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10/04/2017 – Ephemeris – Where are the bright planets tonight?

October 4, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Wednesday, October 4th. The Sun will rise at 7:44. It’ll be up for 11 hours and 32 minutes, setting at 7:17. The Moon, 1 day before full, will set at 7:21 tomorrow morning.

Let’s take our weekly look at the bright planets. Jupiter, for all intents and purposes is gone from the evening sky. It will cross into the morning sky later this month. Saturn too is sinking lower in the southwestern sky in the evening. Saturn’s rings are still spectacular in telescopes, but since Saturn is so low in the sky the turbulence of the thick atmosphere makes Saturn fuzzy and seemingly to go in and out of focus. Saturn will set at 10:43 p.m.

In the morning sky, brilliant Venus will rise at 5:11 a.m. in the east with much dimmer Mars below and right of it by half the width of the Moon. Mars is less than 100th the brightness of Venus, and will probably require binoculars to locate. (need a few words more)

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

Addendum

Saturn and the Moon in the evening

Saturn and the Moon in the evening at 8 p.m. October 4, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Saturn and moons

Saturn and its brightest moons overnight October 4/5, 2017. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Binocular Moon

The Moon as it might be seen in binoculars, 8 p.m. October 4, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Members of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society and I are invited to the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival being held for the Chinese exchange students in the Traverse City school system.  Its held on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar, the full moon, which works out to be October 4th this year.  They will be having Chinese food and viewing the Moon afterward.

One of the legends celebrated then will be the Jade Rabbit pounding medicine.  Jade Rabbit (Yutu) is the name of the Chinese rover that’s on the Moon.  And the Jade Rabbit can actually be seen on the Moon:

Jade Rabbit on the Moon

Jade Rabbit and Mortar on the Moon. Credit: Zeimusu, Creative Commons.

I hope they have Moon Cakes.  They sound yummy.

A closeup of Venus and Mars

A closeup of Venus and Mars at 6:30 a.m. October 5, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Planets and the Moon on a single night

Planets at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on October 4, 2017. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 5th. The full Moon has fallen in the cracks between the sunset and sunrise charts due to its position south of the ecliptic. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

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09/27/2017 – Ephemeris – Where are the naked eye planets tonight

September 27, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Wednesday, September 27th. The Sun will rise at 7:35. It’ll be up for 11 hours and 54 minutes, setting at 7:29. The Moon, at first quarter today, will set at 12:16 tomorrow morning.

Let’s take our weekly look at the bright planets. Jupiter is really low in the west-southwest after sunset setting in bright twilight at 8:22 p.m. Saturn can be seen low in the southwest tonight. The reddish star Antares is below and right of Saturn before it sets at 9:50 p.m. Saturn’s rings are spectacular in telescopes. With the demise of the Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn for the last 13 years, there is no telescope closer to Saturn than yours. The planet will set at 11:09 p.m. In the morning sky, brilliant Venus will rise at 5:23 a.m. in the east-northeast. Much dimmer Mars will rise in the east-northeast at 5:46 a.m. Mars will brighten greatly as it approaches us in the next 10 months. Mercury is too close to the glare of the Sun to be spotted.

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

Addendum

Saturn and the Moon

Saturn and the Moon tonight at 9 p.m., September 27, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Saturn and its brightest moons

Saturn and its brightest moons overnight September 27/28, 2017. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Binocular Moon

The Moon as it might be seen in binoculars, 9 p.m. September 27, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Venus and Mars

Venus and Mars close up at 6:30 a.m. September 27, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Planets and the Moon on a single night

Planets at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on September 27, 2017. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 28th. I’ve rotated the sunrise plot so the planet labels wouldn’t overlap. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

09/20/2017 – Ephemeris – Looking for the bright planets

September 20, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Wednesday, September 20th. The Sun will rise at 7:27. It’ll be up for 12 hours and 15 minutes, setting at 7:43. The Moon is new today, and won’t be visible.

Let’s take our weekly look at the bright planets. Jupiter is really low in the west-southwest after sunset setting in twilight at 8:47 p.m. Saturn can be seen low in the southwest tonight. The reddish star Antares is below and right of Saturn before it sets at 10:18 p.m. Saturn’s rings are spectacular in telescopes. With the demise of the Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn for the last 13 years, there is no telescope closer to Saturn than yours. The planet will set at 11:35 p.m. In the morning sky, brilliant Venus will rise at 5:03 a.m. in the east-northeast. The first magnitude star Regulus in Leo the lion will be to the upper right of it. Dim Mars will rise in the east-northeast at 5:50 a.m. followed by the brighter Mercury which will rise at 6:12 a.m.

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

Addendum

Setting Jupiter

The setting Jupiter and Saturn at 8:15 p.m., September 20, 2017. Created using Stellarium. Click on the image to enlarge.

Saturn in the evening

Saturn and constellations in dark skies at 9 p.m. September 20, 2017. Created using Stellarium. Click on the image to enlarge.

Saturn and moons

Saturn and its brightest moons overnight September 20/21, 2017. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Morning planets close up

Morning planets close up at 6:30 a.m. September 21, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Planets and the Moon on a single night

Planets at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on September 20, 2017. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 21st. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

09/13/2017 – Ephemeris – Looking for the bright planets this week

September 13, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Wednesday, September 13th. The Sun will rise at 7:19. It’ll be up for 12 hours and 36 minutes, setting at 7:56. The Moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 1:05 tomorrow morning.

Let’s take our weekly look at the bright planets. Jupiter is sinking really low in the west-southwest setting before the end of twilight. Jupiter will set at 9:11 p.m. Saturn can be seen moving from the south-southwest to the southwest tonight. The reddish star Antares is below and right of Saturn. Saturn’s rings are spectacular in telescopes. The planet will set at midnight. In the morning sky, brilliant Venus will rise at 4:48 a.m. Mercury will rise at 5:46 and Mars will rise at 5:54 a.m.

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

Addendum

Evening planets

The setting Jupiter and Saturn at 8:30 p.m., September 13, 2017. Created using Stellarium. Click on image to enlarge.

Saturn and its moons

Saturn and its brightest moons overnight September 13/14, 2017. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Morning sky

Planets in the morning sky at 6:30 a.m. September 14, 2017. Created using Stellarium. Click on the image to enlarge.

Morning planets

Morning planets close up at 6:30 a.m. September 14, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Binocular Moon

The fat crescent Moon as it might be seen in binoculars at 6:30 a.m. September 14, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Planets and the Moon on a single night sunset 090617 to sunrise 090717

Planets at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on September 13, 2017. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 14th. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

09/08/2017 – Ephemeris – Dance of the planets in the morning

September 8, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Friday, September 8th. The Sun will rise at 7:13. It’ll be up for 12 hours and 52 minutes, setting at 8:05. The Moon, 2 days past full, will rise at 9:39 this evening.

In clear skies after 6:15 or so in the morning two planets and a star can be spotted below Venus in the east. This may take binoculars to spot. Brightest of the two highest stars will be the planet Mercury, which will reach its greatest elongation from the Sun next Tuesday. The star Regulus is a bit to the left of it, and dimmer. Hardest of all to spot will be Mars, below, left of them. On the 16th Mercury and Mars will be in a very close conjunction, about one fifth of the Moon’s diameter apart. Mars, now is very far away, and is as dim as a Big Dipper star, which though bright, fares poorly in twilight. Next July when Mars is close to us, it will be brighter than Jupiter. The positions of Mercury, Regulus and Mars will change rapidly in the next week or so.

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

Addendum

Dance of the morning planets

Dance of the morning planets Mercury, Mars, Venus with the star Regulus at 6:30 a.m. (about 45 minutes before sunrise) on the mornings of September 9 through 17, 2017. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

09/06/2017 – Ephemeris – A look at the bright planets known from antiquity

September 6, 2017 1 comment

Wednesday, September 6th. The Sun will rise at 7:11. It’ll be up for 12 hours and 58 minutes, setting at 8:09. The Moon, at full today, will rise at 8:38 this evening.

Let’s take our weekly look at the bright planets. Jupiter is sinking really low in the west-southwest setting before the end of twilight. The bright blue-white star Spica, which pales in comparison to Jupiter, is seen below it dimly in the twilight. It will pass north of Spica on September 11th. Jupiter will set at 9:36 p.m. Saturn can be seen moving from the south-southwest to the southwest tonight. The reddish star Antares is below and right of Saturn. Saturn’s rings are spectacular in telescopes. The planet will set at 12:29 a.m. In the morning sky, brilliant Venus will rise at 4:31 a.m. and be visible until about 6:45 tomorrow morning. Mars and Mercury follow Venus up in the east rising just before 6 a.m.

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

Addendum

Evening planets

The setting Jupiter and Saturn near the Moon at 9 p.m., September 6, 2017. Created using Stellarium. Click on image to enlarge.

Binocular Moon

The moon as it might be seen in binoculars at 10 p.m.. Created using Stellarium.

Saturn and its moons

Saturn and its brightest moons overnight September 6/7, 2017. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Morning planets

Venus with Mercury and Mars at 6:30 a.m. September 7, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Morning planetary animation

A 3 day animation od Mercury, te star Regulus and Mars starting September 7, 2017 at 6:30 a.m. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.  Click on image to enlarge.

On Friday I’ll have an animation that will take these planets further.

Planets and the Moon on a single night sunset 090617 to sunrise 090717

Planets at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on September 6, 2017. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 7th. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

 

09/05/2017 – Ephemeris – Neptune’s at opposition from the Sun today

September 5, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Tuesday, September 5th. The Sun will rise at 7:09. It’ll be up for 13 hours and 1 minute, setting at 8:11. The Moon, 1 day before full, will set at 7:22 tomorrow morning.

The sea green eighth planet from the Sun is named for the Roman god of the sea, Neptune. Today it is at opposition from the Sun, meaning it is opposite the Sun in the sky, rising at sunset. It resides at 30 times the Earth’s distance from the Sun. It is seen now against the stars of the constellation of Aquarius. While it is barely visible in binoculars the bright Moon will serve as a pointer to it tonight, but also make it hard to find. It will be three and a half moon widths left of the Moon* at 10 p.m. In telescopes it shows a tiny disk, so it’s not quite star-like. The large dark spot seen on Neptune in 1989 by Voyager 2 soon disappeared, however two years ago Neptune began to show activity again as seen from Earth and by the Hubble Space Telescope.

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

* For the Eastern Daylight Time zone (0200 UT, 2017/09/06).  Add one Moon diameter for every hour prior to 0200 UT, subtract one for every hour after 0200 UT.

Addendum

Click on the charts to enlarge

The constellations around Neptune

The constellations around Neptune at 10 p.m. September 5, 2017. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Neptune finder chart

Finding Neptune tonight, September 5, 2017. Neptune moves slowly, so this finder chart, without the Moon, will work for a few months, Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

The constellations around Neptune

A 300 day track for Neptune with positions every 15 days starting September 5, 2017. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Neptune from Voyager 2

Neptune with the Great Dark Spot in 1979 as seen by Voyager 2. Credit NASA/JPL

Neptune from the Hubble Space Telescope

Neptune from the Hubble Space Telescope in 2016. Credit NASA/ESA.