Sunday, March 28, 2010

Full "Crow" Moon, Monday Night

The Weekend SkyWatcher's Forecast: March 26 – 28, 2010 Highlighted features on the Moon.

Tonight: Saturn is left of the Moon. Sirius, the Dog Star, still shines brightly in the southwest these evenings. High above it is Procyon, the Little Dog Star. High above Procyon is Mars. Watch the big bright Moon pass Saturn, Gamma Virginis, and Spica on its nightly eastward march.

Monday: Full Moon (exact at 10:25 p.m. EDT). As the first Full Moon to follow the vernal equinox, this one fixes the dates of two religious observances, Passover and Easter. This Full Moon is the Crow Moon. USNO says 10:25 pm Eastern Daylight Time pm the 29th. The Astronomical rise and set table (reference file) says the Full Moon occurs on the 29th at 8:26 pm CDT. The Calendar on my wall says the full moon is on the 30th and so does the almanac in my local paper. Where do these different times and dates come from?
The Answer is Universal Time: Full Moon is Tuesday @ 2:25 AM.
The Rise and Set reference table is off on his calculation (my location-CDT) by an hour!
Mercury is 4° to the lower right of Venus. Mercury will get to 3° of Venus on the 3rd of April in a quasi-conjunction before dropping back down. This evening apparition of Mercury is the best of the year. Bright Venus will help you find dim Mercury. Look for Mercury to the lower right of Venus about 45 minutes after sunset. The pair of planets are in the west.

Tuesday:
Mars is at aphelion, its farthest point from the Sun in its rather elliptical, 1.88-year orbit.

News from the Net:
JAXA to Explore Venus
Astronomy Without A Telescope – Say No To Mass Extinction
Watch History Live from the Large Hadron Collider
A Look Inside the Space Shuttle "Garage"

Friday, March 26, 2010

Clouds....Moon Halo

Last night the clouds came back too soon! When I went out to observe the night sky at 8:30pm, the sky was covered with high clouds. Thin clouds with a large ring around the moon.





I gave up on stargazing last night.
The sky was covered by a high thin veil of clouds and a Moon Halo!

Halos are caused by the light of the sun or moon passing through a very thin layer of cirruform (ice-crystal) clouds in the upper atmosphere. The ice crystals refract the light of the moon, similar to the way water droplets in the lower atmosphere can refract sunlight to produce a rainbow. Just like a rainbow, strong halos can have bands of color in them, due to slightly different refractive properties of the ice crystals for different colors. Essentially, halos ARE rainbows caused by primary refraction in ice crystals.
Some interesting facts about halos: Halos always occur exactly 22 degrees away from the sun or moon. Occasionally, intense halos can be double halos, just as intense rainbows can be doubled. Intense halos can also produce "moondogs" or "sundogs," very bright regions on the halo evenly spaced at 90 degree intervals around the halo. Have a look at this link. There are some very nice pictures of halos and moondogs there, as well as some informative diagrams showing how the light is bent by the ice crystals.

Another News article on Moon Halos.

Tonight if the clouds break:
Mercury is 6° to the lower right of Venus. Look for the pair in the west, 40 minutes after sunset. Binoculars will help you find Mercury in the evening twilight close to the horizon.

News from the Net:
The Search for Asteroids:"WISE" is discovering dozens to hundreds of previously unknown asteroids. The observatory is making a remarkable contribution to the census of dark space rocks that could potentially threaten Earth: full story.
Fate of Apollo 13 Crew Might Have Been Much Different Than Originally Thought
Watch History Live from the Large Hadron Collider
Russians Unveil Science Beauty in Florida

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Bright Moon and Two Planets

The sky cleared this morning! A few showers went through early after another front from the NW pushed the clouds away. Clear skies tonight with a bright gibbous Moon below Mars in Gemini! Saturn is still positioned below the Lion, in the head of Virgo. Not the best sky for deep sky objects….but still, a clear sky! Dark skies at 8:30pm.

Tonight: Saturn's rings are tilted 3° from edgewise. The ring tilt will decrease until May when the rings will be just 1.7° from edgewise. Look for Saturn and its rings in the east at dusk, high in the south at midnight and in the west at dawn. Mars will be high in the ESE.

Friday: Mercury is 6° to the lower right of Venus. Look for the pair in the west, 40 minutes after sunset. Binoculars will help you find Mercury in the evening twilight close to the horizon. Look for Regulus shining left of the Moon this evening. A small telescope will almost always show Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. Tonight Titan is four ring-lengths to Saturn's east

Saturday: Regulus shines above the Moon this evening. Farther to the Moon's lower left is Saturn. Below Saturn is Spica. Shining brighter in the east, well to the left of these last two, is Arcturus.


News from the Net:
Earth Hour 2010
MRO Sees Opportunity on the Edge of Concepcion Crater (and more!)
Astronomers Find 90% More Universe!
Sexy New James Webb Space Telescope "Trailer"
ISS to get 'Man Cave' Complete with Robot Butler
Chinese Dragon in Space!
Mir's Fiery Re-entry, March 23, 2001

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Orion's Goodbye

Orion is above the tree line in the WSW at sunset. The constellation moves below (sets) my horizon, soon after dark. Last night I took one last look at Orion's Belt. I set up the LX90 and aligned around 8:20. I was off on my polar alignment some but the system still worked like a charm. I went straight to M42 and then over to Mars. The Red Planet was high(straight up,difficult to photo) and bright in the early night sky. The crescent moon (a bit shy of first quarter) was bright in the constellation Taurus. The sky was full of thin, high clouds; seeing was not the best! I received a new camera mount(piggyback) for the 8" scope. Set up the camera and I tried several exposures on Orion. Most came out, however due to sky conditions, the shots were not sharp. NO MORE BLURRED STARS!? Sky conditions did not get better. The mount worked, so I will try again when the sky= clear/dark/moonless!
Or just Clear/dark, sometimes the moonlight is not too bad, if I am focusing on the opposite side of the sky.

Current Forecast: Brighter Moon and more clouds to cover the sky the next couple of nights.

Tonight if the clouds break: Mercury is 8° to the lower right of Venus. Look for Mercury very low in the west, 30 minutes after sunset. Binoculars will help you spot Mercury. In the coming days and weeks, Mercury will be easier to see. This apparition of Mercury will be the best evening apparition this year. Mercury will be at greatest elongation on the 8th of April.
The Moon is in Gemini tonight.

Wednesday, The Moon is near the planet Mars and the stars Castor and Pollux. Aim a telescope at the waxing gibbous Moon and look for the crater Copernicus. Look closely into the crater and see if you can spot the three mountain peaks inside Copernicus.

Thursday, The Moon, Mars, Pollux, and Castor form a ragged line this evening.

News from the Net:
Amazing Mars Flyover Videos Keep Getting Better and Better
Astronomers Find Black Holes Do Not Absorb Dark Matter
Galaxies in Early Universe Experienced "Growth Spurt"
Unprecedented Eruption Catches Astronomers By Surprise

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Pleiades/Moon Conjunction


Photographing the event was a challenge! Last night was cold and windy but I managed to view the crescent moon and the Pleiades. I started observing at 8pm. Through binoculars the moon was bright and I could see a few of the stars of the cluster near the western rim of the Moon.

Sky full of Stars blog describes the Event: The waxing crescent moon paired with the bright celestial gems of the Pleiades star cluster – and if you’re watching from the right place at the right time, you may even catch Luna slipping across some of the individual stars! Also known as M45, the Seven Sisters, and the Daughters of Atlas, the Pleiades is a bright collection of young B-type stars located some 450 light-years away, in the constellation Taurus. This cluster is visible to the unaided eye, but only binoculars can reveal the real beauty of its individual stars, nestled amongst a happenstance cloud of cosmic dust.

Clouds covered the scene off and on but by 9pm, the sky was clear. I set up the camera with the telephoto lens attached. The wind was still strong but I was able to get a few shots off. I bracketed the shots and many of my exposures were too long, as the stars in the cluster had movement. I did get one or two decent shots. The lens did pick up the tiny dipper shape near the bright Crescent Moon. Note: next occultation of the Moon and the Pleiades event....2023.

Photo: Canon Rebel DSL-Saturday, March 20, 8:42 pm-

Tonight under a clear sky:
Saturn is at opposition. Look for Saturn to rise around sunset and set around sunrise. Saturn can be seen in the east at dusk and the west at dawn.

Monday night, Mars and Saturn are 60° apart and closing. Watch Saturn and Mars move closer to each other until the end of July when the pair will be less than 2° apart. Find Saturn tonight low in the east at dusk and Mars high in the southeast.

Tuesday night, First-quarter Moon (exact at 7:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time). From now through Thursday evening, the Moon is passing under the arc formed by Castor, Pollux, and Mars.

News from the Net:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Event Horizon: Vernal Equinox + Photo Op

Spring starts Saturday with a cold blast of air! The forecast Friday night is cloudy but then, artic air with freezing temps, follwed by a few clear cold nights.

My horizon hid the Moon and Venus Wednesday night, but the sky was dark, clear and the stars stood out in sharp contrast. The many stars of Leo were crisp and the shape was easy to spot. The Big Dipper, off to the North, was still standing on the handle and its stars were bright in the night air. I found Orion and Mars way off to the west at 10:30 pm.
Saturn was floating below and to the left of the Lion.

Last night the Group met and discussed what’s up in the night sky. There were six of us at the table. Larry downloaded and printed a bunch of astronomy pictures. He passed those around for viewing. Bob had a couple of prints (Leo group of Galaxies) he took with his scope at home. We discussed the shuttle program, astrophotography and the search for signs of life in the Universe. Is “there is life out there, somewhere”? One member brought his scope’s instruction book. It’s a five inch Newtonian, still in the box. Discussed Ultra Wide eyepieces .

In Tonight's Cloudy Sky:
This is the time of year when Orion declines in the southwest after dark, with his Belt roughly horizontal. But when does Orion's Belt appear exactly horizontal? That depends on where you're located east-west in your time zone, and on your latitude.

The Weekend SkyWatcher's Forecast: March 19-21, 2010, discusses features on the Moon.

Saturday: The crescent Moon shines right next to the Pleiades in late twilight — a beautiful sight, especially in binoculars! The Moon occults (covers) some of the bright Pleiads as seen from parts of Central and South America (timetables), and some of the cluster's faint, outlying stars for the U.S. and Canada (graze maps; look for the March 20 and 21 events; occultations happen south of the graze lines). This is the last Pleiades occultation visible from North America until 2023. The equinox occurs at 1:32 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, when the Sun crosses the equator heading north for the year. Spring begins in the Northern Hemisphere, fall in the Southern Hemisphere. Spaceweather.com posted: EQUINOX SKY SHOW: Northern Spring begins on Saturday, March 20th. To celebrate the occasion, Nature is putting on an equinox sky show. Look west after sunset for a close encounter between the crescent Moon and the Pleiades star cluster. It's a beautiful view, and a nice way to experience the equal night.

News from the Net:
ISS Change of Command as Russian American Crew readies Earth return
Soyuz brings two station residents back to Earth
STS-134 Does Star Trek with New Poster
Spitzer Spies Earliest Black Holes
Finally, a "Normal" Exoplanet

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Venus Rising: The Evening Star

With the cloud cover hanging around, a little rain was mixed in too.
We missed observing the stars the past few nights!

Next two nights are forecast... Clear! CRESCENT MOON ALERT: When the sun sets tonight, go outside and look west. An exquisitely thin crescent Moon will be beaming through the twilight. Got the Moon? Look directly below it for Venus, too. [sky map]
It is almost Spring….look for the Winter Triangle moving to the western horizon

From Observing the Sky, Jay Braush:Venus has returned to the evening twilight, but the planet is far behind and gradually catching up to us now. Look for it almost due west and 4 1/2 thumb widths above the horizon at 8:15pm CDT. Currently, Venus is just over 145 million miles away from us, and although setting with the twilight now, watch as it becomes a very conspicuous evening star later this spring and early summer. Through your telescope, it appears much like an almost full tiny Moon, but being inferior to us, it will undergo changes in appearance - turning into a “half moon,” before turning into a larger white crescent. Will you notice much fainter Mercury just 2-3 thumb widths from it in the first days of April?

Tonight: Venus shines below the smile-shaped crescent Moon low in the west after sunset. A small telescope will always show Titan, Saturn's largest satellite. Tonight through Friday night, Titan is three or four ring-lengths to Saturn's west. A 6-inch telescope will begin to show the orange color of its smoggy atmosphere. A guide to identifying other Saturnian satellites often visible in amateur scopes is in the March Sky & Telescope, page 47.

News from the Net:
Spacewalking: Through an Astronaut's Eyes
New Images of Phobos from Mars Express Flyby
Astronomy for Kids: Gemini – Twins Everywhere!
Planck Reveals Giant Dust Structures in our Local Neighborhood
Beautiful Cosmic Barbeque Pit
You, Too Can Find Missing Russian Spacecraft
New Images Unlock Secrets of Jupiter's Red Spot
Cassini the Artist: Shadows, Ringshine, Double Crescent Moons
New Hubble Project Will Survey Beginnings of Cosmic Time

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Event Horizon: New Moon Monday

Where did those clouds come from last night?

Sky conditions were "Awful", seeing not the best. The clouds were the high wispy type. Thick enough, in areas, to dim the brightest star and thin enough to fade the sharpest asterisms. The clouds are sure to bring havoc to any Marathon scopes in use and affected Larry's Event set for last night. His note indicated only three were there and they only looked at the Orion area under cloudy skies.

I got a glimpse of Orion off in the west and Mars still high in the South. I did see the Big Dipper, standing on the handle, just above the tree line.

The Big Dipper glitters high in the northeast these evenings, standing on its handle. You probably know already that the two stars forming the front end of the Dipper's bowl (currently the top two) are the Pointers; they point to Polaris, currently to their left. And you probably know that if you follow the curve of the Dipper's handle out and around by a little more than a Dipper length, you'll arc to Arcturus (now rising in the east).
But did you know that if you follow the Pointers backward the opposite way, you'll land in Leo?
Draw a line diagonally across the bowl from where the handle is attached, continue on, and you'll go to Gemini. And look at the two stars forming the open top of the Dipper's bowl. Follow this line past the bowl's lip far across the sky, and you crash into Capella.


Weekend SkyWatcher's Forecast: March 12-14, 2010

After loosing an hour of sleep and before Sunrise Sunday morning: A very thin old Moon is very low in the east at dawn. Look for the Moon about 30 minutes before sunrise. The Moon will be just 2% illuminated. Binoculars will help you find this old Moon. Mercury is at superior conjunction.

Monday is the New Moon: New Moon (exact at 5:01 p.m. EDT). Venus and Saturn are about 170° apart. Look for both planets on opposite horizons. Venus is low in the west. Saturn is low in the east. Try and see both at the same time. Look 45 minutes after sunset.

News from the Net:
A Deep Sky Celebration…

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Marathon Weekend

Clouds are due to hang around tonight but this weekend is forecast to be clear!

Break out the charts and the scopes, find a good horizon. Lots of folks will stay up all night and make it a dusk to dawn event. I attended an area Messier Marathon years ago, but did not stay to the close of the event. Here is a Guide to this year's Marathon:

From Stargazer's on line Guide to the Messier Marithon
From Bryan Tobias, South Texas Stargazing Blog -An Astronomical Marathon
From Becky's weekly Skywatch column-Messier Marathon is this weekend!

A Note on Larry's weekly column, "The Night Sky":
Last Saturday's article did not run. Some snag at the local paper (they don't carry the article on line !!). It was in Wednesday's issue and the topic was the Webb Space Telescope. He is limited on the size of his article, so I researched it to get more information on this large orbiting scope scheduled to launch in June 2014.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A look at Tuesday night's Sky:

Starlog^100409

After reviewing the Charts at 7:30 pm, I scanned the sky above the trees and spotted the three bright stars still leading the way to Orion, high in the SW. Sky conditions were not the best, seeing was not good. Mars was bright, yellow/orange in the eyepiece -DOB. Mars is gibbous and shrinking: from 11.6 to 10.8 arcseconds in diameter this week. I could not focus in on any specific features tonight. Scattered Clouds began to form around Orion as I was focusing in on the belt of the hunter. I could not see Canopus, positioned low and hidden behind the trees in my horizon. As I waited for Leo to crawl into view, Orion fell farther west, behind the house and out of view. Saturn was floating below Denebola near the sharp end of Leo, above the trees and in the scope eyepiece by 9:30 pm. The clouds broke and the sky cleared. The planet was sharp and Saturn's rings are tilted only 3.6° from edge-on to us. They'll narrow further to 1.7° in May. The yellowish star was east-southeast and a single thumb width northwest of the faint star Eta Virginis. Venus and Saturn are moving closer towards each other and will pass in August of this year. By midnight, it was nearly overhead and a bit sharper in the eyepiece. At Midnight, The Big Dipper was far above the trees; looked at Mizar. Following the handle, I followed the arc to Arcturus in the east. I shut down and went in for the night.

Another Clear Sky is forecast Tonight:

Mars ends its retrograde motion. Since December 2009, Mars has been moving west to east. Today it will start moving east to west. Mars is now at its minimum distance from the star Pollux in Gemini, 7.5°.

News from the Net:
Possibility of Past Water on Mars Takes a Hit
Massive Repeated Explosions Halted Star Formation in Early UniverseIt’s Not Just The Astronauts That Are Getting Older

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Clear Sky....Binocular Viewing

The forecast is for "Clear Skies"!? After several cloudy nights we finally may see stars this week! The past weekend was nuttin but Clouds! I hope to do some observing this week.

I frequently observe the Sky using binoculars. Always have a pair handy when I set up the telescope. For all you Skywatchers who enjoy a view of the night sky with Binoculars, a list of binocular articles was posted on the March 5 Sky and Telescope Stargazing Blog. There is also a FREE chart download [on-line] available from Phil Harrington, called TUBA(Tour of the Universe Binocular Atlas). Only available for Windows! I added the charts to my files. The program is easy to use and can be useful in discovering and observing targets in the night sky.

Tonight under a Clear Sky: Ancient eye test relied on two stars in Big Dipper
Wednesday: Is Sirius the most luminous star in the sky?
Thursday, Mars halts its retrograde (westward) motion against the stars of Cancer today and begins moving east again.
Friday, The Big Dipper glitters high in the northeast these evenings, standing on its handle. You probably know that the two stars forming the front of the Dipper's bowl (currently on top) are the Pointers; they point to Polaris, currently to their left.
And, you know that if you follow the curve of the Dipper's handle out and around by a little more than a Dipper length, you'll arc to Arcturus (now rising in the east).
But did you know that if you follow the Pointers backward the opposite way, you'll land in Leo?
Draw a line diagonally across the Dipper's bowl from where the handle is attached, continue on, and you'll go to Gemini.
And look at the two stars forming the open top of the Dipper's bowl. Follow this line past the bowl's lip far across the sky, and you crash into Capella.
Saturday, Daylight saving time begins at 2 a.m. Sunday morning for most of the U.S. and Canada. Clocks spring ahead. So we loose an hour! Messier Marathon is this weekend!

News from the Net:
Taking The Pulse Of A Supernova – NGC 4490
Obama to Unveil "Ambitous" Plan for NASA

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Saturn and Asteroid 21 Lutetia: A March Skies Video

Tom's Astronomy Blog posted this youtube video, from NASA, on March Skies:







More March Sky information can be seen on video at the Astrocast.TV website: Our Night Sky

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Event Horizon: Moon-Antares, Canopus, Saturn

Greetings Skywatchers: Larry's Stargazing Event scheduled for tonight is sure to be cancelled?!Too many clouds in the sky, with a chance of rain Sunday, will keep us from seeing the stars this weekend but the clouds may break by Tuesday evening. Warmer weather is on the way.

If your sky is clear Tonight:
The waning gibbous Moon is near the head of the Scorpion. In the morning, look for the star Antares to the left of the Moon. Two craters that are easily visible on the Moon with a telescope this morning are Aristoteles and Eudoxus. Aristoteles and Eudoxus were named after the ancient Greek scientists Eudoxus of Cnidus and Aristotle, both who were students of Plato. Plato also has a lunar crater named after him. It's to the left of the craters Aristoteles and Eudoxus.
The Weekend SkyWatcher's Forecast: March 5-7, 2010 has more targets for you.
Sunday, Venus and Mars are 120° apart. Look for Mars high in the ESE at dusk. Venus is very low in the west at the same time. The two planets are moving closer to each other by about a degree each day.
Monday, Saturn rises just about five minutes before Venus sets. Soon you will be able to see both simultaneously at the planets converge. On what date will you first see them both at the same time? Venus and Saturn are moving closer towards each other and will pass in August of this year.
Tuesday: Have you ever seen Canopus, the second-brightest star after Sirius? In one of the many interesting coincidences that devoted skywatchers know about, Canopus lies almost due south of Sirius: by 36°. That's far enough south that it never appears above your horizon unless you're below latitude 37° N (southern Virginia, southern Missouri, central California). And there you'll need a flat south horizon.
When to look? Canopus is always at its highest point when Beta Canis Majoris (Mirzim, the bright star to the right of Sirius) is at its highest point crossing the meridian due south. Look straight down below.

Pluto was in the news the past week: I watched “Nova” this past week,Tuesday, March 2, at 8 p.m.; it covered Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “Pluto Files”. I learned more about Clyde and his discovery of Planet X. The Discovery of Pluto: Generally Unknown Aspects of the Story, Clyde Tombaugh (1906–1997) excerpts from a longer article written for the ASP’s Mercury magazine in 1986. Larry has discussed this “moment” many times at our meetings. The article contains more details leading to Clyde’s discovery: “the planet was a very faint, unimportant looking…star-like point”.

News from the Net:
GOES-P Goes to Space
Scientists Come to a Conclusion: Asteroid Killed the Dinosaurs
Astronomy Without A Telescope – The Hitchhikers Guide To The Solar System

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Three Bright Stars

The past two nights… the sky was clear. Conditions for seeing were not the best! The stars were out with Mars, Procyon and Sirius (still in a SE line across the sky) leading the way to Orion, high in the SW. I spotted the waning gibbous moon this morning at 7:30 in a blue sky high in the west. Forecast calls for clouds to return with a chance of rain this weekend.

Tonight if it is clear:

Use the Big Dipper to locate Polaris and Recognize the Big Dipper ... and Little Dipper
This is the time of year when bright Sirius stands at its highest due south right after dark. If you've got an 8-inch or larger scope, have you ever tried for the faint companion of Sirius? It's a tricky challenge and requires a night of excellent, steady seeing (being 10,000 times fainter than Sirius A), but it's now a good 9.1 arcseconds due east of the bright primary — wider than it's been for nearly three decades.
Sometime around 8:00 p.m., depending on where you live east or west in your time zone, the Big Dipper will have risen as high in the northeast as Cassiopeia has sunk in the northwest. Spring is on the way! Leo is easily visible in the east after dark. Leo is a sign of spring. When Leo is seen in the evening sky, one knows spring is not too far away. Look for the 1st magnitude star Regulus which marks the dot at the bottom of the backwards question mark shape known as the Sickle.

Friday, the distance between Mars and Earth is increasing. Mars is now 74 million miles from the Earth. By the end of March, the red planet will be 94 million miles distant. This 20 million mile change will cause Mars to dim a bit in our skies. Compare the brightness of Mars today with the view at the end of the month. Look at other nearby stars as brightness references. The stars Pollux and Castor in Gemini are just to the west of the red planet Mars.

News from the Net:
Gallery: Midnight Shuttle Rollout
MRO Radar Maps Extensive Subsurface Martian Ice
Follow Closest Flyby of Phobos in Real Time
Best "Blue Marble" Images Yet

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Counting Stars

Last night the sky was covered by a blanket of Clouds again. This morning was clear with a wanning gibbous moon in the west.
Tonight is supposed to be clear.
Mars and Saturn are 62° apart.
Over the next several months, watch as the distance between Mars and Saturn shrinks. In early August, Mars, Saturn and Venus will converge into a group less than 5° apart. Saturn is now rising before the end of astronomical twilight. Look for Saturn to rise in the east an hour and a half after sunset. Venus is now setting an hour after sunset. Moon still near Saturn, closer to Spica on March 2

Counting stars in your sky for the fifth year @ Globe at Night. GLOBE at Night is an annual 2-week campaign in March. More Star information for the month of March from Indiana University @ Star Trak. Becky's column was about viewing from the Cupola at the ISS.

News from the Net:
Using Gravitational Lensing to Measure Age and Size of Universe
Satellite Images of Chile Earthquake
Chilean Earthquake May Have Shortened the Length of a Day on Earth
Get Ready for the Next Shuttle Mission, STS-131
Water Ice Found on Moon's North PolePhoenix Still Silent as Martian Ice Recedes

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Sky full of Stars in March

The Clouds are back and we are still in an El Niño current pattern. Our local Country Scientist discusses the History of El Nino patterns in this week’s column. I found this Astronomy Blog posted in the Portal today: The Sky This Month – March 2010
Don’t just talk about the stars – Go outside and look at them! The month of March includes four bright planets, five moon & planet conjunctions, and a whole collection of open star clusters! Let’s hope that the clouds will break and leave us a few clear nights to observe these events.

If the Clouds Break Tonight:
The Moon is near Saturn. Look for the Moon and Saturn to rise in the east about two hours after the Sun sets.
Wednesday, This is the time of year when bright Sirius stands at its highest due south right after dark. If you've got an 8-inch or larger scope, have you ever tried for the faint companion of Sirius? It's a tricky challenge and requires a night of excellent, steady seeing (being 10,000 times fainter than Sirius A), but it's now a good 9.1 arcseconds due east of the bright primary — wider than it's been for nearly three decades.
Thursday, Sometime around 8:00 p.m., depending on where you live east or west in your time zone, the Big Dipper will have risen as high in the northeast as Cassiopeia has sunk in the northwest. Spring is on the way!
Friday, Before dawn Saturday morning, look south for the last-quarter Moon — with Antares to its left and the stars of Scorpius's head around it.

News from the Net:
Look for "Flood" of News This Week About Water on the Moon
What Can The (Dark) Matter Be?
Great Binoculars For Kids – Celestron 12X25 UpClose Binoculars
STS 130: Cool Night Landing Video from the Shuttle Strip
Chilean Telescopes OK, ESO, Gemini ReportSmall Asteroids, Bread Flour, and a Dutch Physicist's 150-year Old Theory