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07/20/2018 – Ephemeris – Two astronomy events this weekend

July 20, 2018 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Friday, July 20th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 5 minutes, setting at 9:21, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:17. The Moon, 1 day past first quarter, will set at 1:57 tomorrow morning.

There are two astronomy events in the Grand Traverse region this weekend, starting tonight with a twilight talk and a star party at the Betsie Valley District Library in Thompsonville. It starts at 8:30 p.m. with a talk about Mars throughout history and how it has fascinated astronomers and the public alike through the ages. After which Jupiter and Saturn will be visible. If cloudy, the talk will go on as scheduled, though the observing part will be rescheduled to a later date. Tomorrow, Saturday there, will be viewing at the Northwestern Michigan College’s Rogers Observatory starting at 9 p.m. Jupiter and Saturn will be featured there too. The Observatory is located south of Traverse City on Birmley road.

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

Addendum

Folks out to see the planets

A group of folks out to see the planets with the member’s and society’s telescopes. Credit staff of the Betsie Valley District Library.

Scooter girl

Scooter girl checking out the view through the rear finder of the society’s 25″ “Dobinator”. Credit staff of the Betsie Valley District Library.

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07/16/2018 – Ephemeris – Lyra the harp, Hermes’ invention

July 16, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, July 16th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 12 minutes, setting at 9:24, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:13. The Moon, 3 days before first quarter, will set at 12:02 tomorrow morning.

Very high up in the eastern sky at 11 p.m. can be found a bright star just north of a small, narrow, but very distinctive parallelogram of stars. They are the stars of the constellation Lyra the harp. The bright star is Vega, one of the twenty one brightest first magnitude stars. Vega is actually the 5th brightest night-time star. The harp, according to Greek mythology, was invented by the god Hermes. The form of the harp in the sky, is as he had invented it: by stretching strings across a tortoise shell. Hermes gave it to his half-brother Apollo, who in turn gave it to the great musician Orpheus. The Sun has a motion with respect to most stars around it. Its direction is towards the vicinity of Lyra.

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

Addenda

Annimated Lyra finder chart

Animated Lyra finder chart. with Vega and the other named stars of the Summer Triangle. The lyre image not supplied by Stellarium but is from The World’s Earliest Music by Hermann Smith, Figure 60, A Project Gutenberg Ebook, and captioned “The Chelys or Greek Tortoiseshell Lyre”. Click on the image to enlarge Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

Last Saturday night’s wild Sun ‘n Star Party

Last Saturday night the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society, myself included, and the rangers and volunteers of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore held our Sun ‘n Star Party at the Dune Climb.  I live 20 miles southeast of the Dune Climb, and about half way between Traverse City and Interlochen.  It’s also the location for which the Ephemeris sunrise and sunset times are calculated for.  We rely on the GOES East satellite imagery to show us the cloud patterns and movement.  Saturday morning was pretty overcast and hot.  GOES East showed that a big clearing was heading for us.  At 1 p.m. I emailed our members that the event was a GO, and began to pack up the car with my two telescopes, and assorted items.  Meanwhile some raindrops were showing up on the windshield.  A check with weather radar on my phone confirmed that some rainstorms were popping up between my location and Lake Michigan.  This is rather normal when it’s hot and humid in the afternoon, and wouldn’t affect the Dune area close to the lake.  In driving to the Dune Climb I drove through some rain showers, but the skies cleared by the time I got within 5 miles from the lake.

The solar observing from 4 to 6 p.m.was great, except for no sunspots.  We had 2 solar telescopes that did reveal some prominences.  The sky was clear.  The storm clouds were receding to the east.  Of course we couldn’t see much to the west because the dune was in the way.  Its angular altitude averaged 12 degrees.  Some of us stayed there and ate our dinner.  By 7:30 the wind came up from the southwest.  A check of the GOES East satellite showed us a large, roughly square cloud the width of the lake slowly moving northward that was just south of us.  Just after 8 p.m. we noticed clouds looming from the south, then fog was overtaking the tops of the dunes to the southwest.  Shortly thereafter we were socked in.  At a little after 9 p.m. Marie Scott the ranger in charge of this event gave introductions, and handed the microphone to me, who introduced our members and went over what we were supposed to see that night.  We couldn’t track this cloud anymore by satellite because it was between the daytime color imagery and the nighttime infrared imagery.  However around 10 p.m. someone spotted Vega, nearly overhead.  And while I was swinging my 11″ Dobsonian towards it, someone else called out Jupiter.  Looking around the fog was lifting.  The night was salvaged.  We stayed over an hour after the official 11 p.m. to watch Mars rise near the end of the star party, and finally view some of the wonders of the dark summer sky.

This was the fourth of seven monthly star parties scheduled at the Dunes this year.  It was the first we didn’t cancel due to weather.  We generally cancel one or two of then a year, but to start the year with three was depressing.

 

07/13/2018 – Ephemeris – Sun ‘n Star Party set for tomorrow at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

July 13, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, July 13th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 17 minutes, setting at 9:26, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:10. The Moon, 1 day past new, will set at 10:04 this evening.

Tomorrow afternoon and evening will be what we call a Sun & Star Party at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Hosted by the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society and the rangers of the park. This event will be held at the Dune Climb. From 4 to 6 p.m., the Sun will be featured using two types of telescopes, one showing the Sun’s photosphere in what we call white light, looking for sunspots, and another showing the chromosphere above it in the light of hydrogen giving a completely different view.

Starting at 9 p.m. will be a star party, actually mostly a planet party, viewing the planets Venus, Jupiter and Saturn, plus near the end of the night, Mars. There will be other celestial wonders visible in the deepening twilight. If cloudy one or both events will be cancelled. The astronomers will be back Sunday night if that night is clear.

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

Addendum

Dune Climb Setup

This in the beginning of setup for the October 21, 2917 star party at the dune climb. Taken early while there was enough light. The dune blocks up to 12 degrees from the southwest to northwest, but the rest of the horizon is quite low. Venus will be high enough to clear the dune for during the day and early evening.

Setting up my telescopes at the Dune Climb

My equipment at the Dune Climb on October 21, 2017. My 11″ Dobsonian is in the foreground. The tripod for my Celestron 8 is laying on the ground behind it yet to be set up.
I pointed the Dobsonian at a variety of deep sky objects, while the C8 was pointed to Saturn and tracking that night.

07/06/2018 – Ephemeris – Learn about meteorites tonight

July 6, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, July 6th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 26 minutes, setting at 9:30, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:04. The Moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 2:06 tomorrow morning.

Meteorites will be the topic given by Joe Brooks local meteorite expert and collector at this evening’s meeting of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society at 8 p.m. at Northwestern Michigan College’s Rogers Observatory. He even has a meteorite of a type called a Howardite that the Dawn spacecraft that orbited the asteroid Vesta has determined to be from the there. Today we are all too aware that stones and even bigger asteroids can collide with the Earth, so studying meteorites and the asteroids they come from is important. Everyone is welcome. Also at 9 p.m. there will be a star party at the observatory. The observatory is located south of Traverse City on Birmley Road between Garfield and Keystone roads.

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

Addendum

A Howardite meteorite is a chip off this old block.

Vesta as Dawn headed off to Ceres.

Looking back at Vesta as Dawn headed off to Ceres. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCAL/MPS/DLR/IDA

06/24/2018 – I’ll be out at the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore Dune Climb tonight

June 24, 2018 Comments off

I’m hoping to be out there and set up before 9 p.m.  It’s a planet fest of sorts with Venus, Jupiter and Saturn plus a nearly full Moon.  Sorry, Mars won’t rise till nearly midnight.  Dress warmly, it’s supposed to get down into the 50’s, and with a north wind, may seem even colder.

See you there?

Keep looking up!

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06/22/2018 – Ephemeris – Sun ‘n Star Party scheduled for tomorrow June 23

June 22, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, June 22nd. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 34 minutes, setting at 9:32, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:57. The Moon, 2 days past first quarter, will set at 3:25 tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow afternoon and evening will be what we call a Sun & Star Party at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This event will be held at the Dune Climb. From 4 to 6 p.m., the Sun will be featured using two types of telescopes, one showing the sun’s photosphere in what we call white light, hoping the Sun will produce a sunspot of two, and another showing the chromosphere above it in the light of hydrogen giving a completely different view with possibly more activity. Starting at 9 p.m. will be a star party, actually really a planet party, viewing the planets Venus, Jupiter and Saturn, plus the Moon. There will be other objects visible in the deepening twilight.  The event is due to the cooperation of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society and the park rangers.

Update:  The Sun and Star Parties are subject to cancellation separately based on weather.  Check back to this here if there is a cancellation or call the park at 231-326-4700.  The park’s web page for this event is here.   If Saturday night star party is cancelled, some members of the society will hold their own observation session at the Dune Climb Sunday night.  Notification will be posted by 7 p.m. here if that event will take place.  We also invite anyone with a telescope and experienced in its use to join us.  For anyone who wants to have us look at their telescope or give them tips, come to our NMC Rogers observatory star parties which are listed on our society web site: http://www.gtastro.org. Those star parties are less hectic.

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

Addendum

Dune Climb Setup

This in the beginning of setup for the October 21, 2917 star party at the dune climb. Taken early while there was enough light. The dune blocks up to 12 degrees from the southwest to northwest, but the rest of the horizon is quite low. Venus will be high enough to clear the dune for most of the evening.

Setting up my telescopes at the Dune Climb

My equipment at the Dune Climb on October 21, 2017. My 11″ Dobsonian is in the foreground. The tripod for my Celestron 8 is laying on the ground behind it yet to be set up.
I pointed the Dobsonian at a variety of deep sky objects, while the C8 was pointed to Saturn and tracking that night.

06/01/2018 – Ephemeris – Presentation tonight: Cosmic rays and the quiet Sun

June 1, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, June 1st. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 21 minutes, setting at 9:21, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:59. The Moon, 3 days past full, will rise at 11:57 this evening.

Tonight at 8 p.m. at the June meeting of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society at Northwestern Michigan College’s Rogers Observatory, Observatory Director Jerry Dobek will be giving a talk on how the Earth is receiving more cosmic rays from outside the solar system now that the Sun is in its quiet phase. Cosmic rays are not like x-rays or other forms of electromagnetic radiation. They are particles, bare nuclei of atoms, some pretty heavy. They are a danger to airline crews who fly over the north pole daily. After the meeting, at 9 p.m. the society will host a star party to view the planets Venus and Jupiter. The observatory is located south of Traverse City on Birmley Road between Garfield and Keystone roads.
43rd Anniversary of Ephemeris!

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