Posts Tagged ‘Kepler spacecraft’

01/13/2017 – Ephemeris – Perhaps we’ll see a nova in 5 years, 2022

January 13, 2017 Comments off

Jan 13.  This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Friday, January 13th.  The Sun will rise at 8:16.  It’ll be up for 9 hours and 9 minutes, setting at 5:26.  The Moon, 1 day past full, will rise at 7:12 this evening.

Professor Larry Molnar from Calvin College in my home town of Grand Rapids and his students discovered that a star, [KIC 9832227,] that was monitored by the Kepler exoplanet finding satellite in the northern constellation of Cygnus the Swan may explode in about 5 years.  The star is actually two so close that they share their outer atmospheres, someone described it as two peanuts in one shell.  The two orbit each other in 11 hours now, and the period is shortening at an accelerated rate as the two approach each other.  Astronomers think that it will repeat the fate of a star that exploded in 2008 in the constellation of Scorpius.  Such explosions, when seen are called Novae.  A Nova like this could make the star briefly 10,000 times brighter than it originally was. [Current magnitude is 12, which is visible in moderate sized (6″ or 150 mm) diameter telescopes.  10,000 times brighter equals a 10 magnitude bump, which would make the star 2nd magnitude.  Magnitudes are like golf scores the lower the magnitude the brighter the object.  Blame Hipparchus.]

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

Note:  The text in brackets omitted in the broadcast.



Finder Chart

Finder Chart for KIC 9832227. It’s in the red bulls eye. Credit: Calvin College.

The position of KIC 9832227 is circumpolar or nearly so for northern Michigan.  So it’s up all or most of the 24 hour day, so no matter the time of year this baby blows, we should be able to see it.

What the star(s) may look like

Two computer generated views of KIC 9832227. The large star is about twice the Sun’s diameter, while the smaller star is a bit less than the Sun’s size. Credit: Calvin College.

For more information click here:


09/17/2012 – Ephemeris – Cygnus and the search for exo-planets

September 17, 2012 1 comment

Ephemeris for Monday, September 17th.  The sun will rise at 7:24.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 24 minutes, setting at 7:48.   The moon, 2 days past new, will set at 8:21 this evening.

Nearly overhead at 10 p..m. is the constellation Cygnus the swan.  The bright star Deneb is at the tail of this flying swan with its wings outstretched, flying south through the Milky Way.  Cygnus is located at a point in the Milky Way in the direction the sun’s orbiting the center of the Milky Way.  That is the approximate direction the Kepler spacecraft is staring.  Launched in 2009 the Kepler spacecraft has been slowly drifting away from the earth in a trailing orbit of the sun.  It is monitoring over 100,000 stars  continuously looking for transits of planets across their stars.  So far some 2300 suspects have been found.  They have to be confirmed by ground based telescopes before being officially cataloged. So far close in planets to their stars have been discovered.


Kepler Spacecraft.  Credit NASA.

Kepler Spacecraft. Credit NASA.

Click image to enlarge.

Kepler field of view.  Credit C. Roberts, NASA.

Kepler field of view. Credit C. Roberts, NASA.

Click image to enlarge.

Link to Kepler’s home page:



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.