Monday, October 29, 2012

Jupiter climbs higher this Week

As we near All Souls Day this last week of October, Jupiter is easily seen climbing higher as the night darkens for all the Halloween goblins. Jupiter (magnitude –2.7, in Taurus) rises in the east-northeast shortly after dark, with Aldebaran to its right. Above Aldebaran are the Pleiades, View the “Seven Sisters” in your binoculars this week.

Monday our Full Moon (exact at 3:49 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time), rises at dusk in the east and will light up the night sky. Moonlight part of this week will make it hard to see any deep sky objects in a scope!  In a telescope Jupiter's Great Red Spot (pale orange-tan) crosses Jupiter's central meridian around 11:32 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time tonight.

Wednesday, The Halloween Moon, waning gibbous, rises around the end of twilight. ThePleiades are above it. Once it rises higher, Aldebaran sparkles is below it and bright Jupiter shines to its lower left.

News from the Net:
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The Dragon departs from the ISS
Dragon has safe Splashdown
This Week's Skywatcher's Forecast
Hurricane Sandy heading for East Coast
Deflecting Asteroids with Paintballs
Hurricane Sandy turns to Frankenstorm

Monday, October 22, 2012

Missed the Falling Stars

We observed a dim Halley's Comet back in 1986. Every year in mid-to-late October, Earth passes through a stream of dusty debris from Comet Halley, and the pre-dawn sky lights up with a pretty display of shooting stars. Our count this year was Zero. There were too many clouds this past weekend to observe. Most observers said that the 2012 Orionid meteor shower was underwhelming. Even during the peak on October 21, the meteor rates never climbed much above 20 per hour. Our forecast is cloudy for the coming week! We are still an a weather transition period with weak cold fronts that bring on the cloudy skies! With cooler weather on the way, we may have a few clear nights ahead this weekend. The Moon will be brighter as the first-quarter Moon was this past Sunday (exact time at 11:32 p.m. EDT). The Moon shines in the south to SW during the evening. If the sky is clear in your backyard, here is your Skywatcher's Forecast for the coming week:  Lots of features on the Moon!

News from the Net: 
New Crew to ISS Launched

Monday, October 15, 2012

New Moon, Maybe one Clear Night

The latest front has passed through and the Stargazing Event at the TPML was cancelled last Saturday night. We now have at least one clear night forecast for the end of the week ahead, maybe! With some partly cloudy skies ahead, step out in the backyard with Binoculars and a small scope to observe:

Jupiter rising in the east in Taurus. Look for that red star Aldebaran.  The W shape of Cassiopeia is in the northeast after dusk. It stands up by 9 or 10 p.m., depending on your location. This is another chance to view the E.T. cluster.  A scan of the area with Binoculars will catch many open clusters in the FOV. Here is another opportunity to put the Andromeda Galaxy in the cross hairs. Pegasus is up by 10pm, so find the galaxy and put it in your FOV.  Monday is the New Moon. (exact at 8:03 a.m. EDT).

At the end of the week, the annual Orionid meteor shower should be getting under way in the hours before dawn Saturday morning. You might see 10 or 20 Orionids per hour during that time of night for the next several days. There will be no moonlight. The shower's radiant point is at the top of Orion's Club, which doesn't rise high until the early-morning hours. Friday night is supposed to be clear but will Saturday?

News from the Net:

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Fifth Planet, Jupiter in Taurus

Sky Alert: Unwelcome Clouds this week! The current forecast for this next week does not look good for observing the night sky. Clouds will dominate our sky as this current front comes in from the North West. Those who have clear skies, here is a sample of what you can see:

This is a good time to record Jupiter’s 4 moons movements back and forth around the planet. Jupiter's four large moons Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto (now known as the Galilean moons) can easily be seen.
That large, bright rambling star, with the four Galilean moons, will be up by 10 pm. You will get a chance to see the Great Red Spot a few times this week. The GRS will appear on the Planet Wednesday at 9:54 pm our time. One last chance this week, on Friday: the GRS moves across Jupiter 11:47pm our time.

Venus is in Leo and is still the brightest star in pre dawn hours. Catch the moon passing near by the first couple of mornings this week.

For you Asteroid hunters, next Saturday faint asteroid 371 Bohemia will occult a star in the Beehive in Cancer. Sky and Telescope has a helpful chart for locating the event.

A Night Sky Note:  There is a Stargazing Event at the TPML this Saturday. One of my favorite stars is Aldebaran in Taurus, only 65 LY away and waiting to SN….. Happy 127th Birthday Neils Bohr:  A reminder from the basic physics I took a long time ago in a place far, far away… a model of the Atom.

News from the Net:
Mercury is full of Sulfar
Venus has cold upper atomosphere
Cassini's latest Titan Fly-By
Curiosity at work on Mars
Cubsats launched from ISS
Curiosity set for the first Scoop
55 of Space Exploration-Video
Two Stars do short-orbit tango around Milky Way Black Hole
Helix Nebula turns Blue in new image
The Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder - Video

Monday, October 1, 2012

Welcome October Skies

We finally have cooler nights on the horizon. This week the Moon is slowly going into the last phase… by the end of the next weekend. I did see a few clear nights forecast in the coming week! Sunday night the moon was full and very bright. It was your chance to see the GRS on Jupiter. With a Telescope ready by 11:30 pm. the Great Red Spot crossed the central meridian at 11:39. Good luck if Jupiter is up high over your horizon. Sky and Telescope has a handy transit time calculator. Wednesday morning, just before dawn look east: Venus is close to Regulus, binoculars will separate the star from the glare. In a telescope’s FOV, Venus is a gibbous disk just 16 arc-seconds in diameter. Wednesday evening: Catch the Pleiades left of the waning gibbous Moon late this evening. Late Thursday evening, around midnight, look for Aldebaran below the Moon. If you are up late after midnight, Ganymede slowly disappears into eclipse by Jupiter's shadow! Follow the moons of Jupiter this week: the planet is in Taurus from late evening until dawn.

News from the Net:
Skywatcher's Forecast October 1-7
Curiosity at work on Mars
Finding water on Mars
Parallax effect of Venus Transit 2012
Vesta's deep grooves
Evidence of ancient stream bead found on Mars
Detail map of Ganymede made by Amateur Astronomer
Sharpest image of Pluto taken from earth
Debris in Space threatens ISS, may require maneuver 
Crescent moon in a martian sky