Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Feb 28, 2016 1:18 pm

How awesome you got to see that fireball, jo! I saw reports on the national news about that, including some of video. Most impressive.

Friday evening I was outside stargazing with Ryadian's father and caught a much smaller, less spectacular meteor (perhaps magnitude -2.0). Still fun.

And I did catch a view of the 5 planets in the morning sky once before Mercury sank back into the solar glare. The temperature that morning was a toasty -6F/-21C. (in contrast, we enjoyed a record high of 58F/14C yesterday, but the clouds moved in before dark).
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby fantasia_kitty » Mar 23, 2016 8:08 am

Well I made an attempt to see the penumbral lunar eclipse this morning. It was literally setting behind the neighbors house at the time it was supposed to start, so I was standing in the doorway jumping up and down trying to see and my husband was cackling at me. It may have been my imagination, but the moon did look maybe a touch more yellow instead of blue/grey, but that could have been all the dust being kicked up into the atmosphere thanks to the wind.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby fantasia_kitty » Apr 24, 2016 8:39 am

This is my new favorite space picture ever. Did you all see this when NASA released it a couple days ago?

Space Bubble!
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Apr 27, 2016 10:18 am

That is a very cool picture, fantasia. Thanks for sharing it!

The first transit (crossing) of Mercury across the sun since 2006 is coming up May 9. These are more common than the very rare transits of Venus (last in 2012 and next in 2117) but not as easy to see since Mercury is smaller and farther away. Proper eye protection - and a telescope - are a must; the best bet is too look for observatories or groups holding public viewing sessions (we attended one for Venus in 2012 but at the moment I can't find a local one for this event).

Read all about it here.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » May 25, 2016 11:08 am

Mars is at opposition this week (opposite the sun in the sky and at its best for viewing). This is its best showing in 10 years. I had a chance to see it last night away from city lights, and it was a very deep red color, in contrast to the yellow-white of Jupiter (even though the planets are about the same in brightness).

The International Space Station puts on a show for the Northern Hemisphere this week. Normally it is visible only when the sun is below the horizon from the ground but the station is still in sunlight; since it passes in and out of earth's shadow about 16 times a day viewing opportunities are limited to shortly after sunset or before sunrise.

But for a few days around the solstice, it never enters the shadow, meaning it can be seen on any pass during the night, even in the wee hours. This is true May 26-30 this year. Read more here.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby fantasia_kitty » May 29, 2016 7:33 pm

The storms have moved on long enough that my husband and I went outside last night and looked at Mars, both with the naked eye and telescope. :)

Our telescope can't focus enough to get a good view, other than a red blur, but it was very obviously red and bright. ;))
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » May 31, 2016 9:40 pm

Glad you got a chance to see it, fantasia. It takes a pretty good scope with good seeing to see much more than that red blob, but I think Mars is quite pretty right now just to watch with the naked eye.

This past weekend I got to observe the sky while sitting by a fire on the rocky shores of Lake Superior. The lake is large enough to present an ocean-like horizon, so we could see the Belt of Venus extending from the northeast to the southern sky. Mars and Jupiter were visible within half an hour after sunset, though before long fog began rising over the lake due to how cold the water is. Despite being dimmed at first by the fog, Mars was still a bright orange ember once it rose very high.

We were also treated to an excellent ISS pass; it crossed the Big Dipper and into the north, setting in the northeast over the lake. We had the chance to show the sky to a number of other people out on the shore, though by the time the ISS came we were down to just our group.

After that I returned to my campsite, which actually had a better sky since it was far enough from the lake that the fog didn't interfere.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Aug 10, 2016 10:33 am

Mid-August means it's time for the Perseid meteor shower (named after Perseus, the constellation they seem to come from). It's often 'discovered' by people camping or spending time outdoors on warm summer evenings (the shower favors the Northern Hemisphere due to Perseus being a northern constellation).

60 meteors or more may be seen each hour from a good dark location, though usually it is less. Many are bright. This year there may be a better show due to possible gravitational effects from Jupiter.

The peak is expected late Thursday night (North American time), but activity extends several days before and after.

The warm summer nights make observing easy, except for clouds of mosquitoes and humid haze that may obscure dimmer stars.

All 5 visible planets are in the evening sky at once this month, though Mercury and Venus are low in the dusk and Jupiter is sinking fast. I've succeeded in finding Venus low in the west but fainter Mercury remains elusive.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby fantasia_kitty » Aug 14, 2016 8:36 pm

It as cloudy Thursday night/Friday morning when the Perseids peaked. But I went out Friday night around 10pm with my hubby and we were not out long before we each saw one meteor a piece, and then the mosquitoes chased us back inside. :P
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby Gymfan15 » Aug 15, 2016 3:00 pm

So last week I went to Upper Michigan and this was the sky basically every night...

Image
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It was stunning...crystal clear view of the Milky Way and lots of different shooting stars. There was no moon, which made the sky even clearer.

These photos are my friends, because she had a SLR and I only had an iPhone, lol.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Aug 15, 2016 9:24 pm

That is spectacular, Gymfan! I love how the Milky Way is reflected in the lake.

I camped in the UP back in the late 90s and your photos remind me that it may be time to consider another visit. (My skies there were not as spectacular, due to the late sunsets of June and a nearly full moon, which was quite pretty in its own right. Your pictures also make me want to wax poetic about the glorious skies of the western US, with its thinner mountain air and lower humidity, but I digress).

The Perseid maximum was rained out here, though I did spend an hour outside being eaten by mosquitoes on August 13. No meteors then, but there was still twilight and city lights offering some interference. It was still an enjoyable time.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Aug 27, 2016 7:40 pm

I ventured out after sunset today to see an extremely close conjunction of Venus and Jupiter (read more here). This is an unfavorable approach for the Northern Hemisphere, with the planets low in the twilight; Down Under the view is much better.

It took binoculars to tease out normally-bright Jupiter just 0.1 degree to the lower right of Venus; it was hard to even spot Venus without optical aid (the bright sky, and the voracious mosquitoes, are to blame for that).

The planets will be close the next few days, though separating quickly as Venus slowly rises and Jupiter sinks toward the sun.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby David West » Aug 27, 2016 10:45 pm

Those are some nice photos, Gymfan! Your friend did a great job. I do a bit of astrophotography myself. It's so much fun! I've been too busy most of the summer to get out and do much, but hopefully that will change this fall! Here are a few of the astrophotos I've taken:

This is a 4-photo panorama of the lodge at Crater Lake.
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This is probably the best astrophoto I've ever taken. I took it last September at The Devil's Punchbowl deep in Northern California's Siskiyou Wilderness. It's comprised of something like 36 photos stitched together.
Image

This is another huge, roughly two-dozen photo panorama of the milky way. This one stretches just about 180 degrees across the sky. I took it last summer at Hart Mountain in South Eastern Oregon.
Image

I've got a ton more of these but I probably shouldn't bog down the message board with too many photos, haha!
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Sep 01, 2016 4:06 pm

Absolutely glorious photos, David West! I'm speechless. They are so very awesome.

(Have you submitted your photos to online sites like spaceweather, or to print media like Sky and Telescope?)
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Sep 29, 2016 5:06 pm

Several things to watch in the sky this week:

Mercury and the zodiacal light are rewards for early risers. The Northern Hemisphere is favored slightly for these events as they depend on the North's more favorable angle of the ecliptic to the horizon this time of year. Mercury is easy before dawn even from the city (if you have a good eastern horizon) while the zodiacal light is more elusive, though very pretty if you have both a dark sky and good horizon. I've only seen it a few times, while away from the city (usually camping), but it never fails to please.

The Northern or Southern Lights are also putting on a show tonight and maybe tomorrow. Again, a dark sky and clear horizon help here, and the closer you live to your hemisphere's pole the more likely you'll see them. See more at www.spaceweather.com.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby fantasia_kitty » Nov 04, 2016 7:25 pm

So what's the story on this upcoming supermoon?
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