Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bright Jupiter and the Moon

Last night, at 10 pm, I saw bright Jupiter by itself in the SE Sky.
Our Moon was off to the right with a haze/mist around it. The sky was not clear last night. I did manage to see Antares in the SW and the broken W of Cassiopeia in the NE. The Stars were dim along the Horizon.

Jupiter will continue to be bright in the evening and Venus will shine in the early morning hours. Late tonight at 11:30, the GRS will begin to move across the Planet.

The Andromeda Galaxy follows the box of Pegasus and begins to come into view earlier.

If I am up Early Monday morning, Mars is at the feet of Gemini. Dim Mars is to the right of Venus and left of the Star Betelgeuse. If they above the trees I will find them!

For stargazers on the East Coast,Monday night Jupiter's GRS transits the Planet at 8:06 pm. It's not dark here, sunset is 7:55. This bright wandering star may not be over the treeline yet for me to observe at 8 pm. But at 10 pm the moons are:

Discovery will dock with the ISS tonight. Yesterday, Flight Day 2:
The Crew inspected the Shuttle's Heat Shield

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Weekend Event Horizon

The Last Weekend in August. Let's end this long, hot month and move into September!

Start with the Weekend SkyWatcher's Forecast: August 28-30, 2009. Tammy outlines some noteable targets to view: She Targets the Lunar Crater Archimedes, the Crater Walter and Montes Riphaeus—the ‘‘Mountains in the Middle of Nowhere.’’ Focuses on the double star Albireo, Mars and M35 and the Color Contrast in the star Eta Sagittarii. She even leads us to the outer planets Uranus and Neptune.

If the sky is clear tonight look for: The Moon this evening shines near the top star of the Sagittarius Teapot, 3rd-magnitude Lambda Sagittarii. The Moon is a waxing gibbous. Look near the lunar terminator with a telescope for the spectacular crater Copernicus. Copernicus is thought to be about 800 million years old, which is young for a lunar crater. Copernicus is a bit over 50 miles in diameter. The Moon will be in the low in the sky towards the south this evening. Look for sporadic meteors any clear evening.

Next Wednesday Jupiter is three degrees south of the Moon (10pm)

Midnight Ride with Discovery

After two delays, Discovery finally left the Pad at 11:59 last night with a flawless Launch. The Shuttle lit up the the night sky on it's way to rendezvous with the International Space Station. The Seven member Crew are hauling supplies and equipment to the Six member crew of the ISS. Docking is scheduled for Sunday evening. After watching and recording the launch last night, I watched and recorded the Flight Day 1-Highlights at 6 am this morning. The first quarter moon was visible from the pad before the launch and in the window of the spacecraft once in orbit. I could not find any visible passes over my backyard but the ISS will pass over in the early morning hours on September 2. A better view in the evening on September 5 and 6.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Thunder and Lightning Rule

Last night just before dark, the moon and stars disappeared. The clouds did gather, darken and brought us a shower! Not hardly enough to help with the drought, but we will take it. Thunder and Lightning ruled the sky for a few hours.

This has been a long Hot Month! We have gotten a few dashes of rain, enough to clear the dust from the rain gauge. But the Drought continues with 58 days of 100+ temps, little rain and NO SOLAR SUNSPOT ACTIVITY! According to NOAA sunspot counts, the longest string of blank suns during the current solar minimum was 52 days back in July, Aug. and Sept. of 2008. If the current trend continues for only four more days, the record will shift to 2009. It's likely to happen; the sun remains eerily quiet and there are no sunspots in the offing. Solar minimum is shaping up to be a big event indeed. I just cut down a very large dead Oak Tree behind the house. The second Large Oak Tree to fall victim to "Drought Stress"

News on the Net: Star-Birth Myth Shattered, Countdown is on tonight for the 11:59 launch of Shuttle STS 128 Discovery.

If the clouds break tonight look for: Orion the Hunter and Sirius the Dog Star. Jupiter is easy to see in the evening. Look to the southwest at dusk. Jupiter is shining brightly. Jupiter's four largest moons are easy to see in a telescope. They were first seen by Galileo almost 400 years ago. At 10 pm tonight:
C----------G--------(J)-----I, Io occults Europa @ 1:41am Saturday morning. Before the beginning of dawn Saturday morning, use binoculars to spot the open cluster M35 in Gemini just 1° left of bright Mars high in the east.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Clouds and Rain...Rain?!

Last night brought a sky full of clouds and built to darker clouds with Rain! Really, it rained here! Thunder, Lightning and a good inch of the wet stuff! It has been a while, so I was glad to give up a sky full of stars for the wet stuff. Another chance of rain tonight after another 100+ day(58).

Shuttle Discovery is set for launch Friday night at 10:59 pm. Hopefully no storms will be at the Cape at liftoff. While on the mission, Discovery will celebrate 25 years of Service.

The Moon will occult Antares TODAY. At 3:30pm, through a telescope, spot the moon and watch Antares move behind the daylight. I will miss this one....moon still below tree line until 5pm. I might catch the red star coming out the other side?

Tonight, if the clouds break: Venus and Mars will be 30 degrees apart in early morning. Jupiter is bright and up all night: C-----------G--E--------I(J)

News on the Net Today: Mars Recon Satellite having trouble again. Spirit still hung up on the surface of Mars. The Trifid Nebula makes the headlines with new images. LCROSS is a "risk-tolerant mission", a discussion of problems, as it travels to the Moon for impact.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

First Quarter Moon Thursday Morning

Last night was Cloudy. Another Hot Dry Day ahead with more clouds rolling in. Slight chances of rain for the rest of the week.

Shuttle News: For the second day in a row, NASA mission controllers have called off the launch of space shuttle Discovery. Yesterday the problem was weather, today it's a balky liquid hydrogen fill-and-drain valve. NASA plans to try again just after midnight on Friday, Aug. 28th: updates.

Other News from the Net: New Images Reveal Details of the Trifid Nebula, Help Solve the Mystery of Epsilon Aurigae with Citizen Sky
LCROSS Anomaly Causes "Substantial" Fuel Loss

Tonight, if the Clouds Break:
Constellation Cepheus looks like a house

Jupiter-The tiny black shadows of both Ganymede and Europa are on Jupiter's face tonight from 10:20 p.m. EDT to 1:12 a.m. EDT. Moreover, Jupiter appears to have only one moon (Callisto) from 9:58 p.m. EDT to 12:35 a.m. EDT.

Thursday if the Clouds Break: In late afternoon daylight, the dark limb of the Moon occults Antares for much of North and Central America. See local timetables. The Moon is still very close to Antares by the time evening arrives. David Dunham of the International Occultation Timing Association (IOTA) writes that this will be "our last occultation of Antares until 2023." At locations where the Moon is reasonably high "

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Another Scrubbed Launch

Discovery has been been scrubbed...Twice! Last night's window was closed by Thunder Showers. Tonight's Launch stopped by mechanical problem in Hydrogen Valve. NASA is now looking at Friday for the next target date to get STS 128 Airbourne.

Tonight the Moon Passes beneath the stars in Libra

Pictures from Space: LROC looks at a very dark area in the Lunar North Pole region.

The Sun is Still Void of Activity, this is day 56 of 100 + Temps. There is hope for RAIN this weekend!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Late Night Launch With NASA

STS 128 Discovery is set to Launch, half past midnight tonight! Put on the Coffee and set the DVRs to the NASA channel. This is first in the scheduled last seven (7) missions using the Space Shuttle, before they retire the fleet. I am not going to post the year that was planned as there are to many delay factors that vary in the Time Frame.

Last night when I stepped out at 11Pm and I observed a Clear Sky for a change. It was still Hot, Humid and Still. Cygnus was flying over head in the direction behind the roof. Jupiter shined bright above the tree line: E-----(J)---I---G---------C

Antares was just above the tree line in the west.

Tonight if the Clouds break: Mercury at greatest elongation on August 24 Mercury is now 27° east of the Sun. Look for Mercury low in the west 30 minutes after sunset. fainter Saturn is 8° to the right of Mercury. Jupiter is on the other side of the sky and much easier to spot. Look for Jupiter in the southeast at dusk.

Now 55 days of 100+ temps have been added to this heat wave with no drought breaker in sight! Another Hot, Humid, Sticky airless night ahead.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fuzzy Jupiter, Cloudy Sky

Last night, I was out earlier (dusk) training the drive on the LX90. Focused on a red light atop a tower seveal miles away. It was tight quarters on the landing of the porch, but the scope is now ready for the next marathon Star Search. Last night the whole sky looked blurred. Broken Clouds and dim stars. It was Hot, sticky and still when I went out at 11pm and looked up at the sky. Jupiter was the brightest star I saw and it was fuzzy and blurred. If the scope was on this wandering star: IG-----(J)----E------------C

Tonight, if the sky is clear look for the bright star Jupiter early. The GRS transits the Planet starting at 10:30pm CDT. Always an interesting sight in the scope, I have observed this event several times this summer. The Great Red Spot transits Jupiter every 10 hours and 56 minutes. Sky and Telescope has an online Calculator that is handy to use. They also have a web site that lists the GRS transits for 2009. This is in Universal time, so you will need to convert to CDT.

Start looking for Cassiopeia higher in the NE as the Big Dipper sinks in the NW.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Event Horizon this weekend

The clouds blanketed the sky and went high enough to bring us some rain late last night! Not a Drought Breaker, but we will take rain when we can get it.

If the clouds break over your backyard tonight, you can observer: M39, the Coathanger and other clusters reviewed in Tammy's Weekend Skywatcher's Forecast.
Arcturus shines bright, lower in the west. If you are looking at Jupiter tonight in a scope:
at 9pm the moons will appear this way: I----(J)----E-------------C
The Crescent Moon will be easier to see in the west with Mercury and Saturn, thirty minutes after sunset. Check out Sky and Telescope's This week's Sky at a Glance for more events.

News on the Net:
Discovery, STS 128 to Launch early Tuesday, 12:36 AM
Navigating the Solar System
LCROSS looks back and captures images on the way to Impact October 9
Deep Solar Minimum continues
Are Sunspots Different in this Solar Minimum?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Group Meeting

There were two new faces at the meeting Thursday night. When Tom from Ravenstar showed up the total came to Ten at the table last night. The discussion last night was focused on upcoming changes. A possible new meeting site, a better site for star parties, and the public getting in touch with the group after the web site went off the Net. Later the discussion turned to SciFi and other Books being read. Then old movies seen. For now we will still meet at the church but will meet at a Restaurant in October and move the date to the fourth Thursday. We discussed several Events on the calendar, one large gathering in September. After the meeting a few of us viewed the sky as we left the building. Scorpius, Sagittarius (Teapot), Arcturus, and Jupiter: G---E-----I--(J)--------------------C, If we only had a scope!
Cassiopeia had just cleared the tree line. The night was hot and still, with no visible sign of the MilkyWay.

News and Events: In a dark sky, look for M6 and M7

A Discovery in the News: Asteroid Minerva(93) found to have two moons

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hot, Dry, Dusty and Cloudy

The Heat wave continues. The Clouds come in and tease us with a hint of rain, but nothing.
52 days of over 100 degrees in daytime temps.
The sun is entering its 41st consecutive day without sunspots. This remarkable string of blank suns shows that we are still in the pits of the deepest solar minimum in a century. If the streak continues for 11 more days, it will match the longest blank spell of the current cycle.
Spotless Days- Current Stretch: 41 days2009 total: 183 days (79%)Since 2004: 694 days-Typical Solar Min: 485 days explanation more info Updated 20 Aug 2009
I still wonder: Does the minimum sun spot period affect our weather?

Events and News: The Moon went to New phase today @ 5:02 this morning,
Latest LRO Image Solves Apollo 14 Mystery
Look toward the center of the Milky Way galaxy
Friday: A very thin young crescent Moon may be visible very low in the west. The Moon is below Saturn and Mercury. Tomorrow the young Moon will be easier to see for most observers. Observers in the southern U.S. will have a better chance of seeing this very low Moon. Sighting of this crescent marks the start of Ramadan.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

Stars in the Sky...if the Clouds Break

The Clouds are back. Moving in and out and sometimes blanket the Sky. Now 50 Days of 100+ Temps for the year. 15 consecutive days of 100+ temps. We may just become a desert unless we can get some rain.

Events to observe if the clouds break:
Neptune is in Opposition and close to Jupiter in the Constellation Capricornus. Neptune is very dim at 7.8 Magnitude and is 3.5 degrees NE of Jupiter.
Tuesday Morning the Crescent Moon is below Venus before sunrise in the ENE. Look for Mars to be 25 degrees to the upper right of Venus.

News on the web this morning:
Ares IX rocket is fully stacked and ready for launch
Planck has started collecting light from the past
Planetary Nebula Found Around Heavy Stars

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Quarterly Event with Ravenstar

Last night the Group set up at the Unitarian Church, parking lot for the first ever "Quarterly Star Gazing Event". This Public event was co-sponsored by Ravenstar. It was announced in the paper and on the radio since Thursday. There were only four scopes set up by group members with one representative from Ravenstar attending. However, before we got started, one scope's alignment went out and that left only three scopes ready to show the night sky to the public attending the event. Several couples had arrived before dark. The lines grew as the night turned darker.


The sky was partly cloudy and seeing was not the best, with no moon.

I set up the LX90 on the concrete parking area and waited for the sky to darken. Vega then Arcturus, then Altair, then Antares appeared in the sky. Aligned with Arcturus and Altair before dark. Sloohed to Antares, then to the double star Mizar:
By now a very large group of folks were lining up to view the objects in the eyepiece.
While folks were viewing Mizar I pointed out the points of interest in the Big Dipper that led to the North Star, Polaris.

Targeted Jupiter, four moons, now up over the tree line in the South, C------I--G-(J)----E The bands of Jupiter were clear, with the moons made for a popular target.
Visitors line continued to grow and did not seem to stop. For the most part the crowd was interested in the night sky, calm, controlled and well behaved.

The Double Star, Albireo was in the eyepiece for the next time period. The folks seem to come in waves now. Pointed out the Summer Triangle and the Three major stars: Altair, Deneb and Vega. I next targeted an Open Cluster-M6, the Butterfly Cluster, then sloohed to the Globular Cluster -M13 , the Hercules Cluster as a comparison. From there I went to M16 the swan nebula. Used a nebula filter.

Went back to Jupiter again as a request from a visitor. Then put the Ring Nebula, M57, in the eyepiece. (at this point the viewing lines were getting smaller). I began to notice a drift in the objects targeted seen through the scope.
Note: will need to adjust scope (align the drive) before the next set up!

Looking for Andromeda, but she was not up over the trees yet, I could not see the box from Pegasus yet. Cassiopeia was up, so I put NGC 457 in the eyepiece. E.T. was still there, floating in space. The visitors were thinning out now. I moved the scope to the Wild Duck cluster, M11. What was left of the Group discussed the nights crowd and the event. We commenced to shut down and put the equipment away. @ 11 PM the Group shut down and went home. As I cleared my equipment, I layed down on the pavement, looked up with binoculars and spotted the Coathanger, Cr399. Even with the sky not as dark and seeing not the best, I would say the First Ravenstar/Astronomy Group Quarterly Event was a good expierence. We needed more scopes to keep the lines down. And a few more extra volunteers for crowd control and direction.
I did get to see the Andromeda Galaxy before leaving. One visitor had car trouble. While we waited for Service to come and give her car a jump, we last three found the constellations Pegasus and Andromeda. Then located the Andromeda Galaxy (above the trees) with our binoculars.

Clouds were beginning to come back over the area. We left at Midnight.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Astronomy of the Middle Ages

I have always been interested in History. This covers the Astrologist/Astronomers of Fourteenth and Fifteenth Century. Those Scientist of the Day forged the thinking of man as we leeped into the Renaissance Age and finally to the Age of Reason. Today, the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast featured an Amateur Astronomer who is a Historian of the Middle Ages. He gave us a view into Astronomy of that period through the writings of Chaucer. Also gave some insight into the use of the Astrolabe. Interesting instrument of that day, used to keep track of the Sun, Moon and Planets and the time of day. In modern times we still use a similar version is called the Planisphere.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Weekend Event Horizon

More 100+ temps and the chance of rain gets less and less. Some clouds keep the sky from a Clear status. Still no activity on the Sun, with Zero Sunspots! The weekend is here and I am getting ready for an Event put on by Ravenstar and the Group Saturday night. Reviewing and listing binary stars, clusters and the moons of Jupiter to observe Saturday Night, if the clouds break!

Jupiter is at Opposition and is up all night for observing all Four Moons.

The Weekends Skywatcher's Forecast : Tammy mentions M25, an open cluster in Sagittarius and the Northern Jewel Cluster, NGC 6231, in Scorpius.

Sky and Telescope posted This Week's Sky at a Glance

News posted today: The next Shuttle launch, August 24, hinges on the External Tank review

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fire in the Sky

Began to observe the meteor shower at 2 AM this morning. Jupiter was bright and behind my right shoulder. Pegasus was straight up with Andromeda off the line of stars running down to the north eastern horizon. Found the Queen, Cassiopeia, and then the Prince, Perseus. There were a few transparent clouds in the sky with a bright waning third quarter moon in the SE when I started.

@2:10 AM-The first meteor observed streaked across the Southern horizon, very long and very bright.

I had a long wait before the next meteor. This bright meteor @ 2:43, came from the SW high above, just below Pegasus, moving from West to East. When it reached Andromeda, the front glowed bright then split into two. Two bright yellow balls broke away then faded.

@2:51 a short bright burst out of Andromeda and moved SW

@3 AM one short bright streak in Andromeda, moving East to West

@3:21 short burst in NE near Cassiopeia moving down

Clouds were begining to move up from the east and the south

@3:38 a short run near the moon moving North to East

@3:43 short burst in the clouds North to East very low

@3:47 the blanket of clouds had covered most of the stars, my portal had closed. I ended the event and went in.

The Event could have been more easily observed and brighter if it were not for the Moon. I suspect the count per hour would have been higher too. The report on the this mornings outburst was over by 8:00 U time. I did not view 60/hr. The six meteors streaking across my backyard I observed were spectacular!

Today is the 48th day of temperatures 100+ for this year. No Sunspots/an inactive Sun to help start up any storms. Day 13 of consecutive 100+ Temps in August.
The Newswire Today: Saturn has lost the rings., Asteroid search-NASA has not received enough money.,

Tonight: The moon is runing into the Pleiades, from midnight until dawn

Early Friday morning : Jupiter in the west and Mars in the east

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

No Meteors, Bright Moon and Clouds

Last night the Moonlight filled the night sky. At 1AM this morning I went out and looked up for thirty minutes. It was hot and muggy. Bright moonlight dimmed the stars and I saw No meteors flashing across above my backyard. Again at 4 AM another thirty minutes observing a very bright moonlit sky and this time Clouds were closing in on all the dimmed stars visible. I did hear reports of spotting one or two streaks from early morning observers. At 30 an hour, I should have seen at least 15, disappointed so far in this years Perseids. But, The report is the show could get better tonight! There is a possible "Outburst" predicted from 3-4AM CDT Thursday morning. Waning gibbous moon may interfere with dimmer meteors. has a Perseid Photo Gallery on line.
They also have past years Gallery: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2001

Tonight Star-Hop from Cassiopeia to the Double Cluster

On the Newswire this morning: Biggest Exoplanet yet, orbits the wrong way, A posted podcast on The Drake Equation: N=R x f x n x f x f x f x L

The days (12) continue to be over 100 degrees in temperature. Still No Sunspots! The Forecast calls for a 20% chance of rain this evening? We will see if the Clouds will blanket the stars tonight?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Heat Wave continues...Clouds are back

Triple digit temperatures every day now for 42 days! The atmosphere is filled with dust and haze. And now the Clouds are back. Sometimes broken and scattered, but the sky is not the best for viewing stars and planets or the Perseids. 2009 Perseid Meteor Shower – Double Peaks This Year!

One of my favorite go-to open clusters is the Wild Duck Cluster in the Constellation Scutum. I have observed this cluster several times this summer. Posted on line today: IYA Live Telescope Today: M11 and 47 Tucanae. The Wild Duck Cluster (also known as Messier 11, or NGC 6705) is an open cluster in the constellation Scutum. It was discovered by Gottfried Kirch in 1681. Charles Messier included it in his catalogue in 1764. The Wild Duck Cluster is one of the richest and most compact of the known open clusters, containing about 2900 stars. Its age has been estimated to about 220 million years. Its name derives from the brighter stars forming a triangle which could represent a flying flock of ducks. Admiral Smyth observed the cluster in 1835: This object, which somewhat resembles a flight of wild ducks in shape, is a gathering of minute stars, with a prominent 8th-magnitude in the middle, and two following; but by all analogy these are decidedly between us and the cluster.

So where do "wild ducks" come into play? It seems no one is too sure of who first began calling this open star cluster by this name, but we're all agreed that it gets its name because it resembles the V-shape of a flight of ducks in a small telescope. More information on the M11 cluster can be found at Universe

Other news today:
lunar impactor cleansed of water and Kepler sees changing phases of giant planet

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Week With The IAU

The IAU General Assembly is meeting in Rio. They did not redefine the "Planets" last week but they did cover many Astronomical Topics. I have been reading the "Morning Star" newspaper on line. There are interesting comments daily from Mike Brown on his PlutoKiller Twitter page.

The IAU has another week to go in Rio and I will continue to follow the discussions and meetings this next week. They have discussed Exoplanets, but I don't believe the dwarf planet Pluto will be on the agenda this year...thank the stars!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Weekend's Event Horizon

Triple Digit Temps are breaking records daily, no rain in sight and the drought continues.

There is news of a possible Nova in Sagittarius.

The Weekend Skywatchers Forecast takes us to M14, M8 and M20

Tonight Mercury is 12 degrees below and right of Saturn. They are in the west 45 minutes afte sunset. Saturn will go into Ring Plane Crossing next week on August 11

Tonight Fomalhault, the Moon and Jupiter

Saturday morning Venus is 20 degrees lower left of Mars at dawn. Venus is much brighter in the Constellation Gemini, Mars is in Taurus.

Saturday evening The Moon and the Planet Uranus in the constellation Pisces

On Monday find the Radiant point of the Perseid meteor

Another reminder that the Perseids are coming next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Will Moonlight interfere with the Perseids?
Last Quarter Moon is Thursday, 1:55 pm CDT

Next Friday, Jupiter is in opposition: rises when the sun sets

Friday, August 7, 2009

Stargazing Event with young Astronomers

Last night, Our Group was invited to the Science Academy's Astronmy Camp Star Party at Klein Road Elementary School. I guess around Fifty students, parents and teachers were there to take in the Night Sky. Twelve of these students made their own Dobs at the Camp. There were ten home made scopes plus several other scopes of various types that folks had dusted off and brought to the field behind the school. These folks were primed and ready to see something in the sky.

I set up my 10" Dob behind a row of ten (10) just built Telescopes by Students from the Science Academy's Astronomy Camp. The group was an enthusiastic bunch waiting to see "First Light" in their new scopes, eager to discover and explore the Night Sky. Bob, Larry and I were surrounded by Students and Adults anxious to look into the eyepiece and consume any knowledge of the Night Sky. Vega, Albireo and Ring Nebula in the Summer Triangle, Mizar in the Big Dipper. The bright guide star Arcturus. The Constellation Scorpius stood out in the South and of course Jupiter with 4 moons, near a very bright 14.9 day Moon.

All these and few more Star Clusters were viewed and discussed last night. The Seeing scale was not the best but it was dark enough to test out those new scopes.

One of the best events I have attended. Everyone was enthusiastic about exploring, learning and knowing the night sky.

We were at the Event about 3 hours and left around 11pm. When I unpacked at home, I set up the Dob on the porch and obsevered the GRS transit on Jupiter and more of that bright Moon. We took some snaps of the Moon and Jupiter with the Nikon Digital at the eyepiece.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Jupiter and a Full Moon

Tonight, when the sun sets, go outside and look southeast. The full Moon is having a close encounter with Jupiter. The two are so bright, you won't even need a sky map to find them.
The moon turns full today at 7:55 p.m. Central Daylight Time
Full moon and Jupiter from dusk until dawn.

Jupiter is at opposition on August 14, rising near 10:30pm 377.1 million miles away

Saturn is only 10 degrees above the western horizon an hour after sunset and 946.1 million miles away. It should rise in the east in late October.

Mars is 164 million miles away, a red star in early morning .

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bright Moon, Clouds

Last night the Moon was bright hanging in the South sky above the trees. Jupiter was still below the trees at 11pm. Clouds moved in early this morning.

If you missed the Jupiter with "five moons" event early this morning, there is a description at Observing the Sky Blog.
STS 128 Discovery at the pad and set for Launch August 25, 2009
There are No Sunspots: Is the Solar Cycle linked to Global Climate?
IAU opening statements
Follow the activities reading the daily IAU newspaper from Rio

Tonight if the clouds break:
Mercury is 16° to the lower right of Saturn. Look for the two planets about 45 minutes after sunset. Saturn and Mercury are in the west. Binoculars may be needed to spot Mercury in the evening twilight. Mercury and Saturn are moving towards each other and will be just 3° apart on August 16th.

Monday, August 3, 2009

IAU meets this week

Tomorrow the IAU meets again in Rio. The Planet Hunter Mike Brown is there and has commented on the upcomming meeting. Mike predicts that by the end of the week, the topic of Pluto and planets will come up, at best, only outside of the actual meeting over a few glasses of caipirhina. He suspects no one will press the fight about Pluto because even the partisans are reluctantly admitting to themselves that the fight is over and planets have won.

After reading the comments to Mike’s post, a few of the Pro-Planet“Plutointes" are still making waves, pointing fingers and encouraging controversy over this issue.

Good question: Will the Group discuss the fate of Plutoids, dwarf planets, KBOs, and other minor Planets this week? Will the IAU stand their ground on the definitions of Planets and move on to other, more important matters? Will the "Save Pluto" faction be handing out another petition and protesting the IAU again? After this meeting the Planet debators can just....
" Blame it on Rio"!

We can follow Mike daily down in Rio for the week of IAU meetings: He started Tweeting today:, with a niffty tag line!

Tonight: Jupiter and a star

If the Clouds break:
Tonight Jupiter will appear to have Five Moons. Jupiter will not occult 45 Cap over my backyard, But by amazing good luck, 45 Cap will be masquerading as a fifth moon during a particularly eventful period for Jupiter's Galilean moons. So weather permitting, every telescope owner on Earth will have a chance to see many fascinating events during the days before and after the occultation. All of these events should be visible through small telescopes if the atmosphere is very steady, but extra aperture and high magnification will improve the views greatly.

The Queen is finally climbing over the trees earlier in the Evening sky. Cassiopeia the Queen on summer evenings.

The Moon is a waxing gibbous and can be seen in the SSE at dusk. The Moon is at apogee, the point in its orbit farthest from the Earth. Tonight the Moon is 252,300 miles from Earth. On August 19, the Moon will be at perigee, 223,500 miles away, almost 29,000 miles closer.

The Eclipsing Binary Star Epsilon Aurigae will be brightest this week

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Heat and clouds continue

Triple digit record breaking temps continue and the clouds are hanging on. And now a bright moon will light up the night sky as it grows toward Full.

It's getting bigger. Polar winds are spreading debris from the July 19th impact that created a cindery cloud in Jupiter's upper atmosphere. "The debris cloud has enlarged and faded somewhat. It now appears as a backward letter L near Jupiter's south pole. For the predicted times when it will cross the planet's central meridian, add 2 hours and 6 minutes to Sky and Telescope's predicted transit times for Jupiter's Great Red Spot. [sky map].

August 2009: Astrocast TV, Episode 17

If the clouds break Tonight: Moon points out galactic center on August 1

Another article on the Perseid Meteor Shower August 2009