Blog Archives

Eyes on the Sky: June 11 thru June 17

How to find EVERY planet in the solar system this week! Find Mercury, Mars and Saturn in the evening sky, and Neptune, Uranus, Jupiter and Venus in the morning sky.

Neptune& Uranus Finder Chart: CLICK HERE (5.4 MB)

There is also a wide-field and narrow-field chart available from “Sky and Telescope” magazine, here.

Pluto finder chart: CLICK HERE (6.8 MB)

More detailed chart to magnitude 14.5: Click here (opens new window to different website – the top two “TYC” stars identified are the same two “HIP” stars identified in my chart, above, and in Stellarium)

 

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Eyes on the Sky: June 4 thru Jun 10

Two Sun/Earth alignments, and plumbing the depths for Pluto

This week’s “Eyes on the Sky” details who is best situated to see the lunar eclipse of June 4, how nearly everyone worldwide can watch the Venus Transit of June 5 (or 6th, depending on your location in the world – also see links below last week’s video), as well as a really difficult challenge: PLUTO!  This 14th magnitude icy body revolves around our Sun at nearly 3 billion miles distance; can you spot this tiny, dim speck in Sagittarius?  This week’s video shows you how to learn the area it’s in, some fantastic clusters you can see easily even with binoculars from light polluted areas, and when to look to try and find the 9th plan…. errr – previously-the-9th-planet.  (See link to PDF finder chart, below).  Check it out, and “see what’s up” in the sky this week.

Pluto finder chart: CLICK HERE (6.8 MB)

Eyes on the Sky: May 28 thru Jun 3

Venus Transit: Transit lunar craters, transit history, and more

The Transit of Venus across the face of the Sun only occurs twice every 100+ years.  On June 5/6 (depending on where you are in the world; it will be on the 5th in the United States), the last chance humans will have to see the disk of Venus transit across the face of the Sun will occur.  Accurately calculating the times the transit occurred in the past helped astronomers hundreds of years ago to calculate the distance from the Earth to the Sun, also known as the Astronomical Unit (AU).  Because these transit viewings and calculations were so important to understanding the size of our own solar system, quite a few craters on the Moon have been named after astronomers of the past involved in these efforts.  This week’s video takes a look at some of these craters, astronomers, and prepares you for this last-in-our-lifetime transit.  Check it out, and “see what’s up” in the sky this week.

Lots of links about the Venus Transit

For times and dates of when you can see the transit, click here.

Eyes on the Sky’s solar safety video can be seen here, along with ways to make safe solar viewing equipment.

Charts for finding/viewing the Horrocks/Halley craters on the Moon: COMING SOON

Thread by Paulie about Venus Transit lunar craters at Chicago Astronomer site.

For a lot of wonderful information about the transit, see transitofvenus.org

Here’s how to safely photograph the transit.

 

Eyes on the Sky: May 21 thru May 27

Two crescents on the 22nd; Hunting in the Dragon

With the Venus Transit just a couple weeks away, the brilliant point of light in the western sky is sinking towards the horizon.  And given the recent solar eclipse seen by much of the Pacific area of the world on the 20th, the Moon is just past new, and pays a visit to the planet.  Check out how these two crescents can be seen easily from most any location.

Looking to the north, we find the constellation of Draco the dragon.  Though dimmer overall than many of the more prominent constellations, it’s location near the Big Dipper and the bright star Vega means that we can go hunting for some interesting objects with binoculars and telescopes.  For a star charts of the Draco region, click here and download Star Charts #1 and #6.  And don’t miss Saturn near a couple of brighter stars in Virgo, neatly framed in a wide-field telescopic view.  Check it out, and “see what’s up” in the sky this week.

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Eyes on the Sky: May 14 thru May 20

Binocular binaries in Bootes; May 20 solar eclipse

Last week’s video showed a number of double stars that can be spotted in the “ice cream cone” shaped constellation of Bootes, the Herdsman.  This week there are more double stars to see there – all of them easy, and all can be seen naked eye or with binoculars.  Check out these great color-contrast objects this week.  And on May 20th, an annular solar eclipse will occur, and many in the western United States will have a chance to view parts or all of it.  Be sure to see the week’s “Eyes on the Sky” for when to view it, and how to view it safely (DO NOT look at the Sun directly during the eclipse!).  Wishing you clear and dark skies (well, except for the eclipse)!

You can find more information about the May 20 solar eclipse on NASA’s website.

View the solar eclipse safely by making a simple pinhole solar viewer.

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Eyes on the Sky: May 7 thru May 13

Eyes on the Sky: May 7 thru May 13

Mars and more Messiers; Bootes doubles up

Mars makes moves heading out of Leo starting this week, but not before it gives us one last pointer to the Leo Triplet of M95, M96 and M105.  Faint galaxies all, but worth attempting if they have been difficult to find previously for you.  If that challenge is a bit too much for your skies, take a whirl back over to Bootes, and see “double” with some double stars lurking in the Herdsman.  Wishing you clear and dark skies!

Eyes on the Sky: April 30 thru May 6

Eyes on the Sky: April 30 thru May 6

Venus at brightest; a celestial time trip(let)

Venus will be taking center stage in about a month when it transits across the face of the Sun for the last time in 105 years.  But it manages to steal the spotlight by outshining everything else in the sky except the Sun and the Moon.  Learn how to spot its phases with a a telescope, or catch the brilliant planet’s dazzling glow near a fairly bright star in Taurus, which will look quite dim in comparison.

Later in the week, the nearly Full Moon glides by Saturn and Spica.  These three objects are vastly different distances from each other, and contemplating the time differences of light from each is a pretty cool exercise to consider.  Use a telescope to spot Saturn’s rings.  Wishing you clear and dark skies!

Eyes on the Sky: Apr 23 thru Apr 29

Eyes on the Sky: Apr 23 thru Apr 29

Luna splits Beauty and the Bull; an eye on Cor Caroli

Early this week, the Moon splits some well-known star clusters, and visits the brightest planet.  Don’t miss the interesting take on earthshine, as the time it takes for light to reach your eye from the Moon really can vary by several seconds, even while looking at the same Moon!

Close to overhead this time of year just south of the Big Dipper, and therefore visible from most any location for stargazing – even in cities – is the small constellation Canes Venatici, which harbors some great objects that can be spotted with simple binoculars or small telescopes.  Cor Caroli, the star named after England’s Charles 1, is a central highlight of this week’s video.  Wishing you clear and dark skies!

Moon and the Parachute Conjunction

There is so much blabbering about Conjunctions nowadays in the astronomy field that I thought my contribution should be there too. During mid-march 2012 you would hear about the Jupiter Venus conjunction, then at the end of the month came the Moon, Jupiter and Venus conjunction. And nowadays  Venus and Pleiades conjunction are making the headlines. (Hope I’ll be posting on these conjunctions) But I am here today with my moon parachute conjunction.

A few days back I went biking after a long pause.  But I didn’t even think that  I would  get this exquisite view of this “conjunction”. After a ride you just want to take a pause, but if you see something remarkable, you just forget the tire-some ride. I had to fumble around quickly for my mobile to take these shots.

 

What seemed peculiar about these parachutes (there were two) were that they were motor driven. I don’t even know what they are called ? Motorized Parachutes?  Or What?

And where was this?

The view was awesome.  This is the view of the Port Chambly Villas & Hotel at Baie du Tombeau. A man made paradise in a natural paradise.

These photos could be considered as the worst in pixels, but personally I liked them. I am not a photographer, neither  an amateur photographer , but I think I do aspire to do some amateur nature photopraghy and  astrophotography later. ( Hope this realizes in the future.)

However, I would always invite any positive criticism to do  better.

Eyes on the Sky: Apr 2 thru Apr 8

Eyes on the Sky: Apr 2 thru Apr 8

The planet-spectacular, “Planet-acular”!

There are four (count ’em, four) naked eye planets visible in the evening sky this week, and three of them are near some interesting types of stars.  See Jupiter and Venus in the early evening and Mars and Saturn nearly all night long. A couple of these planets are joined by the Moon, the planets themselves contrast nicely with some spectral class “B” stars, and now is the time to get a jump on the necessary equipment for solar viewing, with the Transit of Venus approaching in early June. There’s good reason to starting thinking about appropriate solar equipment now.  AND… the Moon offers up some “shadowy” treats of it’s own – and many of these sights can be seen in very small telescopes or (sometimes better) with binoculars.  So get outside this coming week and see what’s up!

 

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