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Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing  

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stargazer
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What an awesome sight, Jo! I enjoyed reading your report (and others) on the AMS site. (The morning sky this time of year is a treat in itself, but a fireball like that is even more special).

Reports of Northern Lights the past few nights had me outside last evening, but none were seen. But it was clear and crisp, with the Moon and Mars lighting the way. It definitely feels like autumn (clouds quickly moved in while I was outside and it was overcast by 0200 this morning).

Nice that you've seen Mu Cep, Narnian78. I have lived in the city so long I haven't tried looking for it in ages.

But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.

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Posted : September 30, 2020 1:02 pm
johobbit
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Sounds like a beautiful evening, stargazer! Maybe another night for the Northern Lights? What a sight they would be. I have only seen them a few times in my life, but will never forget the mysterious dancing beauty.

This morning on my walk there were no fireballs, but there was the nearly full Moon (tonight at 5:05 EDT) sinking amongst a huge cloud mass in the west. Gorgeous!

I did see a brief meteor heading into the east, and suspect that was an early Orionid. Lovely!

EDIT: Hundreds more have sent in reports to the American Meteor Society, so they have loads of data to study! And they added a compilation of video captures of the fireball (1 min, 2 sec):

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Posted : October 1, 2020 7:24 am
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johobbit
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This morning's walk was again beautiful. The sky was cloudy, with what I call 'puzzle clouds' ... a huge cloud mass that looks like it has been broken up slightly in jigsaw pieces. Giggle   But there were a few small breaks, and in one of those, behold! Mars and the Moon in conjunction. Really lovely!

And then in the eastern sky, Regulus was just above Venus, very close (from our earthly vantage point), indeed. Striking!

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Posted : October 3, 2020 8:27 am
stargazer
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I'm glad you got to see those conjunctions, Jo. Clouds here kept me from seeing them.

The weather looks awesome for next week, and I plan a few leaf-peeping trips that will end with campfires and stargazing sessions in some state parks along rivers or lakes.

But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.

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Posted : October 3, 2020 6:53 pm
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johobbit
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Posted by: @stargazer

The weather looks awesome for next week, and I plan a few leaf-peeping trips that will end with campfires and stargazing sessions in some state parks along rivers or lakes.

That is the best! Grin  

I just arrived back from my evening walk near my favourite 'Old Silo', barely east of our village. 'Twas a perfectly clear sky, so Saturn and Jupiter were lovely in the south. But one of my two best treats tonight was

1) seeing bright orange Mars rising in the east (it looks bigger and brighter than usual and this is why!)

and 2) I finally saw the Teapot (part of Sagittarius) with ease. I don't know why, but for a long time I have had trouble really pinning it down, but tonight it 'hit me between the eyes' (in a very good way Giggle ). I'm thrilled! It pours out right near Jupiter. What a sight!

 

 

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Posted : October 5, 2020 6:31 pm
johobbit
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Both morning and evenings walks are night-sky stunning. Only me and the sparkling glory in that majestic sight of the stars and planets and, this morning, the bright half Moon. I saw very orange and bright Mars rising in the east around 7:30 last evening (EDT), then starting to set in the west this morning, 6:30. The burning eye of Venus is always a treat in the dawn sky, with mighty Orion blazing its way in front of Sirius in the south. And then in the evening, Jupiter and Saturn are quite the shining pair in the SSE. The Big Dipper is turned on its handle now as it travels around Polaris. Cassiopeia is always fun to see with its distinct 'W' in the sky, and the Pleiades in the early morning was close to the zenith not too far from the Moon, which was directly overhead. All glorious!

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Posted : October 8, 2020 5:59 am
stargazer
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The weather this week has been perfect, so I've taken a couple of trips out of the city to look at the fall colors. The day usually ends with a campfire and stargazing session. Mars has been truly glorious - and even more impressive away from the city lights! This is the closest it will be until 2035, so enjoy it now!

Last night also featured a 40-degree-long meteor. It was not spectacularly bright but still fun to see.

But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.

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Posted : October 8, 2020 11:30 am
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johobbit
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That sounds amazing, stargazer. Indeed, this Autumn weather has been pretty much perfect. And with our early frosts, the colours of the leaves turning are brighter than in recent years: vibrant yellows, oranges, reds. Gorgeous!

And very cool about the meteor!

Speaking of which, I 'caught' another fireball this morning (6:35 a.m.). Initially, I wasn't sure if it was one, because in the final second or two, it disappeared behind some high evergreen trees close by, so I was unable to see that final flash. When I first saw the meteor, it was coming directly from Orion's area, heading eastward, and was very much like the previous fireball I viewed on Sept. 30 at 6:25 a.m. ... long, bright, slow-ish, except this meteor had a light yellow ball on the eastern end, whereas Sept 30's had a bright green ball at its western point. But the movement was very similar in speed and length. I reported this morning's to the American Meteor Society, and saw that other posts were pending re the same fireball at 6:35 EDT. Smile  

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Posted : October 9, 2020 7:26 am
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stargazer
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Wonderful that you got to see another fireball! Very exciting.

The skies have been quiet here, a highlight being the rusty color of Mars dominating the night (at least until Venus rises before the dawn).  With the sun not rising until 7.30 am or so (thanks to daylight time), those early-morning observations are more convenient than ever.

But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.

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Posted : October 12, 2020 6:04 pm
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Narnian78
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I saw Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn in my telescope last night.  Mars was in the East and Jupiter and Saturn were in the south. All three were bright, but Mars was the brightest. I always love seeing Saturn’s beautiful rings.  My old telescope performed quite well even though the mirrors are not perfectly aligned.  It was a pleasing sight. I liked it that three planets could be easily seen on the same night.  🙂

This post was modified 1 month ago 4 times by Narnian78
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Posted : October 14, 2020 2:01 am
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fantasia
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I've also been enjoying Mars. Grin I've been hoping to spot Mercury in the evening so I can show my kids, but it's just been too hazy. We did manage to get ourselves up in time to see a VERY bright Venus the other morning, so that's the majority of the plants that we can spot with the naked eye. Smile Even my three year old can pick out Jupiter which is highly amusing. Giggle  

I was hoping to watch the meteor shower tomorrow night, but it doesn't sound like the weather is going to cooperate to give us clear skies. Sad  

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Posted : October 19, 2020 9:46 pm
stargazer
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@Narnian78, Saturn was the first telescopic object I ever saw, at a public viewing party in the dead of winter. Even though it was *cough cough* decades ago, I still remember it vividly.

@fantasia, I love how your youngest can already find Jupiter. Right before Christmas, it and Saturn will be at their closest in hundreds of years - and it will be early in the evening so no need to stay up until the wee hours.

It's expected to be cloudy/snowy/rainy here for the rest of the week so I'll have to wait to enjoy Mars again.

But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.

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Posted : October 19, 2020 10:53 pm
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johobbit
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Yes, isn't Mars glorious?! On my walk in the evening, I see it higher now in the east; on my morning walk I see it in the west. Beautiful!

Posted by: @narnian78

I liked it that three planets could be easily seen on the same night.  🙂

Exactly, narnian78. It's wonderful in the evening looking east to Mars (now on level with the nearly full Moon), and then with a slight turn of the head, there are Saturn and Jupiter! And in the morning, viewing the red planet setting in the west and turning around 180°, there is the bright eye of Venus in the eastern sky.

Posted by: @fantasia

Even my three year old can pick out Jupiter which is highly amusing.

Love this! Grin   Star

Posted by: @stargazer

Right before Christmas, [Jupiter] and Saturn will be at their closest in hundreds of years - and it will be early in the evening so no need to stay up until the wee hours.

I was thinking this might be the case, as they appear to be getting closer and closer. What a Christmas sight that will be!  Grin

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Posted : October 29, 2020 9:28 am
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johobbit
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This morning's walk was amazing: the Full Hunter's Moon was slipping behind a glorious vast mass of altocumulus clouds

(not my photo, but verrry similar); I saw mighty Orion pointing back to Sirius off and on as the clouds shifted. It was coldish ('though in no way frigid) — -8C / 17.6F. On my way back east, Venus was its usual brilliant self (always a wonderful sight), but there was a bright star in the ENE that I could not nail down. It was sparkly, even with various colours, so it seemed. I went through the planets, but it would have been none of them, so I checked our planisphere wheel when I got home, and it was ... Arcturus. A beautiful sight in the dawn sky, with Venus to the upper right.

From Sky&Telescope:
Mercury rapidly emerges into dawn view in the later part of this week. By the morning of Wednesday November 4th look for it low in the east-southeast, well below Venus, about 45 minutes before sunrise. It has brightened to magnitude 0 by then and should be easy to see.

It is always fun to spot Mercury, and here it is again. Grin My walk is always within an hour and a half before sunrise, so I really look forward to seeing this sometimes elusive planet this week! @fantasia, I hope you guys can get out to see it!

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Posted : October 31, 2020 7:57 am
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Narnian78
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There is something about the autumn nights in watching the Pleiades rising in the east. I remember seeing them as a child and some of my friends called the group of stars the “tiny dipper” even though there were two other dippers in the sky.  I think at least fifty or seventy five stars are visible in a small telescope, and seven in binoculars (it is called the  “seven sisters”).  And of course the Hyades, which form the ”V” in Taurus, rise shortly after the Pleiades.  They are beautiful too. 🙂

This post was modified 4 weeks ago 2 times by Narnian78
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Posted : October 31, 2020 11:46 am
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