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12/31/2020 – Ephemeris – Looking ahead at the eclipses of 2021

December 31, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for New Year’s Eve, Thursday, December 31st. The Sun will rise at 8:20. It’ll be up for 8 hours and 52 minutes, setting at 5:12. The Moon, 2 days past full, will rise at 6:43 this evening.

I’ve had enough of 2020, and I hope in 2021 that we’ll break the grip of this pandemic. Looking up next year we will get glimpses of three of the four eclipses that will occur in 2021. We will get a chance to see the beginning of an eclipse of the Moon at sunrise as it sets on May 26th. Fifteen days later, on June 10th we will be able to see the Sun rise while being partially eclipsed by the Moon. People in western Ontario, up through northern Canada, then across the North Pole and into Siberia will get to see an annular or ring of fire eclipse of the Sun. On November 19th, clouds willing, we will get to see an almost total eclipse of the Moon that morning with over 97 percent of the Moon covered by the Earth’s inner shadow.

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

Addendum

The Sun rises in eclipse - June 10, 2021

What might it look like when the Sun will rise in eclipse for the Grand Traverse region of Michigan at about 6:10 am June 10, 2021. Note that you, or actually your location, is involved in what you can see of a solar eclipse. Created using Stellarium.

Lunar Eclipse maximum 4:04 am 11/19/21

What the lunar eclipse maximum might look like at 4:04 am (9:04 UT), November 19, 2021. Created using Stellarium.

There is a fourth eclipse in 2021, a total solar eclipse that is mainly visible in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica on December 4, 2021.

 

 

12/29/2020 – Ephemeris – 2020 the bad and the good in astronomy

December 30, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, December 29th. Today the Sun will be up for 8 hours and 50 minutes, setting at 5:10, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:19. The Moon, at full today, will rise at 4:45 this evening.

2020 has been a terrible year due mostly to the COVID-19 pandemic that cost over 300 thousand American lives. It also saw the end of the 1,000 foot (305 meter) radio telescope dish set into a natural bowl near the north shore of Puerto Rico, 8.5 miles south of the city of Arecibo. The Arecibo Radio Telescope was until earlier this year the world’s largest single telescope. It also possessed a powerful radar transmitter allowing radar imaging of planets, moons and asteroids. It started to collapse several months ago and finally gave way December 1st.

On a positive note we were graced by the bright Comet NEOWISE visible first in the morning, then in the evening last July. It was the brightest comet in the northern skies since Comet Hale-Bopp appeared in 1997.

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

Addendum

Arecibo telescope collapse

Aerial view of the Arecibo telescope after the collapse of the 900 ton feed platform suspended above the dish on December 1, 2020. Credit: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP via Getty Images

NEOWISE in the morning

My photograph of Comet NEOWISE at 4:40 am over the west arm of Grand Traverse Bay south of the Discovery Pier off M22. (For non-Michigander astronomers M22 is not the globular star cluster in Sagittarius, but a very scenic Michigan state road.) Click on the image to enlarge.

NEOWISE from backyard over tall shrubery

Comet NEOWISE from backyard over tall shrubbery 11:18 pm July 16, 2020. I didn’t have time to focus properly which actually accentuates the stars.

12/28/2020 – Ephemeris – Some astronomical events of 2020

December 28, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Monday, December 28th. Today the Sun will be up for 8 hours and 50 minutes, setting at 5:09, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:19. The Moon, 1 day before full, will set at 8:01 tomorrow morning.

Let’s look at some astronomical and space news for this past year. A year ago the bright red star in the constellation Orion Betelgeuse underwent an unprecedented amount of dimming. It had pretty much recovered its brightness since. The best idea was that it ejected a cloud of dust that obscured part of the star from us. NASA’s Commercial Crew program came through this year with the successful launching of two crews to the International Space Station aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon Capsule. Boeing stood down this year after the failure of their uncrewed Starliner capsule to reach the space station last December. They will try another uncrewed attempt in a few months. I’ll have more tomorrow.

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

Addendum

Orion's named stars

Orion’s named stars including the belt stars. Betelgeuse is the bright red in the upper left. Created using Stellarium.

Betelgeuse before and after dimming

This comparison image shows the star Betelgeuse before and after its unprecedented dimming. The observations, taken with the SPHERE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in January and December 2019, show how much the star has faded and how its apparent shape has changed. Betelgeuse is one of the few stars close and large enough to be able to image its disk. Credit: ESO/M. Montargès et al.

SpaceX Crew-1 Crew

Astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, and Mike Hopkins, and astronaut Soichi Noguchi inside the Crew Dragon capsule. Credit: SpaceX.

SpaceX Crew-1 Dragon capsule docking with the International Space Station

SpaceX Crew-1 Dragon capsule docking with the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

 

 

 

12/27/2018 – Ephemeris – A look back at some space events of 2018

December 27, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, December 27th. The Sun will rise at 8:19. It’ll be up for 8 hours and 49 minutes, setting at 5:08. The Moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 11:18 this evening.

Lets take a look at some highlights and a low light in space and astronomy from this year. In space on February 6th SpaceX launched their much touted Falcon Heavy rocket on its maiden flight. It was a success and we now have a Tesla orbiting the Sun. The Japanese Hyabusa2 reached its asteroid Ryugu and dropped some robot hoppers on its surface, months later NASA’s OSIRIS-REx encountered its asteroid Bennu. Both spacecraft will orbit their asteroids for a year and retrieve samples for return to Earth. On October 11th A Soyuz rocket carrying a Russian and an American had a failure at launch. The capsule escaped and the two men were rescued unharmed down range. On July 31st Mars came closer to the Earth than at any time since 2003.

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

Addendum

Falcon Heavy Tesla

The Falcon Heavy had to launch a dummy mass. Instead of a chunk of iron or a block of concrete, Elon Musk launched his used Tesla roadster with a mannequin dressed in a SpaceX spacesuit. It has a 557 day orbit of the Sun that extends past the orbit of Mars. Credit SpaceX.

Ryugu

The asteroid Ryugu now orbited by the Japanese Hayabusa2 spacecraft. Ryugu is 3,707 feet (1.13 kilometers) in diameter. It is a Cg carbonaceous asteroid, a rare type. Credit JAXA.

Ryugu surface

A Hayabusa2 rover captured the surface of Ryugu mid-hop.  The motive power for the Hayabusa rovers operated the same way as Mexican jumping beans, by swinging an internal weight. Credit: JAXA.

The asteroid Bennu is 861 feet (226.5 meters) in diameter. It is a carbonaceous asteroid. OSIRIS-REx has already discovered water bearing clays on its surface. Credit NASA

Parker Solar Probe

Not mentioned in this program was the Parker Solar Probe., which was launched August 12th.  After passing Venus to lose speed, it dropped to 15.4 million miles (24.8 million kilometers) from the center of the Sun on November 6th. It will orbit he Sun two more times until it can catch Venus again to lower its perihelion again.  Over 7 years it will use Venus 6 more times to drop its perihelion to only 4.29 million miles (6.9 million kilometers) from the center of the Sun  Artist’s visualization credit: NASA Johns Hopkins APL.-Steve Gribben

Soyuz launch abort

This is the launch of Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft. When the stage 1 boosters were jettisoned, one of the hit the core stage. The Soyuz performed an abort, saving the crew of a Russian and an American. Credit Bill Ingalls / NASA.

Mars closest approach

The viewing of Mars at its closest approach to the Earth on July 31st, the closest since the record-breaking close approach in 2003 was hampered by a global dust storm. It has apparently killed the solar powered Opportunity rover, which had been operating on the Martian surface since 2004. Credit: Damian Peach / Chilescope team (left), Christophe Pellier.

Categories: Ephemeris Program, Year review Tags:

12/29/2014 – Ephemeris – More events from 2014

December 29, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, December 29th.  The sun will rise at 8:19.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 51 minutes, setting at 5:10.   The moon, 1 day past first quarter, will set at 2:32 tomorrow morning.

2014 has been a year of eclipses for northern Michigan.  A total lunar eclipse on the morning of April 15th, another on the morning of October 8th.  Plus we had a partial solar eclipse at sunset on October 23rd.  All of them were hampered by clouds, for this observer.  One of the cool events of this year was the close approach of Comet Siding Spring with Mars.  The five functioning orbiters and two rovers were not able to get any spectacular pictures of the comet, but there was one heck of a meteor shower on Mars when the planet was closest to the comet’s path.  None of the satellites could see it because they were hiding behind the planet at the time.  But later the martian atmosphere was filled with the chemical signatures of the meteors.

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

Addendum

MAVEN detects metals

Metals in the atmosphere of Mars before and after the passage of Comet Siding Spring by Mars measured by the MAVEN spacecraft. Credit NASA.

12/31/2013 – Ephemeris – That was the year that was

December 31, 2013 Comments off

Ephemeris for New Years Eve, Tuesday, December 31st.  The sun will rise at 8:19.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 52 minutes, setting at 5:12.   The moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 8:06 tomorrow morning.

Let’s pause on this last day of 2013 to look back at the year in astronomy and space.  One of the two hopefully bright comets panned out this year.. That was PanSTARRS last March.  Unfortunately Comet ISON disintegrated Thanksgiving day.  I hope you saw the videos of that.  In July the Cassini spacecraft took a beautiful photo of Saturn, its rings and the inner planets including the Earth and the Moon.  Earlier this month it was reported that the Jupiter’s moon Europa has a south polar water plume, like Saturn’s Enceladus.  The Voyager 1 spacecraft has left the Sun’s magnetic bubble to enter the interstellar medium.  The biggest news was that a large meteoroid exploded over Siberia February 15th.

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

Categories: Ephemeris Program, Year review Tags:

12/27/2012 – Ephemeris – That was the year that was.

December 27, 2012 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, December 27th.  The sun will rise at 8:18.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 50 minutes, setting at 5:09.   The moon, 1 day before full, will set at 8:10 tomorrow morning.

The end of the year is the perfect time to look back at the astronomical events of the year.  There was a partial solar eclipse in May and the rare transit of Venus across the sun in June.  You’ll have to wait until 2117 for the next one.  In July came news that the Large Hadron Collider had detected something that sure looked like the long sought Higgs Boson.  August brought the spectacular landing of the Mars Science laboratory, aka: The Curiosity rover, on Mars to begin an at least one martian year exploration.  In September the Dawn spacecraft bid farewell to the asteroid Vesta after a year exploring that remarkable asteroid, cranking up its ion engine for a three year journey to the dwarf planet Ceres.  The satellites Ebb and Flow completed their mission to map the moon’s interior.

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

Addendum

Hinode Views the 2012 Venus Transit

Hinode Views the 2012 Venus Transit. Credit: JAXA/NASA/Lockheed Martin

Simulated Higgs event

An example of simulated data modeled for the CMS particle detector on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. Here, following a collision of two protons, a Higgs boson is produced which decays into two jets of hadrons and two electrons. The lines represent the possible paths of particles produced by the proton-proton collision in the detector while the energy these particles deposit is shown in blue. Credit CERN.

Curiosity rover self portrait.

Curiosity rover self portrait. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems

Vesta as Dawn headed off to Ceres.

Looking back at Vesta as Dawn headed off to Ceres. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCAL/MPS/DLR/IDA

The Grail Spacecraft Ebb and Flow

The Grail Spacecraft Ebb and Flow made the most detailed gravitational map of the moon to map its interior; orbiting as close as 15 miles above the surface. They were intentionally crashed into a crater wall on December 17th. Artist conception credit: NASA.

12/29/11 – Ephemeris – Astronomical highlights from 2011

December 29, 2011 Comments off

Thursday, December 29th.  The sun will rise at 8:18.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 51 minutes, setting at 5:10.   The moon, 3 days before first quarter, will set at 11:00 this evening.

Let’s look at the best astronomical events of 2011.  To my mind Comet Lovejoy’s survival near the sun is one.  The announcements from the Kepler satellite keep coming in.  Over 2000 planets in other solar systems suspected including a planet 2.4 times the size of the earth in its star’s habitable zone, two planets of another star about the size of the earth and a planet with two suns.  A fourth moon of Pluto was discovered, worrying scientists operating the New Horizons spacecraft that will reach Pluto in 3 and a half years that there may be a debris field around the dwarf planet.  This year the MESSENGER satellite gained orbit of the innermost planet Mercury, and the Dawn spacecraft began orbiting the asteroid Vesta.  Those are just a sample.

* Times, as always are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.