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05/10/2018 – Ephemeris – Berenice’s Hair

May 10, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, May 10th. The Sun rises at 6:20. It’ll be up for 14 hours and 38 minutes, setting at 8:58. The Moon, 3 days past last quarter, will rise at 4:42 tomorrow morning.

High in the southeast at 10 p.m. is a tiny and faint constellation of Coma Berenices, or Berenice’s hair. In it are lots of faint stars arrayed to look like several strands of hair. The whole group will fit in the field of a pair of binoculars, which will also show many more stars. The hank of hair was supposed to belong to Berenice, Queen of Egypt, of the 3rd century BCE. Coma Berenices is the second closest star cluster to us at only 250 light years away, after the Hyades, the face of Taurus the bull now setting in the west. It’s in an odd spot for a galactic star cluster, that’s supposed to lie in the plane of the Milky Way. It actually lies at the galactic pole. That’s an illusion because it’s so close to us. It’s still really in the plane of the Milky Way.

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

Addendum

Coma Berenices finder chart

Coma Berenices finder chart for 10 p.m. May 10, 2018. Created using Stellarium.

Coma Berenices binocular view

Coma Berenices as it might look in a pair of binoculars. Telescopes are too powerful. Created using Stellarium.

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02/09/2018 – Ephemeris – Morning planet high jinx

February 9, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, February 9th. The Sun will rise at 7:51. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 11 minutes, setting at 6:02. The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 4:05 tomorrow morning.

This past Wednesday morning the Moon passed Jupiter, Earlier this morning the Moon passed north of Mars, and on Sunday morning Saturn will appear south of The Moon. There is a once in about 2 year event, that is red Mars passing Antares, the red giant star in Scorpius, one of the easiest constellations to spot because it actually resembles a scorpion. The name Antares means “Rival of Mars” because they have the same color: Ant meaning anti and Ares is the Greek god of war and counterpart of the Roman god Mars. Mars will pass Antares on average of

every 22 ½ months, its period around the Sun. Since we are viewing it from a moving Earth, it varies. Mars will pass Antares next on January 19th, 2020.

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

Addendum

Morning planets and the Moon

Morning planets and the Moon at 7 a.m. on the mornings of February 9, 10 and 11, 2018.  See Mars changing position compared to Antares. Click on image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

11/22/2017 – Ephemeris – A look at the bright planets for Thanksgiving week

November 22, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Wednesday, November 22nd. The Sun will rise at 7:48. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 19 minutes, setting at 5:08. The Moon, half way from new to first quarter, will set at 8:39 this evening.

Let’s take our weekly look at the bright planets. Mercury is briefly visible in binoculars in the southwest in the evening, setting at 6:11 p.m., and will reach it’s greatest elongation from the Sun tomorrow evening. Saturn is sinking low in the southwestern sky. Saturn’s rings are still spectacular in telescopes, but since Saturn is so low in the sky the thick atmosphere makes Saturn fuzzy and seemingly to go in and out of focus. Saturn will set at 6:49 p.m. Tomorrow in the morning sky, Mars, heading away from the Sun will rise in the east at 4:11 a.m., Jupiter, also moving away from the Sun, will rise at in the east-southeast at 5:54 a.m., leaving Venus behind after their conjunction 9 days ago, which will rise at 6:47 a.m..

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

Addendum

Evening Planets

Mercury, Saturn and the Moon at 5:45 p.m., a bit more than a half hour after sunset, November 22, 2017. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic Saturn_1800-112217

Saturn as it might be seen in a telescope tonight. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Star Charts).

Binocular Moon_1845-112217

The Moon as it might be seen tonight.  Created using Stellarium.

Morning Planets_0715-112317

The morning planets Mars, Jupiter and Venus at 7:15 a.m. November 23, 2017, about a half hour before sunrise on a really flat horizon.  Created using Stellarium.

 

Planets at sunset and sunrise of a single night

Planets at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on November 22, 2017. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 22nd. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

11/10/2017 – Ephemeris – The North Taurid Meteors are reaching peak this weekend

November 10, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Friday, November 10th. The Sun will rise at 7:32. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 46 minutes, setting at 5:19. The Moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 12:07 tomorrow morning.

One of the little known meteor showers for most of us are the North and South Taurid meteor showers. The shower that will reach peak this weekend is the North Taurids. They may show only 5 an hour when their radiants are overhead, but they are reported to be very bright. The radiant, the place where the meteors will appear to come from is just south of the Pleiades, will be up just about all night. Saturday night the Moon will rise at 1:15 a.m. Sunday night it will rise at 2:21 a.m. Both Taurid meteor showers are thought to be related to Encke’s Comet, the periodic comet with a period of only 3.3 years, the shortest known. A posting on Space.com about this years shower talked about the possibility that one of these meteorites might reach the ground.

Space.com has an excellent article about the Taurid meteor showers:  https://www.space.com/34587-taurid-meteor-shower-guide.html

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

Addendum

Northern Taurid meteor radiant

Northern Taurid meteor radiant near the Pleiades in Taurus the bull. Note the face of Taurus, the letter V or stars and Aldebaran. The stars in the face without Aldebaran is a star cluster called the Hyades. Created using Stellarium.

07/28/2017 – Ephemeris – A Sun ‘n Star party tomorrow at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

July 28, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Friday, July 28th. The Sun rises at 6:24. It’ll be up for 14 hours and 47 minutes, setting at 9:12. The Moon, 2 days before first quarter, will set at 12:18 tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow afternoon and evening will be what we call a Sun & Star Party at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This event will be at the Dune Climb. From 4 to 6 p.m., the Sun will be featured using two types of telescopes, one showing the sun’s photosphere in what we call white light, and another showing the chromosphere above it in the light of hydrogen giving a completely different view. At 6 p.m. Professor Jerry Dobek of Northwestern Michigan College and the college’s Rogers Observatory will be at the Visitors Center in Empire talking about dark skies and how to promote sensible lighting. Starting at 9 p.m. will be a star party, actually really a planet party, viewing the Jupiter early, plus Saturn, and the Moon.

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

Categories: Uncategorized

06/19/2017 – Ephemeris – The hero Hercules in the stars

June 19, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Monday, June 19th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 33 minutes, setting at 9:30, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:57. The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 3:33 tomorrow morning.

The greatest Greek hero of all, Hercules, gets a dim group of stars on the border between the spring and summer stars. At 11 p.m. Hercules is high in the eastern sky. It is located above and right of the bright star, Vega, also in the east. Hercules’ central feature is a keystone shaped box of stars, called the Keystone, which represents the old boy’s shorts. From each top corner extend lines of stars that are his legs, from the bottom stars, the rest of his torso and arms extend. So in one final indignity he’s upside down in our sky. Just below and right of the topmost star of the keystone is what looks like a fuzzy star in binoculars or small telescope. It is the Great Hercules Globular Star Cluster, also known as M13, home to a million stars.

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

Addendum

Hercules

Hercules animation showing neighboring stars, constellation outlines, deep sky objects, and constellation art for Hercules. Created using Stellarium. Click on image to enlarge.

M13

M13, the Great Globular Star Cluster in Hercules. Credit: Scott Anttila

Categories: Uncategorized

04/11/2017 – Ephemeris – What’s under Jupiter’s cloud tops?

April 11, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, April 11th.  The Sun will rise at 7:04.  It’ll be up for 13 hours and 17 minutes, setting at 8:22.  The Moon, at full today, will rise at 8:54 this evening.

I made an error in yesterday’s on-air program which I fixed before posting this blog version.  The moon Io will be over the face of Jupiter from when it rises tonight until 8:58 p.m.*, thereafter it will be seen just to the west of the planet.  What we see of Jupiter are its cloud tops.  Planetary astronomers have some very educated guesses as to what lies beneath them.  An atmosphere of mainly hydrogen and helium, ending in a hot liquid ocean of hydrogen.  Beneath that a core of metallic hydrogen that generates the planet’s huge magnetic field.  Below that maybe a core of solid iron and other metals.  NASA’s Juno spacecraft now orbiting Jupiter is tasked with finding out the interior structure by measuring the velocity of the spacecraft as it flies just above the cloud tops of this giant planet.

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

* Observers in other locations around the world can check out the table from yesterday’s post of other Jovian satellite events after this entry is posted at 4:01 UT, April 11, 2017.

Addendum

Jupiter on two nights

Jupiter and its moons in a telescope at 10 p.m. both April 10th & 11th, 2017. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

For a year’s worth of Jovian satellite events and when the Great Red Spot crosses Jupiter’s central meridian, go to: http://www.projectpluto.com/jevent.htm.

Juno Spacecraft

The Juno spacecraft. Credit: NASA.

Jupiter's south pole

A February 2, 2017 Juno image of Jupiter’s south pole and its chaotic storm clouds. I think I have a paisley tie that looks like that. Credit NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/John Landino.