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Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

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johobbit
(@jo)
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Your viewing paragraph, stargazer, is why I would love to get out in the mid-evening to see those night-sky views: elusive Mercury, the sinking of Orion, bright Sirius, and ruddy Arcturus. Thing is, with caring for my elderly father now, I am quite weary by evening, and usually fast asleep by twilight. Yawn This does allow me to arise very early for my walk in the morning twilight, but hinders any nighttime sky sights this time of year and certainly in the high summer. Already I am sorely missing when the sun sets by suppertime! So, I will enjoy viewing vicariously through your posts. I can picture the sky scenes very well from your clear and lovely descriptions. Smile

Although I really appreciate trees, and don't care for when they are cut down, conversely I find, too, that they certainly can be a hindrance to seeing the night sky, so I'm glad you may have a bit of a better view, possibly. Yep, those grown leaves will really tell whether or no. We have 15 maples around our house, and when the leaves are fully out (next month), they very much obstruct clear sky viewing. ('Though I can step out beyond them to the field behind.) I often wish I could sweep the trees aside temporarily when I want to view from the house, then place them back in their spots after. Giggle  

Posted by: @stargazer

so I pulled up a chair and watched the stars come out.

Beautiful!

.


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Posted : April 23, 2022 5:12 am
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stargazer
(@stargazer)
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I haven't seen Mercury since that time last week due to clouds (and torrential rains Saturday). However, on Sunday morning I finally succeeded in spotting Jupiter in the brightening dawn. It was quite pretty, with the other planets and the Moon looking on.  Jupiter and Venus will be very close the next few days, with the Moon nearby on April 27.

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

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Topic starter Posted : April 25, 2022 5:57 pm
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johobbit
(@jo)
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 Thumbs up for Jupiter's visibility in the dawn's light, stargazer. Smile Such a sight, this line-up of planets!

This morning was another beauty for me: -7°C, frost covering the landscape, clear sky. It felt like a mid-late October morning! I left the house for my walk at 5:15, eagerly looking for the four planets again, and also hoping to catch a glimpse of the very thin crescent Moon low in the sky, beautifully completing that eastern view. I did not see the Moon for awhile into my walk, but when my view opened up, its striking sliver was near to the horizon, just rising out of minimal haze. I gasped aloud. What a sight! Add to that Jupiter, then Venus (the space between them now only the tip of my index finger apart), then Mars (I would estimate 12-13° away from the Moon), and Saturn (about the same ° away from Mars). Jupiter and Venus have a notable conjunction coming up this weekend, and, hurrah! it should be clear here early Saturday morning for viewing! Grin

Because I was out of the house even earlier than usual this morning, I was able to see the top part of Scorpius and the teapot of Sagittarius, both in the southern sky. A few mornings ago, the Moon was planted right in between them. Very pretty. And because it was still fairly dark in the west this morning, I was able to view the lovely Arcturus, fairly high up, in that direction.

Then I stood by the Old Silo for nearly 45 minutes, noting the time as each planet disappeared in the dawn's brightening glow (the sun crested the horizon at 6:21 this morning):

5:55 - Mars gone

5:59 - Saturn

6:18 - Jupiter

6:30 - the Moon

6:37 (possibly 6:38) - Venus

What a way to begin this day! Star Hoping for similar views tomorrow morning, although the even thinner Moon will be more tricky to spot. But I will try! Smile  


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Posted : April 28, 2022 6:15 am
The Old Maid
(@the-old-maid)
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It is so lovely to have the four planets just before dawn. 🌻 

Alas, little Mercury is out and about at sunset, and I have never in my life seen it. This past week I went outside again and again, and there is ALWAYS a cloud bank.

I have a feeling the only way I will ever see Mercury is on an airplane. Going in that direction. At the appropriate time of the year. Whenever that is.

At this rate, getting a rover/lander on Mercury would be sooner. 🥀 

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Posted : April 29, 2022 9:12 am
stargazer
(@stargazer)
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Posted by: @jo

Already I am sorely missing when the sun sets by suppertime! So, I will enjoy viewing vicariously through your posts. I can picture the sky scenes very well from your clear and lovely descriptions. 

I'm doing the same with the morning observations! I love your descriptions. For some reason it's often clear here in the evenings (so I've seen Mercury several times lately) but cloudy by morning.  Now, however, it's just plain cloudy for a few days.

Thanks for listing the disappearance times. I think they can be useful as you look back over your records; at this time of year the days are lengthening quickly and so the changes are apparent after only a few days.

It was cloudy here April 28, but the sun rose here at 0607 - 14 minutes earlier than it did for you. That likely accounts for the variations in our disappearance times. And kudos for following Venus after the sunrise!

Good luck spotting Mercury, @the-old-maid! It is at greatest elongation today and will start sinking back into the sunset, but hopefully you'll get a chance to see it over the next few days.

(In June, all 5 classical planets will appear in the dawn sky, though Mercury and Venus will be low. They'll even appear (east to west) in order of increasing distance from the sun).

 

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

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Topic starter Posted : April 29, 2022 2:18 pm
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waggawerewolf27
(@waggawerewolf27)
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Our own media has been telling us about a rare planetary phenomenon, when four planets line up to make a spectacular line in the sky. We are told that such an event hasn't occurred since 947 AD. They are saying that perhaps the planet Mercury will line up with this foursome as well. 

Down here, I have to get up at about 4.30 am, or later, per morning, to have a peek outside our back door, facing due East to the approaching sunrise. I didn't get to see it about Anzac Day, due to cloudiness. But one glorious morning last Sunday, 1st May, at about 4.45 am, Venus was almost "kissing" Jupiter, whilst Saturn & Mars lined up ahead of them, higher up in the sky. It was a rare conjunction which made me think of Tarva & Alambil at the top of a Narnian tower, in Prince Caspian. Shocked

I looked again this morning about 5.00 am, but Jupiter & Venus are moving apart, going their separate ways. 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1QDQp ... N3dGM/view

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Posted : May 4, 2022 6:54 am
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johobbit
(@jo)
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I hope you can get to see Mercury, @the-old-maid!
 
Posted by: @stargazer

(In June, all 5 classical planets will appear in the dawn sky, though Mercury and Venus will be low. They'll even appear (east to west) in order of increasing distance from the sun).

Very cool! I look forward to trying to spot all five in June!

waggawerewolf27, so very glad you were able to see the four planets this past Sunday! Grin What a thrill and a beauty this view is.

Posted by: @waggawerewolf27

It was a rare conjunction which made me think of Tarva & Alambil at the top of a Narnian tower, in Prince Caspian. Shocked

Truly! Grin  

After a few cloudy mornings (albeit still really lovely, 'though the planets were hidden by the cloud cover), this morning was clear. It is good I went out when I did (5:35), since Mars had nearly disappeared in the dawn's glow. However, for a brief time, I saw all four! Venus and Jupiter have swapped places, so the order is currently Venus, Jupiter, Mars, Saturn. The spread between Mars and Saturn was the greatest; between Venus and Jupiter, the least.

They disappeared at these times this morning (the sunrise was at 6:11) -

Mars - 5:45

Saturn - 5:48

Jupiter - 6:05

Venus - 6:15

Compare that to this past Saturday (the morning of the half degree conjunction between Jupiter and Venus), although I am thinking that I may be off by a bit on Mars one of these days.

Mars - 5:45

Saturn - 5:53

Jupiter - 6:10

I then had to get home, but no doubt Venus vanished within ten minutes after Jupiter.

Love these crisp mornings viewing any night sky I can! However, the dawn is quickly taking over, so that I can no longer walk in the mornings completely in the dark, boohoo. Well, I could, but would have to begin around 4 a.m., no doubt. That is a tad early for me. Giggle  


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Posted : May 5, 2022 6:14 am
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stargazer
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Glad you got to see the planets, wagga. I've seen some online pictures of the view from Down Under; the configuration is the same but the angle to the horizon there is much steeper than here in the north, where they make a shallow line across the sky rather than an almost vertical one.

I finally had clear skies this morning, for the first view of the planets since April 24.

Thanks for noting the times, Jo. For comparison, I went out at 5:17 this morning and twilight was already so strong (civil twilight began at 5:22) that only Venus and Jupiter were visible - and Jupiter was rather faint.  In the almost 2 weeks since I saw them, Venus and Jupiter have just about switched position relative to each other.

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

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Topic starter Posted : May 6, 2022 1:58 pm
stargazer
(@stargazer)
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Mark your calendars for the year's first total lunar eclipse, which will happen this upcoming weekend (the evening of May 15 into the wee hours of May 16). South America and the eastern part of North America have ringside seats for the whole event, while Africa and Europe will see parts of it before the Moon sets.

The Moon will be in the southeast, in Libra between Zubenelgenubi (one of my favorite star names!) and red Antares in Scorpius.

In my time zone (US CDT, GMT-5), the partial phase runs from 9:28 pm to 12:56 am, with totality lasting from 10:29 to 11:54 pm.

Much more about this appears here.

That article includes this observation about the experience:

I don't know how, but the loss of moonlight makes it feel quieter outside. Hushed.

I agree with this entirely, even when watching an eclipse from the city (which has more ambient noise than the country).

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

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Topic starter Posted : May 9, 2022 1:48 pm
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fantasia
(@fantasia)
Member Admin

This past week because I was discussing black holes with my son. I told him how there was one at the center of our Milky Way galaxy and he didn't know that. So then he asked what it looked like and I told him there weren't any pictures of it yet.

Not two days later, up pops a picture of Sagittarius A, first ever of our black hole! I just had to laugh at the timing. He was pretty excited to see it too.

I've also very much enjoyed the advances in space technology in the short time my kids have been alive. Fun to watch with them!

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Posted : May 14, 2022 8:10 am
stargazer
(@stargazer)
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That's great timing, fantasia! I also liked seeing that picture of our very own black hole (so to speak).  Here is an interesting article detailing the steps they had to take to get the image.

 

Conditions here were ideal for Sunday evening’s total lunar eclipse, the last fully visible from North America until 2025.  Clear skies, pleasant temperatures (about 65F/20C at beginning), along with no humidity and no mosquitoes.

The eclipse began in mid-twilight, with the Moon about 8° high in the southeast.  There are trees in that direction, so I walked down the street for a clearer view.  The penumbral shading and then first contact were clearly visible in binoculars.

As the Moon rose and the sky darkened, it rose high enough to be seen from the driveway and the deck, and we were able to set up chairs and watch it in relaxed comfort.  We had some guests over, and they enjoyed seeing it (along with Ryadian and her family).  As totality began, we also were treated to a spectacular ISS pass (nearly overhead).  We noticed about a half-dozen people watching the eclipse at our neighbor to the north’s house, so we also showed them the ISS.

This was a long, dark eclipse.  Orange color showed on the Moon by the time it was about half covered, and binoculars still showed some features in the eclipsed part.  Even with city lights, it was noticeably darker by the time totality began.

By mid-eclipse, the left (celestial east) side of the Moon was quite dark, with orange on the right side.  Fainter stars like Delta and Beta Sco, just to the lower left of the Moon, became easily visible, and the whole sky resembled a more-typical city sky.  Bright Antares, heart of the Scorpion, lurked near the tree line.

This is a lot more subtle than the busy rush of a total solar eclipse, and spectacular in its own way even though it lacks the glory of the corona.  Totality lasted 85 minutes, plenty of time to sit and relax and observe the subtle changes in color as time passed.  Just before totality, the lit part was on the right side of the Moon, and reminded me of pictures of reddish Mars with its white polar cap.  As totality passed, the brighter orange part of the Moon gradually swung around the bottom of it and then to the left, as a prelude to the end of totality.  Someone pointed out that the full moon typically appears “flat” (as it’s being lit from above) but this eclipse gave a more 3D impression of the solar system.

Most of our guests left after totality ended (it was midnight on a work night), so I watched the Moon emerge.  By now it was in the south and made a large triangle with Arcturus (above it) and Spica (to its upper right).  Last contact was shortly before 1 am, and again the penumbral shading was prominent both to the unaided eye and in binoculars.  Those fainter stars were no longer visible in the moonlight.  The sky remained clear for the entire event.

 

 

 

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

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Topic starter Posted : May 19, 2022 12:02 pm
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