Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Holiday with Cloudy Skies!

This past Holiday week has been busy with friends, relatives and shopping trips. Not much time to view the Planets or the Moon because of the Cloudy skies. I did manage to see Venus shining like the bright Christmas Star for a short time in the evening sky just after Church service the evening of Christmas Eve. We had an unseasonably warm Christmas down here in South Central Texas and still no rain!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Annual Ursid meteor shower...Too Cloudy

The cold front that came in last night dropped temperatures and brought us Cloudy Skies. We will miss another event due to clouds this year... The Ursid meteor shower.

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

Winter Solstice, Saturn's Rings

At 6:04 AM this morning we officially entered the winter of 2008-2009! Time to "hug a tree"...Mother nature reminded us that Winter is here with a strong cold front and added an artic blast of air to go along with it... nice and cold. Of course down here in South CentralTexas this cold snap may only last a couple of days... the forecast for Christmas Day is 66 degrees with more clouds!
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

Cloudy skies...countdown to Christmas

Those clouds that came in last weekend and hid the Geminid meteor shower has blanketed the sky for five days now. No Stars in the evening and No Sun to warm our days as we countdown to Christmas... one week away. Most of us are in the midst of wrapping up Christmas shopping as we prepare for this year's Winter Solstice. We move into the Winter Season this Saturday.

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

Geminid Meteor Shower...Cloudy

Forecast for clouds to roll in this past weekend plus the moon in the constellation Gemini makes for bad viewing of this years meteor event. Spaceweather.com posted this info:

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

Saturn[Rings edge-on] and a Full Moon

StarLog ^ 081212 4:30 am

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

Fire in the sky, Hubble and Endeavour news

A Meteor labeled as a superbolide burned bright in the night sky over Colorado . The event happened December 6 at 1:20 AM near Colorado Springs.
Spaceweather.com had the story

Good news...
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

Celestial Planetary Event


The Planet conjunction is here! The planets Venus and Jupiter have put on a great show this past month at sunset. The crescent moon added a unique photo op the past two nights.
The month long journey brought these two planets and the moon to this time and space.
It will be a very long time before we see this conjunction again.
I captured the moment from my backyard and added tonight's position to my file of planetary movement photos I took during this event.
Spaceweather.com posted a Gallery of photos from around the world of this Celestial Event.
You can veiw them here: Great Conjunction Photo Gallery
I have added the December 3 APOD as a follow up to this entry