Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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.


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 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: 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.

10/08/2018 – Ephemeris – My investigations in the local native people’s star knowledge

October 8, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples Day, depending on your point of view, Monday, October 8th. The Sun will rise at 7:49. It’ll be up for 11 hours and 21 minutes, setting at 7:10. The Moon is new today, and won’t be visible.

For the last six or so years I’ve been studying the constellations and stories of the Anishinaabek people native to this region of North America. The impetus to really dig in came with an invitation to speak at the Grand Traverse Band’s museum. I had admitted that I knew nothing about it, And apparently, the museum curator didn’t know an elder with the knowledge. With a couple of suggestions, I did some research on the Internet and books. Over the years I have introduced these constellations and related their stories, especially the Fisher who brought summer to the Earth. He replaces the Great Bear in the sky, and his bloody tail will swoop down to paint the trees with their autumn colors.

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


Fisher brushing his tail along the horizon
An animation of Fisher brushing his tail along the horizon on autumn nights. Created using Stellarium.

The Anishinaabek constellation drawing of the Fisher is from Ojibwe Sky Star Map Constellation Guide  by Annette S. Lee, William Wilson, Jeffrey Tibbets and Carl Gawboy available locally and online.  They are part of the latest editions of Stellarium, a free planetarium program.  Links to it are on the right.  Other information and links are available within the Sky Lore tab.

Here’s one of the links:  It also contains links to Lakota star maps and lore.

My story of the Fisher is here:

Categories: Uncategorized

09/26/2018 – Ephemeris – Wednesday os bright planet day on Ephemeris

September 26, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Wednesday, September 26th. The Sun will rise at 7:34. It’ll be up for 11 hours and 57 minutes, setting at 7:32. The Moon, 2 days past full, will rise at 8:43 this evening.

Let’s look at the bright planets today. Four of them are visible in the evening sky. The brilliant Venus will be visible in the western twilight briefly from about 7:50 p.m. until it sets at 8:14 p.m. Jupiter will be in the southwest as it gets dark. It is only outshone by Venus, and the Moon. The big planet will set at 9:24 p.m. Saturn will start the evening low in the southern sky and will stay relatively low, above the Teapot of Sagittarius. It will be due south at sunset and will set at 11:54 p.m. Mars will be low in the south-southeast as the skies darken tonight. and is now 53.5 million miles (86.2 million km) away. Mars will be due south at 9:48 p.m., and it will set at 2:14 a.m. It’s diameter is 16.4 seconds of arc, quite small in telescopes.

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


Evening planets
The evening planets at 8:00 p.m. September 26, 2018. Click on image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.
Telescopic Planets
Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars with the same magnification at 8 p.m. September 26, 2018. Mars is also shown enlarged. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Here are the apparent diameters of the above planets:
    Venus 43.7″ (seconds of arc)
    Jupiter 32.8″
    Saturn 16,6″, rings 38.6″
    Mars 16,4″

Jupiter’s moon Ganymede will begin to transit the planet at 8:50 p.m. EDT (00:50 UT September 27).

Binocular Moon
The waning gibbous Moon as it should appear by 6 tomorrow morning in binoculars. Created using Stellarium.
Planets and the Moon on a single night
Planets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on September 26, 2018. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 27th. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.
Categories: Uncategorized

08/31/2018 – Ephemeris – Previewing September skies

August 31, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, August 31st. The Sun will rise at 7:04. It’ll be up for 13 hours and 17 minutes, setting at 8:21. The Moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 11:09 this evening.

Let’s look at the skies for the month of September. The Sun will moving at its greatest speed in its retreat to the south. Daylight hours in the Interlochen/Traverse City area and will drop from 13 hours and 14 minutes tomorrow to 11 hours 45 minutes on the 30th. The altitude of the Sun above the southern horizon at local noon will be 54 degrees tomorrow, and will descend to 42 degrees on the 30th. The season of summer is getting short, so enjoy it while you can. Summer ends and autumn begins at 9:54 p.m. on September 22nd. Venus is retreating toward the Sun now, though still moving eastward against the stars. Jupiter, Saturn and Mars are all moving eastward with respect to the stars, but are moving westward in the sky by our clocks.

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


September Evening Star Chart

September evening star chart

Star Chart for September 2018 (10 p.m. EDT September 15, 2018). Created using my LookingUp program. Click on image to enlarge.

The planets and stars are plotted for the 15th at 10 p.m. EDT in the evening and 6 a.m. for the morning chart. These are the chart times. Note that Traverse City is located approximately 45 minutes behind our time meridian. (An hour 45 minutes behind our daylight saving time meridian during EDT). To duplicate the star positions on a planisphere you may have to set it to 1 hour 45 minutes earlier than the current time.

Note the chart times of 10 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. are for the 15th. For each week before the 15th add ½ hour (28 minutes if you’re picky). For each week after the 15th subtract ½ hour. The planet positions are updated each Wednesday on this blog. For planet positions on dates other than the 15th, check the Wednesday planet posts on this blog.

September Morning Star Chart

September Morning Star Chart

Star Chart for September 2018 mornings based on 6 a.m. September 15th. Created using my LookingUp program. Click on image to enlarge.

For a list of constellation names to go with the abbreviations click here.


  • Pointer stars at the front of the bowl of the Big Dipper point to Polaris the North Star.
  • Follow the arc of the handle of the Big Dipper to the star Arcturus
  • The Summer Triangle is in red.


Morning twilight Evening twilight Dark night Moon
Date Astronomical Nautical Nautical Astronomical Start End Illum.
2018-09-01 5h26m 6h04m 21h28m 22h06m 22h06m 23h43m 0.68
2018-09-02 5h27m 6h05m 21h26m 22h04m 22h04m 0.57
2018-09-03 5h29m 6h07m 21h24m 22h02m 22h02m 0h22m 0.46
2018-09-04 5h30m 6h08m 21h22m 22h00m 22h00m 1h08m 0.34
2018-09-05 5h32m 6h09m 21h20m 21h58m 21h58m 2h04m 0.23
2018-09-06 5h33m 6h11m 21h18m 21h55m 21h55m 3h08m 0.14
2018-09-07 5h35m 6h12m 21h16m 21h53m 21h53m 4h19m 0.06
2018-09-08 5h36m 6h13m 21h14m 21h51m 21h51m 5h35m 0.02
2018-09-09 5h38m 6h15m 21h12m 21h49m 21h49m 5h38m 0
2018-09-10 5h39m 6h16m 21h10m 21h47m 21h47m 5h39m 0.01
2018-09-11 5h41m 6h17m 21h08m 21h44m 21h44m 5h41m 0.06
2018-09-12 5h42m 6h19m 21h06m 21h42m 21h57m 5h42m 0.12
2018-09-13 5h44m 6h20m 21h04m 21h40m 22h27m 5h44m 0.21
2018-09-14 5h45m 6h21m 21h02m 21h38m 23h01m 5h45m 0.3
2018-09-15 5h47m 6h22m 21h00m 21h36m 23h37m 5h47m 0.4
2018-09-16 5h48m 6h24m 20h58m 21h34m 5h48m 0.5
2018-09-17 5h49m 6h25m 20h56m 21h32m 0h18m 5h49m 0.6
2018-09-18 5h51m 6h26m 20h54m 21h29m 1h03m 5h51m 0.7
2018-09-19 5h52m 6h28m 20h52m 21h27m 1h53m 5h52m 0.78
2018-09-20 5h54m 6h29m 20h50m 21h25m 2h47m 5h54m 0.86
2018-09-21 5h55m 6h30m 20h48m 21h23m 3h45m 5h55m 0.92
2018-09-22 5h56m 6h31m 20h46m 21h21m 4h44m 5h56m 0.92
2018-09-23 5h58m 6h33m 20h44m 21h19m 5h45m 5h58m 0.96
2018-09-24 5h59m 6h34m 20h42m 21h17m 0.99
2018-09-25 6h00m 6h35m 20h40m 21h15m 1
2018-09-26 6h02m 6h36m 20h38m 21h13m 0.99
2018-09-27 6h03m 6h37m 20h36m 21h11m 21h11m 21h12m 0.95
2018-09-28 6h04m 6h39m 20h35m 21h09m 21h09m 21h44m 0.89
2018-09-29 6h06m 6h40m 20h33m 21h07m 21h07m 22h21m 0.81
2018-09-30 6h07m 6h41m 20h31m 21h05m 21h05m 23h04m 0.72

Twilight calendar was generated using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

NASA Calendar of Planetary Events

Date        Time    Event
Sep 01  Sa          Venus: 45° E
    01  Sa 12:45 am Venus-Spica: 1.2° S
    02  Su  9:34 pm Moon-Aldebaran: 1.2° S
    02  Su 10:37 pm Last Quarter
    05  We  2:56 am Moon North Dec.: 20.8° N
    06  Th  6:42 am Moon Ascending Node
    06  Th 10:13 pm Moon-Beehive: 1.4° N
    07  Fr  1:19 pm Neptune Opposition
    07  Fr  9:21 pm Moon Perigee: 361400 km
    09  Su  2:01 pm New Moon
    13  Th 10:21 pm Moon-Jupiter: 4.6° S
    16  Su  7:15 pm First Quarter
    17  Mo 12:46 pm Moon-Saturn: 2.3° S
    18  Tu  5:35 am Moon South Dec.: 20.9° S
    19  We  8:54 pm Moon Apogee: 404900 km
    20  Th  5:30 am Moon Descending Node
    20  Th  9:47 pm Mercury Superior Conj.
    22  Sa  9:54 pm Autumnal Equinox
    24  Mo 10:53 pm Full Moon (Harvest Moon)
    30  Su  3:06 am Moon-Aldebaran: 1.4° S
Oct 01  Mo          Venus: 32.9°

Sky Events Calendar by Fred Espenak and Sumit Dutta (NASA’s GSFC),

If you go to the above site you can print out a list like the above for the entire year
or calendar pages for your time zone.

Sun and Moon Rising and Setting Events

     LU                  Ephemeris of Sky Events for Interlochen/TC
     September, 2018    Local time zone: EDT
     |      |  RISE    SET    HOURS |  END    START  |PHASE SET** TIME FRACTN|
     |Sat  1| 07:05a  08:19p  13:14 | 09:25p  05:58a |      Rise 11:43p   62%|
     |Sun  2| 07:06a  08:17p  13:11 | 09:23p  06:00a |L Qtr Rise 12:22a   51%|
     |Mon  3| 07:07a  08:15p  13:08 | 09:21p  06:01a |      Rise 01:08a   40%|
     |Tue  4| 07:08a  08:13p  13:05 | 09:19p  06:02a |      Rise 02:03a   29%|
     |Wed  5| 07:09a  08:12p  13:02 | 09:17p  06:04a |      Rise 03:08a   19%|
     |Thu  6| 07:11a  08:10p  12:59 | 09:15p  06:05a |      Rise 04:19a   11%|
     |Fri  7| 07:12a  08:08p  12:56 | 09:13p  06:06a |      Rise 05:35a    4%|
     |Sat  8| 07:13a  08:06p  12:53 | 09:11p  06:08a |      Rise 06:51a    1%|
     |Sun  9| 07:14a  08:04p  12:50 | 09:09p  06:09a |New   Set  08:26p    0%|
     |Mon 10| 07:15a  08:02p  12:47 | 09:07p  06:10a |      Set  08:57p    2%|
     |Tue 11| 07:16a  08:00p  12:43 | 09:05p  06:12a |      Set  09:27p    7%|
     |Wed 12| 07:18a  07:59p  12:40 | 09:03p  06:13a |      Set  09:56p   14%|
     |Thu 13| 07:19a  07:57p  12:37 | 09:01p  06:14a |      Set  10:27p   22%|
     |Fri 14| 07:20a  07:55p  12:34 | 08:59p  06:16a |      Set  11:00p   31%|
     |Sat 15| 07:21a  07:53p  12:31 | 08:57p  06:17a |      Set  11:37p   41%|
     |Sun 16| 07:22a  07:51p  12:28 | 08:55p  06:18a |F Qtr Set  12:17a   50%|
     |Mon 17| 07:24a  07:49p  12:25 | 08:53p  06:20a |      Set  01:03a   60%|
     |Tue 18| 07:25a  07:47p  12:22 | 08:51p  06:21a |      Set  01:53a   69%|
     |Wed 19| 07:26a  07:45p  12:19 | 08:49p  06:22a |      Set  02:47a   77%|
     |Thu 20| 07:27a  07:43p  12:16 | 08:47p  06:23a |      Set  03:44a   85%|
     |Fri 21| 07:28a  07:42p  12:13 | 08:45p  06:25a |      Set  04:44a   91%|
     |Sat 22| 07:29a  07:40p  12:10 | 08:43p  06:26a |      Set  05:45a   96%|
     |Sun 23| 07:31a  07:38p  12:07 | 08:41p  06:27a |      Set  06:47a   99%|
     |Mon 24| 07:32a  07:36p  12:04 | 08:39p  06:29a |Full  Rise 07:51p  100%|
     |Tue 25| 07:33a  07:34p  12:00 | 08:37p  06:30a |      Rise 08:17p   99%|
     |Wed 26| 07:34a  07:32p  11:57 | 08:35p  06:31a |      Rise 08:43p   96%|
     |Thu 27| 07:35a  07:30p  11:54 | 08:33p  06:32a |      Rise 09:12p   91%|
     |Fri 28| 07:37a  07:28p  11:51 | 08:31p  06:34a |      Rise 09:44p   84%|
     |Sat 29| 07:38a  07:26p  11:48 | 08:29p  06:35a |      Rise 10:21p   76%|
     |Sun 30| 07:39a  07:25p  11:45 | 08:28p  06:36a |      Rise 11:04p   66%|
     * Nautical Twilight
     ** Moonrise or moonset, whichever occurs between sunset and sunrise


Categories: Uncategorized

08/10/2018 – Ephemeris – A busy weekend here and in the skies

August 10, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, August 10th. The Sun rises at 6:39. It’ll be up for 14 hours and 16 minutes, setting at 8:56. The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 6:45 tomorrow morning.

It’s a busy weekend for the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society. Members will be on Front Street in Traverse City tonight for Friday Night Live with views of the Sun and later a look at the planet Saturn and its rings, weather permitting. On Saturday, again weather permitting members will be part of Sleeping Bear Dunes Port Oneida Fair with a Sun ‘n Star Party from 4 to 6 p.m. and from 9 to 11 p.m., though members will still be there in between. The location for that event is the Thoreson Farm on South Thoreson Road off M22, near Port Oneida Road. On tap will be Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and some of the Perseid meteors on the night before its peak night, plus some of the deep sky wonders of the summer Milky Way.

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


White light viewing of the Sun

Viewing the Sun with a while light filter at Friday Night Live using Ron Uthe’s telescope at Friday Night Live. Credit Bob Moler

Friday Night Live

After Friday Night Live was over Saturn was visible until about 11 p.m. Credit: Bob Moler.

Star party 2

Star Party at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Thoreson Farm August 2013. Credit Eileen Carlisle.