Sunday, November 30, 2008

Planets are closer with a crescent moon


Tonight and Monday night we got another chance to view Jupiter and Venus closer together and near the moon. A must see Celestial Event that we will not be seen like this for a very long time. The photo above was taken from my backyard just after sunset with a Cannon Rebel.

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.

STS 126 Endeavour made it back home tonight after a long mission to the ISS. Bad weather at the Cape forced the shuttle to land at Edwards AFB. It was a great glide from 23 miles up.
The station is now ready to add three more crew members.

The Meteor hunters and Asteroid trackers have now classified over a thousand PHAs. The number of Asteroids being tracked as of Sunday November 30, 2008 is 1002.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Venus~Jupiter... getting closer


Another front blew the clouds out and gave us a clear sky at sunset Monday night. Another chance to look at bright Venus and Jupiter as they move closer together. Photo was taken from my backyard after sunset.

In one week on December 1, these two planets will be very close and near a crescent moon.

A clear night at sunset will give us a great view and a great photo op!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Venus, Jupiter and the ISS

Each evening this past week I observed the two planets as they moved closer together. Even with a trip to the SW near the Rio Grande, I was still able to view the two wandering stars after sunset in the evening sky.

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 2008 Leonid meteor shower... a no show

This year's event was just not ment to be observed and recorded from my backyard. Monday and Tuesday we were involved in funeral details with a death in the family. Wednesday we took a trip to the SW, near the border for the grave side service and came back that night.

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

Tonight...Endeavour Launch!

Tonight the STS 126 launches and goes for Orbit to catch the ISS. Endeavour is full of supplies to set up the station with room for a crew of six. The moon will be bright to guide the way. Set up your DVRs, DVD recorders or your old VCR and watch the Lift Off!

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

Clouds...no Stars

The clouds have covered the night sky for several days/nights now. With a full moon Wednesday night, even if the clouds break, the sky will be a wash with moon shine! When the clouds break, I will get a chance to view Venus and Jupiter moving closer together just after sunset again.

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

Another look at the Planets ~ No meteors


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

Venus and Jupiter


Each evening just after sunset bright Venus is a little higher and Jupiter seems a little lower. Venus was just above the tree line at dusk last night; slowly gaining height over my backyard. These two planets are moving closer together toward a grand finale the evening of December 1st with a rendezvous with the crescent moon.

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.
The moon is filling the night sky with lots of moonlight as it moves toward full, November 13...

As of today the folks from the NEO program are tracking 997 PHAs !

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Taurid Meteor Shower ~Saturn without rings

The 2008 Taurid Meteor shower peaks November 5th-November 12th!

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

Nice view at sunset...

I have been viewing and tracking Venus rising and Jupiter in my sky; the Crescent moon as it moves through the night this first week of November.

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.