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4/03/2020 – Ephemeris – Tonight Venus appears among the stars of the Pleiades

April 3, 2020 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Friday, April 3rd. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 54 minutes, setting at 8:13, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:17. The Moon, 2 days past first quarter, will set at 5:48 tomorrow morning.

This evening the brilliant evening star, the planet Venus will appear within the Pleiades or Seven Sisters star cluster. Venus will slowly pass the Pleiades for the next few days. By the end of the month the Pleiades will be pretty much lost in the twilight. Evening star gazers will again pick it up late on September evenings, rising in the northeast. Venus, itself appears as a tiny crescent in small telescopes, and in May the tiny crescent will even be visible in binoculars. Venus reflects about 77 percent of the sunlight it receives because it is completely socked in by clouds. Clouds of a sulfuric acid mist. It is not a nice place. Surface temperature averages 867 degrees, and the atmospheric pressure is 90 times that of Earth.

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

Addendum

Venus and the Pleiades

binocular view of Venus and the Pleiades tonight at 10 p.m. EDT April 3, 2020. (2 hr UT April 4) Created using Stellarium. Note: More stars may be visible.  There will be a bright Moon out masking the dimmer members of the cluster. Your results may vary.

Update 04/03/2020 10:10 p.m. EDT

Photo of Venus and Pleiades

Photo of Venus and Pleiades taken at 9:37 p.m. EDT with Canon EOS Rebel T5, 300mm fl. f/5.6, 2 sec, ISO 3200, unguided. by myself.

04/02/2020 – Ephemeris – Let’s look at the Moon tonight

April 2, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Thursday, April 2nd. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 51 minutes, setting at 8:12, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:18. The Moon, 1 day past first quarter, will set at 5:09 tomorrow morning.

Tonight’s gibbous Moon is a bright fixture in the evening sky it’s in the constellation of Cancer the crab which its brightness obliterates, between the stars Castor and Pollux of Gemini on the right and Regulus of Leo on the left. The Beehive star cluster in Cancer can be spotted in binoculars to the left of the Moon by about 7 to 8 of its diameters. On the Moon itself are the gray, so-called seas and two spectacular craters near the terminator. The first is near the bottom limb of the Moon, the very large crater Clavius with an interesting arc of small craters of decreasing size within. The other remarkable crater is Copernicus about half way up and left, near the terminator, the Moon’s sunrise line.

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

Addendum

Moon and Beehive Star Cluster

The Moon and Beehive Star Cluster at 10 p.m. tonight April 2, 2020. If you are not in the eastern daylight time the Moon will be in a different position if you are in a different time zone.

Telescopic Moon

The Mon as it might appear in a low power telescope tonight at 10 p.m. April 2, 2020. Created using Virtual Moon Atlas (software).

04/01/2020 – Ephemeris – Looking at the naked-eye planets for this week

April 1, 2020 Comments off

Ephemeris for April Fools Day, Wednesday, April 1st. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 48 minutes, setting at 8:11, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:20. The Moon, at first quarter today, will set at 4:23 tomorrow morning.

Let’s look at the naked-eye planets for this week. Venus is our evening star shining brightly in the west just below the Pleiades. It will set at 12:26 a.m. The rest of the planet action is in the morning sky where there are three planets close together in the southeast. Bright Jupiter will rise first at 4:11 a.m. Followed by Saturn 4:31 a.m. Mars, left and below Saturn will rise at 4:39 a.m. It’s now as bright as a first magnitude star because it’s down to 135 million miles (217 million km) away, as the Earth slowly overtakes it at the rate of about 5 million miles (8 million km) a week. It’s brighter than the star Antares in the south-southwest. Mars passed Saturn yesterday afternoon moving eastward much faster than Saturn was.

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

Addendum

Venus and the Pleiades

Venus under the Pleiades tonight at 10 p.m. April 1, 2020. Created using Stellarium.

Binocular Moon

The Moon as it might look like in binoculars this evening April 1, 2020. Created using Stellarium.

Morning planets and the southern stars of summer

Morning planets and the southern stars of summer at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning April 2, 2020. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic planets

The planets as seen in a telescope with the same magnification. Venus in the evening and Jupiter and Saturn in the morning on the night of April 1/2, 2020. Apparent diameters: Venus, 25.85″; Jupiter, 37.21″; Saturn, 16.16″, rings, 37.65″. Mars at 6.46″ won’t be added until it reaches 10″. The ” symbol means seconds of arc (1/3600th of a degree.) Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Planets and the Moon on a single night

Planets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on April 1, 2020. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 2nd. The planet traffic jam in the morning sky unfortunately overlays planets and labels. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

03/27/2020 – Ephemeris – Enjoying astronomy when sheltering at home

March 27, 2020 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, March 27th. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 32 minutes, setting at 8:04, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:30. The Moon, 3 days past new, will set at 11:25 this evening.

With the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic hitting our area many of us are stuck in our homes waiting it out. It may be awhile. That’s OK for some of us. That’s because astronomical observation is in many ways a solitary pursuit. My mother taught me the first two constellations. She could never wake me to view the Perseid meteors of August. After that I learned the rest on my own, the first batch on a morning paper route in winter, previewing the spring and summer skies. Staying at home doesn’t mean staying indoors. Going out in the back yard or dark area alone also counts. It’s proximity to other people that’s the problem. I find that being alone out under the stars makes me feel that the Earth and its worries are a trillion miles away.

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

Addendum

Some constellation star fields guaranteed to be trillions of miles away:

Orion

Orion in a 30 second exposure taken at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Dune Climb February, 18, 2017 by Bob Moler. Click on image to enlarge a bit.

Pleiades and Hyades

Actual photo of the Pleiades to the right of the Hyades, the face of Taurus the bull. Credit Bob Moler

03/26/2020 – Ephemeris – A spring warning about thin ice in the sky

March 26, 2020 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, March 26th. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 29 minutes, setting at 8:03, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:31. The Moon, 2 days past new, will set at 10:22 this evening.

The Anishinaabe peoples of the Great Lakes Region, which includes the Ottawa, Chippewa and Ojibwe Indians have one constellation of winter. It is The Winter Maker which uses many of Orion’s stars and whose arms stretch from Aldebaran in Taurus the bull to Procyon the Little Dog Star, embracing the whole of the winter sky. Now that spring is here he is sinking into the west. The first constellation of spring is Curly Tail, or the Great Underwater Panther. Which uses the stars of Leo the lion’s backward question mark as its tail and the small knot of stars that are the head of Hydra the water snake below Cancer the crab as its head. The warning: Keep off the thinning ice or break through and be snatched by the panther that lives below.

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

Addendum

Great Underwater Panther animation_9 pm late March

Great Underwater Panther finder animation relating western to Anishinaabe constellations for 9 p.m. in late March. Click on image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

03/25/2020 – Ephemeris – Let’s look at the naked-eye planets for this week

March 25, 2020 Comments off

Ephemeris for Wednesday, March 25th. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 26 minutes, setting at 8:02, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:33. The Moon, 1 day past new, will set at 9:21 this evening.

Let’s look at the naked-eye planets for this week. Venus is our evening star shining brightly in the west. It will set at 12:14 a.m. The rest of the planet action is in the morning sky where there are three planets close together in the southeast. Bright Jupiter will rise first at 4:35 a.m. Followed by Mars, left and below, rising at 4:50 a.m. It’s now as bright as a first magnitude star because it’s down to 140 million (226 million km) miles away, as the Earth slowly overtakes it at the rate of about 5 million miles (8 million km) a week. It’s brighter than the star Antares in the south-southwest. And lastly, Saturn will rise at 5:01 a.m. Mars is about half way between Jupiter and Saturn. It will pass Saturn next Tuesday.

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

Addendum

Day and a half old Moon

Day and a half old Moon low over a Lake Michigan horizon tonight at 8:30 p.m. March 25, 2020. The bright edge of the Moon will be a sit brighter, and the earthshine on the night side of the Moon a bit dimmer. Created using Stellarium.

Venus and the setting winter stars

Venus and the setting winter stars tonight at 10 p.m. March 25, 2020. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

Morning planets

Saturn, Mars and Jupiter with the southern summer stars at 6:30 a.m. tomorrow March 26, 2020. Mars will pass Saturn on the 31st. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic planets

The planets as seen in a telescope with the same magnification. Venus in the evening and Jupiter and Saturn in the morning on the night of March 25/26, 2020. Apparent diameters: Venus, 23.85″; Jupiter, 36.46″; Saturn, 15.99″, rings, 37.26″. Mars at 6.22″ won’t be added until it reaches 10″. The ” symbol means seconds of arc (1/3600th of a degree.) Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Planets and the Moon on a single night

Planets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on March 25, 2020. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 26th. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

03/23/2020 – Ephemeris – See zodiacal light in the evening

March 23, 2020 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, March 23rd. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 20 minutes, setting at 7:59, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:37. The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 8:11 tomorrow morning.

With the bright moon out of the sky for a few more nights it’s time to look for the zodiacal light in the evening. It’s is a faint but towering glow that can be seen after the end of astronomical twilight on moonless nights. It is seen in the west in the evening in late winter and early spring and in the east in the morning in late summer and early autumn. The axis of the glow is the ecliptic, the apparent annual path of the Sun in the sky, along which lie the constellations of the zodiac. Right now the end of astronomical twilight is about 9:41 p.m. and advancing at a rate of a minute or two each night. Go to a spot with a dark western sky, no big cities or towns out that way. Zodiacal light is caused by dust spread out around the Sun.

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

Addendum

Zodiacal Light

Much enhanced Zodiacal Light from the my back yard at 9:31 p.m. March 16, 2018, 5 minutes after the official end of astronomical twilight. Canon EOS Rebel T5 18mm f.l., f/3.5, 6 sec. ISO 12,800 . The clouds on the left appear to be illuminated by the lights of the towns of Beulah and Frankfort 20+ miles away.