Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Jupiter and the Pleiades

Moonlight will dim the stars this week! Monday we were cloudy again and missed this morning event but as dawn began on Tuesday morning, we spotted bright Venus and fainter Saturn less than 1° apart in the southeast. They were lined up above the driveway, above the treeline.

Finding Jupiter and the Pleiades in the dark evening sky is easy, look SE for a bright star. The Pleiades cluster is near by.  Great map of the sky with Jupiter in Taurus on the November 27, 2012 APOD.
Tuesday, there was is a bright full Moon. This evening, look lower left of the Moon for Jupiter and orange Aldebaran. Look upper left of the Moon for the fainter Pleiades cluster (binoculars help), and far left for Capella.

Full Moon Thursday night, if it is clear after the Moon rises, spot Jupiter and fainter Aldebaran to its upper right, and Capella farther to its upper left. There is a chance to catch the GRS tonight. The Jupiter's Great Red Spot should cross Jupiter's central meridian around 11:00 p.m. EST.

As we move into December Skies, We can follow Orion as he climbs into the night sky.

The first Frost on the Roof was this morning. It was clear last night, let’s hope for a few more clear nights!

A few News items:
This weekend the International Space Station will turn itself to position ESA’s SOLAR instrument for a better view of the Sun. It will be the first time the Station has changed attitude for scientific reasons alone.
Biggest Black Hole Blast Discovered
Saturn’s Stunning, Swirling Cyclone
One Year on Mars

Monday, November 19, 2012

Perseus and the Double Cluster

During this week of Thanksgiving, check out the NE section of your night sky after dark. You will find Perseus near the W- Queen Cassiopeia. Perseus is a long broken V with two bright stars: Mirfak and Algol. Between the two constellations is the Double Cluster. Scan with your binoculars first to find the clusters, then set and focus your scope for a close up view of the open clusters.

The three planets this week are: Jupiter (magnitude –2.8, in Taurus) rises in the east-northeast in twilight, with Aldebaran to its right or lower right. Above them are the Pleiades. They all climb into fine view as evening advances.

Venus (magnitude –3.9, in Virgo) rises in the east an hour before the first glimmer of dawn. By dawn it's shining brightly in the east-southeast,

Saturn (magnitude +0.6, in Virgo) is lower left of bright Venus before and during dawn. They appear closer together every day. They're on their way to a conjunction less than 1° apart on the American mornings of November 26th and 27th.
Tuesday morning the Moon rolls into First-quarter (exact at 9:31 a.m.). The Moon shines high in the south in early evening, below the Water Jar of Aquarius.
After all the turkey and dressing you can handle Thursday evening, the Moon will be under the Great Square of Pegasus as the stars come out.  If it is clear Thursday night, Io disappears into eclipse by Jupiter's shadow, barely beyond the planet's western edge, at 10:20 p.m. CST. And Jupiter's Great Red Spot transits the planet's central meridian around 9:16 p.m. CST. Friday morning before dawn, if it is clear, look ESE spot Venus; below Venus is Saturn.

Meteor Shower Update: I was out in the cold, clear night last Friday and saw NO Meteors. The Leonid meteor shower peaked this past weekend as Earth passed through a stream of debris from Comet Tempel-Tuttle. Reports so far are consistent with a weak shower--no more than about 10 per hour. In the past, the Leonids have been known to produce fantastic storms of thousands of shooting stars. This year, however, Earth passed through the outskirts of the comet's debris stream, so the shower was relatively mild. [meteor gallery]

News from the Net:
Soyuz lands in the Dark
Can Humans live on Mars?
Change of Command: ISS
The Ultimate Mars Challenge
A New Panorama at Gale Crater from Curiosity
Spiders on Mars

Sunday, November 11, 2012

4 Planets and a Meteor Shower

This past weekend was a wash! The Event at the TPML was cancelled, again! There were too many clouds, too much wind and a chance of rain on Sunday. After the front blows through Sunday night, we should have a Clear Night Monday! Monday morning before sunrise, look below bright Venus in the east for the thin waning Moon with Saturn to its left. Binoculars are a good idea. Monday evening Orion is up in the east by about 9 p.m. now. Orion's three-star Belt is nearly vertical. Orange Betelgeuse is to the Belt's left and white Rigel is to its right. Just after dark, Jupiter is up in the east and Orion follows. Jupiter (magnitude –2.8, in Taurus) rises in the east-northeast in late twilight now, with Aldebaran to its right and dimmer El Nath (Beta Tauri) farther to its left. Above Aldebaran are the Pleiades. Mars is getting lower in the west, hope you have a good horizon.

This next week puts us in the new moon. Darker nights with North winds and chilly. We should have a few clear nights to observe this week. The forecast calls for more clouds Friday but I hope the clouds stay away next weekend…….The Leonid meteor shower, should be at its best in the hours before dawn Saturday morning. You may see about a dozen to 20 Leonids per hour. There is no Moon.

News from the Net:

Monday, November 5, 2012

Falling Back

This is “Fall” and the first full week in November. It is time to loose another hour of sleep! I loose that hour changing all the clocks back! Plus it takes several weeks to adjust to: Standard time… at 2 a.m. Sunday morning. Clocks "fell back" an hour.

It got warm here this past weekend and the clouds have hung around in the evening, with the moon light. Another smaller front is due in Tuesday and maybe we will have a chance to observe a few clear nights this next week. This is the time of year when the W of Cassiopeia stands on end (its fainter end) high in the northeast in early evening. The Planet Jupiter is a prime target for telescopes around ten pm. By the end of this week another front is due in and will bring chances of rain and of course…..more clouds. The Stargazing event at the TPML, set for next Saturday, is in jeopardy again!

News from the Net:
Asteroids can promote complex life
Rare Supernova Pair
New ESA Tracking Station
Curiosity Self Portrait