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05/06/2022 – Ephemeris – Tonight: wander through the celestial wonders in Sagittarius

May 6, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Friday, May 6th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 28 minutes, setting at 8:53, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:24. The Moon, 2 days before first quarter, will set at 2:35 tomorrow morning.

Tonight at 8 pm, the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will have an in-person meeting at Northwestern Michigan College’s Rogers Observatory. The meeting will also be available via Zoom. The program will be presented by Dan Dall’Olmo. Who spends many of his nights photographing the heavens. He will show the wonders in and around the Milky Way in the summer constellation of Sagittarius. It’s just the thing to prepare us for the wonderful dark nights of August. If it’s clear, there will be a star party following the meeting. The observatory is located south of Traverse City off Birmley Road, between Garfield and Keystone roads. A Zoom link is available at gtastro.org.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT – 4 hours). They may be different for your location.

04/01/2022 – Ephemeris – Astro meeting tonight – astronomy meets geology

April 1, 2022 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for April Fools’ Day, Friday, April 1st. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 46 minutes, setting at 8:10, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:21. The Moon is new today, and won’t be visible.

Tonight at 8 pm, the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will have our first in-person meeting in two years at Northwestern Michigan College’s Rogers Observatory. The meeting will also be available via Zoom. The program will be presented by Debbie Bull, from the Grand Traverse Rock and Mineral Club. Her topic will be: Impactite from the Sudbury, Ontario Impact Event. Sudbury is only 260 miles northeast from Traverse City, more if you drive it. 1.85 billion years ago, a small asteroid or comet hit there, making the 3rd largest crater discovered on the Earth. If it’s clear, there will be a star party following the meeting. More information on the observatory location and a Zoom link, go to gtastro.org.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT – 4 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

The Northwestern Michigan College’s Rogers Observatory is located south of Traverse City on Birmley Road. It’s south of Hammond Road between Garfield and Keystone roads. The observatory has limited seating and masks may be required. This will be the first in-person meeting that will also be covered by Zoom, so technical problems may occur.

03/04/2022 – Ephemeris – Tonight, an illustrated Zoom talk: “Light Pollution: Cause and Effect”

March 4, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Friday, March 4th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 19 minutes, setting at 6:34, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:13. The Moon, 2 days past new, will set at 8:56 this evening.

The Grand Traverse Astronomical Society (GTAS) will hold a virtual meeting and program at 8 pm tonight via Zoom. For the program, Dr. Jerry Dobek, astronomy professor at Northwestern Michigan College, will present an illustrated talk – Light Pollution: Cause and Effect. The focus of the talk will be on the general causes and effects of light pollution, as well as examples of proper lighting. Dr. Dobek has helped write lighting ordinances for governments here and around the nation. A virtual star party will start around 9 pm, also hosted by Dr. Dobek, but only if it’s clear in Traverse City. It will feature the wonders of the winter and early spring sky. Instructions to join the meeting and a link can be found on the society’s website, gtastro.org. All are welcome.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Michigan lights at night from space

Michigan lights at night from space, with pointer to Traverse City. Image credit: NASA, animation created using LibreOffice and GIMP.

If COVID-19 stays tamped down this spring and summer, the GTAS will be working with the rangers of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore to schedule monthly sun and star parties. The areas of the park we observe from are generally northwest (above, left in the image above) of Traverse City, near the shore of Lake Michigan.

12/03/2021 – Ephemeris – Learn about the astronomy of the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians

December 3, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Friday, December 3rd. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours even, setting at 5:02, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:03. The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 8:33 tomorrow morning.

This evening yours truly will present one of my annual holiday programs starting at 8 p.m., at the monthly meeting, via Zoom, of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society. The talk is a new one: The ancient astronomy of the Egyptians and Babylonians. It’s amazing how these ancient astronomers devised accurate calendars and eclipse predictions and even helped develop our alphabet, through the study of the heavens. If clear, we’ll have a virtual star party starting around 9 pm. Instructions and a link is on gtastro.org by 7 pm. Our binocular comet Leonard is still approaching the Sun in the morning sky. Tomorrow morning it will be a bit less than the width of a fist held at arm’s length above and a bit to the left of the bright star Arcturus in the eastern sky.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

The Egyptian used the heliacal rising of Sirius as a signal that the flooding of the Nile was imminent, starting their agricultural year. The Greeks called the star Sothis, while the Egyptians themselves called it Sopdet, a goddess, and consort of the god Sah, our Orion. Part of my presentation.

08/06/2021 – Ephemeris – Virtual Star Party tonight if it’s clear in Traverse City

August 6, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Friday, August 6th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 26 minutes, setting at 9:01, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:36. The Moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 5:11 tomorrow morning.

The Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will hold a virtual star party starting at 10 pm tonight via the Zoom app on the Internet. Jerry Dobek, professor of astronomy at Northwestern Michigan College, will host the event with the 16-inch telescope and an imager, but only if it’s clear in Traverse City. It should feature a look at Venus to start. Saturn and Jupiter will be up by then, but they’re quite low in the sky. We might take another look at them later on when their images are steadier. The wonders of the Milky Way are all available, clouds willing: nebulae where stars are forming, nebulae caused by dying stars, and all kinds of star clusters. Instructions to join the meeting and a link can be found on the society’s website, www.gtastro.org.

Addendum

The Southern Milky Way from Traverse City

The Milky Way from Aquila to Sagittarius taken from my backyard with light pollution south of me. The summer southern Milky Way is the reason I love the dark nights of August and September. It’s the best time of year for a star party. I’m 7 miles west of Northwestern Michigan College’s Joseph H. Rogers Observatory, from which the images for tonight’s star party will be captured.

06/04/2021 – Ephemeris – Zoom astronomy meeting and possible star party tonight

June 4, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Friday, June 4th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 25 minutes, setting at 9:23, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:58. The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 3:49 tomorrow morning.

The Grand Traverse Astronomical Society hold a virtual meeting and program at 8 pm tonight via Zoom. For the program Jerry Dobek, professor of astronomy at Northwestern Michigan College will present an illustrated talk on astroimaging. The pandemic has inspired Dr. Dobek to find a solution. It turned out to be a relatively inexpensive imager for the telescope. The virtual star party will start around 9 pm, hosted by Dobek, with his imager, but only if it’s clear in Traverse City. It will feature a look at Venus to start, possibly before sunset. There will be other objects visible in the twilight such as binary stars and a pair with differing colors. Instructions to join the meeting and a link can be found on the society’s website, www.gtastro.org.

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

Addendum

Here are some images that Professor Dobek has produced during the GTAS virtual Zoom star parties that I screen captured and minimally enhanced:

M46 with planetary nebula

The planetary nebula that is probably within star cluster M 46 in the constellation Puppis. Created from a screen grab from an image by Jerry Dobek January 8, 2021 during the GTAS virtual star party. The image was enhanced to reduce the background and increase contrast by Bob Moler

Globular Star Cluster M 3.

Globular star cluster M 3. Image captured by Jerry Dobek. Enhanced using GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program) by Bob Moler.

M 82

Irregular galaxy M 82 is very strange. Image created by Jerry Dobek and enhanced using GIMP.

05/14/2021 – Ephemeris – Astronomy Day Star Party this Saturday

May 14, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Friday, May 14th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 48 minutes, setting at 9:03, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:14. The Moon, 3 days past new, will set at 12:07 tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow is International Astronomy Day, to celebrate it the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will hold a special virtual star party via the Zoom Internet app. If it’s clear, Northwestern Michigan College’s professor Jerry Dobek will be transmitting live images of celestial objects that will look pretty much like what one sees through the eyepiece of a telescope. Dr. Dobek will be using the Joseph H. Rogers 0.4 meter main telescope and commenting will be members of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society. Featured objects will be the 4-day-old crescent Moon, the tiny and elusive planet Mercury, star clusters and galaxies. The event starts at 9 pm though best viewing won’t begin until after about 9:30. Go to www.gtastro.org for instructions and a link.

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

Addendum

While attending the virtual star party you can capture the screen imaged with Alt/Print Screen keys. Paste the image into a paint or other program. I use GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program), which fits my budget… It’s free. You can save the image of play with it. What I do with it is to darken the background. It should be black.

This is globular star cluster M 3. I call it the first globular cluster of spring. It’s near the star Arcturus. This is a screen capture cropped. The capture device on the 0.4 meter telescope is the Revolution Imager R2, which is actually fairly inexpensive. It outputs a video image.

I paste this image into GIMP. I use the Levels control under the Color tab.

I move the left control under the histogram to darken the sky. The left control here is set to 119, so all brightness values less than a brightness of 119 is set to black. Click OK and export the image. I didn’t change anything else.
Resultant image. Not bad. Though, I find globular clusters look better visually than their images. That is not true of nebulae or galaxies.

04/16/2021 – Ephemeris – Virtual Star Party for the Sleeping Bear Dunes tonight

April 16, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Friday, April 16th. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 33 minutes, setting at 8:29, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:54. The Moon, 4 days before first quarter, will set at 1:15 tomorrow morning.

Tonight the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will hold an online star party this evening starting around 9 pm via the Zoom app available for Android smartphones, iPhones and computers. Instructions for joining are on the society’s website http://www.gtastro.org or the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Facebook page. Images will be captured live, if it’s clear, from Northwestern Michigan College’s Joseph H Rogers Observatory. The images will be pretty much what is seen at the telescope eyepiece, and definitely not Hubble Space Telescope quality, which take days to process. Visible will be the crescent Moon. Then we move out beyond the solar system into our galaxy for star clusters and beyond our galaxy into the distant galaxies of spring skies.

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

Addendum

The Moon tonight. We’ll be looking at the Moon’s dark lava seas and other craters near the sunrise terminator.

We will be looking also at a few star clusters and out the thin side of our Milky Way Galaxy to lots of other galaxies.