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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.

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10/26/2017 – Ephemeris – Jupiter at perihelion and 96P/Comet Machholz 1 rounds the Sun

October 26, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Thursday, October 26th. The Sun will rise at 8:12. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 27 minutes, setting at 6:39. The Moon, 1 day before first quarter, will set at 11:48 this evening. | Today at 2:02 in the afternoon the planet Jupiter will be in conjunction with the Sun, moving from east to west with respect to the Sun. Leaving the evening sky to enter the morning sky. While invisible from the Earth’s surface. There are cameras recording the Sun at all times that will also pick up Jupiter. Two on the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory perched a million miles sunward of the Earth. are chronagraphs, and contain disks that block out the light of the Sun creating total eclipses. The planet will pass above or north of the Sun. The easiest way to find these images is to go to spaceweather.com, go down to the link section and select Solar and Heliospheric Observatory and click on The Sun Now. The images to check out at the two LASCO images.

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

Addendum

Jupiter snd Comet Machholz

The current LASCO C3 image at this blog’s posting time Credit: ESA/NASA/SOHO.

Jupiter is about to be covered by the LASCO C3 coronagraph’s occulting disk.  It will still be visible in the C2 field.  As an extra bonus Comet 96P/Machholz entered the LASCO C3 field of view on the 25th and will exit on the 30th.

To follow Jupiter’s progress check out these animated GIFs:  https://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/data/LATEST/current_c3.gif and https://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/data/LATEST/current_c2.gif.

Note that these animations will be current as of the date you click on them.

09/15/2017 – Ephemeris – Two local astronomy events tomorrow

September 15, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Friday, September 15th. The Sun will rise at 7:21. It’ll be up for 12 hours and 30 minutes, setting at 7:52. The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 3:10 tomorrow morning.

There are two local astronomical events tomorrow. Tomorrow the Leland Heritage Celebration will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Fish Town in Leland. The Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will be there to show the Sun through member’s telescopes and give out NASA items for the kids. We’ll exhibit pictures gained from last month’s total solar eclipse. Then starting at 9 p.m. the crew will be at Northwestern Michigan College’s Rogers Observatory for a star party, viewing Saturn and the wonders of the Milky Way including star clusters and nebulae of clouds of gas and dust that mark locations of either the birth or death of stars. Rain will affect the Leland event. The observatory is located on Birmley Road.

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

Addendum

GTAS telescopes at Leland Heritage Celebration in 2011.

GTAS telescopes at Leland Heritage Celebration in 2011.

07/03/2017 – Ephemeris – The Earth is farthest from the Sun today

July 3, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Monday, July 3rd. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 28 minutes, setting at 9:30, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:03. The Moon, 3 days past first quarter, will set at 3:13 tomorrow morning.

At 8:59 tonight the Earth will pass a point in its orbit of the sun called aphelion, the farthest point from the sun of 94.5 million miles (152 million km). The whole Earth gets something like 6% less heat from the Sun than early January when the Sun is closest. So why is it summer now? The difference in distance from the sun pales as a cause of the seasons next to the tilt of the earth’s axis. Six months ago, because the sun was up for a shorter period each day, and didn’t rise very high in the sky, the sun gave us in northern Michigan something like 70% less heat than it does now. The real effect of aphelion coming in summer is that it makes summer the longest season at 94 days. This is because the farther the Earth is from the Sun, the slower it travels. Hey, it’s summer – take the hint and slow down and enjoy the season.

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

 

07/21/2016 – Ephemeris – This sunspot cycle is past peak

July 21, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, July 21st.  Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 2 minutes, setting at 9:20, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:18.  The Moon, 2 days past full, will rise at 10:20 this evening.

The Sun is on the down side in this sunspot cycle.  Sunspots increase and decrease on the Sun in a roughly 11 year cycle.  This sunspot cycle wasn’t a very high peak in numbers of sunspots.  The peak of sunspot numbers occurred in both 2012 and 2014, an odd double peak.  The peak in activity for this cycle is among the lowest since systematic observations have been recorded over the last 200 or so years.  This year so far has seen 16 Sun spotless days according to SpaceWeather.com.  There was none last year and only one in 2014.  Coming up to this sunspot peak saw an extended period of years with mostly spotless days.  The Sun is actually brighter when it has lots sunspots, than when it is not.  Odd but true.  In not so distant past sunspots have been missing for years.

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

Addendum

All recorded sunspot cycles

All the recorded sunspot cycles back to the 18th century. Credit: Dr. David Hathaway, NASA /ARC.

 

05/13/2016 – Ephemeris – GTAS Astronomy Day tomorrow

May 13, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, May 13th.  Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 46 minutes, setting at 9:02.   The Moon, at first quarter today, will set at 2:59 tomorrow morning.  Tomorrow the Sun will rise at 6:15.

The Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will host a public viewing night for Astronomy Day tomorrow night, that’s Saturday the 14th, starting at 9 p.m.  It will be at Northwestern Michigan College’s Joseph Rogers Observatory.  If its clear the slightly gibbous moon will be featured along with Jupiter, Mars and the ringed planet Saturn and other wonders of the spring sky.  The observatory is located south of Traverse City, on Birmley Road between Garfield and Keystone roads.  For the society these, twice monthly star parties at the observatory and sidewalk astronomy outings by members, to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and other locations are what they do.

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

Other thoughts

I was checking out the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) LASCO C3 animation and Venus is making an entrance from the right as it heads for superior conjunction on June 6.  June 6?  Hmm. Wasn’t that last transit or Venus on June 5th 2012.  We and Venus should be near the line of nodes again, where the planes of our respective orbits cross.  I cranked up Stellarium, and sure enough the Sun will occult Venus that day… Not that we could see it.

Some views of the festivities at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Dune Climb for the transit of Mercury earlier today

May 9, 2016 Comments off
Transiting Mercury

Mercury and some sunspots at 8:30 a.m. through my telescope. Thought I’d take a shot before we had visitors. C8 Cassigrainian focus, ISO 100, 1/100 second.

Viewing thru the Dobinator

Checking the transit via the “Dobinator” through the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society’s (GTAS) 25 inch Dobsonian stopped down with an 8″ solar filter.

My C8

Viewing the transit through my Celestron C8.

Viewing the transit

Kids viewing the transit through the society’s Lunt hydrogen alpha solar telescope.

Emmett's Dobsonian

Youngster viewing the transit through Emmett Holmes’ 13″ homemade Dobsonian telescope and Poncet tracking mount.

Credit:  Bob Moler