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11/07/2017 – Ephemeris – The autumn constellations are all visible in the early evening

November 7, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Election Day for some folks, Tuesday, November 7th. The Sun will rise at 7:28. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 54 minutes, setting at 5:23. The Moon, 3 days before last quarter, will rise at 8:49 this evening.

We’ll have about an hour and a half of reasonably dark skies between 6:30 and nearly 9 p.m. – At 8 p.m. all the autumn constellations are visible. The Zodiacal constellations from Capricornus in the southwest through Aquarius, Pisces and Aries, all relatively faint to Taurus rising in the east northeast. Pegasus the flying horse is seen in the high south-southeast. It and the connected constellation of Andromeda the chained princess are seen above Aquarius through Aries. The bright star Fomalhaut holds a lonely vigil low in the south, High in the northeast is the W shaped constellation of Cassiopeia the queen, under which is Perseus, her son-in-law and hero down to the bright star Capella.

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

Autumn constellations.

The sky at 8 p.m. November 7, 2017 showing the autumn constellations, centered on the southeastern sky. Click on the image to enlarge. The Milky Way has been brightened to show its passage through Perseus better. The red line is the ecliptic, the path of the Sun through the Zodiac. Created using Stellarium.

Addendum

 

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11/06/2017 – Ephemeris – Taurus’ angry red eye, Aldebaran

November 6, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Monday, November 6th. The Sun will rise at 7:27. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 57 minutes, setting at 5:24. The Moon, 3 days past full, will rise at 7:52 this evening.

Last night the Moon passed in front of or occulted the bright star Aldebaran. Above right of Moon tonight is Aldebaran the bright orange star with a V shape of other stars in the face of Taurus the bull. Aldebaran appears at the lower left tip of that letter V laying on it’s side. With the bright Moon, it might take binoculars to pull out the faint stars of the V. Aldebaran isn’t actually part of the group, called the Hyades star cluster. The cluster is about 153 light years away, while Aldebaran is 65 light years away. The star has an orange hue because its surface is cooler than the Sun’s. However Aldebaran is 44 times larger in diameter, and shines 425 times brighter than the Sun. The name Aldebaran means “Follower” because it follows the Pleiades star cluster above it.

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

Addendum

Aldebaran

Aldebaran in the Hyades (unlabeled), with also the Pleiades, unlabeled, at the top and the Moon. at 9 p.m., November 6, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

11/03/2017 – Ephemeris – The Sun is the topic at tonight’s GTAS meeting

November 3, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, November 3rd. The Sun will rise at 8:23. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 5 minutes, setting at 6:28. The Moon, 1 day before full, will set at 8:35 tomorrow morning.

This evening the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will hold its monthly meeting at the Northwestern Michigan College’s Rogers Observatory at 8 p.m. with a program featuring member Don Flegel in a talk about the Sun. Don’s the keeper of our solar telescope and wanted a good excuse to learn more about the Sun, so he decided to study up and give this talk. That’s how I do it.

After the talk, at 9 p.m. there will be a star party, if it’s clear, to view the heavens including the Moon. The observatory is located south of Traverse City, on Birmley Road between Garfield and Keystone roads.

It’s time to change our clocks again at 2 a.m. Sunday. Turn your clocks back one hour. That’s Fall Back one hour for a bit of extra sleep.

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

Addenda

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.  Man in the background in the blue cap is Gary Carlisle.  The telescope in the middle is mine.

Occultation of Aldebaran by the Moon Sunday Night

Occultation Map

Occultation Map for the occultation of Aldebaran by the Moon . Credit Occult 4 program from IOTA.org.

For the Traverse City/Interlochen area:

Aldebaran Occultation start 8:07 p.m. Nov 5th (01:07 UT Nov 6th)
Aldebaran Occultation end 9:00 p.m. Nov 5th (02:00 UT Nov 6th)

I’ll have an Ephemeris Extra posting, Sunday November 5th with more information.

11/02/2017 – Ephemeris – Interstellar asteroid discovered passing through the solar system

November 2, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Thursday, November 2nd. The Sun will rise at 8:21. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 7 minutes, setting at 6:29. The Moon, 2 days before full, will set at 7:21 tomorrow morning.

Apparently an interloper has entered the solar system. No, it’s not Nibiru, unless Nibiru is only 525 feet (160 meters) across. It’s name, for now, is A/2017 U1. It’s official name, when it gets one, will be given to this new class of asteroids.. It’s on a hyperbolic trajectory, meaning it won’t be back. We know there are rogue planets, kicked out of their star systems, so why not asteroids and comets? It had an interstellar space velocity relative to the Sun of 15.8 miles per second (25.5 km/s) coming from the direction of the constellation of Lyra. Interestingly that’s the direction the Sun is traveling toward relative to our neighboring stars at nearly the same speed. Maybe it didn’t so much as to run into us, but the Sun and our solar system ran into it!

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

Addendum

A/2017 U1

Asteroid A/2017 U1 orbit animation. Click to enlarge. Credit NASA/JPL-Caltech.

This body was discovered because it came close to the Earth.  There are probably many of them passing through the solar system  that never come close enough to be found.

Here’s a link: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/small-asteroid-or-comet-visits-from-beyond-the-solar-system

11/01/2017 – Ephemeris – Looking at the bright planets for November 1st

November 1, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Wednesday, November 1st. The Sun will rise at 8:20. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 10 minutes, setting at 6:30. The Moon, 3 days before full, will set at 6:08 tomorrow morning.

Let’s take our weekly look at the bright planets for this first day of November. Saturn is sinking low in the southwestern sky in the evening. Saturn’s rings are still spectacular in telescopes, but since Saturn is so low in the sky the turbulence of the thick atmosphere makes Saturn fuzzy and seemingly to go in and out of focus. Saturn will set at 9:02 p.m.

Tomorrow in the morning sky, Mars, heading away from the Sun will rise in the east at 5:25 a.m., Venus, is heading closer to the Sun, will rise at 6:53 in the east. Jupiter is in the morning sky but too close to the direction of the Sun to be seen. Mercury has moved into the evening sky and will reach it’s greatest elongation from the Sun in 22 days, but will not be easily visible even then.

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

Addendum

Saturn and the Moon

Saturn and the Moon at 8 p.m. November 1, 2017. Click on the image to enlarge. Create using Stellarium.

Saturn and its brightest moon Titan

Saturn and its brightest moon Titan in the evening of November 1, 2017. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Binocular Moon

The Moon as it might be seen in binoculars at 8 p.m., November 1, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Mars and Venus

Mars and Venus at 7:30 a.m. November 2, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Planets and the Moon on a single night

Planets at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on November 1, 2017. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 2nd. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

10/31/2017 – Ephemeris – Previewing November skies

October 31, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Halloween, Tuesday, October 31st. The Sun will rise at 8:19. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 13 minutes, setting at 6:32. The Moon, half way from first quarter to full, will set at 4:58 tomorrow morning.

Let’s look ahead at the skies for the month of November. The sun is still moving south rapidly. Daylight hours in the Interlochen/Traverse City area and will drop from 10 hours and 10 minutes tomorrow to 9 hours 5 minutes on the 30th. The altitude, or angle, of the Sun above the southern horizon at local noon will be at 30 degrees tomorrow and will descend to 23 and a half degrees on the 30th. The altitude of the Sun in the Straits area will be a degree lower. Local noon, this month, is about 12:30 p.m.

The Leonid meteor shower will reach a peak on the 16th and again on the 17th and is expected to be lackluster and will peak in our afternoon both days, and may only produce 10 meteors per hour.

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

Addenda

November Evening Sky Chart

November star chart

Star Chart for November 2017 (9 p.m. November 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.

November Morning Star Chart

Morning Star Chart

Star Chart for November 2017 mornings based on 6 a.m. November 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 and
  • Follow the spike to Spica
  • The Summer Triangle is in red
  • LeoR is the Leonid meteor shower radiant. Peaks on November 16th and 17th.

Twilight

Evening nautical twilight ends at 7:39 p.m. EDT on the 1st, decreasing to 6:16 p.m. EST on the 30th.
Evening astronomical twilight ends at 8:13 p.m. EDT on the 1st, decreasing to 6:51 p.m. EST on the 30th.
Morning astronomical twilight starts at 6:47 a.m. EDT on the 1st, and increasing to 6:19 a.m. EST on the 30th.
Morning nautical twilight starts at 7:21 a.m. EDT on the 1st, and increasing to 6:55 a.m. EST on the 30th.

NASA Calendar of Planetary Events

    Date   Time     Event 
Nov 01  We          Venus: 16.8° W
    02  Th  8:58 am Venus-Spica: 3.5° N
    04  Sa 12:23 am Full Moon
    05  Su  6:22 am South Taurid Shower: ZHR = 5
    05  Su  7:09 am Moon Perigee: 361400 km
    05  Su  9:19 pm Moon-Aldebaran: 0.7° S
    07  Tu  8:28 pm Moon North Dec.: 19.8° N
    09  Th  8:58 pm Moon-Beehive: 2.7° N
    10  Fr  3:37 pm Last Quarter
    10  Fr  5:40 pm Moon Ascending Node
    11  Sa 11:07 am Moon-Regulus: 0.4° S
    12  Su  5:39 am North Taurid Shower: ZHR = 5
    12  Su 12:48 pm Mercury-Antares: 2.2° N
    14  Tu  7:40 pm Moon-Mars: 3.4° S
    17  Fr 11:56 am Leonid Shower: ZHR = 10
    18  Sa  6:42 am New Moon
    20  Mo  7:34 am Moon-Saturn: 3.3° S
    21  Tu  1:52 pm Moon Apogee: 406100 km
    21  Tu  9:06 pm Moon South Dec.: 20° S
    23  Th  6:59 pm Mercury Elongation: 22° E
    25  Sa  3:22 am Moon Descending Node
    26  Su 12:03 pm First Quarter
    29  We  9:27 am Mars-Spica: 3.1° N
Dec 01  Fr          Venus: 9.4° 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 the entire year
or calendar pages for your time zone.

Sun and Moon Rising and Setting Events

     LU                  Ephemeris of Sky Events for Interlochen/TC
November, 2017    Local time zone: EDT
+-----------------------------------------------------------------------+
| DATE |  SUN     SUN  DAYLIGHT|   TWILIGHT*    |MOON  RISE OR    ILLUM |
|      |  RISE    SET    HOURS |  END    START  |PHASE SET** TIME FRACTN|
+=======================================================================+
|Wed  1| 08:21a  06:31p  10:09 | 07:36p  07:16a |      Set  06:08a   93%|
|Thu  2| 08:22a  06:29p  10:07 | 07:34p  07:17a |      Set  07:21a   98%|
|Fri  3| 08:23a  06:28p  10:04 | 07:33p  07:18a |      Set  08:36a  100%|
|Sat  4| 08:25a  06:27p  10:01 | 07:32p  07:19a |Full  Rise 07:18p   99%|
+------+-----------------------+----------------+-----------------------+
| EST  |      Time Change      |                |                       |
|Sun  5| 07:26a  05:25p  09:59 | 06:31p  06:21a |      Rise 07:01p   95%|
|Mon  6| 07:27a  05:24p  09:56 | 06:30p  06:22a |      Rise 07:52p   89%|
|Tue  7| 07:29a  05:23p  09:53 | 06:29p  06:23a |      Rise 08:49p   80%|
|Wed  8| 07:30a  05:22p  09:51 | 06:27p  06:24a |      Rise 09:52p   70%|
|Thu  9| 07:32a  05:20p  09:48 | 06:26p  06:25a |      Rise 10:59p   60%|
|Fri 10| 07:33a  05:19p  09:46 | 06:25p  06:27a |L Qtr Rise 12:07a   48%|
|Sat 11| 07:34a  05:18p  09:43 | 06:24p  06:28a |      Rise 01:15a   38%|
+------+-----------------------+----------------+-----------------------+
|Sun 12| 07:36a  05:17p  09:41 | 06:24p  06:29a |      Rise 02:21a   28%|
|Mon 13| 07:37a  05:16p  09:38 | 06:23p  06:30a |      Rise 03:26a   19%|
|Tue 14| 07:38a  05:15p  09:36 | 06:22p  06:31a |      Rise 04:30a   12%|
|Wed 15| 07:40a  05:14p  09:34 | 06:21p  06:33a |      Rise 05:32a    6%|
|Thu 16| 07:41a  05:13p  09:31 | 06:20p  06:34a |      Rise 06:34a    2%|
|Fri 17| 07:42a  05:12p  09:29 | 06:19p  06:35a |      Rise 07:34a    0%|
|Sat 18| 07:44a  05:11p  09:27 | 06:19p  06:36a |New   Set  05:48p    0%|
+------+-----------------------+----------------+-----------------------+
|Sun 19| 07:45a  05:10p  09:25 | 06:18p  06:37a |      Set  06:24p    2%|
|Mon 20| 07:46a  05:09p  09:23 | 06:17p  06:38a |      Set  07:04p    6%|
|Tue 21| 07:48a  05:09p  09:21 | 06:17p  06:40a |      Set  07:50p   11%|
|Wed 22| 07:49a  05:08p  09:19 | 06:16p  06:41a |      Set  08:39p   17%|
|Thu 23| 07:50a  05:07p  09:17 | 06:16p  06:42a |      Set  09:33p   25%|
|Fri 24| 07:51a  05:07p  09:15 | 06:15p  06:43a |      Set  10:31p   34%|
|Sat 25| 07:53a  05:06p  09:13 | 06:15p  06:44a |      Set  11:31p   43%|
+------+-----------------------+----------------+-----------------------+
|Sun 26| 07:54a  05:05p  09:11 | 06:14p  06:45a |F Qtr Set  12:33a   53%|
|Mon 27| 07:55a  05:05p  09:09 | 06:14p  06:46a |      Set  01:38a   63%|
|Tue 28| 07:56a  05:04p  09:08 | 06:13p  06:47a |      Set  02:45a   73%|
|Wed 29| 07:57a  05:04p  09:06 | 06:13p  06:48a |      Set  03:54a   82%|
|Thu 30| 07:59a  05:03p  09:04 | 06:13p  06:49a |      Set  05:07a   90%|
+-----------------------------------------------------------------------+
* Nautical Twilight
** Moonrise or moonset, whichever occurs between sunset and sunrise

 

10/30/2017 – Ephemeris – Halloween preview: The Ghoul Star

October 30, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Monday, October 30th. The Sun will rise at 8:17. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 15 minutes, setting at 6:33. The Moon, 3 days past first quarter, will set at 3:50 tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow night is the spookiest night of the year, so lets preview the spookiest star of all. It’s Algol, from Ghoul Star or Demon Star. The Chinese had a name for it that meant ‘piled up corpses’. It’s the second brightest star in the constellation Perseus the hero, rising in the northeast this evening. The star is located where artists have drawn the severed head of Medusa, whom he had slain. Medusa was so ugly that she turned all who gazed upon her to stone. Algol is her still glittering eye. Astronomers finally found out what was wrong with Algol. It does a slow 6 hour wink every two days 21 hours, because it is two stars that eclipse each other. It began to dip this morning just before sunrise and it will again centered on 11:41 p.m. Friday night.

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

Addendum

Algol Finder

Perseus, Cassiopeia, Andromeda with Algol finder animation for Autumn evenings. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

Eclipsing Binary Star

Animation of an eclipsing binary star like Algol. Credit: Wikimedia Commons h/t Earth and Sky