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05/04/2020 – Ephemeris – NASA mission preparations this month

May 4, 2020 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Monday, May 4th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 24 minutes, setting at 8:52, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:26. The Moon, 3 days before full, will set at 5:47 tomorrow morning.

May is a month of preparation for the space community. The Mars 2020 Rover, now named Endurance is getting packed up and balanced in preparation to be loaded into the sky crane and aeroshell, part of the cruise stage for its trip to Mars. It will employ the same landing technique as its predecessor, Curiosity which landed 9 years before in 2012. The launch is scheduled for July 17th to land on February 18th next year. It will deploy a small helicopter as a demonstration. It has many of the tools as Curiosity plus new ones and will cache rocks for future return to the Earth for further analysis. Hopefully by month’s end two NASA astronauts will launch on a Falcon 9 from US soil to the International Space Station.

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

Addendum

Mars 2020 Rover "Endurance"

Mars 2020 Rover “Endurance” destined for the martian crater Jezero. Credit NASA.

ars Helicopter "Ingenuity"

Mars Helicopter “Ingenuity” after deployment. Delta of ancient river that flowed into a lake in the Jezero crater. Credit NASA.

Ancient delta flowing into

Delta of ancient river that flowed into a lake in the Jezero crater. Credit NASA.

Crew Dragon docking to the ISS

Crew Dragon docking to the International Space Station during the Demo 1 flight. Credit NASA.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

10/04/2019 – Ephemeris – Astronomy events in Traverse City this weekend

October 4, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, October 4th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 34 minutes, setting at 7:18, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:45. The Moon, 1 day before first quarter, will set at 11:33 this evening.

Tonight and tomorrow night there will be astronomy events at the Northwestern Michigan College’s Rogers Observatory and weather permitting tomorrow night on Front Street in Traverse City.

  • Tonight there is the monthly meeting of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society with a program at 8 p.m. and a star party starting at 9 p.m.
  • Tomorrow night at the observatory from 7 to 8:30 p.m. NMC, the Rogers Observatory and the Traverse Area District Library will present Storyteller’s Night Sky with Mary Stewart Adams.
  • At the same time, if it’s clear, members of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will set up telescopes on the East 200 block of Front Street in Traverse City for the International Observe the Moon Night.

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

09/27/2019 – Ephemeris – Apollo 50th anniversary talk tonight in Thompsonville

September 27, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, September 27th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 55 minutes, setting at 7:31, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:36. The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 7:09 tomorrow morning.

Tonight to commemorate the 50th anniversary the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon, I will present the illustrated talk Apollo and the Race to the Moon at 7 p.m. at the Betsie Valley District Library in Thompsonville. Afterwards, if it’s clear, members of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will host a star party featuring Saturn and Jupiter and some of the brighter deep sky objects. In the talk I’ll explore the Apollo 11 mission, the engineers, astronauts and all the crewed and robotic missions that paved the way for the successful lunar landings. I’ll also look at the Soviet space program their triumphs, plans, and ultimate failure to beat the Americans to the Moon.

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

Addendum

Apollo and the Race to the Moon Title

Apollo and the Race to the Moon Title slide

08/16/2019 – Ephemeris – The Apollo missions provided clues as to the origin of the Moon

August 16, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, August 16th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 1 minute, setting at 8:47, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:47. The Moon, 1 day past full, will rise at 9:44 this evening.

Members of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will be in Downtown Traverse City for Friday Night Line again this evening. We might get a glimpse of the Moon later tonight. Speaking of the Moon, the rocks brought back from the Moon by the Apollo astronauts turn out to be very similar to earthly rocks. This gave rise to the most popular theory of how the Moon formed. A second planet was born in the Earth’s orbit lazily orbiting at a point 60 degrees ahead or behind the Earth itself. Perturbations possibly by Venus caused it to crash into the Earth with a glancing blow sending debris into orbit of the Earth to become the Moon. It explains the similarity of the rocks of the Earth and and those brought back from the Moon.

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

Addendum

How the Moon may have formed

A progression of how the Moon may have fomed by a small protoplanet crashing into the Earth. Credit: Brian Koberlein

 

Categories: Uncategorized

11/13/2018 – Ephemeris – The Summer Triangle in autumn

November 13, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, November 13th. The Sun will rise at 7:37. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 39 minutes, setting at 5:16. The Moon, 2 days before first quarter, will set at 10:20 this evening.

The Summer Triangle is still in the sky at 9 p.m., even though it’s November. These three bright stars that straddle the Milky Way are high in the east for most of the summer, move overhead and begin to slide to the west in autumn. We will lose Altair, the southernmost of the three stars at 9 p.m. on the winter solstice, December 21st. We’ll lose the brightest, Vega in January. For the northern half of the IPR listening area the northernmost of the triangle stars, Deneb won’t quite set below a north Lake Michigan horizon. Next spring we’ll be waiting and watching for these three stars to rise, reclaim the skies, and bring again the warm summer skies. The winter skies do however have more bright stars than the summer sky.

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

Addendum

Summer Triangle tonight
The Summer Triangle of the three bright stars Vega, Deneb and Altair is still high in the west at 8 p.m. tonight. The zenith is near the top of the image. Created using Stellarium
Summer Triangle about to set.
The Summer Triangle with Altair about to set on the winter solstice at 9 p.,. Created using Stellarium.

11/12/2018 – Ephemeris – Orion is rising

November 12, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Veterans Day Observed, Monday, November 12th. The Sun will rise at 7:35. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 41 minutes, setting at 5:17. The Moon, 3 days before first quarter, will set at 9:25 this evening.

Just after the Moon sets tonight winter’s most dazzling constellation will be rising, Orion the hunter of Greek myth. The stars of his torso are in a rectangle leaning to the left. Orion’s belt of three stars in a straight line in the center of the rectangle is nearly vertical. The Anishinaabe peoples whose region we live in see the constellation of the Wintermaker rather than Orion. It uses Orion’s torso and belt stars, but his arms are spread wide from Aldebaran in the face of Taurus the bull to the west to Procyon in Canis Minor, which won’t rise until 11 p.m. to the east. The Wintermaker’s arms are wide enough to embrace the entire winter sky. Its name in Anishinaabemowin, which is Biboonikeonini, means “North Wind”.

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

Orion or Wintermaker rising
Take your pick: it’s either Orion rising of the Wintermaker rising at 9:30 p.m. November 12th. Created using Stellarium and GIMP, and Western and Ojibwe star lore.

10/04/2018 – Ephemeris Extra – Wintermaker rising

November 4, 2018 Comments off

A chill is in the air, The Fisher, Ojiig’s bloody tail has swooped low in the north at midnight to paint the trees with their fall colors, and the leaves have fallen to the ground. Haven’t heard of the Fisher? I mention it from time to time here on my Ephemeris program on Interlochen Public Radio. It’s a constellation of the Anishinaabe peoples indigenous to this area of Michigan, of which the Chippewa, Ottawa, and Ojibwe are a part.

The Fisher occupies the stars which we know as the Big Dipper and the Great Bear, Ursa Major. And unlike the bear, a fisher really does have a long tail. The fisher is a real weasel-like animal whose diet apparently does not include fish. It is found across southern Canada and in the American West. I’ve related the story of the Fisher, and how he brought summer to the Earth, in these pages in the August 2012 issue and on my blog bobmoler.wordpress.com. Search for fisher. Like most legends, there are different versions of that story and others about the Fisher.
Fisher or not, summer is gone and the world seems darker and colder. Over in the east these evenings great winter constellation of Orion is rising. It brings to mind the Robert Frost poem Star-Splitter, and our star chart this month from the November 1st post:

“You know Orion always comes up sideways.
Throwing a leg up over our fence of mountains,
And rising on his hands, he looks in on me
Busy outdoors by lantern-light with something
I should have done by daylight, and indeed,
After the ground is frozen, I should have done
Before it froze, and a gust flings a handful
Of waste leaves at my smoky lantern chimney
To make fun of my way of doing things,
Or else fun of Orion's having caught me.
Has a man, I should like to ask, no rights
These forces are obliged to pay respect to?"

The rest of the poem is available on the Poetry Foundation website: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44273/the-star-splitter. The poem is about one Brad McLaughlin and his telescope. While I don’t approve of how he financed his telescope, I do share his enthusiasm.

North Hegman Lake Pictographs
North Hegman Lake Pictographs with the Wintermaker (Orion), Curly Tail (Leo-Hydra), and Moose (Pegasus). Credit: Etphonehome.

The Wintermaker, Biboonikeonini’s, name literally means North Wind. While his torso is the same as Orion’s his arms stretch from Aldebaran in Taurus to Procyon in Canis Minor, just about spanning the entire winter sky. The pictographs, seen above of the Wintermaker, Curly Tail and Moose can only be seen from a canoe in the cliff face on one side of the narrows between North Hegman and Trease lakes, 15 miles north of Ely, Minnesota


Wintermaker rising
The Wintermaker (Orion) rising in the east-southeast. And Hole-In-The-Sky (Pleiades) as seen in Stellarium with Ojibwe Star Lore in Stellarium. From the Ojibwe Sky Star Map Constellation Guide, ISBN 978-0-615-98678-4 by A. Lee, W. Wilson, and C. Gawboy.

In late winter as Ojiig is rising in the northeast signaling the maple sugaring season, the Wintermaker is moving lower in the southwest. Some Ojibwe parents make bows for their children to shoot arrows at the Wintermaker to convince him to flee the skies so spring can begin as a way to teach them the old legends of their culture.

The Pleiades is an important group of stars for the Anishinaabe in several ways. It is the Hole-In-The-Sky, Bagone’giizhig, through which the Sky Woman fell and to give birth to the first humans on the Earth.

The Pleiades also represent the seven poles of the Shaking Tent Ceremony, and the seven sacred stones that are heated for the sweat lodge, which is also seen in the stars in the spring as Corona Borealis.

They are also the Seven Daughters of the Moon and Sun. They loved to dance and play, and when their father, the Moon was low in the sky, would descend to the Earth in a basket to do their thing. On one of their trips to the earth, one of them was captured by a human and she ended up falling in love with him, and married him. When father Moon found out he permanently dimmed her star, so now most people now only can spot 6 of the stars. This last bit seems to parallel the Greek story of the lost Pleiad.

Note:  This is published as an article in the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society’s November 2018 newsletter Stellar Sentinel.