Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Week 2012

Last minute shopping, dashing about getting things done over the week end has kept everyone busy! Jack Frost is due Christmas Eve….We do have a few Clear nights forecast ahead to try out that new scope! Merry Christmas to all and to all a good clear night.......

Monday,  Christmas Eve, will not be clear, we may get showers? We will miss The Moon, nearly full, Jupiter and Aldebaran early in the evening, the Pleiades is there, but hidden by the clouds.
Tuesday,  will be clear; we can view a Christmas conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter, with Aldebaran right nearby! Jupiter and the Moon are only a degree or two apart, Binoculars show stars of the big, loose Hyades cluster in their background.
Wednesday, the day after Christmas will be clear the Moon is lower left of Jupiter in the evening. The Moon is in the area of Beta and especially Zeta Tauri, the horn tips of Taurus.
Thursday,  the clouds come back! Our Full Moon is tonight (exact at 4:21 a.m. Friday morning Central Standard Time). The Moon will be in the top of Orion's dim club, just under the feet of the Castor figure in Gemini, if your sky is clear!
Saturday, as the year 2012 closes, the two leading asteroids, Ceres and Vesta, are still in good binocular range at magnitudes 7.1 and 6.9, respectively. Vesta is near Jupiter and Aldebaran, and Ceres is right between the horns of Taurus not far away. Locate them using Sky and Tel’s finder chart online. The light of the waning Moon will be less and less of an issue in the coming night! 

News from the Net:

Monday, December 17, 2012

Missed the Perseids; Winter is here!

Our strange and wondrous Atmosphere brought us CLOUDS! The Geminid Meteor shower was there, behind the clouds! No chance for us to count the shootings Stars. Winter starts next Friday, but it looks like our first few days of winter will include a mild Christmas. No Snow flakes here! The forecast does say we get in a couple of clear nights this coming week.

A few Constellations, Asteroids, Stars and Planets we can observe this week:
Orion stands centered between two bright lights this year. High above it during evening shines dazzling Jupiter (with its orange sidekick Aldebaran). A similar distance below Jupiter, Sirius rises around 8 p.m. (the time depends on your location), with its own sidekick, Mirzam. Sirius, just 8.6 light-years away, is the brightest star in the night sky. It's also the closest star beyond the Sun that's ever visible to the unaided eye from mid-northern latitudes.

The first-discovered asteroid, 1 Ceres, is at opposition Monday night. It's not far from 4 Vesta, which is also in Taurus along with Jupiter. Ceres and Vesta are now magnitudes 6.7 and 6.5, respectively. Spot them in binoculars near the horns of Taurus

The first-quarter Moon shines at the dim Circlet of Pisces, below the much larger and brighter Great Square of Pegasus early Wednesday evening.

Friday, winter begins in the Northern Hemisphere at the solstice, 5:12 a.m. CST. This is the shortest day of the year. Get up early and observe Venus and Mercury on a cold winter morning; then go hug a tree as the Earth realigns with the sun!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Few Frosty Clear Nights Ahead

The cold North Wind is due in tonight! Three nights are forecast: Clear and Cold. Time to pull on the long-johns and pull out the Scope to observe a few nights this week: Since Jupiter is just past opposition. Look for it shining near Aldebaran and the Pleiades. The asteroids Ceres and Vesta in Jupiter's vicinity are near opposition too. Vesta is in opposition tonight and has brightened to magnitude 6.4, Ceres 6.9. Spot them in binoculars. See the chart online. They're near the horns of Taurus. By 8 or 9 p.m. this week, wintry Orion is well up in the east-southeast near Jupiter. The Andromeda Galaxy, M31, passes the zenith in early evening for skywatchers this week!

If it is clear Sunday night, Jupiter's Great Red Spot should transit the planet's central meridian around 8:15 p.m. CST.

Tuesday night, The small Earth-crossing asteroid 4179 Toutatis comes close to Earth tonight, as it does every four years. Locate it creeping across the stars of Cetus and Pisces using at least a 3- or 4-inch telescope tonight through Friday night. Measuring 5 km in length, Toutatis is one of the largest known potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) and its orbit is inclined less than half-a-degree from Earth's. No other kilometer-sized PHA moves around the Sun in an orbit so nearly coplanar with our own. This makes it an important target for asteroid studies. Fortunately, there is no danger of a collision with Toutatis for hundreds of years. Radar observations should improve researchers' ability to predict the asteroid's trajectory even farther into the future. Goldstone will be pinging Toutatis from now until Dec. 22nd. Stay tuned for daily updates.

Thursday, if the clouds break, The Geminid meteor shower,often the best in the annual meteor calendar, should be at its maximum late tonight. And there's no Moon.

Friday, Jupiter's Great Red Spot should cross Jupiter's central meridian around 7:22 p.m. CST.

Star Gazing Note: Saturday’s TPML Event was cancelled due to cloud cover. It is too soon to have a any dates set for the New Year. They are in a discussion stage of having “Flash Astronomy Events” next year.

News from the Net:
Common Misconceptions in Physics
Curiosity at Rockfest
Seeing Earth from Space
Cosmic Bullseye
Uneven icy crust on Titan
New Star Trek Movie, May 2013
The Moon's inner crust

Monday, December 3, 2012

If the Sky Clears....

There is NO chill in the air, this first week of December to give us Clear Skies! Our forecast for observing this week is nothing but CLOUDS. We have no cold fronts coming down to push the SE cloud banks away! So, we take our chances this week as the moon goes to third quarter and the nights get darker.
I missed the Three Early Morning Planets Monday morning. Cloudy Skies! Looking Southeast, below Spica, before dawn you could find SaturnVenus is below the ringed planet and Mercury is still low in the morning sky.

Wednesday night Ganymede, the largest satellite of Jupiter, crosses Jupiter's face tonight from 8:25 to 10:17 p.m. CST, closely followed by its black shadow from 8:37 to 10:44 p.m. CST. In amateur telescopes, Ganymede's shadow will be much more obvious against Jupiter's bright surface than Ganymede itself is.

Thursday, Our Last-quarter Moon (exact at 10:31 a.m) it rises around the middle of the night tonight. In the small hours of Friday morning it climbs the eastern sky beneath Leo.
Find Jupiter and focus on the GRS. The spot is due to gross the large planet at 10:45 p.m. CST.

Star Gazing at the TPML: The event is set for Saturday, December 8, 2012 at the Observatory area starting at 7pm. We will keep our fingers crossed for a clear sky. But it does not look good! Today’s forecast calls for a Cloudy Sky Saturday night.

News from the Net:
Titan Shines, from Cassini latest photo
Vote for Curiosity: Time Person of the Year
Future Model Flies in Wind Tunnel
Plasma Jet in the Heart of Hercules
Brown Dwarfs may host Planets
No Organics found on Mars: Curiosity
Water Ice and Organics found at Mercury North Pole