris – Ground Hog Day and other Cross-Quarter days

February 2, 2015 Comments off

Ephemeris for Ground Hog Day, Monday, February 2nd.  The sun will rise at 8:01.  It’ll be up for 9 hours and 51 minutes, setting at 5:52.   The moon, 1 day before full, will set at 7:26 tomorrow morning.

If Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog in Punxsutawney, PA sees his shadow we’re supposed to be in for 6 weeks of winter, otherwise spring is just around the corner.  The way the seasons really work, is that Ground Hog day is about half the way from the winter solstice to the spring equinox.  In reality calendar-wise winter is about 12 weeks and 5 days, so we only have 6 weeks a few days to go of winter anyway.  Groundhog day, May Day, and All Saints Day are holidays near cross quarter days, which are said to mark when seasons are half over.  It seems no one cares when summer is half over around the first of August when Back to School Sales used to start.  Of course now those sales seem to start the day after school lets out in June.

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


Ground Hog Day

Poor Punxsutawney Phil, rousted out of his mid winter nap. They might be in the middle of a blizzard today. Credit:

04/12/2013 – Ephemeris – Yuri’s Night

April 12, 2013 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, April 12th.  The sun will rise at 7:03.  It’ll be up for 13 hours and 20 minutes, setting at 8:23.   The moon, 2 days past new, will set at 11:00 this evening.

A special celebration has been sneaking into my consciousness: Yuri’s Night.  It is celebrated in many places around the world, including at NASA.  The closest celebration to us is in Ann Arbor. It is the anniversary of Yuri Gargarin’s, and mankind’s first orbital flight around the earth in 1961.  These are all in the nature of parties, talks and the like celebrating the beginning of humankind’s first steps into space.  Gargarin never flew in space again and tragically died in 1968 when his jet crashed.

NASA has released a series of ebooks about the Soviet space program written by Boris Chertok, one of the rocket designers.  It’s in four volumes Rockets and People.  I skipped to the 4th, the Moon Race and their heart breaking development of the N1 moon  rocket that never really worked.

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


Link to NASA’s page to download Rockets and People.