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Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby Narnian_Archer » Feb 20, 2012 6:51 am

I'm on the other side of the world than most of the people posting here, but I noticed several people were talking about two very, very bright "stars" in line or semi-in line with each other being planets...the thing is, I also noticed them there in the sky the other night, and I was sure they were satellites. I'm wondering if it's possible that I may have actually seen the planets Venus and Jupiter, even if I'm on the other side of the world? That would be so cool! :) :)
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby Puddleglum » Feb 20, 2012 9:18 pm

Narnian_Archer
I would venture to say you were probably seeing the very planets you mentioned. where are you located? If anywhere near Australia I think that be about right. Do you have access to any starcharts for your hemisphere?
One easy way to know a satellite is if they are moving. Very few are what we would call stationary, and non that are visible with thew naked eye.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Feb 21, 2012 1:57 pm

It certainly sounds like Venus and Jupiter to me as well.

(Edit: this bright, high appearance of Venus (best in the Northern Hemisphere) can surprise even veteran stargazers, as a writer blogs on skyandtelescope.com).

Ithilwen, I suggest a star chart as well - nowadays online versions are available at sites like heavens-above.com or skyandtelescope.com. These have the added advantage of including planets.

I've been visiting my brother and his family, who live far from city lights. It's nice to see Orion in a dark sky again, and the Milky Way in the same area. We've also seen a couple passes of the ISS and an Iridium flare. And late the other night, the Northern Lights made a guest appearance - not terribly spectacular, but still nice to see. They were white only, low in the north, but with stars visible through them and clouds silhouetted in front of them. Can't wait for more!

(Check out this video, posted by another Minnesota starwatcher, showing the Northern Lights the same night I viewed them. (Watch for the meteor in the first few seconds). My view was not nearly so good, alas, but it's fun to look forward to bigger and better displays as we approach solar maximum).
But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Feb 25, 2012 2:04 pm

I found an article on skyandtelescope.com that I wanted to bring to the attention of NarniaWeb's stargazers:

When Venus is bright and well-placed like this, it is visible in the daytime. If you know exactly where to look, it's almost easy to find. The problem usually is that it's a tiny white dot in a big blue sky - and once you've seen it, the sky seems full of dancing white spots while you're searching. ;))

But on days like today, the nearby Moon points the way to Venus, making it easier to find, even in broad daylight. So if your sky is clear, check out the article and give it a try! (And don't forget to enjoy the view after sunset).

Venus During the Day
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby Puddleglum » Feb 26, 2012 8:43 pm

stargazer

Thanks for the tip. I will have to look tomorrow.

Before I forget. Have you heard anything about a comet being visible? I had a father at camp this weekend who mentioned it.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby Narnian_Archer » Feb 27, 2012 11:44 am

Puddleglum, wow, that's so cool! Yes, I'm pretty sure I saw the planets, although I'm not really near Austrailia...I'm in Russia :D

stargazer, I love seeing Orion in the night sky! Here where I live I can see it best in winter, but I love to keep track of it as it moves along the sky all throughout the seasons. :)
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby Puddleglum » Feb 27, 2012 5:57 pm

Narnian_Archer

My most humble apologies for a my geographical error. (Doffs hat humbly).
I should have realised the difficulty in seeing the same night sky in the southern hemisphere, and concluded wrongly. It is any wonder I graduated school at al #:-s
Might I inquire where you are located? Looking up places on mapes helps this doddering brain of mine (-|
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Feb 27, 2012 8:15 pm

The other night I had the pleasure of a 'satellite triple feature' - in the space of about 30 minutes I had a -4 Iridium flare, a high pass of the Chinese Tiangong 1, and a -2.7 pass of the ISS. And the Moon was near Venus as well. All in all, lots of fun!

Have you heard anything about a comet being visible?


I suspect the camper's father might have been thinking of Comet Garradd - a magnitude 7 (binoculars or telescope) fuzzball high in the northern skies.

While it's not really a naked-eye object, it's circumpolar (never sets) for those of us in mid-northern or higher latitudes. The linked article includes a finder chart. Check it out now, while the Moon is still a sliver! (I've not seen it yet).

Also, try spotting Mercury low in the twilight after sunset, way below Venus (finder chart). It's the planet's best evening appearance of 2012.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby Puddleglum » Feb 28, 2012 10:19 am

I will have to try looking for Mercury tonight, if possible. we are hearing about nasty weather moving though.
Tried looking for Venus during the daylight hours yesterday. Must have been looking in the wrong place though.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Feb 28, 2012 12:32 pm

Sorry for being unclear about that opportunity to see Venus in daylight, Puddleglum. While that planet can be seen during the daylight from now until late May (or so), using the Moon to point the way only works on certain days about once a month. So while that chance (Februay 25) has passed, keep an eye to the skies for additional opportunities later this spring. :)

Ditto on that nasty weather. Anything from 1 inch plus of heavy rain, sleet, or 12+ inches of snow, depending on where you are.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby Puddleglum » Feb 28, 2012 9:28 pm

Quite alright stargazer. I placed the website on starcharts on my favorits list to keep up on sights to watch for. Hopefully my Troop will have a desire to go for their Astronomy merit badge some time.

Just got in with the young wiggle a little bit ago. Three inches,and still coming down, Looks like an early rise to shovel, so I better shove off to bed soon.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby johobbit » Mar 02, 2012 10:34 am

Puddleglum, how cool you saw the International Space Station! I find it a special thrill when a man-made object crosses paths (from our standpoint) with a natural, God-created orb.

Our dear Wiggle, do you know of the site heavens-above.com? You put in your location there, and you can access all sorts of specific info, including predictions for when the ISS will pass over your area, Iridium flares, among others.


Such wonder we miss when we fail to look up once in awhile.

'Tis very true. A group of girlfriends I 'hang out' with sadly don't have an interest in the night sky, so often are curious when we head outside on an evening and I immediately look up, as is my wont. I begin to tell them about what I'm seeing, but they quickly lose interest. :( Still, they're good friends, so I won't give 'em up just for that ;), although it never ceases to amaze me how some folk simply aren't interest in the glory of that ever-changing and fascinating vista above us.

Bella, I might have mentioned this to you before, but Ithi, take note too, that we have found Guide to the Stars—a planisphere—to be an invaluable resource ... so very useful, containing a wealth of night sky info on a very portable object. (In catching up on previous posts, I see, not surprisingly, that others have mentioned these resources as well—the star chart and heavens-above, as well, of course, as the fascinating and informative skyandtelescope.)

I have yet to look at the online star charts, but do like that they include planets.

stargazer, the view of the night sky at your brother's place must be awesome. And how wonderful you saw the Northern Lights! As well as that 'triple-feature'. :D What a treat! The video you linked to gave me the chills, and, around the one-minute mark, reminded me when we lived up north and were driving home from town to our little country house, only to see a magnificent dancing red sky in the north. At first, we thought it was a major fire, but then realized the stunning spectacle was the Northern Lights. Wow!

'gazer, thanks for that "Venus During the Day" link. I hope to catch that sometime this spring. I have yet to see Mercury, as the western sky is hidden by a number of trees and a few houses, but the nearest schoolyard should provide clear viewing on the next cloudless night.

Jupiter and Venus continue to be so beautiful in the sky together with the moon, and then ruddy Mars in the eastern sky, with Orion's belt pointing to Sirius and Saturn visible in the east a bit later in the evening. 'Tis the most wonderful time of the year ♪ ♫ for gazing in awe at the glorious night sky. (*)

*misses Shadlowlander popping in here*
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Mar 03, 2012 10:01 pm

A group of girlfriends I 'hang out' with sadly don't have an interest in the night sky, so often are curious when we head outside on an evening and I immediately look up, as is my wont.


Ditto! For as long as I can remember, I've always checked the sky when I go outside, day or night. Imagine my surprise, years ago, when I learned that most people don't do that. ;))

(Of course, it can work the other way. I remember the time a friend came in to the house and asked why I wasn't outside looking at the Northern Lights. She'd noticed them before I did).

The Red Planet Mars comes to opposition tonight - meaning it's roughly opposite the sun in the sky and thus visible all night. It's also when it's biggest and brightest in the sky too. For Mars this happens roughly every other year, but sometimes it's much closer and brighter (like in 2003) than other times (this year it's about as far away as it can get). Still, it shines at about magnitude -1.2 and is worth checking out as that reddish orange light below Leo.

Too bad it's overcast here...but Mars will be fairly easy to spot for the next couple of months.
But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby Puddleglum » Mar 04, 2012 8:59 pm

Went out for supplies tonight. I could have walked for miles without so much as a torch, the moon was so bright. It's not even full yet.
I did have the oddest thought cross my mind, (that does happen at times), while walking back to the wig-wam.
I recall someone telling me of the time Sherlock Holmes, and Dr. Watson went on holiday, and decided to go camping. After they had had their evening meal, and finished having a pipe by the fire they turned in. Later that night Holmes woke Watson, and told him to look up and explain what he observed.
Still groggy, Watson exclaimed, "Well I observe the vastness of space, with the constellations, and planets. The Milky Way, with it's many stars, to great in number to count. I realize the greatness of al this, and the insignificance of man on this but tiny mote floating in infinity."
Holmes lay there silent for a moment. Then excaimed," Watson, you idiot. Someone has stolen our tent."

Enjoy the night sky. But be careful of those random thoughts. Good Night.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby johobbit » Mar 06, 2012 2:35 pm

stargazer wrote:Still, [Mars] shines at about magnitude -1.2 and is worth checking out as that reddish orange light below Leo.

For some reason, I have troubles easily recognizing Leo, and am determined to get that down pat this season.

Mars is so beautiful now. I like its ruddy look. Speaking of a reddish tinge, I saw Mercury last night :D, as we finally had a clear evening in the west. What a sight to see high in the west Jupiter and Venus, then way down below, and a tinch to the right, Mercury. I brought my binoculars with me, hoping to spot Uranus near Mercury, but could not. I'm asking for a stronger pair of binoculars for my birthday in May, but if our youngest son were home, I would have 'dragged' him to the schoolyard, along with his telescope, to hopefully spot this 7th planet from the sun.

:)) at our Marshwiggle's Sherlock/Watson funny!

A later EDIT: On my walk, in the moon's glare tonight, I think I saw part of Leo ... the triangle. There is that shape in that constellation, yes? Directly below it was Mars, and to the near right, the bright moon.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Mar 07, 2012 4:36 pm

You're right, jo, the hindquarters of the Lion are a triangle (currently Mars is below it). The easternmost star of that triangle is technically called Beta Leonis and has the popular name Denebola, tail of the lion (Deneb = tail + ola = Lion).

Two great reasons to keep an eye to the skies this week:

- Two of the night sky's brightest objects, Venus and Jupiter, continue to draw closer together night by night. They'll be closest March 12-13, with Venus passing just 3 degrees north of Jupiter. (For Northern Hemisphere observers, this is about the best evening appearance Venus can have in its 8-year cycle).

- Two large solar flares mean a good chance of Northern (or Southern) Lights tonight or tomorrow night. Auroras could be seen as far south as Iowa or Pennsylvania (around 40N) or even farther south. Even with a big bright moon outside, check it out!
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