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06/03/2022 – Ephemeris – GTAS Astronomy meeting tonight explores women of science

June 3, 2022 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Friday, June 3rd. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 23 minutes, setting at 9:23, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:58. The Moon, halfway from new to first quarter, will set at 1:11 tomorrow morning.

Tonight at 9 pm, the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will have an in-person meeting at Northwestern Michigan College’s Rogers Observatory. The meeting will also be available via Zoom. The program will be presented by Becky Shaw. Her presentation will be An Encore to the Women of Science. Becky’s programs have always feature historic women of science, from Hypatia of ancient Alexandria to Cecilia Payne’s historic discovery of the elemental makeup of stars 100 years ago. If it’s clear, there will be a star party following the meeting. The observatory is located south of Traverse City off Birmley Road, between Garfield and Keystone roads. A Zoom link will be available at gtastro.org before the meeting.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT – 4 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

This meeting will mark the 40th anniversary of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society. I hear someone might be bringing 40 cupcakes to celebrate.

Three of the female astronomers and planetary scientists I follow on Twitter are:

Alessondra Springmann @sondy, Planetary scientist
Dr. Katie Mack, @AstroKatie, Theoretical astrophysicist, Author of The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking)
Dr Carolyn Porco, @carolynporco, Planetary scientist

There are lots more in all the science disciplines.

05/06/2022 – Ephemeris – Tonight: wander through the celestial wonders in Sagittarius

May 6, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Friday, May 6th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 28 minutes, setting at 8:53, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:24. The Moon, 2 days before first quarter, will set at 2:35 tomorrow morning.

Tonight at 8 pm, the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will have an in-person meeting at Northwestern Michigan College’s Rogers Observatory. The meeting will also be available via Zoom. The program will be presented by Dan Dall’Olmo. Who spends many of his nights photographing the heavens. He will show the wonders in and around the Milky Way in the summer constellation of Sagittarius. It’s just the thing to prepare us for the wonderful dark nights of August. If it’s clear, there will be a star party following the meeting. The observatory is located south of Traverse City off Birmley Road, between Garfield and Keystone roads. A Zoom link is available at gtastro.org.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT – 4 hours). They may be different for your location.

04/01/2022 – Ephemeris – Astro meeting tonight – astronomy meets geology

April 1, 2022 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for April Fools’ Day, Friday, April 1st. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 46 minutes, setting at 8:10, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:21. The Moon is new today, and won’t be visible.

Tonight at 8 pm, the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will have our first in-person meeting in two years at Northwestern Michigan College’s Rogers Observatory. The meeting will also be available via Zoom. The program will be presented by Debbie Bull, from the Grand Traverse Rock and Mineral Club. Her topic will be: Impactite from the Sudbury, Ontario Impact Event. Sudbury is only 260 miles northeast from Traverse City, more if you drive it. 1.85 billion years ago, a small asteroid or comet hit there, making the 3rd largest crater discovered on the Earth. If it’s clear, there will be a star party following the meeting. More information on the observatory location and a Zoom link, go to gtastro.org.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT – 4 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

The Northwestern Michigan College’s Rogers Observatory is located south of Traverse City on Birmley Road. It’s south of Hammond Road between Garfield and Keystone roads. The observatory has limited seating and masks may be required. This will be the first in-person meeting that will also be covered by Zoom, so technical problems may occur.

03/04/2022 – Ephemeris – Tonight, an illustrated Zoom talk: “Light Pollution: Cause and Effect”

March 4, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Friday, March 4th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 19 minutes, setting at 6:34, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:13. The Moon, 2 days past new, will set at 8:56 this evening.

The Grand Traverse Astronomical Society (GTAS) will hold a virtual meeting and program at 8 pm tonight via Zoom. For the program, Dr. Jerry Dobek, astronomy professor at Northwestern Michigan College, will present an illustrated talk – Light Pollution: Cause and Effect. The focus of the talk will be on the general causes and effects of light pollution, as well as examples of proper lighting. Dr. Dobek has helped write lighting ordinances for governments here and around the nation. A virtual star party will start around 9 pm, also hosted by Dr. Dobek, but only if it’s clear in Traverse City. It will feature the wonders of the winter and early spring sky. Instructions to join the meeting and a link can be found on the society’s website, gtastro.org. All are welcome.

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.

Addendum

Michigan lights at night from space

Michigan lights at night from space, with pointer to Traverse City. Image credit: NASA, animation created using LibreOffice and GIMP.

If COVID-19 stays tamped down this spring and summer, the GTAS will be working with the rangers of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore to schedule monthly sun and star parties. The areas of the park we observe from are generally northwest (above, left in the image above) of Traverse City, near the shore of Lake Michigan.

01/07/2022 – Ephemeris – Help with your telescope tonight

January 7, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Friday, January 7th. Today the Sun will be up for 8 hours and 59 minutes, setting at 5:19, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:19. The Moon, 2 days before first quarter, will set at 11:18 this evening.

Did you or someone in your family get a telescope for Christmas, or have one in a closet or attic because you don’t know how to put it together or how to operate it? Or maybe you are trying to figure out which one to buy. Well, tonight’s your night. The Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will host a virtual telescope clinic via Zoom starting at 8 pm. Professor Jerry Dobek of Northwestern Michigan College will demonstrate the types of telescopes and how to use them. He and other members may be able to help particular problems by seeing participants telescopes using their webcams or smartphones. This should be interesting, to say the least. Go to gtastro.org for information and a link for the meeting.

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.

Addendum

Here’s a quick guide to telescopes, how they work, and what’s important in selecting one that I wrote some time ago: Telescope Basics2.pdf

Alternately, when we get back to in-person star parties at the Northwestern Michigan College’s Joseph H. Rogers Observatory, we invite folks to bring their telescopes. Members can have a look at them at or near the end of the evening.

12/03/2021 – Ephemeris – Learn about the astronomy of the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians

December 3, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Friday, December 3rd. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours even, setting at 5:02, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:03. The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 8:33 tomorrow morning.

This evening yours truly will present one of my annual holiday programs starting at 8 p.m., at the monthly meeting, via Zoom, of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society. The talk is a new one: The ancient astronomy of the Egyptians and Babylonians. It’s amazing how these ancient astronomers devised accurate calendars and eclipse predictions and even helped develop our alphabet, through the study of the heavens. If clear, we’ll have a virtual star party starting around 9 pm. Instructions and a link is on gtastro.org by 7 pm. Our binocular comet Leonard is still approaching the Sun in the morning sky. Tomorrow morning it will be a bit less than the width of a fist held at arm’s length above and a bit to the left of the bright star Arcturus in the eastern sky.

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.

Addendum

The Egyptian used the heliacal rising of Sirius as a signal that the flooding of the Nile was imminent, starting their agricultural year. The Greeks called the star Sothis, while the Egyptians themselves called it Sopdet, a goddess, and consort of the god Sah, our Orion. Part of my presentation.

11/05/2021 – Ephemeris – Astronomy meeting tonight via Zoom

November 5, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Friday, November 5th. The Sun will rise at 8:26. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 59 minutes, setting at 6:25. The Moon, 1 day past new, will set at 7:04 this evening.

The Grand Traverse Astronomical Society hold a virtual meeting and program at 8 pm tonight via Zoom. For the program, yours truly will present Asteroids in the News. Two new NASA asteroid missions are in the news, the just launched Lucy mission to investigate seven of Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids and later this month the launching a planetary defense mission test called DART to attempt to deflect a small asteroid orbiting another. A virtual star party will start around 9 pm, hosted by Dr. Jerry Dobek, astronomy professor at Northwestern Michigan College, but only if it’s clear in Traverse City. It will feature Jupiter and Saturn, wonders of the autumn sky. Instructions to join the meeting and a link can be found on the society’s website, http://www.gtastro.org.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT – 4 hours). They may be different for your location.

10/01/2021 Ephemeris – Learn about exoplanets and have a star party tonight (virtually)

October 1, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Friday, October 1st. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 41 minutes, setting at 7:22, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:42. The Moon, 3 days past last quarter, will rise at 2:49 tomorrow morning.

The Grand Traverse Astronomical Society hold a virtual meeting and program at 8 pm tonight via Zoom. For the program, yours truly will present Finding Exoplanets. Exoplanets are planets found orbiting other stars or rogue planets floating in interstellar space alone. We’ve actually only seen a handful of exoplanets, so most are detected by their effects on their host star. A virtual star party will start around 9 pm, hosted by Dr. Jerry Dobek, astronomy professor at Northwestern Michigan College, but only if it’s clear in Traverse City. It will feature Jupiter and Saturn, wonders of the northern part of the summer Milky Way. Instructions to join the meeting and a link can be found on the society’s website, http://www.gtastro.org.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT-4 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Finding Exoplanets title slide

Finding Exoplanets title slide.

09/10/2021 – Ephemeris – Rescheduled virtual Sleeping Bear Dunes/GTAS star party set for tomorrow, Saturday night the 11th

September 10, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Friday, September 10th. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 46 minutes, setting at 8:02, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:17. The Moon, 3 days before first quarter, will set at 10:05 this evening.

Tomorrow night the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society (GTAS) will host an online star party starting around 9 pm via the Zoom app available for Android smartphones, iPhones and computers. This is rescheduled from last week due to clouds. Instructions for joining are on the society’s website, gtastro.org. Images will be captured live from Northwestern Michigan College’s Joseph H Rogers Observatory. The images will be pretty much what is seen at the telescope eyepiece, and definitely not Hubble Space Telescope quality, which take weeks or months to process. Visible will be the five-day-old Moon, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and the wonders of the Milky Way.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT – 4 hr). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

During the GTAS board meeting, September 3rd, just before the canceled  star party, it was decided to hold off the decision on in person star parties until spring of 2022. We’ll follow the state of the pandemic in our area over the winter and see where we stand. Star parties at the Northwestern Michigan College’s Joseph H. Rogers Observatory could start in March. Star parties at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore have in the past started in April.

We may still use imagers on our telescopes to capture celestial objects for display on laptop computers rather than viewing through the eyepiece. The society has two imagers, and the Observatory another. The society’s imagers can be used on society’s and members telescopes. This will solve the problems of having to sanitize telescope eyepieces between observers. At this point, I’m not sure what sanitizing products do to the delicate anti-reflective coatings on eyepieces.

We will also pay more attention to viewing the heavens with the naked eye or binoculars that people may have. Bring your own. Learning the constellations is always the best way to be introduced to astronomy, and the only way, up until 411 years ago. And binoculars are a great first telescope.

09/03/2021 – Ephemeris – Tonight: Virtual Star Party via Zoom with the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

September 3, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Friday, September 3rd. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 7 minutes, setting at 8:15, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:09. The Moon, 3 days before new, will rise at 4:01 tomorrow morning.

Tonight the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will host an online star party this evening starting around 9 pm via the Zoom app available for Android smartphones, iPhones and computers. Instructions for joining are on the society’s website, gtastro.org. Images will be captured live, if it’s clear, from Northwestern Michigan College’s Joseph H Rogers Observatory. The images will be pretty much what is seen at the telescope eyepiece, and definitely not Hubble Space Telescope quality, which take weeks to process. Visible will be the Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and wonders of the Milky Way, some really neat star clusters, and nebulae, that is clouds of gas and dust in the Milky Way.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT – 4 hr). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Also, the planets Venus, Saturn and Jupiter will be visible during the session.

This post is going out at Midnight the night before, and the forecast is for clouds. It is possible that we will reschedule for Friday the 10th. If so, I’ll have a post about it then.