Blog Archives

Eyes on the Sky: March 2012

Eyes on the Sky: Feb 27 thru Mar 4

Ecliptic Occultation

The Moon occasionally occults – or covers – stars and/or planets from our point of view, on it’s journey around the Earth.  This week, on the night of the 1st into the morning of the 2nd, observers in northern sections of North America over towards Greenland may be able to spot this event.  If you are not sure if you will be able to see it, download the software Stellarium and input your location and local time.  For some, the Moon may have set by the time the occultation occurs; for those that can see the Moon and star but not the Moon covering it, watch how fast the Moon moves by the star through a telescope, if possible.

Also this week: Mars reaches opposition on the 3rd, and will get smaller as the Earth revolves faster around the Sun.  Nearby to the Red Planet are several brighter Messier galaxies in Leo the Lion, worth checking out in medium or larger telescopes.  Also discussed: Where to spot Venus, Jupiter, Mercury and Saturn this week.

Eyes on the Sky: Mar 5 thru Mar 11

Jupiter and Venus snuggle up

This week, the two brightest planets in the night sky, Jupiter and Venus, get closer each day until they reach conjunction early next week.  Watch this planetary pile-up over the next few days, and later in the week, spot both planets in the same field of view with binoculars.  As an added bonus, the speedy Mercury reaches it’s highest point above the horizon early in the week, making it an easy spot below the two brighter planets at evening twilight.

Also this week: The Moon moves by Mars early in the week, and sidles up to Saturn by Saturday; look for this to occur around midnight towards the south.  See the video for details.

Eyes on the Sky: March 12 thru March 18

Mars crashes the Messier party

The galaxies M95, M96 and M105 in Leo are far enough away from bright, easy-to-find stars that they can be a bit of a challenge to find. But this week, Mars literally passes right through their midst, and at magnitude -1 (brighter than most every star in the sky), it makes it a cinch to find them. Also, Jupiter and Venus are dancing past each other in the western, evening sky, unmistakably bright in some dimmer constellations. Look a bit towards the north though, and spot the constellation Perseus, with it’s treasure trove of open clusters visible in binoculars and small telescopes. And last but not least, Saturn has easily cleared the horizon well before midnight, so not is an ideal time to set your sights on the ringed planet.

Eyes on the Sky: March 19 thru March 25

Venturing through the Virgo galaxy cluster / catching a comet

The Virgo galaxy cluster is a “must-see” area of sky for any amateur astronomer looking to conduct a Messier marathon, which are popular to attempt around this time of year.  “Eyes on the Sky” points towards the “jump off point” to find several of these galaxies.  Swinging northward, Comet Garradd is still slowly making its way through our solar system, cruising past the pointer stars of the Big Dipper this week.  It is an easier target in a small, wide-field telescope, but can be spotted with binoculars in moderately light polluted areas with careful scanning.  Download and print this star chart from Sky and Telescope magazine to help you find the comet this week.

The star charts mentioned in the video:

  1.  Chart 11 :VIRGO, COMA BERENICES, CORVUS, SERPENS CAPUT
  2. Chart 11a: Close up of VIRGO galaxies

 

Eyes on the Sky: March 26 thru April 1

Venus near Nymphs / Spotlighting the “Leaps”

Though the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter is several weeks past, there will still plenty of fantastic views to in the western and southwestern evening sky this week thanks to those planets, the Moon and some nearby stars and open clusters.  And looking towards the north, an oft-overlooked section of the Big Bear gets some attention this week, offering up some interesting insights into stellar evolution, colors and distance as the “Leaps” lead to luminous lights in the sky.

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Eyes on the Sky: March 26 thru April 1

The Moon joins Venus in the sky, then Venus joins the Pleiades, and the whole sky looks fantastic by the 28th. Then turn northeast/overhead to the Big Bear, Ursa Major, where 3 sets of stars make tracks in the sky – and not from bearprints, either! The lovely colors of Tania Borealis and Tania Australis are the highlight this week – easily visible in binoculars everywhere, and naked eye from most areas. Also, Mars continues retrograding in Leo towards Regulus and Saturn sidles up to Spica.

Chocolate Mars with Leo

Addiction is  a bad thing. People are  addicted to anything mobile phones, T.V, video games,  cigarettes, internet, Facebook, drugs or even  chocolate. It always leads to something real bad. What about being addicted to the night sky?

Getting up late at night and going outside and gazing up at  the  sky is something to be done, especially as it is summer now. It’s so refreshing, clears up the mind and even puts you on  a high . You get the real calmness of the night, coupled with a light breeze going right  through your hair, your favourite chocolate with you……. this is a great moment ( ……. ). Experience it at 2:00 a.m.

However, you don’t need to be addicted to the night sky, you  can just be a casual night gazer. It’s free. People  don’t just gaze at something, they  don’t understand, so gazing should be coupled with knowing , understanding and appreciation. The night sky is there for that.  It’s just the factor of amazement,  The everyday amazement of such a beautiful  created sky is longing to be seen and  appreciated. Not just that it needs to be appreciated because it’s beautiful  but to think that the sky has been there with all it’s  majesty for so long and has been amazing billions of people around the globe and would stay a wonder. Obviously it is there for a perfect reason.

So what’s up there in the night sky?

Nous sommes au mois de Mars, nous devrions regarder la planète Mars. It’s great that Mars is there up for us to see.

Mars towards East

Mars is already in the sky towards the East as from the evening at sunset. If you fancy following Mars the whole night then  you would have to raise your head towards  the east and then follow it towards the west . Mars would drown itself in the western horizon at about 4:00 a.m in the morning. So, have your eyes up. If ever, during this weekend  you’re planning anything outside at night, or just get up from sleep at 2:00 am then visit mars on Leo’s  belly.

Towards the west at 2:00 a.m. It’s  great that Mars is there up for us to see.  (If you ever get up at night:)) Mars would be in front of you, if you face towards the west and look up at the sky. Mars is settled just above the constellation of Leo. It’s just as if Mars is on the belly of the lion while the lion is dozing off with its four feet upwards.  You don’t have to picture all this ,but it’s just so amazing to see Regulus and the other stars too.

Regulus? Now what is this? Regulus is the main brightest star in the constellation Leo.  Known also as the heart of the Lion.

Regulus - The Lion's heart

I still don’t find it?

At sunset , that is where the sun sets , toward the west. Look towards the sun. Then change your position to 90 degrees that’s the  East. Now look towards  the sky in this position a little later( about half or an hour later)  after sunset, you would see a bright yellow looking star, which doesn’t twinkle.  That is Planet Mars. If you look at it with a pair of binoculars you would see that is glowing red. So, have a look and give me your shout.

So if you are addicted in any way,  other than sleeping, Then go out  to see the night sky. Give me a shout if you find Mars.

 

Binoculars or Binoscope

Reading an article on beginners in amateur astronomy, I came to understand that my search for telescopes is not at the right time. Telescope will not allow you or put you on the night viewing passion, but rather not knowing its efficient use may also lead its place to the closet.

Usually it is advised for any requiring hobby to start on by buying this or buying that. I was rather astonished to the fact that most experienced amateur astronomers usual first time advice is to get familiar with the night sky, with the constellations and with the stars before buying anything. (As if they know, that once you get in this field then your aperture fever or drooling on the latest equipment never dies).

Therefore, I took the advice to buy a binocular first rather than buying the telescope. And in fact the next day, I went to buy my first binoculars. A 10 x 50. Explanation to what is this 10 x 50 is given in the following youtubes. I like this guy’s simple explanations.

But my astonishment found no bounds when you come to know  that binoculars are not only this size but can they be larger or bigger.

 

As to be said, the nerd notion was a bit less understood, so this post is an upgrade of nerdiness to be found in the amateur astronomy world. Browsing through the internet you find a lot but, which marks your interest may be only a selected few.

I regret the fact that there are others who call these people nerds or fools but I would rather call them enthusiasts.

You don’t even understand or need to understand the love they have for the night.

So, what do you say now, A good pair of Binoculars or Binoscope?

You want to buy a telescope?

One night it happened to me that yeah I have to buy a telescope so that I could have a look at the sky. It would be something that my children could use and see  a bit through the night sky. Perhaps this sudden  rage to buy happened by viewing  shot from the films where the there is a scene of a child viewing through a telescope and then the father calls him to sleep , I don’t remember the film though.Kinda want a help on that though.

So back to the subject I had to buy a telescope but  where to start about………(As I said previously said this blog is an absolute nerds guide to the universe. As such I googled a bit on telescope ( as I knew it is called a telescope) but again, it was a dead-end.

How can someone buy a telescope when one has not the least info on what to buy.

So, I don’t know how but it came up to me that telescope using and playing through should be a hobby for some people out there, obviously I won’t go to an astronomer to ask which telescope to buy , especially when I had spared about  Rs 1500 (about $50) to buy a toy for me and the children.

I am a heavy user of YouTube so first of all I youtubed  “Telescope”  in the Search block. And obviously  came up with Expertvillage to give me some ideas on what telescope to buy. It is somewhat there or perhaps somewhere else  that I learned about the word AMATEUR ASTRONOMY.

So I googled  “AMATEUR ASTRONOMY” and I got a few titles to choose.  And it is normal psychology to choose among the best and in my opinion I got to choose the best of all the amateur astronomy websites  in the world.  It is usual to see amateur astronomy links highlighted on the first google page but perhaps Rocket Roberts is the best of amateur astronomers that his oldy website is still appearing on the google page.

amateur astronomy search

Nevertheless to mention that google has saved a lot of people.

So google saved my day or the whole night cause I spent the whole night till 8:00 in the morning perusing  everything on Rocket Roberts website about telescopes.

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