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08/06/2018 – Ephemeris – The meteors of August, the Perseids are showing up now

August 6, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, August 6th. The Sun rises at 6:34. It’ll be up for 14 hours and 27 minutes, setting at 9:01. The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 2:27 tomorrow morning.

Over the past several weeks folks outdoors at night might have been seeing some shooting stars or meteors appearing to zip past in the sky. The ones I’m talking about seem to come from the northeast. These are the precursors of the Perseid meteor shower which will reach its peak on the night of August 12 and 13 this year. Over the millennia the meteoroid stream that feeds the meteors to our skies has spread out to last over a month from the latter half of July to three-quarters of August. We’ll meet the culprit for this show tomorrow. I try to use the proper terminology for all this. Meteoroid is the tiny body in space. In the Perseid’s case the size of a grain of sand to a pea. Meteor is the streak we see in the sky as it burns up.  Meteorite is the body that makes it to the ground.  To my knowledge no Perseid meteoroid has made it that far.

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 at 11 p.m. tonight, August 6, 2018. Note that the radiant position is different from what I show on my charts for the month. The radiant there is for the night of the Maximum, August 12th. The radiant point shifts with time due to Earth’s changing position with the meteoroid stream. Click on image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

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Ephemeris Extra – The great meteor shower of August

August 5, 2018 Comments off

This post from the Grand Traverse Astronomical Newsletter “Stellar Sentinel” was written for August of 2018. The dates and times of the peak may change a bit from year to year.

The Perseid meteor shower is the second most active annual meteor shower. The most active is the Geminids of December during a period that’s cold and generally very cloudy here in Northern Michigan. Consequently, I’ve never seen a Geminid meteor.

The Perseid meteor shower is the most famous as the August meteor shower, coming on the warm summer month. In Northern Michigan the radiant of the shower, the point in the sky from which they appear to come, is circumpolar, which means they are visible anytime in dark skies from dusk to dawn.

The Perseids are so named because they appear to come from near the constellation of Perseus the hero, an autumn constellation that starts the evening low in the northeast and rises and moves to high in the east near dawn. In earlier times these meteors were called the Tears of St. Lawrence, who was martyred in AD 255. His Feast day is August 10th, the day he died, which falls very close to the peak activity of the shower.

The Perseid meteors are visible for over a month from about July 17th to August 24th, with peak activity between August 12th at 4 p.m. to August 13th at 4 a.m. EDT. So the peak activity will partially be during our night hours, and the one day old Moon will not interfere at all. The peak hourly rate may reach 100 per hour at times. All things being equal, the higher the radiant is in the sky the greater the numbers of meteors seen. The Perseid radiant will be rising all night, being highest as the first light of dawn appears. Even though the numbers of meteors are fewer I like to start looking by 10:30 p.m. With the radiant low in the sky, the meteoroid particles we see are almost skimming the atmosphere, lasting longer. There’s is nothing so cool as to see a bright Perseid meteor seeming to fly along the Milky Way. The radiant point is in the Milky Way between Perseus below, and Cassiopeia above.

Perseid Radiant

The Perseid radiant is located off the highest star is Perseus as it rises about 11 p.m. August 12, 2018. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

Observing this meteor shower is very easy and one needs no special equipment. A blanket to lie on, mosquito repellent, warm clothes, some water and snacks, if staying the night, and a dark location. My preferred location is the Dune Climb at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It has no light, except the occasional car lights and has modern restroom facilities and a low horizon except in the west. I supposed one could climb up the dune to get rid of even the car lights. Even though the radiant is in the northeast, the meteors will appear all over the sky.

Binoculars are nice to take a break to explore the Milky Way and to observe the smoky train left by a particularly bright meteor. These can be viewed for a minute of more and deform and twist due to the different wind directions and speeds at different altitudes.

What causes the Perseid meteor shower and why does it occur at the same time every year?

The Perseid meteor shower, like all meteor showers are caused by the debris left along the orbits of comets. If the comet’s orbit crosses close to the Earth’s orbit we can get a meteor shower. Comets spend the majority of their time far from the Sun, where it’s very cold, and are in very elongated orbits.

Comets are made from rocky bits, dust and frozen gasses. As the comet comes into the inner solar system the Sun heats it up and the frozen gasses sublimate, are ionized by the Sun’s radiation and are caught into the thin ion tail. This liberates the comet’s fine dust which is blown away from the Sun by the pressure of sunlight into a broad dust tail. Larger particles end up traveling in the comet’s path, and are affected mainly by the Sun and the various gravitational tugs of the planets.

The comet responsible for the Perseids is 109P/Swift-Tuttle. It was independently discovered by L. Swift and P. Tuttle in 1862. It was recorded as being seen in 69 BC by, you guessed it, the Chinese. It’s a big comet, with a nucleus some 16 miles in diameter, and it crosses the Earth’s orbit, so it is a potentially hazardous object, and if it hit the Earth, would wreak more damage than the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs. From the 1862 appearance the comet was given a period of 120 years. It didn’t show in 1982. An observation of the previous appearance of the comet in 1737 allowed a recalculation of the orbit and a new return year of 1992. That was correct. The comet was recovered that year.

The comet will return in 2126. The calculations used to predict the 1992 return suggested that the comet could possible collide with the Earth. However observations of the 1992 appearance of the comet determined that the comet, though it would pass close to the Earth, is not a hazard. But it should be really bright. I can’t wait!

07/31/2018 – Ephemeris – Previewing August skies

July 31, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, July 31st. The Sun rises at 6:27. It’ll be up for 14 hours and 41 minutes, setting at 9:09. The Moon, half way from full to last quarter, will rise at 11:17 this evening.

Let’s look ahead at the month of August in the skies. Daylight hours will decrease from 14 hours and 39 minutes tomorrow to 13 hours 17 minutes on the 31st. The altitude of the sun at local noon, that is degrees of angle above the horizon will decrease from 63 degrees tomorrow to just over 53 degrees on the 31st. Straits area listeners can subtract one more degree from those angles. Local noon, when the Sun is due south, is about 1:43 p.m. The Perseid meteor shower will reach its peak all night on the 12th. It will be a dark night with the one day old moon setting at 10 p.m. The radiant point, where the meteors will seem to come from, will be rising higher in the northeastern sky all night. On the 17th Venus will reach ts greatest separation from the Sun in the evening sky.

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

Addendum

August Evening Star Chart

August evening star chart

Star Chart for August 2018 (10 p.m. EDT August 15, 2018). Created using my LookingUp program. Click on image to enlarge.

The planets and stars are plotted for the 15th at 10 p.m. EDT in the evening and 4:30 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). To duplicate the star positions on a planisphere you may have to set it to 1 hour 45 minutes earlier than the current time.

Note the chart times of 10 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. are for the 15th. For each week before the 15th add ½ hour (28 minutes if you’re picky). 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.

August Morning Star Chart

August Morning Star Chart

Star Chart for August 2018 mornings based on 4:30 a.m. August 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.
  • Leaky Big Dipper drips on Leo.
  • Follow the arc of the handle of the Big Dipper to the star Arcturus and
  • Continue with a spike to Spica.
  • The Summer Triangle is in red.
  • PerR – Perseid meteor shower radiant

Twilight

Morning Twilight Evening Twilight Dark Night Moon
Date Astronomical Nautical Nautical Astronomical Start End Illum.
2018-07-31 4h28m 5h17m 22h28m 23h17m 23h17m 23h17m 0.89
2018-08-01 4h30m 5h18m 22h27m 23h15m 23h15m 23h43m 0.82
2018-08-02 4h32m 5h20m 22h25m 23h13m 23h13m 0.74
2018-08-03 4h34m 5h21m 22h24m 23h11m 23h11m 0h09m 0.64
2018-08-04 4h36m 5h23m 22h22m 23h09m 23h09m 0h37m 0.53
2018-08-05 4h38m 5h24m 22h20m 23h07m 23h07m 1h08m 0.42
2018-08-06 4h40m 5h26m 22h18m 23h05m 23h05m 1h44m 0.31
2018-08-07 4h42m 5h27m 22h17m 23h03m 23h03m 2h26m 0.20
2018-08-08 4h43m 5h29m 22h15m 23h00m 23h00m 3h18m 0.11
2018-08-09 4h45m 5h30m 22h13m 22h58m 22h58m 4h19m 0.05
2018-08-10 4h47m 5h32m 22h11m 22h56m 22h56m 4h47m 0.01
2018-08-11 4h49m 5h33m 22h10m 22h54m 22h54m 4h49m 0.00
2018-08-12 4h51m 5h35m 22h08m 22h52m 22h52m 4h51m 0.03
2018-08-13 4h53m 5h36m 22h06m 22h49m 22h49m 4h53m 0.08
2018-08-14 4h55m 5h38m 22h04m 22h47m 23h01m 4h55m 0.16
2018-08-15 4h56m 5h39m 22h02m 22h45m 23h29m 4h56m 0.26
2018-08-16 4h58m 5h41m 22h00m 22h43m 23h59m 4h58m 0.36
2018-08-17 5h00m 5h42m 21h58m 22h41m 5h00m 0.47
2018-08-18 5h02m 5h44m 21h56m 22h38m 0h30m 5h02m 0.57
2018-08-19 5h04m 5h45m 21h54m 22h36m 1h03m 5h04m 0.67
2018-08-20 5h05m 5h47m 21h53m 22h34m 1h40m 5h05m 0.76
2018-08-21 5h07m 5h48m 21h51m 22h32m 2h22m 5h07m 0.84
2018-08-22 5h09m 5h50m 21h49m 22h29m 3h09m 5h09m 0.90
2018-08-23 5h11m 5h51m 21h47m 22h27m 4h00m 5h11m 0.90
2018-08-24 5h12m 5h53m 21h45m 22h25m 4h56m 5h12m 0.95
2018-08-25 5h14m 5h54m 21h43m 22h23m 0.99
2018-08-26 5h16m 5h55m 21h41m 22h20m 1.00
2018-08-27 5h17m 5h57m 21h39m 22h18m 0.99
2018-08-28 5h19m 5h58m 21h37m 22h16m 0.97
2018-08-29 5h21m 6h00m 21h35m 22h14m 0.92
2018-08-30 5h22m 6h01m 21h33m 22h11m 22h11m 22h40m 0.86
2018-08-31 5h24m 6h02m 21h31m 22h09m 22h09m 23h09m 0.78

Twilight calendar was generated in Cartes du Ciel.

NASA Calendar of Planetary Events

Date        Time    Event
Aug 01  We          Venus: 45.1° E
    04  Sa  2:18 pm Last Quarter
    06  Mo  2:35 pm Moon-Aldebaran: 1.1° S
    08  We  6:33 pm Moon North Dec.: 20.8° N
    08  We  9:59 pm Mercury Inferior Conj.
    10  Fr  9:40 am Moon Ascending Node
    10  Fr  2:05 pm Moon Perigee: 358100 km
    11  Sa  5:47 am Partial Solar Eclipse (NE Canada to Asia)
    11  Sa  5:58 am New Moon
    12  Su  8:44 pm Perseid Meteor Shower: ZHR = 90
    14  Tu  9:35 am Moon-Venus: 6.4° S
    17  Fr  6:38 am Moon-Jupiter: 4.8° S
    17  Fr 11:59 am Venus Greatest Elongation: 45.9° E
    18  Sa  3:49 am First Quarter
    20  Mo 10:07 pm Mercury-Beehive: 5.9° S
    21  Tu  5:55 am Moon-Saturn: 2.4° S
    21  Tu 10:58 pm Moon South Dec.: 20.8° S
    23  Th  7:23 am Moon Apogee: 405700 km
    24  Fr 12:51 am Moon Descending Node
    26  Su  7:56 am Full Moon
    26  Su  3:59 pm Mercury Greatest Elongation: 18.3° W
Sep 01  Sa          Venus: 45° E

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
     August, 2018    Local time zone: EDT
     +-----------------------------------------------------------------------+
     | DATE |  SUN     SUN  DAYLIGHT|   TWILIGHT*    |MOON  RISE OR    ILLUM |
     |      |  RISE    SET    HOURS |  END    START  |PHASE SET** TIME FRACTN|
     +=======================================================================+
     |Wed  1| 06:29a  09:08p  14:39 | 10:23p  05:13a |      Rise 11:43p   77%|
     |Thu  2| 06:30a  09:07p  14:37 | 10:22p  05:14a |      Rise 12:09a   68%|
     |Fri  3| 06:31a  09:05p  14:34 | 10:20p  05:16a |      Rise 12:37a   58%|
     |Sat  4| 06:32a  09:04p  14:32 | 10:18p  05:17a |L Qtr Rise 01:08a   47%|
     +------+-----------------------+----------------+-----------------------+
     |Sun  5| 06:33a  09:03p  14:29 | 10:17p  05:19a |      Rise 01:44a   37%|
     |Mon  6| 06:34a  09:01p  14:27 | 10:15p  05:20a |      Rise 02:27a   26%|
     |Tue  7| 06:35a  09:00p  14:24 | 10:13p  05:22a |      Rise 03:18a   17%|
     |Wed  8| 06:37a  08:59p  14:22 | 10:11p  05:23a |      Rise 04:20a    9%|
     |Thu  9| 06:38a  08:57p  14:19 | 10:10p  05:25a |      Rise 05:30a    3%|
     |Fri 10| 06:39a  08:56p  14:16 | 10:08p  05:26a |      Rise 06:45a    0%|
     |Sat 11| 06:40a  08:54p  14:14 | 10:06p  05:28a |New   Set  09:21p    1%|
     +------+-----------------------+----------------+-----------------------+
     |Sun 12| 06:41a  08:53p  14:11 | 10:04p  05:29a |      Set  09:58p    4%|
     |Mon 13| 06:42a  08:51p  14:08 | 10:02p  05:31a |      Set  10:30p   10%|
     |Tue 14| 06:44a  08:50p  14:06 | 10:00p  05:32a |      Set  11:00p   17%|
     |Wed 15| 06:45a  08:48p  14:03 | 09:59p  05:34a |      Set  11:29p   27%|
     |Thu 16| 06:46a  08:46p  14:00 | 09:57p  05:35a |      Set  11:59p   36%|
     |Fri 17| 06:47a  08:45p  13:57 | 09:55p  05:37a |      Set  12:29a   47%|
     |Sat 18| 06:48a  08:43p  13:54 | 09:53p  05:38a |F Qtr Set  01:03a   57%|
     +------+-----------------------+----------------+-----------------------+
     |Sun 19| 06:49a  08:42p  13:52 | 09:51p  05:40a |      Set  01:40a   66%|
     |Mon 20| 06:51a  08:40p  13:49 | 09:49p  05:41a |      Set  02:22a   75%|
     |Tue 21| 06:52a  08:38p  13:46 | 09:47p  05:43a |      Set  03:09a   83%|
     |Wed 22| 06:53a  08:37p  13:43 | 09:45p  05:44a |      Set  04:00a   89%|
     |Thu 23| 06:54a  08:35p  13:40 | 09:43p  05:46a |      Set  04:56a   94%|
     |Fri 24| 06:55a  08:33p  13:37 | 09:41p  05:47a |      Set  05:54a   98%|
     |Sat 25| 06:56a  08:31p  13:34 | 09:39p  05:48a |      Set  06:54a  100%|
     +------+-----------------------+----------------+-----------------------+
     |Sun 26| 06:58a  08:30p  13:31 | 09:37p  05:50a |Full  Rise 08:54p  100%|
     |Mon 27| 06:59a  08:28p  13:29 | 09:35p  05:51a |      Rise 09:21p   98%|
     |Tue 28| 07:00a  08:26p  13:26 | 09:33p  05:53a |      Rise 09:47p   94%|
     |Wed 29| 07:01a  08:24p  13:23 | 09:31p  05:54a |      Rise 10:13p   88%|
     |Thu 30| 07:02a  08:23p  13:20 | 09:29p  05:56a |      Rise 10:40p   81%|
     |Fri 31| 07:04a  08:21p  13:17 | 09:27p  05:57a |      Rise 11:09p   72%|
     +-----------------------------------------------------------------------+
     * Nautical Twilight
     ** Moon rise or moon set, whichever occurs between sunrise and sunset

Ephemeris of Sky Events is created with my DOS version LookingUp program.

05/03/2018 – Ephemeris – The Eta Aquariid meteor shower is coming

May 3, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, May 3rd. The Sun rises at 6:29. It’ll be up for 14 hours and 20 minutes, setting at 8:50. The Moon, half way from full to last quarter, will rise at 12:26 tomorrow morning.

Saturday morning at about 3 a.m. is the predicted peak of the Eta Aquariid Meteor Shower. The bright Moon will interfere with all but the brightest, however something interesting is afoot. I download the International Meteor Organization Meteor Calendar every year. An Internet search for the name will get you to it. It seems that the Maya had recorded the shower’s appearance along with other meteor showers. There are other peaks to this shower on the mornings possibly through the 6th. Meteors of this shower, are caused by particles released by Halley’s Comet on past swings through the inner solar system. The meteors will appear to come from low in the southeastern sky. They will be seen after 3:30 a.m.

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

Addendum

Eta Aquarid radiant

The Eta Aquariid radiant at the peak of the shower. The radiant moves slowly to the east with time. Credit: Bob Moler’s LookingUp program.

Halley's meteor shower

We get two meteor showers from Halley’s Comet. The Orionids, when Halley is approaching the inner solar system, and the Eta Aquariids when it’s leaving. Credit my LookingUp program.

04/20/2018 – Ephemeris – Astronomy Day and the Lyrid meteor shower this weekend

April 20, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, April 20th. The Sun rises at 6:50. It’ll be up for 13 hours and 44 minutes, setting at 8:34. The Moon, 2 days before first quarter, will set at 1:50 tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow is Astronomy Day. The Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will celebrate with a star party at Northwestern Michigan College’s Rogers Observatory. Tomorrow April 21st, from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. There will also be activities inside the observatory, so clear or cloudy there will be something to see or do for all ages. The Lyrid Meteor Shower will be active this weekend and reach a peak Sunday. The meteors from this shower will seem to come from near the constellation of Lyra the harp, a small and narrow parallelogram of stars with the bright star Vega near it. The best viewing will be for a few hours in the wee morning hours after the Moon sets Sunday or Monday mornings.

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

Addendum

Lyrid meteor shower radiant

All sky view at 4 a.m. Sunday or Monday morning with the Lyrid radiant. Created using Stellarium.

The additional radiants showing in the image above are the (sigma) σ-Scorpids which will reach peak on April 28th, a minor shower and (eta) η-Auqariids which will reach peak on May 6th.  Both these meteor showers have severe interference by the Moon.

01/02/2018 – Ephemeris – Cozying up to the Sun and a major meteor shower

January 2, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, January 2nd. The Sun will rise at 8:20. It’ll be up for 8 hours and 53 minutes, setting at 5:13. The Moon, 1 day past full, will rise at 6:18 this evening.

Today the Earth will reach its closest distance from the sun, of 91.4 million miles. This point in Earth’s orbit is called perihelion. The Earth varies about 3 million miles from perihelion to aphelion its farthest point from the sun, which usually occurs around July 4th or 5th. Perihelion doesn’t help warm our winters though, but it does make winter the shortest season because the Earth moves its fastest at perihelion. That makes summer the longest season by several days. Tomorrow afternoon will see the peak of the Quadrantid Meteor Shower. This active meteor shower has its radiant north of the kite shape of Boötes and near the handle of the Big Dipper but the bright Moon will interfere both tomorrow and Thursday mornings.

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

Addendum

Earth's orbit

The Earth’s orbit, somewhat exaggerated, showing perihelion and the seasons. Credit “Starts with a Bang” blog by Ethan Siegel.

While a planet’s distance from the Sun modify the seasons somewhat, seasons are always governed by the axial tilt of the planet with respect to the Sun.

Quadrantid Radiant

Facing the Quadrantid radiant at 6 a.m. January 3rd. Created using my LookingUp program.

12/31/2017 – Ephemeris Extra – January 2018 preview

December 31, 2017 Comments off

This isn’t going to be recorded as an actual program.  I’m not sure how much information one could retain at 6 or 7 New Years Day morning.

Year end is a busy time astronomically with Earth’s perihelion and the Quadrantid meteor shower following rapidly on New Years day

Let’s look ahead at January 2018. Tuesday the 2nd is the date of the latest sunrise. The Sun is already beginning to head north, as can be seen in the sunset time on the 1st, 11 minutes later than at its earliest three weeks ago. Both sunrise and sunset will be moving in January with sunrise time at 8:20 a.m. and sunset time at 5:12 p.m. on the 1st moving to 8:02 a.m. and 5:50 p.m. at month’s end. The sun’s altitude at noon will increase from 22 degrees on the 1st to nearly 28 degrees by the 31st. The Earth will reach its closest to the Sun in its orbit, called perihelion, on the 2nd at 91.4 million miles (147.1 million km).

We’ll have a full moon on the 1st and the 31st, the so-called blue moon.  Both those moons will be super moons, occurring at or near perigee.  On  top of all that the  full moon on the 31st will be totally eclipsed.  We in Michigan will see nearly the first half of the eclipse before the Moon sets at 8:04 in the grand Traverse area.  Folks farther west will see more, if not all of the eclipse. February will have no full moons, so March again will have two full moons.

The Quadrantid meteor shower will reach peak on the 3rd, in the afternoon.  The radiant is circumpolar here, being off the handle of the Big Dipper.  Mercury will reach its greatest western elongation on the 1st and be visible shortly before sunrise for the next week rising after 6:30, but brightening a bit each day.  It’s not a particularly favorable elongation, now that winter is here.  The next evening elongation in  March will be a lot better.  Venus will be in superior conjunction with the Sun on the 9th and will enter the evening sky, but don’t look for it this month.  Mars and Jupiter will have a close conjunction on the 6th.  It will look about equally OK on the morning of the 6th or 7th around here because it occurs on the evening of the 6th, when they are not up.

Addenda

January Evening Sky Chart

January Evening Star Chart

Star Chart for January 2018 (9 p.m. January 15, 2018). Created using my LookingUp program. Click on image to enlarge.

The planets and stars are plotted for the 15th at 9 p.m. EST 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.

January Morning Star Chart

January Morning Star Chart

Star Chart for January 2018 mornings based on 6 a.m. January 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.
  • Leaky Big Dipper drips on Leo.
  • Follow the arc of the handle of the Big Dipper to the star Arcturus.
  • The Summer Triangle is in red
  • QuadR is the Quadrantid meteor shower radiant. Peaks on January 2nd, but the almost full moon will interfere this year.

Twilight

Evening nautical twilight ends at 6:22 p.m. EST on the 1st, increasing to 6:55 p.m. EST on the 31st.
Evening astronomical twilight ends at 6:57 p.m. EST on the 1st, increasing to 7:29 p.m. EST on the 31st.
Morning astronomical twilight starts at 6:35 a.m. EST on the 1st, and decreasing to 6:23 a.m. EST on the 31st.
Morning nautical twilight starts at 7:10 a.m. EST on the 1st, and decreasing to 6:57 a.m. EST on the 31st.

NASA Calendar of Planetary Events

    Date    Time    Event
Jan 01  Mo          Venus: 1.9° W
    01  Mo  2:59 pm Mercury Elongation: 22.7° W
    01  Mo  4:54 pm Moon Perigee: 356600 km
    01  Mo  7:01 pm Moon North Dec.: 20.1° N
    01  Mo  9:24 pm Full Moon
    02  Tu  9:59 pm Perihelion: 0.9833 AU
    03  We  2:50 pm Moon-Beehive: 2.3° N
    03  We  3:19 pm Quadrantid Meteor Shower: ZHR = 120
    04  Th  2:48 am Moon Ascending Node
    05  Fr  2:24 am Moon-Regulus: 0.9° S
    06  Sa  7:39 pm Mars-Jupiter: 0.2° N
    08  Mo  5:25 pm Last Quarter
    09  Tu  1:16 am Venus Superior Conjunction w/Sun
    11  Th 12:59 am Moon-Jupiter: 4.7° S
    13  Sa  2:58 am Mercury-Saturn: 0.7° N
    14  Su  9:09 pm Moon Apogee: 406500 km
    14  Su  9:13 pm Moon-Saturn: 2.9° S
    15  Mo 11:28 am Moon South Dec.: 20° S
    16  Tu  9:17 pm New Moon
    18  Th  9:28 am Moon Descending Node
    24  We  5:20 pm First Quarter
    27  Sa  5:09 am Moon-Aldebaran: 0.7° S
    29  Mo  6:32 am Moon North Dec.: 20° N
    30  Tu  4:54 am Moon Perigee: 359000 km
    31  We  2:19 am Moon-Beehive: 2.3° N
    31  We  8:27 am Full Moon
    31  We  8:30 am Total Lunar Eclipse (See Below)
    31  We  1:46 pm Moon Ascending Node
Feb 01  Th          Venus: 5.7° E

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
     January, 2018    Local time zone: EST
     +-----------------------------------------------------------------------+
     | DATE |  SUN     SUN  DAYLIGHT|   TWILIGHT*    |MOON  RISE OR    ILLUM |
     |      |  RISE    SET    HOURS |  END    START  |PHASE SET** TIME FRACTN|
     +=======================================================================+
     |Mon  1| 08:20a  05:13p  08:52 | 06:23p  07:09a |Full  Rise 05:11p  100%|
     |Tue  2| 08:20a  05:13p  08:53 | 06:24p  07:09a |      Rise 06:18p   99%|
     |Wed  3| 08:20a  05:14p  08:54 | 06:25p  07:10a |      Rise 07:30p   95%|
     |Thu  4| 08:20a  05:15p  08:55 | 06:25p  07:10a |      Rise 08:44p   88%|
     |Fri  5| 08:19a  05:16p  08:56 | 06:26p  07:10a |      Rise 09:56p   80%|
     |Sat  6| 08:19a  05:17p  08:58 | 06:27p  07:09a |      Rise 11:05p   70%|
     +------+-----------------------+----------------+-----------------------+
     |Sun  7| 08:19a  05:19p  08:59 | 06:28p  07:09a |      Rise 12:12a   60%|
     |Mon  8| 08:19a  05:20p  09:00 | 06:29p  07:09a |L Qtr Rise 01:17a   49%|
     |Tue  9| 08:19a  05:21p  09:02 | 06:30p  07:09a |      Rise 02:19a   39%|
     |Wed 10| 08:18a  05:22p  09:03 | 06:31p  07:09a |      Rise 03:20a   30%|
     |Thu 11| 08:18a  05:23p  09:05 | 06:32p  07:09a |      Rise 04:19a   22%|
     |Fri 12| 08:18a  05:24p  09:06 | 06:33p  07:08a |      Rise 05:16a   14%|
     |Sat 13| 08:17a  05:25p  09:08 | 06:34p  07:08a |      Rise 06:11a    8%|
     +------+-----------------------+----------------+-----------------------+
     |Sun 14| 08:17a  05:27p  09:10 | 06:36p  07:08a |      Rise 07:02a    4%|
     |Mon 15| 08:16a  05:28p  09:11 | 06:37p  07:07a |      Rise 07:49a    1%|
     |Tue 16| 08:15a  05:29p  09:13 | 06:38p  07:07a |New   Set  05:21p    0%|
     |Wed 17| 08:15a  05:31p  09:15 | 06:39p  07:06a |      Set  06:17p    1%|
     |Thu 18| 08:14a  05:32p  09:17 | 06:40p  07:06a |      Set  07:15p    3%|
     |Fri 19| 08:14a  05:33p  09:19 | 06:41p  07:05a |      Set  08:15p    8%|
     |Sat 20| 08:13a  05:34p  09:21 | 06:42p  07:05a |      Set  09:17p   14%|
     +------+-----------------------+----------------+-----------------------+
     |Sun 21| 08:12a  05:36p  09:23 | 06:44p  07:04a |      Set  10:20p   21%|
     |Mon 22| 08:11a  05:37p  09:25 | 06:45p  07:04a |      Set  11:24p   30%|
     |Tue 23| 08:10a  05:38p  09:28 | 06:46p  07:03a |      Set  12:30a   40%|
     |Wed 24| 08:10a  05:40p  09:30 | 06:47p  07:02a |F Qtr Set  01:38a   51%|
     |Thu 25| 08:09a  05:41p  09:32 | 06:48p  07:01a |      Set  02:48a   62%|
     |Fri 26| 08:08a  05:43p  09:34 | 06:50p  07:01a |      Set  03:59a   72%|
     |Sat 27| 08:07a  05:44p  09:37 | 06:51p  07:00a |      Set  05:09a   82%|
     +------+-----------------------+----------------+-----------------------+
     |Sun 28| 08:06a  05:45p  09:39 | 06:52p  06:59a |      Set  06:14a   90%|
     |Mon 29| 08:05a  05:47p  09:42 | 06:53p  06:58a |      Set  07:13a   96%|
     |Tue 30| 08:04a  05:48p  09:44 | 06:55p  06:57a |      Set  08:04a  100%|
     |Wed 31| 08:02a  05:50p  09:47 | 06:56p  06:56a |Full  Rise 06:15p  100%|
     +-----------------------------------------------------------------------+
     * Nautical Twilight
     ** Moonrise or moonset, whichever occurs between sunrise and sunset

Total Lunar Eclipse January 31, 2018

Lunar Eclipse January 31, 2018

I’ll have more on this toward the end of the month. Credit NASA.

The original page for this graphic is:  https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/LEplot/LEplot2001/LE2018Jan31T.pdf

    Total Lunar Eclipse January 31
Event               Time EST   Time UT
                    GT Area    
Enter penumbra      5:51 a.m.  10:51   Unseen
Begin partial phase 6:48 a.m.  11:48
Totality begins     7:51 a.m.  12:51
Moon sets           8:04 a.m.
Mid eclipse                    13:28
Totality ends                  14:07
End partial phase              15:11
Leave penumbra                 16:08   Unseen

The shading of the penumbra is generally seen within 1/2
hour before and after the partial begins and ends.

Update

Lunch time at the bird feeder

Our bird feeder at about 2 p.m. It was cleaned off and filled 6 hours before. Dining are a downy woodpecker, behind the suet block; a flicker with a seed in its beak and three chickadees. Can you spot the third?

While I was writing this post on the afternoon of the 30th, we were getting a rather intense lake effect snow storm, at about an inch an hour.  By nightfall the snow on top of the feeder just about reached the hook.  We also get cardinals, blue jays, sparrows.   Poor juncos.  They seem to feed on the ground, and the snow came too fast and covered the seed that had dropped, so they were looking in vain.

I really love the chickadees, they’re fearless.  When I’m filling the bird feeder the other birds scatter, but the chickadees sit in the tree, a couple of feet over my head and wait patiently until I hang it back up.