Posts Tagged ‘Asteroid’

09/15/15 – Ephemeris – Not another hoax again: This one’s a supposed asteroid collision

September 15, 2015 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, September 15th.  The Sun will rise at 7:21.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 32 minutes, setting at 7:53.   The Moon, 2 days past new, will set at 9:02 this evening.

There is a bogus prediction from the Internet that been circulating for a month or so.  I missed it until a couple of days ago because I visit reputable astronomical web sites.  I check near earth asteroids on, and there is nothing known as of now that’s 22 meters of larger in size that will come within 2 million miles of the Earth this month.  The dead giveaway that this prediction is bogus is the fact that the impact point is specific, near Puerto Rico, but the impact time is vague, between  the 15th and 28th of September.  An object orbiting the Sun, like the Earth travels at 18 and a half miles a second give or take, the asteroid at a comparable velocity, so the impact time would have to be known to the second.  On top of the Earth’s position, it also rotates

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


Here is a link to NASA’s JPL on the subject.

NASA isn’t the only authority on asteroid orbits and positions.  The Minor Planet Center is part of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), and currently operated under a grant from NASA is the clearinghouse for asteroid positions and orbits. Some discoveries and positions  are supplied by amateur astronomers who aren’t beholden to any government, so there isn’t any conspiracy to keep the knowledge from the public.



01/26/2015 – Ephemeris – First quarter Moon, a telescopic asteroid misses the Earth tonight and a Jupiter shadow recap

January 26, 2015 3 comments

Note:  Ephemeris program generally features objects in the sky that are visible to the naked eye or binoculars.  However in the blog, with the ability to expand in both content and illustrations I can add information for telescopic observers and expand postings.

Ephemeris for Monday, January 26th.  The sun will rise at 8:08.  It’ll be up for 9 hours and 34 minutes, setting at 5:42.   The moon, at first quarter today, will set at 1:30 tomorrow morning.

The Moon will be perfectly half illuminated by the sun at 11:48 p.m.  The gray patches that appear on the Moon’s surface were called by early telescopic astronomers: seas; because they thought they were bodies of water.  The Moon is pretty much bone dry, except for some eternally shadowed craters at the poles, which still aren’t wet because the water is frozen.  Anyway the seas or maria on the moon are indeed low spots.  The seas, from the top center of the moon down to the lower right are Serenity, Tranquility, Nectar and Fertility.  To the upper right all by itself is the Sea of Crises.  From Serenity to Fertility some can imagine an upside down rabbit, with ears of unequal sizes.  In a few more days we’ll see the face of the man in the Moon.

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


First Quarter Moon

Rabbit in the Moon

Rabbit in the first quarter Moon. Created using Virtual Moon Atlas.

Tonight Asteroid 2004 BL86 will pass three times the Moon’s distance from the Earth

This evening a rather large asteroid for a Near Earth Object or NEO will pass three-quarters of a million miles from the Earth.  The asteroid has the designation 2004 BL86. The cool thing is that this asteroid is half a kilometer or so meters across, that’s 5 soccer or football fields in diameter.  Radar from this close passage should nail down the size and shape.  Between Goldstone Tracking Station and Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico the asteroid should be mapped down to 2 to 4 meters.  It would be definitely not cool if this asteroid ever hit the Earth.  It will be 9th magnitude, and so will be visible in small telescopes, and it will cross the east or left side of the Beehive star cluster also designated M44 starting about midnight tonight.

If you want to observe the event and don’t have the equipment head on over to  This is the site for Slooh (pronounced “slew”) Community Observatory which has observatories in the Canary Islands and Chile, and partners with others.  Besides these events, members can schedule time and use the telescopes via the internet.  Check the above link for more information.

The chart below is from NASA/JPL’s Near Earth Object Program: Updated Charts for Asteroid 2004 BL86 Earth Flyby on Jan 26, 2015

Three Day track of 2004BL86

The track of asteroid 2004 BL86 as viewed from the Earth, plotted on a star chart with an equatorial coordinate grid. The asteroid location is shown at four-hour intervals from January 26 to 28. The indicated times are Universal Time; subtract 5 hours for Eastern Standard Time (EST), 6 hours for CST, and 8 hours for PST. On January 26, the asteroid will pass within 11 degrees of Jupiter, now shining brightly in the east in the evening sky. Image and caption credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. JPL orbit solution #43, with star chart graphics produced using C2A.  Click to enlarge.

Below is a chart from Universe Today.  Here’s a link to their web page.

Finder chart for 2004BL86 as it sails past the Beehive Cluster

A Black on white chart of asteroid 2004 BL86 crossing to the right of M44. Note that the actual path depends on your location since the chart is based on the center of the Earth. The closer to your horizon the greatest deviation from the path shown. Time Ticks are for CST. Add one hour to them for EST. The Midnight tick mark is 0 h UT or GMT the 27th. Credit Universe Today and created with Chris Marriott’s SkyMap software.

Sky and Telescope has charts that have BL86’s track plotted about 15 minutes ahead of the track above.  It is a newer chart, so the asteroid’s position may have been updated.  The Sky and Telescope narrative and charts are here.

Results from Jupiter’s early Saturday satellite shadow play

The video live feed from the Griffith Planetarium in Los Angeles was a bust.  It suffered from what astronomers call bad seeing.  I mean really horrible seeing.  Astronomers ascribe at least two qualities to the sky, other than brightness due to the moon or light pollution.  That is transparency and seeing.  Seeing is the steadiness of the sky.  What Jupiter looked like was looking at a small disk at the bottom of a swimming pool while the kids are still playing in it.  At first I ascribed it to Jupiter being low in the LA sky, being 3 hours west of here.  But it didn’t get better as the night progressed.  I could occasionally make out Callisto’s shadow, just because I knew where it’s supposed to be.  But that’s it.

However my friend from the Detroit area, Scott Anttila, blessed at least for a while with clearer and calmer skies got some wonderful pictures of the first part of the multiple shadow event.

Satellite shadows 1

Left to right the shadows of Io and Callisto crossing the face of Jupiter at 12:52 a.m. January 24, 2015. Credit Scott Anttila.

Note that Callisto has a larger shadow than Io.  That’s mainly due to it’s greater distance from Jupiter that makes its shadow larger and fuzzier than the closer Io.


Satellite shadows 2

In this picture Io’s shadow has just caught up with Callisto’s shadow. Credit: Scott Anttila.

Shadow annimation

Rocking animation of the early stages of the shadow show on Jupiter. Callisto’s shadow already on the planet while Io’s shadow is just entering. Also Io’s transit is starting, following its shadow on the planet. Credit: Scott Anttila

05/12/2014 – Ephemeris – NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission to an asteroid

May 12, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, May 12th.  Today the sun will be up for 14 hours and 42 minutes, setting at 9:00.   The moon, 2 days before full, will set at 5:37 tomorrow morning.  Tomorrow the sun will rise at 6:16.

Construction is beginning on a spacecraft called OSIRIS-REx, which is slated to be launched in September of 2016 to reach asteroid Bennu in 2018 and retrieve a 2 or so ounce sample and return it in 2023.  It is important to discover the physical features of near earth asteroids or NEOs, and so learn how best to deflect them, or even mine them for resources.  If you’d like your name to ride along on the spacecraft to orbit the Sun forever, well for several billion years; and be apart of the return capsule, which will probably reside at the Smithsonian at the end of its travels, go to the Planetary Society website at, and sign up yourself and your family.  Be part of space history.

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


Mission webpage:

NASA mission page:


Artist’s conception of OSIRIS-REx about to collect a sample from asteroid Bennu. Image Credit:
NASA/Goddard/Chris Meaney

03/18/2014 – Ephemeris – Thursday a.m. many folks including New Yorkers will see a bright star wink out

March 18, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, March 18th.  The sun will rise at 7:49.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 3 minutes, setting at 7:52.   The moon, 2 days past full, will rise at 10:15 this evening.

On Thursday morning the 20th around 2 a.m. the star Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo the lion will wink out for up to 14 seconds for observers in New York City.  That will be exceptionally cool, because Regulus is one of the few stars actually bright enough to be visible from that metropolis.  Regulus will not be at fault, but for a narrow band of the earth running northwest of there the asteroid 163 Erigone will pass in front of Regulus in an extremely rare occultation of a bright star.  This will allow observers on the ground to time the duration of the event and put together the silhouette of the asteroid, which is thought to be 45 miles wide.  Observers have in the past spotted secondary occultations of another asteroid and discovered an asteroid satellite.

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


Occultation path of Regulus

Part of the occultation path of Regulus. See link below. Credit: Geoff Hitchcox / IOTA and Sky & Telescope magazine

Here’s a link to the Sky and Telescope site with lots more information.  Clicking on their map will bring up an interactive Google earth map.