Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby Puddleglum » Jul 03, 2015 8:39 pm

I got out with The Mrs. last night to check out the conjunction, and try our hands at taking pics. Unfortunatly it was non too successfull even with a tripod.
One of the on going problems is the haze from the Canadian wild fires. We have had several days where we literally cannot see a single star, even though there is no cloud cover.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Jul 04, 2015 12:25 pm

The haze from the Canadian fires has been strong here all week. Even when it's not cloudy the sky is a milky white haze by day and almost opaque by night (last night we had a view of the just-past full moon; it was deep orange and greatly dimmed from usual. Vega, nearly overhead, was the only star visible). Last Monday, the sun was a similar deep orange color and dimmed, even when it was about 30 degrees high.

The conjunction still has eluded my view for the past 8 days.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Jul 17, 2015 8:52 am

Jupiter and Venus remain fairly close in the evening sky, though both are sinking down toward the sunset. If your sky is clear tomorrow night (July 18) check out the view to the west: Jupiter, Venus, the crescent moon, and the star Regulus all fit in a 7 degree-diameter circle. Read more here.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Aug 12, 2015 5:20 pm

The Perseid meteor shower reaches its annual peak tonight, perfectly timed for the dark of the night over North America. This "Old Faithful" of meteor showers can bring up to 100 per hour under ideal conditions. (Read more here.

People often independently 'discover' this event during outdoor camping trips and vacations.

I'll have less than ideal conditions, since I live in a metro area with lots of lights...not to mention mosquitoes. ;)) But the big deterrent is the clouds that are starting to roll in right now.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby johobbit » Aug 13, 2015 12:02 pm

Sorry to hear of your clouds, stargazer. Any success last night, at all, even through breaks in the clouds? Or weren't there any spaces? :P :( Did anyone else catch a glimpse of the Perseids?

Our night dropped to 9°C/48F last night ... a very refreshing temperature in which to view the Perseids. Lying still, one gets colder faster, so I pulled on socks, a neck-protector thingy, a sweater, and mitts, plus a cozy blanket over top all. My alarm went off at 4 this morning. The outdoor recliner was ready for set-up on the front lawn, so I bundled up and thoroughly enjoyed 1 & 1/4 hours of meteor viewing. As usual, some meteors were lighter; others were heavy-duty; all were impressive. And against the backdrop of a star-studded night sky, one could hardly imagine anything better.

One meteor shot right across the Pleiades, which was very cool. The Summer Triangle was right above me (I always find it larger than life ;)) and so beautiful). Some meteors were so long and bright that they left a residual light after they, themselves, had gone. One of these, in particular, lasted for 4 seconds. A long time for something like that.

I didn't count, but would say I saw, on average, about 1 per minute this morning. Sometimes there would be longer breaks without (5 minutes, maybe); other times there would be 3 in a half minute. It really varied. Many I could just catch with my peripheral vision. Some I looked at straight on when I just happened to be looking in the right spot at the right time. :)

Last night I had gone to bed earlier in preparation for arising before dawn this morning, but my husband, in the few minutes he went out to look, saw three meteors and 2 fireballs. Niiiice!

As dawn approached and the sky began lightening, I went for a 3-mile walk ... a great walk to conclude the Perseid shower, 2015. :D
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Aug 13, 2015 4:23 pm

Love your descriptions, jo! It brings back memories of watching this shower a few years (okay, decades ;) ) ago, from the edge of a small town rather than surrounded by the lights of 3.5 million people (as I am now). Some years would be crisp and cool, while others would be warm and humid with mosquitoes joining the festivities.

Our overcast has been low and complete - not to mention the soupy air (dewpoints around 70F make it 'air you can wear.'). Indeed, around 5 am this morning I did enjoy watching some spectacular lightning...but no Perseids.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby johobbit » Sep 02, 2015 2:36 pm

Stargazing with no light pollution at the edge of a small town ... sounds about perfect! :D

Cool about the grand lightning, stargazer! But :( that that same storm caused the lack of Perseid viewing.

Skyandtelescope wrote an informative piece on stargazing for September, culminating in the Harvest Moon's lunar eclipse on Sept. 27th! There is a short (7 min) podcast at the end that is also very helpful and interesting.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Sep 04, 2015 11:56 am

Sky and Telescope also highlights a series of impressive planetary conjunctions coming up in the next 6 weeks or so, involving Mars, Jupiter, and Venus with the Moon occasionally joining in. Alas, they're in the morning sky but at least dawn is getting late enough that even night owls like me can rise to see the action.

I forced myself out of bed around 5 this morning to see the sky. Summer pre-dawn observations are rather rare for me since it comes so early. ;)) But the coming of winter changes that.

Orion was already high in the southeast, with the Moon shining high near the Pleiades. But the eastern sky stole the show, with the Dog Star Sirius scintillating low and Venus, just coming into the morning sky, hanging like a torch in the trees to the left of Sirius. Venus is usually a stark white or even bluish in color, but its low altitude and the haze and forest fire smoke gave it a slightly reddish hue (nothing like that of Mars, however). Very pretty!
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby fantasia_kitty » Sep 22, 2015 3:10 pm

So what's the word on this supermoon eclipse on Sept 27?
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby johobbit » Sep 22, 2015 3:22 pm

I was just reading about that, fantasia. B-) ;))

And, btw, happy equinox tomorrow morning—ushering in autumn for the northern hemisphere and spring for the southern hemisphere. Autumn—my favourite season—is finally here!
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Sep 22, 2015 5:02 pm

I was just coming on to mention Sunday's eclipse to find jo has already linked a helpful article. Thanks!

This is the last one until 2018. Eastern North America and the Atlantic Basin are favored this time around. Locally, it'll be over at a very convenient 11.30 pm.

I stepped outside last night for a very average Iridium flare (magnitude 1.0) and saw a -3.0 green meteor at the same time. :)

I'm with you jo...my favorite season is here!
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby johobbit » Sep 27, 2015 5:16 pm

:D stargazer!

For those who have cloudy skies tonight, Sky and Telescope are offering a webcast of the live lunar eclipse. Our skies are back-and-forth here, but right now it's cloudy. Boooo! :P It's not as good as being out under the night sky and viewing it firsthand, but at least there is this online option. :)
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby Varnafinde » Sep 27, 2015 7:32 pm

In Oslo, Norway, there are clear skies at the moment (4:25 am). The eclipse got total fifteen minutes ago, and the total should last for another hour.

I can see it from my window at the moment. It's the first time ever that I've seen a total lunar eclipse.

Unfortunately I haven't got equipment to take a proper photo of it, though (so I'm not even trying). But it's fascinating. :)
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby johobbit » Sep 28, 2015 5:08 am

Fantastic that you were able to view the eclipse, Varna ... and for the first time! :D What a spectacular sight, eh?

I do believe ours was one of the few areas that was heavily-clouded. :(( :P I heard that JillPole's location was cloud-covered, as well. *weeps* (She is a few hours east of me.) But everyone else I heard from had clear skies, even as close as less than an hour away (our youngest son). So glad for those of you who had that great viewing treat! Gorgeous photos are showing up in my FB News Feed, and I'm loving it. I watched part of the eclipse via skyandtelescope's live feed, and while that was amazing, it just isn't the same as experiencing it first-hand out from one's own yard (plus it kept cutting out right near totality :P).

Here's to 2018! (*)

I'm looking forward to hearing from others here who enjoyed a great view!
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Sep 28, 2015 1:29 pm

Glad you got to see it, Varna! Your first one? Neat.

Sorry you missed it, jo. Glad you got to see it online at least. (I can sympathize with the clouds/clear skies nearby. Last April, I was clouded out but people in downtown Seattle, less than 20 miles away, posted some great pics of the eclipse by the Space Needle).

Our weekend was very clear but warm; highs Sunday came close to the record of 88F/31C. I was a bit surprised to see forecasts yesterday of an approaching cold front bringing clouds and rain by morning, threatening to interfere with viewing.

It was clear at dusk, and the eclipse began shortly after that. I watched it with Ryadian and her family from their house. The Moon was fairly low in the sky until totality started, and we had to dodge trees (and a few mosquitoes) to see it. But it was great sitting in our camp chairs out in the yard with binoculars, relaxing and watching the progress. We even had an Iridium flare early on.

Clouds invaded from the west as totality started, but we could see it through gaps in the clouds. The red wasn't as prominent as in recent eclipses; I think this one was darker. Clouds came and went the rest of the evening. Seeing totality through gaps in the clouds was actually pretty neat, a different experience than a totally clear sky. By the time the show wrapped up around midnight local daylight time, the clouds were thickening, and there was rain this morning.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby johobbit » Sep 28, 2015 2:46 pm

I can imagine viewing totality in the gaps would have been a kind of beauty all its own. B-) When the moon first began rising in the east, I was on my walk. The clouds were beginning to cover the sky, and in between the long clouds, and through them, I saw what looked like a massive white orb rising up. Which it was, of course. ;)) But, being close to the horizon then, it looked so very huge. Almost surreal. Beautiful! So nice you had some unique viewing of the eclipse, stargazer. :)
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