Monday, November 28, 2011

Orion in my FOV

Orion is up! With winter approaching, bright Orion rises into good view in the east-southeast by 8 or 9 p.m. now. Lots of highlights to view in this constellation. I am still waiting for the red star Betelguese to super nova! In its middle, Orion's three-star Belt is nearly vertical — as is always the case when Orion displays itself in this week’s sky. Dress warm and take breaks on the cold nights of Stargazing ahead. Do it early this week, more clouds and rain due in by Friday!

Watching College football over the weekend, the camera left the field and zoomed to an early crescent moon with Venus close by. WOW! This was a great scene in an early evening sky. Look for Venus shining well to the Moon's lower right in twilight. Use binoculars to try a last look for rapidly-fading Mercury, farther down in nearly the same direction. Hope you have a better horizon than I have from backyard.

Set up the scope early and dress warm when Jupiter's Great Red Spot crosses Jupiter's central meridian Monday evening, around 11:31 p.m. EST (8:31 p.m. PST).

Wednesday, Far to the lower left of the Moon sparkles 1st-magnitude Fomalhaut. It's due south at its highest soon after dark now.

Look for a First-quarter Moon Friday, (exact at 4:52 a.m. on this date). The Moon, high in the south at dusk, shines below the western side of the Great Square of Pegasus. It's between the Water Jar of Aquarius to its right, and the dimmer Circlet of Pisces to its left.

News from the Net:
Telescope Review: Orion SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Reflector
Incredible ‘Sideways’ Look at Mercury’s Limb
Astrophotos: Who Wants to Play Some Halo?
Astrophotos: Moon-Venus Conjunction Photos
Comet Curiosity? MSL Looks Like a Comet as it Heads Toward Mars
Video: Curiosity Rover Launches to Mars
Beginner’s Guide To Binoculars
Astrophotos: Jupiter Sightings

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Time to Feast on bright points of Light

Week four brings us a new moon, Thanksgiving and at least one clear night to explore and observe the Constellations. The Astronomy Group met last Thursday and will try to Stargaze at the TLP site again this week on Wednesday evening. Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving is forecast clear, so far. A couple of fronts will bring us more clouds to deal with this week.

During dawn Monday morning the waning crescent Moon points down to Saturn and Spica. On Tuesday morning, the three form a roughly horizontal line.
Comet Garradd continues glowing this week at about magnitude 6.5 as predicted, but it's getting low. Find it in the west with binoculars or a telescope right at the end of twilight. To locate the exact spot to examine, start from the head-star of Hercules (Rasalgethi). Keep the binoculars out and put the Andromeda Galaxy in the FOV. Moonless evenings this week are a fine time to get out the telescope and explore before the big feast with family!

It’s a New Moon Friday morning, (exact at 1:10 a.m. on this date EST).By the end of this Thanksgiving week, Saturday evening, as twilight fades, look low in the southwest for the very thin crescent Moon hanging to the right of Venus — a beautiful sight! They're 3° to 5° apart.

News from the Net:
Curiosity Powered Up for Martian Voyage on Nov. 26 – Exclusive Message from Chief Engineer Rob Manning
Deep Blue Astrophotography – Imaging Galactic Shells
Astronomy Without A Telescope – Mass Is Energy
NASA’s Curiosity Set to Search for Signs of Martian Life
Do-It-Yourself Guide to Measuring the Moon’s Distance
Neutrinos Still Breaking Speed LimitsVideo: Walking on the Moon is Hard

Monday, November 14, 2011

Too Cloudy for the Leonids?

With another Pacific front moving east toward the Hill Country, the clouds will be closing in the night sky. This will leave us with a few nights of NO OBSERVING!
There are a couple of Clear nights forecast….! But clouds are due back into the picture Thursday and Friday, this might give us another missed year for catching the Leonids!

The Leonid meteor shower this week, Thursday. November 17, late night until dawn the following morning. The Leonid meteor shower is famous. Historically, this shower has produced some of the greatest meteor storms in history – at least one in living memory, 1966 – with rates as high as many thousands of meteors per hour. These storms sometimes recur in cycles of 33 to 34 years. Most years, the Lion whimpers rather than roars, producing a maximum of perhaps 10-15 meteors per hour. Like the October Orionids, the Leonids ordinarily pick up steam after midnight and display the greatest meteor numbers just before dawn. This year, however, the last quarter moon will be shining near the radiant point of the shower in the constellation Leo. The unwelcome presence of the moon is sure to dampen the 2011 Leonid display. If you’re game, you can try watching from late night November 17 till dawn November 18, though the moonlit glare will subdue the 2011 Leonid meteor shower.

The Great Andromeda Galaxy, M31, crosses near your zenith in mid-evening if you're in the mid-northern latitudes. The exact time (sometime around 9 p.m. this week) depends on how far east or west you are in your time zone. Lie on the ground with binoculars, look straight up, and examine the sky just off Andromeda's upraised knee for a dim little elongated glow among the pinpoint stars. The two brightest points on the eastern side of the sky are Jupiter, high in the southeast, and Capella, in the northeast. The Last-quarter Moon is Friday this week, (exact at 10:09 a.m. EST). The Moon shines near Mars and Regulus Friday morning and Saturday morning.

News from the Net:
Leonid Meteor Shower Peaks – November 17-19, 2011
Saturn’s Moon Plays Hide-and-Seek With Cassini
Soyuz Launches to Station amid Swirling Snowy Spectacular
The Holidays Are Coming! A Beginner’s Guide to Telescopes
Seeing the Phases of Exoplanets
Another AMAZING Space Station Timelapse — with Aurora
Mars in a Minute: Is Mars Really Red?
Orion Spacecraft to Launch in 2014

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Voyage into week II, November

We are still trying to adjust to the time change over the weekend. After a weekend of cloudy skies, we may have a few clear, cooler nights ahead. Another front will move through Tuesday night, giving us a clear sky tonight!

Star Notes this week:
Three Planets appear in the November evening sky and the other two in the morning sky. Jupiter was the bright "star" to the lower left of the Moon Monday evening. The bright "star" near the Moon tonight is Jupiter again. Jupiter rises in the east around 5:30 p.m. NEA Alert… The near-Earth asteroid 2005 YU55 is passing closer to us than the Moon; closest approach is at 6:28 p.m. EST. This rock presents an exceptionally strong radar target. Watch for Venus in the early evening sky. Next to Venus is tiny Mercury! Mercury sits just left of Venus and can be spied with binoculars. As a bonus sighting, the bright star Antares, which marks the heart of Scorpius, is near Venus and Mercury. Mars is in the early morning sky, look near Regulus in Leo. Try and catch Saturn, near Spica. The Full Moon is Thursday night; the Moon shines between bright Jupiter on its right and the Pleiades on its left.

News from the Net:
Just In: NASA’s Latest Image of Asteroid 2005 YU55
Hoping to See Asteroid 2005 YU55? There’s an App for That!
Andromeda Dwarf Galaxies Help Unravel The Mysteries Of Dark Matter
Awesome Action Animation Depicts Russia’s Bold Robot Retriever to Mars moon Phobos