Friday, December 4, 2015

1204Y2K+15 Dark Night Skies…Winter


Colder nights, darker nights, brighter stars! This equals good visual viewing in the cold winter nights ahead. However with El Nino still lurking in our atmosphere, could mean more cloudy nights ahead? Maybe a break, with clear skies the second week of this month……

With this forecast in mind, I look forward to viewing the planets Jupiter, Mars and Venus in the chill of the pre-dawn sky. December 13 look for the Geminids, moon should not hinder the bright streaks going across our sky. The relatively slow moving meteors arise from debris released from the asteroid 3200 Phaethon.   This is unusual, as most meteor showers come from comets.  The radiant - where the meteors appear to come from - is close to the bright star Castor in the constellation Gemini as shown on the chart. Winter begins on December 21, 10:38 pm. Winter solstice brings us cold grey skies until we march into spring thaw. Gear up with the folks on the TPML hilltop will try and observe on the night of December 5 with clear skies forecast. Enjoy the night sky with the holiday lights and festivities during Christmas.

Clear Skies………..

Sunday, November 1, 2015

1101Y2K+15 Dancing Planets

El Nino moves into November! Lots of clouds and they are forecasting a wetter month. This is the month I lose an hour, because we fall back and reset our clocks November 1. I hope to find that lost hour later next year. Venus, Jupiter and Mars continue to move about in the early morning sky. We caught sight of the star Canopus low in the SW horizon, before dawn. Saturn moves to the low horizon in the NW, evenings this month. The Leonid meteor shower is due November 17-18. Waxing crescent moon sets around 10pm, look to the NE after midnight, around 15 per hour if the skies are clear! Should be bright lit nights around Thanksgiving with a full moon the day before. Our friends on the hill at the TPML will have a go at stargazing Saturday night November 7. I continue to watch football on those cloudy nights, I will enjoy the holiday this month and hope to view the stars under clear skies.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

1004Y2K+15 October Skies

Finally some cooler, clearer nights! With several cold fronts moving into our backyard, the night sky should become easier to observe the planets and stars from our portals. The eclipse last month was a washout due to clouds above my backyard. We could see something going on the face of the moon, but a veil of clouds hung over the moon that night.

 A window opens this month to view the planet Uranus in the constellation Pisces. ( chart

The first weekend this month observe Venus, Mars and Jupiter in Leo before the sun comes up. Chart. Then they get real close to each other on October 16. Chart

The moon in third quarter, October 4, gave us great views along the terminator. Continue hunting those deep star objects this month in Andromeda, Pegasus, Taurus and now Orion.

Our friends up on the hill at TPML had their first Observing session for the fall season Saturday, October 3. Clear skies…….

Thursday, September 3, 2015

0902Y2K+15 observe the Moon and Planets…

September, let’s hope that El NIÑO will not bring too many clouds this month.
Venus and Mars can be seen in the morning, before sunrise in the east, Wednesday, September 9. At the end of the month on September 25 you can find Venus, Mars and Jupiter in the east an hour before sunrise. Scorpius is chasing Saturn this month, look SW in the evening.
Comet C/2013 US10 (Catalina) has steadily brightened and is currently brighter than 8th magnitude, making it visible with binoculars and long-duration camera images. Hunt this comet near the constellation Lupus starting September 11.
September 19th is International Observe the Moon night! First Quarter Moon is on the 21st, so get out and look at the terminator…..
On September 23rd, temperatures should begin to fall (fingers crossed) after the Autumnal Equinox arrives. The County Fair kicks off on this date. If you live near the fairgrounds, lots of search lights in the night sky. Should not matter this year, lots of moonlight, as the full moon is the following Monday.
The Super moon of Sept. 27-28th will be eclipsed by Earth's shadow, turning it a shade red visible the Americas. Mark your calendar! This total lunar eclipse will be visible from most of North America. In my sky, the eclipse will begin on the evening of September 27, 2015.
Begins: Sun, Sep 27, 2015 at 7:11 PM
Maximum: Sun, Sep 27, 2015 at 9:47 PM
Ends: Mon, Sep 28, 2015 at 12:22 AM
The eclipse will last for 5 hours and 11 minutes from beginning to end.

Good luck and clear skies……….

Sunday, August 2, 2015

0803Y2K+15 Dog days and nights of summer

After the July 31st Blue Moon, I’m doing less outside, moving slower in the heat. I’m catching up on Pluto from the net. Great photos after New Horizons passed this frozen minor-planet designation: 134340 Pluto. Our nearest star is heating up my backyard! Some of the grass is turning brown and we have short; warm nights. Getting ready for this month’s Perseid shower. It is supposed to be good, with a clear sky, in the early morning hours of August 12-13. Look NE starting at 11pm, my time. I can still find Andromeda galaxy with ease, off the box of Pegasus. In a different box, lots of great Baseball at the Astro diamond, as they rocket Homers over the fence. I am watching Saturn, in Libra, beam across the horizon at a good height to view after dark. The bright star Vega, in Lyra, is at Zenith. Hercules slumbers nearby. Move down to Altair, in Aquila and you can still see the Coathanger! August is a good time to look at Sagittarius and Scorpio from my location. Summer lingers on this month while waiting for September 23rd, two lunar cycles, when temperatures begin to fall after the Autumnal Equinox arrives. Enjoy the rest of this summer, school starts August 24!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

0702Y2K+15 Clear Summer Nights, Hot Days

The clouds of spring have lingered these first summer nights in July! We missed several sky events last month because of those deep cloudy nights. The climate has changed to summer showers. The buzz of insects and humid, hot air have brought on summer. The foliage around us is green this July. The Rivers are back to normal flow with tourists packing them at all the turns. A full moon opens this July and this month has 2 full Moons. The first occurs on the night of July 1-2, followed by a second on July 31. As the night sky clears, watch for Venus-Jupiter close separation early evenings, the first part of the month of July. July is the month for our New Horizons encounter with Pluto! Flyby is scheduled for July 14, read the news release dated June 30. July is a good month to start looking at Scorpius and Sagittarius from my backyard. Very easy to spot red star Antares! Find the “Coat Hanger” with my binoculars! Stop and gaze at Saturn (magnitude +0.2, in Libra upper right of the head of Scorpius). Lower left of Saturn is the fiery orange Antares, not quite as bright. Another Star to watch this summer is the Astro Star. It rises in the Baseball diamond this summer. And it was 239 years since the US declared Independence with the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Enjoy the Holiday weekend! Enjoy the Summer Night Skies……..

Monday, June 1, 2015

0603Y2K+15 Juno brings us closer to Pluto!

New Horizons spotted the two smaller moons of Pluto. Images of Kerberos and Styx were taken between April 25 and May 1, 2015 at a distance of roughly 90 million kilometers from Pluto.

 Juno, the beginning of summer. Solstice occurs on Sunday, June 21, 2015 at 11:39 AM in my backyard. Our North Pole tilts directly towards the sun, at about 23.5 degrees. Start working and resting in the shade and put on the sun screen! Baseball is in full swing. Summer nights bring the summer triangle and the planets Saturn and Venus should be number one and number two targets. Venus, will be high enough at dusk in the west for several hours. Venus in the scope appears as a "half moon" in the constellation Cancer. Saturn should be visible after sunset, low in the SE. Look South around midnight in the constellation Libra for great sightings of the ringed planet. The month of May brought an abundance of clouds and rain!  A full moon starts off the month, Tuesday, June 2nd!  Hard to see the stars in moonlight the first week. Now that we might have some clear nights ahead, our friends on the hill at TPML have gone to summer activities! They will gather on the hill June 20 for an Interstellar Space Game...Clear Skies.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

0502Y2K+15 May the nights be with you!

We continue to celebrate Hubble’s length of time in Space orbit and learn from the multitude of pictures taken from the darkness of our Universe! As the month of April moves into the warmer month of May, fields and forests are thick and green from rains. Thank you El Nino! Our friends on the hill at the TPML, once again had a cloudy night in April. Hope that May 9th will bring a clear night to search the stars and planets in scopes.

 For May Day, in the evening, Venus (in Gemini) shines directly between the horn-tips of Taurus, Zeta and Beta Tauri (Elnath). It's closest to brighter Beta. Jupiter (in Cancer) is heading west as the sun goes down, still the brightest target in the night sky. Saturn (in Libra) is coming on strong earlier each night in the east at sunset! May 23 is opposition for this ringed planet. Catch the bright Star Arcturus in twilight as the sun disappears. Near that bright star is a very neatly packed Globular Cluster, M3. More to the NE is one of the greatest Globular Cluster, in Hercules, M13!

May 6, watch the early morning night sky for the Eta Aquariid meteor shower. Look ESE several hours before sunrise. Forecast calls for 50 per hour in some moon light. Eta Aquariid meteors burn up about 100 kilometers (60 miles) above the Earth’s surface. The higher the radiant appears in your sky, the more Eta Aquariid meteors that you’re likely to see. The radiant soars highest in the nighttime sky just before dawn, so that’s why you tend to see the most meteors in the wee morning hours. But you don’t have to locate the Water Jar, or the radiant of the shower, to enjoy the Eta Aquarids. These meteors fly every which way across the sky, in front of numerous constellations

Three months until New Horizons catches up with Pluto. Stay tuned for a close up look at #134340 in the minor planet catalog.

Friday, April 3, 2015

0403Y2K+15 Green Planet, Dark Skies

Spring has turned the earth green! Trees, bushes, flowers and grass with lots of pollen floating in the air. This month starts off with a “Blood Moon” eclipse early in the morning Saturday April 4. Starts at 4am our time with a 75% coverage of the moon. If your sky is clear and you are awake, take a peak! The planet Jupiter is still the main evening target for the month, with Saturn coming in a close second, early in the morning after midnight. Saturday, April 11 is the evening event at the TPML. Luck will bring clear skies that night for the Group on the hill. By the end of the month a nice meteor shower will close out the month. The Lyrids, April 22 after midnight, look to the east for the star” Vega”, in Lyra. The quarter moon will have set for a darker sky. By the way April 22 is “Earth Day”. That great hunter, Orion is slowly setting in the west at sunset. Start at sunset and enjoy the bright stars in the west with scope or binoculars.
The folks who keep track of El Nino report that this event is beginning to form in the Pacific waters. This may mean more cloudy nights this month?

Monday, March 2, 2015

0302Y2K+15 spring forward…

I always seem to lose an hour of sleep, changing the clocks ahead March 8 at 2 am! I am just catching up on an hour lost from last fall! Maybe we can get lucky on March 14? This is a day to remember this century! On this day 3-14-15 @ 9:26:53 is the 10 digits of Pi! Good Luck and good fortune. Another date is March 20th, at 5:45pm CDT, spring begins!  Robins have been sighted! Spring is just weeks away!  Longer darkness in the morning this month. Stargazing starts later in the evenings! The Group on the hill at TPML will be hoping for a clear night Saturday, March 14. Telescopes ready!

Jupiter is my target planet this month, if we get some clear skies. Seems Winter wants to hang on for a while longer and the clouds are covering the sky…..a lot.

Monday, February 2, 2015

0202Y2K+15 Stars, Planets and Shadows

On a dark night there are nothing but stars in my Portal to the Universe. Looking for Planets in a dark night sky this month: Venus and Mars are close together February 7 just after dark. They are very close the evening of February 21st. Jupiter shines bright in the east after dark. Saturn can be seen after 3 am……

The group on the hill will try and set up with telescopes the night of February 14, at the TPML Observatory. Where is Pluto?  Today a distance of 1.30 AU and getting closer to the New Horizon Mission every month now. Mark your calendar for April 15! That’s when the closest encounter operation begins! Focus your scopes on: Scorpius before sunrise this month. After dark, Orion is still hunting the night sky. Along with Canis Major and Taurus. The Pleiades are always great in binoculars

Some good news on this cross quarter day: The springs are running again! The wood pile awaits the cold nights ahead. The dead trees in the creek call for action to end their time of standing tall.  It doesn’t matter if that rodent up north sees a shadow or not! We still have Six weeks until spring….

Sunday, January 4, 2015

0105Y2K+15 New Year, Old Planet, New Sky


Observing the Sky above and Earth Below… should be an interesting year. Finding a Comet is always a challenge. Comet c2014 Q2 Lovejoy - Here it is! The best comet of the winter; now high overhead for northern observers at about 8:30 local time in the constellation of Taurus, it might attain naked eye visibility (magnitude 6.0 or brighter). Track it here! Looking forward to the Pluto bound discoveries from New Horizon this summer. Hopeful prospects for some rain to end our drought! Maybe some clear nights to catch my favorite constellations in dark skies.

Start this month with a WEEKEND METEOR SHOWER: The annual Quadrantid meteor shower, caused by debris from shattered comet 2003 EH1, peaks on Sunday, January 4th. Because the debris stream is narrow, the shower is expected to be brief, producing a surge of 50 to 100 meteors per hour around 0400 Universal Time. The timing of the peak and the location of the shower's radiant favor observers in northern Europe. Outlook is good for January 3-9!

This month some of our solar system planets can be seen as they move across our night sky:
Jupiter dominates the evening sky can be found in Cancer-Leo. Mercury can be found at mid-month in the west after sunset in Capricornus. Look for Mars and Neptune only a few degrees apart, due east of the Red Planet; by January 18-19, the two planets will be visible in the same field of view of a wide field telescope. Saturn rises around 3 am. On Jan. 15, the thin waning crescent moon and Saturn will be incredibly close, making a great wide field photo-op! Watch for it in Libra. On this night the Group is scheduled to gather on the hill at TPML. Clear skies to all and to all a dark night!

Space Flight 2015: There are seven scheduled Space Launches this month. The ISS Expedition Crew 42 passes over every 90 minutes. View ISS passes at Heavens Above. Change to your location once you are on the site page.
Earth News: Carbon Dioxide study results in good news