Saturday, July 28, 2012

July’s Goodbye is in Aquarius

With a Clear Sky Forecast, we have a chance to catch a falling star this weekend. The Earth is entering a stream of debris from Comet 96P/Machholz, source of the annual delta Aquarid meteor shower. We might see 15 an hour. If you are up late scan the constellation Aquarius after midnight. Red Antares shines lower right of the waxing gibbous Moon Saturday evening. Before and during dawn Monday morning, Jupiter is closest to Aldebaran. They're 4.7° apart, with Aldebaran to Jupiter's lower right. It is finally August! Looking forward to Fall and some cooler temperatures! Wednesday, August 1: The Full Moon is tonight (exact at 11:27 p.m. EDT). The Moon is in dim Capricornus. Shining high above it is Altair. With summer in full swing, the Summer Triangle approaches its greatest height in the evening. Face east and look almost straight up after nightfall. The brightest star there is Vega. Toward the northeast from Vega (by two or three fist-widths at arm's length) is Deneb. Toward the southeast from Vega by a greater distance is Altair.

News from the Net:
NASA Making Strides with the New Space Launch System
The Most Epic Curiosity Countdown Clock
T Minus 9 Days – Mars Orbiters Now in Place to Relay Critical Curiosity Landing Signals
Japanese HTV-3 Berthed to International Space Station
Flags Still Standing at Several Apollo Landing Sites on the Moon
Fish in Space: Space Station Gets an Aquarium
Europe’s Plans to Visit the Moon in 2018
Mercury’s Many Colors
How Long Does it Take to Get to Mars?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Four Planets, Clear Sky

Friday night we had a Clear Sky! Let me clarify. This does not mean it was dark! Our City light pollution is taking away far too many dimmer stars and the Milky Way from my Backyard Observing!  Still, the constellations and those wandering stars were captured with Visible Astronomy Observing. Mars and Saturn are a bit too far in the West for me to observe. If you have a good horizon, find both these planets in the west this week with the coming moon phase. Jupiter and Venus are in a grand place in the sky just before dawn with the red star Aldeberan, the eye of the Bull Taurus.  I did see the following Constellations:
The Swan, Cygnus, with Albireo leading the flight of bright stars seen. Sadr the chest, Gienah, the wing and ending with the tail of the bird, Deneb. Catch the Summer Triangle by following Deneb to Altair to Vega. With more time and Binoculars you can catch the Coat Hanger too. The Milky Way can be seen in darker skies, somewhere. That river of stars can be observed between [435] Altair and [5350] Vega. Farther South was Scorpius, up higher with Antares in the center of FOV.The three stars leading this creature of night are the head and middle star- Dschubba. Graffias ("claws") and Acrab ("scorpion"). 

First Quarter Moon occurs on the 26th at 4:56 am Eastern Daylight Time

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Triffid and the Tea Pot

We will be hard pressed to find a clear sky this week. Lots of clouds and chance of rain all week will make it tough to put the tea pot in your FOV. But, like all forecasts, we may have a shot at clear skies before or after the clouds roll in! In my backyard, the Teapot is a bit higher now and it is easier to spot the many clusters and nebula that linger in and around this constellation. All I need is a clear dark night! Last week I was hunting planets. This week I am trying to find those planets among the clouds! I have yet to put Venus and Jupiter in my FOV early in the morning before dawn. Too many clouds! Mars and Saturn have not been seen for a while too. The rain is welcome…. just need a couple of hours in between.

 News from the Net:
Incoming! CME On Its Way Toward Earth
Dark Matter Filaments Bind Galaxies Together
Latest from Mars: Massive Polar Ice Cliffs, Northern Dunes, Gullied Craters
Design for a Long Duration, Deep Space Mission Habitat
Dawn’s Vestan Endeavour Exceptionally Exciting near End of Year-Long Super Science Survey
Fifth Moon Found Around Pluto

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Hunting Planets

Face the ENE at dawn, all this coming week Jupiter and Venus will dominate the early morning sky. Red star Aldebaran, will move close to Venus. And near by see the Hyades in Taurus, with the Pleiades above Jupiter. Aldebaran passes 1° to the right or lower right of Venus low in the dawn sky Sunday through Tuesday mornings. All the stars that are the Summer Triangle are moving higher in the night sky. Around midnight we begin to see the constellation Pegasus, low in the east. A first sign of autumn.
Last week, I observed an explosion of color that sometimes hid the movement of the stars the evening of July 4. Events from the ground made it difficult to focus on the constellations during the early evening hours. But visible in the evening sky among the rockets red glare were: Vega, Antares, Spica and Saturn with Mars in Leo. The forecast for the coming week shows some cloudy nights, but the period will bring us dark nights with a last quarter moon up on the 11th. Maybe a chance for a few clear sky nights?

News from the Net:   

Latest Panoramic View from Mars Rover 
Astrophoto: Milky Way Over Afghanistan
WISE Spies a Hunter’s Flame
Ping-Pong Particles: What the Higgs Does
Higgs-like Particle Discovered at CERN
What’s a Higgs Boson, Anyway?
1st Space-bound Orion Crew Capsule Unveiled at Kennedy
An Epic Crater Called Odysseus


Monday, July 2, 2012

Moonlight and Cloudy Nights

That Low that has been hanging around is moving out and a ridge of High Pressure will settle in soon. The coming week’s forecast is hot days and cloudy nights. You may not see the moon is Sagittarius tonight. Moon light will hinder any deep sky observing and the clouds will not help either. There is always a chance the sky may clear for a few hours during the night? I missed last month’s Group meeting. Problems with my left foot have slowed me down some. Staying off my foot has kept me from any serious Star Gazing lately. 
Tuesday, our full Moon shines in the southeast after dark. The head stars of Scorpius are up in the evening, with Antares to its lower left. The Big Dipper hangs straight down… by its handle. Catch the early morning planets Venus and Jupiter this week.  Break out the Binoculars Saturday night, the red long-period variable star R Draconis should be at its maximum brightness of about magnitude 7.6 this week. Check your charts where to look…. Scan North for Cassiopeia, the W stars, have just passed its lowest point.  Soon a steady climb will bring it higher in the north.

News from the Net:

ISS Expedition 31 Crew Returns Safely to Earth
What are You Doing With Your Added Leap Second Today?
First Light Image for NuSTAR
Meteorite Crashes Into London Cab