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10/07/2022 – Ephemeris – Learn about the Sun tonight and view the Moon on Saturday

October 7, 2022 Leave a comment

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Friday, October 7th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 24 minutes, setting at 7:12, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:49. The Moon, 2 days before full, will set at 6:08 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 Mary Gribbin who has been observing the sun through her special solar telescope. She’ll describe the features visible with a solar telescope. 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. There will be a Moon and star party at the Sleeping Bear Dunes, Dune Climb tomorrow starting at 8 pm. That may be our last of the year out there. 2023 promises to have a full slate of star parties out there.

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

Excerpt from the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore calendar posting:

“These events will be cancelled if the sky is not visible due to weather conditions. The decision to cancel is usually made either three hours in advance or by 4:30 p.m. the day prior to the event. Please call park rangers at 231-326-4700, ext. 5005, for a voicemail message with the decision. For the early morning and late evening astronomy events, bring a flashlight for the walk to and from the event. Park rangers and GTAS staff will wear red glow bracelets at the events. For more information about the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society, go to http://www.gtastro.org/.“

 

09/23/2022 – Ephemeris – Weather prospects look dim for a star party tomorrow night, but we won’t know for sure until we get closer

September 23, 2022 Comments off

Update: The Star Party has been Canceled

Here’s a deep dark secret:  Ephemeris programs are recorded the Sunday night for the week beginning Tuesday through the following Monday. However, the posting of the scripts here is generally done the night before the air date. From this vantage point, with the weather forecast not changing for the past week, it looks like we’ll be greeted with not only clouds but rain. The operative words in the post below are “weather permitting”, Which explains the headline.

This is Ephemeris for Friday, September 23rd. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 7 minutes, setting at 7:38, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:32. The Moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 5:54 tomorrow morning.

Weather permitting, a star party will be held tomorrow night, Saturday, September 24th at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore at the Dune Climb starting at 8 pm. The star party will be hosted by the Park Rangers and members of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society (GTAS), who will bring their telescopes to view the heavens, including the planets Jupiter and Saturn plus the wonders of the summer Milky Way. The telescopes will be set up in the parking area closest to the dune. Saturn will be available immediately, while we wait for Jupiter to rise higher. As it gets darker, more and more wonders of the Milky Way will be seen. They include star clusters and nebulae, clouds of gas and dust from which stars form, and which are expelled in the process of star death.

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

If you are not sure if it will be clear enough to hold the star party, please call the park rangers at 231-326-4700, ext. 5005, for a voicemail message with the decision. Alternately, gtastro.org, the GTAS website, will also display the status of the star party, and if it is canceled by 5 pm on Saturday the 24th.

Dune Climb Setup

This in the beginning of setup for the October 21, 2017 star party at the dune climb. Taken early, looking to the south-southwest, while there was enough light. The dune blocks up to 12 degrees from the southwest to northwest, but the rest of the horizon is quite low. Note the lone trees on the hill right of the top of the ladder. They are my targets to align my telescope’s finder. Once, while performing the alignment, a fog bank tumbled over that ridge and wiped it out for a time. It was eventually a good night.

We’ve had more than our share of iffy weather at or travelling to the site. A good share of GTAS members live in the Traverse City area, some 30 miles east of the park. More than a few of us, over the years, have driven through rain showers, on our way to the park, for a successful star party. Here’s a link to another night with iffy weather, this time with a lunar eclipse.

09/09/2022 – Ephemeris – Observe the Harvest Moon at the Sleeping Bear Dunes Saturday night (weather permitting)

September 9, 2022 Comments off

Update 9/10/2022, 6 pm: The weather does not permit it! We’ll have another, again weather permitting, on September 24th. This time with dark skies and a look at the summer Milky Way, two days after the end of summer. (It still counts).

This is Ephemeris for Friday, September 9th. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 49 minutes, setting at 8:04, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:15. The Moon, 1 day before full, will set at 7:14 tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow night, September 10th, there will be, weather permitting, a star party at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, this will take place at the Dune Climb. Actually, it will be mostly a Moon and planet party. The event will be made possible by the rangers of the park and the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society. The society’s and member’s telescopes will take over the parking lot closest to the Dunes. The event starts at 8 p.m., near sunset, while it’s still light out and the location can be found. The Moon will join the party, rising at 8:41 pm. Oh, and it’s a supermoon. There will be a short talk about Harvest Moon lore and why it was important. See if you can find the Man in the Moon and the Chinese rabbit pounding medicine.

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 Harvest Moon with Jupiter and Saturn

The Harvest Moon with Jupiter and Saturn at 9 pm, September 10, 2022. Created using Stellarium.

09/02/2022 – Ephemeris – Learn about our galactic neighbors and a star party tonight!

September 2, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Friday, September 2nd. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 11 minutes, setting at 8:17, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:07. The Moon, 1 day before first quarter, will set at 11:18 this evening

Tonight at 9 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 Don Flegel, our Vice President, who is also working to get our large 25-inch telescope tracking again. The brains of the telescope are now in Australia being worked on, so hopefully it will be ready for next year. Anyway, his talk will be about our galactic neighbors. 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 will be available at gtastro.org before the meeting.

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

For the star party, the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn will be visible. Some of the brighter deep sky objects should also be available. Deep sky objects are what astronomers call telescopic objects beyond the solar system such as star clusters, nebulae (clouds of gas and dust from which stars form, or created by the death of stars). And most distant of all, galaxies, other Milky Ways. One such galaxy is the Great Andromeda Galaxy, visible tonight. Visually, in a telescope, only the core is bright enough to be seen. Photography will reveal it to be as wide as 6 full moons. Two of its satellite galaxies can also be spotted.

08/22/2022 – Ephemeris – Sleeping Bear Dunes Star Party tonight!

August 22, 2022 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Monday, August 22nd. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 43 minutes, setting at 8:36, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:54. The Moon, 3 days past last quarter, will rise at 2:43 tomorrow morning.

Weather permitting, a star party will be held tonight at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore at the Dune Climb starting at 8 pm. The star party will be hosted by the park rangers and the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society, who will bring their telescopes to view the heavens, including the planet Saturn and the wonders of the summer Milky Way. The telescopes will be setup in the parking area closest to the dune. While as twilight fades Saturn will be about the only object to view, as it gets darker more and more wonders of the Milky Way will be seen. They include star clusters of both kinds: young open clusters of a few hundred stars sparkling like diamonds and great, ancient globular clusters of hundreds of thousands of stars. Jupiter will rise later in the evening, around 10 pm.

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

Preparing to start the star party

Preparing to start the May star party, 6 years ago at the Dune Climb. A few of the telescopes are visible, including the GTAS 25 inch “Emmettron” telescope at the far right. Credit: Eileen Carlisle.

08/05/2022 – Ephemeris – Star Party tonight at the Joseph H. Rogers Observatory

August 5, 2022 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Friday, August 5th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 29 minutes, setting at 9:03, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:34. The Moon, at first quarter today, will set at 12:45 tomorrow morning.

Tonight, the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will host a star party at Northwestern Michigan College’s Rogers Observatory from 10 pm to midnight, if it’s clear. The first quarter Moon, and the planet Saturn, will be seen. Toward the end of the evening, Jupiter will make an appearance. Saturn is always magnificent with its rings, and Jupiter with its moons and cloud bands. Also, visible will be some brighter wonders beyond the solar system. Nebulae, which are clouds of gas, and great clusters of stars. Views from one of the observatory telescopes will be available via Zoom, link at gtastro.org. Some society members will also bring their telescopes for displaying the sky for attending visitors. The observatory is located south of Traverse City on Birmley Road. The approach to the observatory from Keystone Road from the south may be blocked by the construction of a roundabout at the Keystone-Cass Rd intersection.

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

Star party at the NMC Observatory

Telescopes set up by members of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society at the back of Northwestern Michigan College’s Joseph H. Rogers Observatory on August 3, 2018. Credit mine.

This may be the first time since 2019 that members will set their telescopes out behind the observatory for a star party. The telescope in the small dome is the one used for Zoom views of the Moon and possibly Saturn. Saturn will be blocked by trees for most of the evening, except from the observatory dome which is high enough, so Saturn will clear the trees sooner.

The sky is forecast to be partly cloudy, whatever that means. The Clear Sky Chart for the observatory shows that it will be clear. There is also a possibility of haze from the forest fires out west, dimming the sky and making observation of deep sky objects more difficult.

Events of the evening:

The first quarter Moon will already be up and will set at 12:45 am
9:03 pm – sunset
9:24 pm – Saturn rises*
10:20 pm – Nautical twilight ends
11:02 pm – Jupiter rises*
11:07 pm – Astronomical twilight ends

* It may be at least a half hour after rising before the image of these planets become half way sharp, due to the great amount of atmosphere we are looking through to see them. The higher in the sky they are, the better they will appear.

07/22/2022 – Ephemeris – Saturday, weather permitting, there will be a star party at Sleeping Bear Dunes

July 22, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Pi Day number 2, Friday, July 22nd. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 1 minute, setting at 9:19, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:19. The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 2:01 tomorrow morning.

What’s Pi Day number 2? In the European way to write the date: 22 July or 22/7, the improper fraction that approximates pi, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.

On to astronomical matters: Tomorrow night July 23rd there will be, weather permitting, a star party at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, this will take place at the Dune Climb. The star party is made possible by the rangers of the park and the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society. The society’s and member’s telescopes will take over the parking lot closest to the Dunes The event starts at 9 p.m., while it’s still light out and the location can be found. The park rangers will leave at 11, while the society members will stay longer.

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

Excerpt from the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore calendar posting for August 23:

“These events will be cancelled if the sky is not visible due to weather conditions. The decision to cancel is usually made either three hours in advance or by 4:30 p.m. the day prior to the event. Please call park rangers at 231-326-4700, ext. 5005, for a voicemail message with the decision. For the early morning and late evening astronomy events, bring a flashlight for the walk to and from the event. Park rangers and GTAS staff will wear red glow bracelets at the events. For more information about the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society, go to http://www.gtastro.org/. “

Preparing to start the star party

Preparing to start a star party at the Dune Climb in a year before COVID. A few of the telescopes are visible, including the GTAS 25 inch “Emmettron” telescope at the far right. Credit: Eileen Carlisle.

Celestial events that night at the Dune Climb:

9:17 pm – Sunset (Sun will set behind the dune by around 8 pm)
9:57 pm – ISS* pass: highest 24° altitude in the north, moving from WNW to ENE.
10:00 pm – Brighter stars are visible. Telescopes can start to show the brighter binary stars.
10:20 pm – Saturn rises in the east-southeast. The sharpness of its image will improve as it rises higher in the sky.
10:33 pm – Nautical twilight ends. The brighter deep sky objects (DSOs**) become visible in telescopes. The Milky Way begins to show.
11:31 pm – ISS pass: highest 43° north-northeast, moving from NW to ENE
11:33 pm – Astronomical twilight ends. The sky is now completely dark.

* ISS – International Space Station. Start to look for it 2-3 minutes before this time. It will be at its brightest at its highest altitude.

** Deep Sky Objects – Telescopic objects beyond the solar system. They include star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies. Though that night, the only galaxy visible will be the Milky Way.

Click here for the definitions of the types of twilight.

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.