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Archive for the ‘Ephemeris Program’ Category

08/13/2019 – Ephemeris – Apollo 11 at 50: Soviet Moon landing plans

August 13, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, August 13th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 9 minutes, setting at 8:51, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:43. The Moon, 2 days before full, will set at 5:36 tomorrow morning.

The United States thought it was in a race to the Moon with the Soviets in the 1960s. The Russians in the meantime were pushing for space firsts, like the first man in space, first woman, first space walk. So they started too late with their Moon landing plans, on top of that their chief rocket designer Sergei Korolev died of a botched surgery in 1966 leading to a struggle for leadership. Despite their huge N-1 rocket, the payload to the lunar surface was less than the US had. They would have a 2 man crew in the Soyuz capsule and a one man lander they designated LK. The LK, much smaller than the US’s Lunar Module and to my knowledge was never tested and it never flew in space. The four moon rockets they built never flew more than a few seconds each.

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

Addendum

Saturn V vs. N1

Comparison between The United States Saturn V and the Soviet N-1. Click on the image to enlarge. Credit Karl Tate, Space.com.

Lunar Descent and Ascent Diagram

The Lunar landing strategy. When it comes to landing one cosmonaut space walks from the Soyuz (LOK) to the LK lander. The fifth stage called Block-D accomplishes the de-orbit burn of the lander, and is jettisoned. The LK is a two part vehicle somewhat like the American LM, except one engine accomplishes both landing and takeoff. On lunar rendezvous with the LOK the LK is the passive member of the docking. Credit: Rockets and People Volume IV The Moon Race by Boris Chertok/NASA.

The Rockets and People series can be downloaded from NASA.gov:  https://history.nasa.gov/series95.html. Look under Memoirs.

The LK Lander.

The LK Lander. Credit: Rockets and People Vol. IV/ NASA.

LK vs. LM

A comparison of the size of the LK Lander and the American Lunar Module (LM).  Click on the image to enlarge. Credit Wikipedia/ebs08.

08/12/2019 – Ephemeris – Apollo 8’s giant leap to the Moon

August 12, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, August 12th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 12 minutes, setting at 8:53, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:42. The Moon, 3 days before full, will set at 4:38 tomorrow morning. | On the road to the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon 50 years ago was Apollo 8’s Christmas orbiting of the Moon in 1968. Apollo 7’s shakedown of the Command and service modules in October that year meant that they had a good spacecraft. However on September 28th that year a US spy satellite photographed a giant rocket of approximately the same size as the Saturn V on a launch pad at the Tyuratam Missile Test Center in the Soviet Union. Were they going to get to the Moon before us? Also Grumman was behind schedule with producing the Lunar Module for Apollo 8’s scheduled shakedown of that module in Earth orbit. NASA then decided to send Apollo 8 to the Moon instead and not miss a launch opportunity.

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

Addendum

KH-8 spy satellite photo of an N-1 rocket on the launch pad on September 28, 1968.

Apollo 8 crew from he left: Frank Borman, Bill Anders, and Jim Lovell.

The famous Earthrise photograph: ”We went to the Moon and Discovered the Earth.” Credit NASA/Apollo 8/Bill Anders.

 

08/09/2019 – Ephemeris – Sun and Star Party tomorrow at the Sleeping Bear Dunes

August 9, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, August 9th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 20 minutes, setting at 8:57, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:39. The Moon, 2 days past first quarter, will set at 2:11 tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow The Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will be part of the Port Oneida Rural Arts and Culture Fair, an event sponsored by the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The society will bring their telescopes to the Thoreson Farm on Thoreson Road off M22 North of Glen Arbor for a Sun ‘n Star party beginning at 4 p.m. The evening events start at 9 p.m. Thoreson Road is a loop off M22. On tap will be the waxing gibbous Moon with the feature called Bay of Rainbows thrust into sunlight at the edge of the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn. Even though the moonlit skies will be bright, there are plenty of wonders still visible in the telescopes. There will also be a few bright Perseid meteors to wow the viewer.

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

Addendum

 

Viewing the Sun at Thoreson Farm

Viewing the Sun at Thoreson Farm 2018. Credit: Eileen Carlisle.

Twilight at Thoreson Farm 2017

Twilight at Thoreson Farm 2017. Credit: Eileen Carlisle.

08/08/2019 – Ephemeris – Astronomy at the next three Friday Night Lives

August 8, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, August 8th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 22 minutes, setting at 8:59, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:37. The Moon, 1 day past first quarter, will set at 1:33 tomorrow morning.

Starting tomorrow evening and the next two Fridays members of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will bring their telescopes to Friday Night Live on Front Street in Traverse City. From 5:30 to 9 p.m. the members will be in the streets with their telescopes showing the Sun and other objects of interest. The newest society telescope is a new solar telescope that shows the Sun in the light of the element hydrogen revealing a thin region of the Sun above the bright ball we see, and clouds of hydrogen above this layer. After 9 p.m., if it’s clear, the telescopes will be pulled back to the sidewalk to view and show the Moon this Friday, and Jupiter and Saturn all of the Fridays.

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

Addendum

White light viewing of the Sun

Viewing the Sun with a while light filter at Friday Night Live using Ron Uthe’s telescope at Friday Night Live. Credit Bob Moler.

Friday Night Live

After Friday Night Live is over we pull the telescopes back to the sidewalk to view the Moon and planets. Credit: Bob Moler.

08/07/2019 – Ephemeris – Let’s check out the bright planets for this week

August 7, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Wednesday, August 7th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 25 minutes, setting at 9:00, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:36. The Moon, at first quarter today, will set at 1:00 tomorrow morning.

Let’s look at the planets for the first full week in August. Mars, Mercury and Venus are all too close to the Sun to be seen. Mars is still on the evening or east side of the Sun. Mercury and Venus are on the west or morning side of the Sun. Bright Jupiter will be in the southern sky as it gets dark. It will pass the meridian, due south at 9:30 p.m. With steadily held binoculars a few of the 4 largest satellites of Jupiter can be seen. Four of Jupiter’s largest satellites can be spotted in telescopes tonight. Two, on the east and two west of Jupiter. Jupiter will set at 1:58 a.m. Saturn, the ringed planet, will be in the south-southeast in the evening, the brightest star-like object in that direction, but significantly dimmer than Jupiter. It will set at 4:10 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, Saturn and the Moon with the bright stars of the southern summer sky at 10:30 p.m. August 7, 2019. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

The first quarter Moon

The first quarter Moon as it might appear in binoculars or a small telescope tonight at 10:30 p.m. August 7, 2019. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic Planets

Jupiter and Saturn with the same magnification at 1o:30 p.m.August 7, 2019. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Planets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on August 7, 2019. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 8th. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

08/06/2019 – Ephemeris – More about viewing the Perseid meteor shower: Meteor trains

August 6, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, August 6th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 27 minutes, setting at 9:02, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:35. The Moon, 1 day before first quarter, will set at 12:29 tomorrow morning.

The Perseid meteor shower has to compete this years with the bright waxing Moon, so only the brightest meteors will be visible, However even though this cuts down on the meteors visible, it happens that some of the brightest of meteors leave smokey trains, which can be seen in binoculars. Unlike aircraft contrails which are created the same altitude, meteor trains descend through the atmosphere where the winds at the different altitudes slowly bend and twist the train, tearing it up. The same occurs with any really bright meteor, Perseid or not. So remember to add binoculars to your meteor viewing kit along with a blanket, warm coat, mosquito spray and hot coffee or other beverage.

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

Addendum

These are screen caps from a time lapse video by Australian Phil Hart of a meteor train being torn apart by upper level winds. Credit Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy/Phil Hart.  This was not a Perseid meteor.

The actual video and much more about meteor trains are located here:  https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/catching-meteor-train.

08/05/2019 – Ephemeris – Previewing the Perseid meteor shower

August 5, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, August 5th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 30 minutes, setting at 9:03, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:34. The Moon, 2 days before first quarter, will set at 12:01 tomorrow morning.

After the Moon sets in the morning hours for the next week and a half the numbers of meteors visible will increase each night. These are members of the Perseid meteor shower of August. The peak this year is expected to be during the morning of the 13th. However by then the Moon will be nearly full. These meteors are the result of debris left along the orbit of Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle shed by innumerable visits to the inner solar system. Every year at this time the Earth passes through this trail of debris which intersects its orbit giving rise to the meteor shower. We call them the Perseids, because they appear to come from the direction of the constellation Perseus the hero, which is first seen in the early evening low in the northeast.

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

Addendum

Perseid Radiant

The Perseid radiant is located off the highest star in Perseus as it ascends the sky at about 10:30 p.m. The Perseid radiant is circumpolar for observers in northern Michigan. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

Swift-Tuttle 1992 plot

The passage of Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle through the inner solar system November 1, 1992 to January 30, 1993. The meteoroids shed by the comet on its numerous trips close to the Sun lie close to that orbit. Note that its orbit intersects with the Earth’s orbit. That’s where the Earth will be around August 12-13 every year. Created using my LookingUp program.