Sunday, December 28, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Spaceweather.com carried this article on December 21:
URSID METEORS: Earth is entering a stream of debris from comet 8P/Tuttle and this is causing the annual Ursid meteor shower. Forecasters expect the Ursids to peak on Dec. 22nd with 8 to 10 meteors per hour flying out of the constellation Ursa Minor (the Little Dipper). The display is usually mild, but outbursts of Ursids occasionally surprise observers with rates many times normal.
Watching these northern meteors can be a chilling experience, so why not stay inside and listen to them instead? Spaceweather.com is broadcasting live audio from the Air Force Space Surveillance Radar in Texas. When a meteor passes over the radar--"ping"--there is an echo. Give it a try; feedback is welcomed.
Speaking of Meteors...on December 21, 2008 there were 1011 PHAs
In the past man has watched and worshiped the seasons and this time of year the Sun became very important in warming the earth to continue the cycles of life. Special places like Stonehenge and Newgrange are ancient sites used to celebrate the passing of the Seasons.
More on Saturn and the rings From an article in Spaceweather. com on December 20:
The rings will completely disappear on Sept. 4, 2009, when Earth crosses through the ring plane. Unfortunately, no one will be able to see it because Saturn will be so close to the Sun. The next ring plane crossing in plain view of Earth won't come until the year 2038.
Until then, the skinniest you're likely to see Saturn's rings is now. Saturn is easy to find in the constellation Leo just before dawn. Point your backyard telescope and behold the edge: sky map.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
The Star of Bethleham at Christmas time is one of the great stories passed down through the ages. Each year there is an article about this star. More Scientific research and Astronomical facts bring truth to the stories of the star that led the way to Bethleham. Most facts lead to a conjunction of Planets causing a Celestial Event that formed a single bright beacon in the sky...
A Christmas Star
Sunday, December 14, 2008
The annual Geminid meteor shower peaks on Dec. 13th and Dec. 14th when Earth passes through a stream of debris from extinct comet 3200 Phaethon. Bright moonlight will reduce the number of visible meteors from the usual 100/hr to only 20/hr or so. That's still a nice show. For best results, watch the sky starting 10 pm local time on Saturday night (Dec 13th) until dawn on Sunday morning (Dec. 14th).
The clouds did roll in on Saturday Dec. 13 and Sunday Dec. 14. The Meteors were there but unseen from my backyard.
Spaceweather.com had photos from where it was clear in the Geminid Meteor Gallery.
Speaking of Meteors...as of Sunday December 14, 2008 there were 1010 PHAs listed.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Sky Clear, seeing good with moon light
The Full bright moon lit up the early morning sky in the west and made it easy to find my way around in the dark landscape in my backyard. I set up the 10" Dob after locating the yellow planet not too far from the constellation Leo. It was cold, just above freezing with no wind. In my hast to set up, I had mistakenly put a 7mm eye piece in and could not focus the surrounding stars as I targeted the planet. After using the correct eyepiece, I finally caught site of the Edge-On ringed planet with two moons floating nearby. One moon close to the ring edge on the right and the other was down and to the left of the globe.
I finally saw Saturn with edge-on rings! The cycle repeats every 29.5 years, after the rings are twice edge on, with intervals of 15.75 and 13.75 years. The rings will be fully open again in the year 2016. What I observed this morning was the movement of the rings position since 1998. Draw a circle and then draw a line through the center. The line will go past the circle a little on both sides. The line past the circle on both sides is the same color as the globe(yellow) with a black line through the center of the circle. It looked similar to in shape of the Saturn nebula, only a lot sharper. The rings are gone except for a line!
The Moon was big this early morning. Tonight's Full Moon[Long nights Moon] is the biggest of the year! 14% bigger and 30% brighter. If you are observing near a shore line tonight be aware of tides with this Perigee Moon. More information on this phenomenon can be read in this article.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Spaceweather.com had the story
NASA has announced that the Hubble repair mission is scheduled for launch-May 12, 2009.
Shuttle Endeavour is scheduled to head home on the back of a 747 Tuesday, December 9.
More Good News: the forecast for the 2009 Leonids is predicted to be a "half-storm"level Event, similar to what was observed in1998 ! Wow...mark your calendar!
The current count on PHAs that have been logged is now at 1008
Monday, December 1, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Another great photo op for all those viewers out there with a clear sky. Monday night the wandering planets will be even closer to each other and a bit nearer to the crescent moon.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
NASA has dubbed the STS 126 flight as the big "Extreme Make over" for the Space Station. Adding more room for the Crew and doing repairs. The station was spotted flying over my backyard twice this week....brighter than Venus, while Endeavour is docked and the crew working each day!
There was a great ball of fire falling from the sky in western Canada Thursday, November 20. Spaceweather.com has a great video of the burning meteor's decent.
Speaking of Meteors...As of today there were 999 PHAs on the tracking grid!
The clouds are back....they came back with this last front that blew in today. The forecast calls for clouds and more clouds to stay into next week.... through Thanksgiving.
Will have to rely on Cyberspace to see any stars!
Thursday, November 20, 2008
The forecast for these meteors was not good this year, EarthSky’s 2008 meteor guide noted:
"The peak, however, on November 17, also features a large bright waning gibbous moon in the sky after midnight. Forget the Leonids this year, unless you are a serious meteor observer – or unless you happen to spot a few whizzing past in bright moonlight!"
Some activity was recorded in Cyberspace from the IMO
We missed any Leonids in 2008... maybe next year we will record an event like we had in 1998!
Friday, November 14, 2008
A strong front is supposed to blow in tonight and should clear out the clouds giving us a clear sky and colder nights. Weekend skywatching will be good...except for the moonshine!
We missed the rain that we still needed as the draught goes on. We need to try something like...Spin those rain rocks longer and call out for Thor's help!
News of Hubble finding planets near the star Fomalhaut and the Chandrayaan-1 probe impact photos are sweeping Cyberspace today.
The Leonid Meteor shower should be putting on a good show this weekend...maybe. Moonlight will hide the dim flashes, but we should see a few this year, anyway!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
In the meantime, here is some news from Cyberspace:
Phoenix lander has finally succumed to Martian temperature and dust and sent it's last picture. Unable to move like the Mars Rovers to catch the sun, it was trapped where it landed.
Chandrayaan-1 has almost aquired orbit around the moon and is sending information back.
Endeavour is ready to go into orbit this Friday and race to the ISS. STS 126 is hauling a reusable logistics module that will hold supplies and equipment, including additional crew quarters, additional exercise equipment, equipment for the regenerative life support system and spare hardware.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
A clear evening and another look at Venus and Jupiter just after sunset last night. Venus was above my treeline again; starting out a little higher this Saturday night. I took a look at the sky at 8:30 and found the Pleiades dimmed by moonshine. I observed the Seven Sisters in binoculars. I could see the bright star Capella in Auriga shining just at the treeline in NE. So far the Taurid meteors are not active tonight but then Taurus is still low in my night sky.
At 11pm the sky seemed a bit darker and I easily spotted the red eye of the bull... Aldebaran.
Capella was higher and the stars ζ Aurigae and η Aurigae are called Haedi "the Kids" were visible nearby. Below Taurus, Orion lay on his side with the star Rigel visible just over the treeline. I scanned Orion with the binoclars. I watched for meteors for a while with no luck; no flashes seen in the cold night air.
After Midnight I went out for another look. Orion was well up and I could see Sirius glaring at me through the treeline. Taurus was way up overhead and I could see the Gemini twins up and over the treeline in the NE. Moonlight made it easy to see my way to the drive where I placed a deck chair. I saw no signs of meteors after looking up for close to an hour. I put my binoculars away and went to bed.
Tonight the clouds are forecast to return and we just might get some rain from this system...
let's hope so, we need a couple of inches.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
We have one more clear night forecast before the clouds start moving in and I have not seen any Taurid meteors yet, but then I have not been up late. I will try to make an effort tonight.
As of today the folks from the NEO program are tracking 997 PHAs !
Thursday, November 6, 2008
The constellation Taurus rises in the east after sunset and by Midnight is well up over my backyard. It is possible this shower will be a Swarm and Fireballs can be seen after the midnight hour. We have a week to view as long as the sky stays clear
While looking for the flashes in the sky...If your out in the early morning hours, take some time to look at Saturn in the constellation Leo. The following is information from Dr. Clay of the The Arkansas Sky Observatories on the Ringed Planet for this month:
Saturn - The ringed planet rises about 3 a.m. early in November but is bolting upwards to rise around midnight by the end of the month. This remarkable planet is now virtually "plane-on-plane" with the equator of the EARTH and thus the rings are tilted in such a way that we are looking across the EDGE of them, much as peering at the edge of a DVD disk rather that facing downward on it.....hence the rings are becoming incredibly thin and difficult to see. When Saturn is highest in the sky, about pre-dawn during the last weeks of this month, telescopes will reveal a tiny and remarkably THIN streak across the yellowish disk of the planet, these being the rings as viewed from their thinnest presentation. If you can locate Saturn with a telescope BE SURE to view it now and into early December for a sight that you will likely never forget: Saturn without its famous rings! (or at least you will not be able to SEE them!) - in the tail of LEO.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Here is a news note and photo that ran November 4th from Spaceweather.com :
Less than a month from now, on Dec. 1st, something extraordinary will happen in the night sky. Venus, Jupiter and the crescent Moon are going to converge on a single, tiny patch of the heavens only a few degrees wide. Such an eye-catching, traffic-stopping triple conjunction can only be described as the backyard astronomy event of the year.
Last night in Weatherford, Texas, photographer Shannon L. Story got a 66% sneak preview when two-thirds of the trio got together, upper left: Jupiter and the Moon were in conjunction while Venus looked on from below. "It was a pretty show," says Story, but not as pretty as it's going to be. Mark your calendar for Dec. 1st and try to imagine the gathering to come.
Mark your Calendar for December 1...
Follow the PHAs on the Spaceweather.com page daily.
At the end of today the folks in the NEO program were tracking 996 Asteroids.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
RA-2h34.2m/Dec-3.42"and is 6.6 in magnitude.
While observing this rock the next couple of nights, remember DAWN is on the way to Vesta. The spacecraft left Earth in September 2007 and should catch up to Vesta in August 2011. I am sure the pictures will be great and we will learn more about this rock. I am looking forward to viewing these snapshots as my Odyssey continues...
Sunday, October 26, 2008
As of Saturday there were 992 PHAs out there roaming near our earth, some closer; some bigger than others. This weekend Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft crossed the 150,000 km distance mark from Earth, officially entering deep space, on course for the moon.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
I have been out twice to view and count. This group [Windows to the Universe] uses the constellation Cygnus as a guide. Using the number of stars you can visually see in Cygnus as the formula to determine how many stars are visible from my backyard. My backyard is on the rim of the City. My sky has some light pollution from the city and not surprising the sky above my backyard is not the best.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
The biggest problem during a meteor watch is whether to sleep in or stay up late. I opted to sleep in then went out at 4AM Monday morning to look at Orion. It was a dark, clear; cold predawn morning. The Orion Constellation was high and in the SE. The waning gibbous Moon was hanging to the left of Orion in the Gemini Constellation like a bright torch filling the sky with moonlight. I counted 5 meteors within the first fifteen minutes. I'm sure I missed more dim ones with all the moonlight. They originated from just left of Betelgeuse moving downward and across the Orion Constellation. 2 were very bright and they all were very fast!
Clouds are forecast to roll in overnight tonight but if it is clear, I may try another look at Orion early Tuesday morning.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I have never been a big fan of Pluto one way or the other.
I have viewed Pluto many times through a telscope over the past decade, while it swung close to our orbit. Like most distant objects and Asteroids in the telescope, it is just a white dot that moves slowly through the night sky. The only way to tell you have it in the eyepc is to compare pictures or placement from consecutive nights and watch that dot move around the other white dots in view.
Now only a 14 magnitude speck near the Planet Jupiter in Sagittarius, this rock is far, far away in a very cold and dark corner of the Solar System. If I wanted to visualize it again, I would have to use a 10" or larger scope and let the computer find it and goto that white dot.
The Minor Planet Center (MPC) assigned Asteroid # 134340 to Pluto back in September 2006. Then in 2008 the IAU classified this rock as a "Plutoid". The Planet debate continues after it was dropped as a Planet.
We should not forget the Mission to this Plutoid and the Kuiper Belt is on it's way, launched January 2006 and should arrive in 2015. Hopefully the camera and instruments on the ship will wake up and function to send us some great photos and information from that dark and cold corner of our Solar System.
Maybe it will be re-classified a Planet by then... then again, maybe not!
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
The Chandrayaan-1 Mission is almost ready to visit the moon. Scheduled to launch next week, October 22, the satellite will target our moon to Map the lunar surface features from space and observe the presence of radioactive isotopes to help researchers determine the origins of the Moon.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Orion, the great hunter is one of the best known patterns in the night sky. This asterism is prominent in our evening sky in late November. But in October we can catch it early in the morning after midnight. The constellations are constantly moving across our sky. By midnight tonight Orion will be starting his climb higher with the bright star Sirius that leads you to the belt and the sword. There M42, the Great Orion Nebula, glows like a beacon in the night sky. I always check the red super- giant star Betelgeuse has not gone super- nova yet. In addition you can see the Pleaides and the red star Aldebaran near by in Taurus.
The Orion meteor shower will peek on October 21. This year the moon will be in the third quarter and give a favorable night sky to view these falling stars. Normal rate = 30-40 per hour. Will try to view and do a count during this event. The cooler months of October and November are great for exploring the night sky.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
The Constellation Hercules is finally behind the trees from my location. The strong man continues his nightly voyage farther West on one of his twelve Herculean Adventures. I took my last look at the Key Stone and found the Great Hercules Cluster, M13. Globular Clusters are billions of years old. This ball of stars is 25,000 light years away and is packed with around 500 thousand suns. It can be seen on a clear night in binoculars as a fuzzy patch near the star Eta Her on the wider side of the Key Stone. Always a prime target for the Telescope and always a great site in the eyepiece. M13 bw/photo is from SLOOH Telescope session I took in 2005.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Asteroid 2008 TC3 hit the Earth Tuesday morning above Africa and put on a good sky display.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
I have tracked the ISS from the first launch in 1998. Still under construction, I have watched a dim point of light grow into a larger brighter "shining star"moving across the sky and have logged countless sightings in the last decade. Look forward to the next decade as it glides across my backyard. You can find the pass information for your location @ the Heavens Above website.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Entry~081004 Viewed the Crescent Moon just after sunset- Clouds rolling in....
Cloudy skies are a good time to catch up on reading, transcribing all those notes; penciled symbols you wrote from past observations and add them to your journal.
Today the folks with eyes on Minor Planets are tracking 988 PHAs
Saturday, October 4, 2008
I am sure Galileo focused on the moon along with Jupiter and its moons that first night after his telescope was delivered. I felt as if I was as old as Galileo while I broke out the 4'' Celestron and pointed it toward the moon to look at the Terminator then Jupiter with its four moons trapped in orbit. The Celestron has a German mount on a heavy tripod. That makes viewing difficult but I managed to complete the viewing without tripping over myself.
Last night's waxing crescent moon was up at sunset, high above the tree line but sinking fast. I placed the camera on the back of the scope but I got nothing but blurred images. I forgot to attach the auto shutter release... Next Time!!
I did enjoy the Terminator and the Craters along the darkened rim before the jagged moon glided down below the trees.
Jupiter is easy to spot and there were three moons showing. In my eyepiece there was one on the left and two on the right. But my Celestial Calendar tells me the spacing on the left was off because Europa was tight on the rim of the Planet. Europa should be visible at 10 pm.
Went back out at 10 pm and Europa was close to edge of the Planet... there were four moons visible.
As of Friday October 3, 2008 there are 987 known PHAs.
That's lot of Rocks* moving past my Planet!
*Amors, Apollos, and Atens are the three categories of Near-Earth asteroids (NEAs). Amor asteroids approach the Earth's orbit from the outside, Apollo asteroids cross the Earth's orbit, and Aten asteroids approach the Earth's orbit from the inside. Potentially Hazardous asteroids (PHAs) are larger than ~0.2 km (0.1 mile) and approach close enough to present a potential hazard but not a current hazard.
Never stop watching the sky and keep Tracking.....
Friday, October 3, 2008
The Moon was two days old last night.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
A waxing crescent moon–sometimes called a “young moon”–is always seen in the west after sunset. At this moon phase, the Earth, moon and sun are located nearly on a line in space. If they were more precisely on a line, as they are at new moon, we wouldn’t see the moon. The moon would travel across the sky during the day, lost in the sun’s glare. Instead, a waxing crescent moon is seen one day to several days after new moon. It rises one hour to several hours behind the sun and follows the sun across the sky during the day. When the sun sets, and the sky darkens, the moon pops into view in the western sky.
Every night sky is different from the night before. Last night was clearer than the night before. Tonight the moon will be higher and I will be waiting to view that evening crescent moon.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
I have downloaded hundreds of NASA photos and marvel at all of them. Take some time and look at those Photos again while you wait for the next Service Mission to keep the HST capturing new Discoveries.
I have followed each Launch plus each Spacewalk and viewed the Telescope sailing across my back yard multiple times. We have Five months to review those past three missions.
STS 109 the third service mission March 2002
STS 103 the second service mission December 1999
STS 82 the first service mission February 1997
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Last night was another clear night and pretty good sky conditions. Jupiter was over my right shoulder and no moon tonight. The Andromeda Galaxy is located near Pegasus the Great Square. Start with the bright star Alpheratz. Follow that star down to the left by two stars. Move up 2 stars by the star Nu Andromedae, the fuzzy glob is just down and to the left of it. In my backyard M31 comes up over the trees in the NE about an hour afterAstronomical twilight, when it is dark-dark.
Scanning the NE sky with binoculars, I found the fuzzy spot near the Big Box without too much trouble. I swung the "Dob" to that area and found the target in the finder scope. In the past, the Galaxy has been a lot sharper as seen through a scope. Our sky is not as dark as in past years and getting more polluted! The W shaped Cassiopeia was well up when I started after 9 pm. After viewing the Galaxy I swung the scope to view the Dragon Fly cluster. I found and viewed several open clusters while searching. Also along the way I spotted a few doubles. There are lots of things to see in Casseopeia but tonight NGC 457 eluded me, my legs gave out so I went in. I will catch that Dragon Fly another night.
The nights are getting longer....more time to explore and discover
Skywatchers Alert: As of Tonight there are 986 PHAs identified and being tracked.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Even though Mars is no longer in our night sky we have not lost site of the Red Planet in our mission to get there. Buzz Aldrin said, "Mars is there, waiting to be reached".
This year we downloaded many pictures and much data from Phoenix and the Rovers as NASA prepares for the next mission to the Red Planet in the fall of next year. In September 2009 the JPL will launch another rover, the Mars Science Labratory . Seven landing sites on Mars have been selected to choose from. One will be selected soon by the mission team.
The next opposition is January 2010. That's the next time Earth comes between the Sun and Mars and the fourth planet from our sun will be in closer to our planet for better viewing. In the meantime, I will be downloading pictures and data from the Rovers, Phoenix, Mars Odyssey and the MRO.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Looking at the sky tonight the bright stars you can see with the naked eye are Altair, Arcturus, Deneb, Vega, Fomalhaut, Antares and that wandering star Jupiter.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
The Hubble is making some early morning flybys over my backyard this next week. Jupiter and those four prominent moons are still in good position for viewing. I will be tracking the constellations Andromeda, Cygnus, Lyra and Hercules in the evening. Discover the star Capella in the east after the sunsets. A waxing crescent moon will appear again October 1 in the west. Today we are tracking 983 known PHAs .
The Odyssey continues...
Friday, September 26, 2008
There was an event going on in town. As I scanned the sky there were two spot lights beaming across the sky during my viewing time. The Sky was clear, seeing was not the best.
The Summer Triangle stars were visible while setting up… Altair, Deneb and Vega.
Antares quickly fell behind the trees not too long after I spotted the red star low in the SW.
Several satellites were spotted moving through the sky.
My main targets for tonight would be Jupiter then the Great Hercules Cluster M13. Jupiter was still buoyed far above the trees and appeared to have 6 moons, but two were stars in the constellation Sagittarius. In the scope there were 3 moons on the left. They were Callisto, Ganymede and Io. The one on the right was Europa.
The constellation Hercules was resting above the roof of the house and M13 was still where I left it the last time I put it in my eyepiece . The cluster is positioned between the not so bright stars Eta and Zeta Herculis. Tonight this cluster was a dull ball of stars. I have viewed this great cluster many times and this night was not as sharp and crisp as times past. The trick to finding these objects is to turn the chart to where the feature drawn matches what you see of the constellation, then find the stars to follow in the line that the objects lies.
Cassiopeia was still climbing out of from behind the trees
Cygnus was straight up, too much of a strain on my neck and wobbly legs to view comfortably. Lyra’s bright star Vega was higher than the strong man, I thought of grabbing the ring but my legs were giving out and I needed to rest. End of session 9:30 pm.
I left the scope in the drive in hopes of an early morning look at Saturn and the moon. But I checked the Celestial Calendar at CalSky and the ringed wanderer will rise in the east at 5:58 am. The time and position of the planet will not make it high enough to view from my position.
Early Friday morning I was back out moving the scope at 5:45 AM. Twilight started at 6:03. The Sky was clear with good seeing. Those troublesome beams of light were not present this morning.
The Moon was still below the tree line with no sign of the ringed planet. Saturn is positioned below Regulus in Leo. The crescent moon can be seen through the limbs. Those limbs make the moon a harder target to focus on.
Orion and Gemini spotted easily. Sirius led the way to the Belt and the Sword. Rigel and Betelgeuse were bright in the early morning sky. I moved the scope to M42. The Orion Nebula was there along with the bright stars of the Trapezium. The morning light was getting brighter. I took a quick look at the Pleiades before ending the session.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
It should be clear tonight and cooler with our moon near Saturn. Will try to get a peek at the ringed planet early in the AM, before sunrise. The rings of Saturn are soon to be edge-on... by late December. It will be my first glance at Saturn through a scope while edge-on, after a fifteen year tilt.