Friday, December 1, 2017

1202Y2K+17 colder nights, darker skies?

The Leonids in November were missed or not very good here. Enjoyed the ISS pass: 6:15 WSW 52 degrees November 27. Split the wood for the fireplace, Old Man winter is finally getting here! Cold nights bring on sharper night skies. Drag out the decorations and get ready for the Christmas rush! The Geminid Meteors should present a good show on December 13 for those who stay up late and into the early morning hour to view some of the brighter fireballs. Our 8 planets are not in good positions to be viewed this month. However, the group on the hill will gather December 9 at TPML. Winter solstice: Thursday, December 21, 2017 at 10:28 am CST. Daylight is the shortest! Warm clothes and frosty nights to come. Keep looking up, follow the constellations and the planets……

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

1014Y2K+17 Finally, Fall Skies

Several storms have left a bunch of Trees and limbs fallen in the woods and creek, keeping us busy the past several weeks. Temperatures are trying to get cooler and the sky is trying to get crisp and clear at night. Summer keeps coming back between fronts. Venus shines in Leo early in the AM before dawn. Jupiter is rising in the East in the evening now in Virgo. Good conditions for the Orionid Meteor shower October 21st. The group on the hill will have one night on Oct 28th (International Observe the Moon). Enjoy the cooler nights and clear skies. We are looking forward to November nights.

Friday, September 15, 2017

0915Y2K+17 the end of summer

August brought the close of summer in my portal. The Solar Eclipse was not spectacular here but farther north….wow! Great photos and videos were posted on the net. Here is one from Oregon on Aug 21. September brought 2 Hurricanes! Harvey and Irma. Some wind damage with downed tree limbs here left by Harvey. Lots of cloudy skies and some needed rain. The big event was Adios Cassini on September 15. A decade plus of great runs in and out of the Saturn and her moons. I can’t wait for the next mission they send out there. Lots of great looks at the night sky following the planets and constellations. Fall is soon upon us on Friday, September 22, 2017 at 3:02 pm CDT… cooler nights ahead!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

0731Y2K+17 my summer portal

My portal seems to be closing. Trees are growing and more light pollution!  The past two months of June and July have been warmer and humidity is pressing down on us. We were lucky to get as much rain as we did before the heat wave moved in. Two planets, Jupiter and Saturn, were seen in the evening when we had clear nights. Sun spots on our nearest star were at zero several times this summer. Enjoyed the full Strawberry Moon! Our Asteroid spotters enjoyed recognition on Asteroid Day June 30th. In July, Juno gave us a close up of the Jupiter BRS. The followers of Jupiter now claim 69 moons! Wow!  Still following the planets and watching for the ISS passing into view.  August will give us the Perseid meteor shower zooming across a moonlit sky. Lots of info on the upcoming Eclipse August 21. We should only get 60 % and starting at 11:40 am. Our totality? will last just at 2 minutes starting at 1pm. Looking forward to September night skies.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

0517Y2K+17 My Portal

Gravity is beginning to affect my movements in my backyard portal. Population growth is beginning to interfere with my dark sky, as I watch the constellations and planets moving across my night sky. March and April have been busy with time constraints in my ability to make time and view the night sky. However there were a few items I should mention: Venus, Mars and the moon on March 1. Events on the TPML hill were March 18, and April 15. The Lyrid Meteor shower was April 22. Now that catches me up to the current month that includes these events: The Eta Aquarid Meteor shower May 4. A solar event on the TPML hill to view our sun during the day on May 13. Currently we are in solar Minimum, Forecasters expect the sunspot cycle, which swings like a pendulum between high and low sunspot number every ~11 years, to reach its nadir in 2019-2020. so good luck with that! Jupiter is King, now in Virgo during the night sky. Continue to watch the moon cross my portal.
Saturn is in Sagittarius in the early morning hours before dawn.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

0228Y2K+17 Heart set on flares

The month of February was warmer than usual! There were several planet gatherings just after sunset. Missed most due to clouds. February 15th, Mars and Venus in Pisces. Saturn rising very early in Ophiuchus/Sagittarius. Jupiter rose in the east after midnight, seen in Virgo. One good meteor shower this month was on the 26th. New moon, dark sky for the Delta Leonid meteors. Comet 45P seen by some near Altair, Feb. 10, 11 with binoculars, was not seen here. Too cloudy! The Group on the hill gathered Saturday, Feb 18 to view the sky, it was clear. Seeing the Earth from L1 daily by new satellite from NOAA is awesome. I put the website on my favorites. It is at: http://epic.gsfc.nasa.gov/. Since the news that these may be going away….we enjoyed several Iridium Flares this month! And more to come in March! This short month went by at light speed…………..

Sunday, February 5, 2017

0131Y2K+17 another New Year

Welcomed in the New Year; now the Year of the Rooster! We missed the January 3 meteor shower. If you have enjoyed the sightings of "Iridium flares, flashes in the sky, a new group of Satellites just launched, have different antennas that will make it impossible to view the Iridium flares in the future. As these newer Satellites take over, the flares will disappear over our portal. Our sun has started showing Zero - few sunspots, bringing in the Solar Minimum? Forecasters expect the next Solar Minimum to arrive in 2019-2020. Solar Minimum brings many interesting changes. For instance, as the extreme ultraviolet output of the sun decreases, the upper atmosphere of Earth cools and collapses. This allows space junk to accumulate around our planet. Also, the heliosphere shrinks, bringing interstellar space closer to Earth. We have been tracking the planets at dawn and dusk, when possible on clear nights. Jupiter was in Virgo and Saturn in Ophiuchus. Mars in Capricorn and Venus in Aquarius. Chinese New Year was January 28. Lots of cloudy nights with some clear cool nights thrown in. Warmer than usual!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

1231Y2K+16 Season’s Greetings

Winter Solstice came in hard on December 21 at 4:44 AM. We had our first cold blue northerner, it blew in December 19. The folks on the hill had their night sky event December 17 at the TPML. A couple of ISS passes lit up the night sky over our portal. We viewed the ISS go by in our portal and it was “awesome”! Bright as the planet Venus, moving across the sky. Never get tired of that event. The Geminids were December 13-14, but the bright moon hid a bunch from our sky. We observed Mars and Venus on occasion in the early part of the month. And we could see Jupiter in the early morning sky. The constellation Orion dominates the early cold night sky. The Holiday ends and closes another year of observing. The Universe is a vast and awesome place.
Looking forward to next year’s discoveries!     “To infinity and beyond”