Archive

Archive for the ‘Observing’ Category

11/05/2017 – Ephemeris Extra – There will be an Occultation of Aldebaran tonight*

November 5, 2017 1 comment

This posting will not be broadcast.

* Or tomorrow morning, depending where you are.

Ephemeris extra for Sunday, November 5th. The Sun will rise at 7:25. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 5 minutes, setting at 5:25. The Moon, 2 days past full, will rise at 7:01 this evening.

Tonight just after 8 p.m. the bright star Aldebaran will disappear at the left edge of the Moon. Aldebaran is angry red eye of Taurus the bull. The star will reappear at the dark upper right edge of the Moon. Start looking at 8 p.m. or before. Use binoculars or a small telescope to spot the star against the glare of the bright Moon. The star is nowhere as bright as shown in the illustrations below. Star appearances and disappearances appear instantaneous, unlike what the illustrations show.

Aldebaran Occultation begins at 8:07 p.m. EST (1:07 UTC Nov 6th)
Aldebaran Occultation ends at 9:00 p.m. EST (02:00 UTC Nov 6th)

Note the times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area. It will vary by a few minutes for northern lower Michigan.  The position angles of the entrance and exit points of Aldebaran will also be different.

Otherwise use a planetarium program like Stellarium to preview the event. However, set the program for topocentric coordinates. In Stellarium that’s in the Configuration window, Tools Tab and check the Topocentric coordinates box. Topocentric coordinates are the apparent positions for your location on the Earth. So also make sure your location is correct. The geocentric conjunction of the two bodies will be November 6, 2:42.9 UTC, so it will occur after midnight on the morning of November 6th for locations in northern Europe and Asia.

Addendum

Occultation Map

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

Occultation start

Aldebaran at the start of the occultation at 8:07 p.m. for the Traverse City/Interlochen area. Created using Stellarium.

Occultation end

Aldebaran at the end of the occultation at 9:00 p.m. for the Traverse City/Interlochen area. Created using Stellarium.

Advertisements

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.

10/23/2017 – Ephemeris – The loneliest star in the sky

October 23, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Monday, October 23rd. The Sun will rise at 8:08. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 35 minutes, setting at 6:44. The Moon, half way from new to first quarter, will set at 9:27 this evening.

There’s a bright star that appears for only seven and a half hours on autumn evenings from northern Michigan. It’s appearance, low in the south at around 10:30 p.m. tonight, is a clear indication of the autumn season. The star’s name is Fomalhaut, which means fish’s mouth. That’s fitting because it’s in the constellation of Piscis Austrinus, the southern fish. At our latitude it’s kind of the fish that got away, because Fomalhaut appears to be quite alone low in the sky. The faintness of the constellation’s other stars and location close to the horizon make the dim stars hard to spot. The earth’s thick atmosphere near the horizon reduces their brightness by a factor of two or more, so Fomalhaut, one of the brightest stars in the sky, keeps a lonely vigil in the south.

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

Addendum

Fomalhaut in the south at 8 p.m. on November 15, 2012. Created using Stellarium.

Fomalhaut in the south at 9:30 p.m. on October 23, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

 

10/13/2017 – Ephemeris – The bright star Regulus dips behind the Moon Sunday morning

October 13, 2017 1 comment

Note:  The original program recorded for this day was erroneous in the timing and appearance of this event.  Occurring about an hour later than reported here.  The Interlochen personnel may or may not replace the original program with the one below.  Also those who downloaded the audio from ephemeris.bjmoler.org before late Thursday night may have downloaded the incorrect mp3.

Ephemeris for Friday, October 13th. The Sun will rise at 7:55 a.m.. It’ll be up for 11 hours and 5 minutes, setting at 7:00 p.m. The Moon, 1 day past last quarter, will rise at 2:08 tomorrow morning.

On Sunday morning the Moon will pass in front of, or occult the bright star Regulus, the brightest star in Leo the lion. This will happen as morning twilight starts. Regulus will disappear at the left edge of the crescent Moon at around 5:47 a.m. A telescope or binoculars may be needed to spot Regulus. Go out at least 5 or 10 minutes early to make sure you can spot the star. Regulus will reemerge at 6:25 at the 11 o’clock position on the dark part of the Moon. Earth shine on the night side of the Moon may be bright enough to see its dark edge. Observers west of us in the United States except the northern most states west of Minnesota will also get a view. Those in specific locations in the northern tier of states will get to see Regulus just graze the north edge of the Moon.

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

Addendum

Occultation start

Occultation of Regulus by the Moon disappearance at around 5:47 a.m. for northern Michigan. Created using Stellarium.

Occultation end

Occultation of Regulus by the Moon reappearance at around 6:25 a.m. for northern Michigan. Created using Stellarium.

Occultation Map

Map showing the locations where the occultation of Regulus will be visible. For the area bounded by heavy lines the occultation will occur at night. Click on image to enlarge. Credit: Occult4 by IOTA.

09/19/2017 – Ephemeris – The Great Rift

September 19, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Tuesday, September 19th. The Sun will rise at 7:26. It’ll be up for 12 hours and 18 minutes, setting at 7:45. The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 7:43 tomorrow morning.

High overhead the Milky Way is seen passing through the Summer Triangle of three bright stars. Here we find the Milky Way split into two sections. The split starts in the constellation of Cygnus the Swan or Northern Cross very high in the east. The western part of the Milky Way ends southwest of the Aquila the eagle. This dark dividing feature is called the Great Rift. Despite the lack of stars seen there, it doesn’t mean that there are fewer stars there than in the brighter patches of the Milky Way. The rift is a great dark cloud that obscures the light of the stars behind it. Sometimes binoculars can be used to find the edges of the clouds of the rift, as stars numbers drop off suddenly. This is especially easy to spot in Aquila the eagle.

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

Addendum

The Great Rift in the Milky Way. Created using Stellarium.

The Great Rift in the Milky Way. Created using Stellarium.

07/27/2017 – Ephemeris – Two meteor showers, one peaking another ramping up

July 27, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Thursday, July 27th. The Sun rises at 6:23. It’ll be up for 14 hours and 49 minutes, setting at 9:13. The Moon, 3 days before first quarter, will set at 11:50 this evening.

We are in the season for meteor showers. Today the South Delta Aquariid Meteor Shower will reach peak. This is a not very active shower where the meteors will seem to come from low in the southeastern sky after midnight. The radiant will rotate to the south by 5 a.m. The moon won’t bother it for the next few days. The number of meteors seen will be under 20 per hour. This long-lasting shower will still add a few meteors when the famous Perseid meteor shower begin to appear, which is around now. These meteors will seem to come from the northeastern part of the sky, and will reach peak for us in the evening hours of August 12th. On that night the Moon will brighten the sky after 11:30 p.m. So for the next two weeks both shower meteors can be seen.

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

Addendum

Two meteor showers

The sky at 1 a.m. tomorrow morning, July 28, 2017 showing the South Delta Aquariid (DAqR) and Perseid (PerR) meteor radiants. Created using my LookingUp program.

07/20/2017 – Ephemeris – Only one month and a day to the Great American Eclipse, and a personal note

July 20, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Thursday, July 20th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 4 minutes, setting at 9:20, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:17. The Moon, 3 days before new, will rise at 4:26 tomorrow morning.

As of tomorrow it will be one month to the Great American Eclipse, a total eclipse that will span the continental United States from Oregon to South Carolina. Here in northern Michigan, the Sun will be, at maximum 75 percent covered by the Moon around 2:20 p.m. The eclipse will last from 12:58 to 3:40 p.m. approximately. It will not be safe to look at the Sun without a solar filter or by projecting the image of the Sun on a white paper, either with a pinhole, one side of a binocular, or telescope. Hold the paper screen a foot or so behind the eyepiece. Try it before the eclipse. Or sit under a tree, and let the pinholes between the leaves project a myriad of suns on the ground. Check gtastro.org for lots of links to information about the eclipse.

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

Addendum

Eclipse map

All 50 states will see some part of the August 21, 2017 solar eclipse. The face of the Sun will be totally covered by the Moon in the narrow band called the path of totality for up to 2 minutes, 40 seconds. Credit: NASA.

 

Eclipse glasses

These are eclipse glasses which can be gotten for a couple dollars or less.
They are especially difficult to use, especially for people who wear glasses and can’t remove them because they are near-sighted.
Personally I do not recommend them, instead relying on one of the projection methods.
Be especially careful about children using them.
Remember the ISO 12312-2 compliance that should be printed on them. Do not use welders filters.  Damaging exposure to the eyes is painless and may not show up for a day or two.

Filters for telescopes

In using a solar filter with a telescope or binoculars the filter must be placed in front of the objective (front of the telescope).
Solar filters that fit into eyepieces are dangerous and can shatter with the heat.
Such filters should either be smashed and added to your favorite landfill, or taken to the bay to see how many times you can skip it on the water.

Pinhole projection

Pinhole projection is the simplest way to project the Sun’s image.
A long box can be used to project the image inside. The diameter of the pin hole is a compromise between sharpness and brightness of the image.
…The farther the image is projected the larger it is.
The throw of the image can be increased by using a mirror masked with a quarter of an inch or larger hole and sending the image 10 or more feet away.

Tree provided pinholes

Let nature provide the pinholes. Sit under in the shade. Stay cool, And watch the Sun’s images on the ground.

Telescope eyepiece projection

Here’s an 8” Schmidt Cassigrain telescope, with a low power eyepiece projecting a large image on a movie screen. For lots of people to view and photograph.  Credit Eileen Carlisle.

Solar Eclipse Guide Scope

This is my Solar Guide Scope which I used for all my solar eclipses starting with 1970 (three total and 2 annular).
It is an open design, with an objective of about 300mm (12”) focal length, a shield to shield the screen from the Sun, a cheap 12mm (1/2”) focal length eyepiece and an adjustable screen to project the Sun’s image.  I originally made it too short, so I extended it.  It always attracts a crowd of eclipse watchers.

July 20th in history

48 years ago (1969) Apollo 11 landed on the Moon

41 years ago (1976) the Viking 1 Lander landed on Mars.

On a personal side:  54 years ago (1963) I saw my first total solar eclipse.

The 54th anniversary isn’t the big deal.  The big deal has to do with the Saros, the period in which eclipses repeat.  That interval is 6,585.3211 days or approximately 18 years 11 1/3 days, give or take a day, depending on the number of leap years in the interval.  That one-third day is the kicker, because the next eclipse in the series will occur 120 degrees of longitude west of the last eclipse.  There are many Saros series running at any given time, so eclipses don’t only happen every 18 years.

However after 3 Saros periods the eclipse will again occur at roughly the same longitude.  If the Moon  passes the Sun moving slightly southward, the eclipse series will trend southward on the globe.  If northward, the series heads north.

The eclipse of August 21st 2017 is the third Saros eclipse after my first total solar eclipse

Since this upcoming eclipse tracks southward, the 1963 eclipse was farther north with the path of totality passing through Alaska, Canada and only the state of Maine.

On that day, friends John Wesley, Dave DeBruyn and several other members of the University of Michigan team, and Stan Carr, a member of the Muskegon Astronomy Club found ourselves on a hill overlooking the St. Maurice River in Quebec Province of Canada.

Overlook

Overlooking the St Maurice River from our camp in the morning with the clouds then. But the eclipse would start about 4:30 in the afternoon.

2 p.m.

At two p.m. and we’re socked in. Seen is John Wesley and our automated eclipse camera. 2 1/2 hours to totality.

Happy Day!

Happy day! The eclipse is starting, and it’s clearing up.

Tracking

John Wesley checking the tracking of our eclipse camera.

It was for naught.  Due to an operator error all the film was wound up when power was applied to the controller, because I left a switch in the wrong position.

Totality

A shot with a 50mm lens with a guessed exposure. Thanks to GIMP and modern digital processing I was able to recover the over exposed image. But like all eclipse photographs, doesn’t really show it as the eye reveals the dynamic light levels of the corona.