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Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Feb 16, 2015 11:29 am

We haven't spotted Comet Lovejoy since January, largely due to the weather (either cloudy or quite cold when it is clear). The comet has faded somewhat slower than predicted and may still be visible to the naked eye in dark conditions. It's moving northward, approaching Cassiopeia, and is now circumpolar (never sets) from my latitude (45N).

A sight that's much easier to see comes over the next few days, when bright Venus passes close to Mars in the southwest sky after sunset (as seen from the Northern Hemisphere). The two are within 2 degrees of each other for 9 days beginning February 17, and will come so close that dim Mars may be lost in the glare of blazing Venus (closest is 0.4 degrees on February 21. Read more here.
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 » Feb 21, 2015 7:43 pm

The Mrs., and I were road tripping to see the offspring at the University, and we caught a rather stunning view of Venus, Mars, and the crescent Moon. I will try to get her to show me how to put it on the machine here for you to see. I mentioned before I am still learning these gadgets for star shots so I hope it's not too bad.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Feb 23, 2015 6:16 pm

Looking forward to seeing that shot, Puddleglum! Glad you got to see it.

I was clouded out for the close gathering of the Moon, Mars, and Venus last Friday, but did see the planets paired up the next night, with the moon now looking down on them from above. Very pretty!

The Sky and Telescope website has an article about the pleasures of keeping an observing journal. It doesn't have to be just astronomical stuff; it can include weather, personal or local events, anything you want. My own experience has shown me that reading past entries can help memories of special events (such as stargazing with NarniaWebbers) really come alive.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby Puddleglum » Mar 02, 2015 9:20 pm

Ok. I have tried to do the copy/paste stuff with this gadget, but it's beyond my meager abilities :-\ Even the Mrs. says she cannot help :-\ :-\ So if anyone knows how to get a photo off a computers files, and on this page, please help :-s
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Mar 07, 2015 9:26 pm

Puddleglum, it's probably best to post your pictures on a photo-hosting site like Photobucket, then link them here using the url tags.

Comet Lovejoy is closing in the constellation Cassiopeia right now and remains visible in binoculars. Due to the moon and clouds I haven't looked for it lately but will try it once the big round night light rises late enough (by next weekend) and if the clouds permit.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Mar 14, 2015 9:43 pm

Announcing, about a week after that last post, that we (Ryadian's father and I) were successful in spotting Lovejoy in binoculars last evening. Its proximity to Delta Cas made it a fairly easy target despite city lights and trees in the foreground (it never sets here, but it's still pretty low in the sky around midnight). There is a map and more info here.

The 3rd in a series of 4 total lunar eclipses comes up in a few weeks, the morning before Easter (in the Americas). It's centered in the Pacific so those on the West Coast of North America (as well as New Zealand and the east half of Australia) are best situated. Even on the US west coast it sets around the time the last partial phase ends (on the east coast it sets before totality begins). There's a general visibility map here.

Unlike most total lunar eclipses, where totality can last an hour or more, this one last just minutes - 5 to 12 minutes depending on which definition you use. So it will look a lot like a really deep partial one.

The last in the series comes September 28 and is centered over the Atlantic.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby Varnafinde » Mar 21, 2015 3:50 am

Norway had a partial solar eclipse yesterday - north of the mainland, on the island of Svalbard, it was total, but down in Oslo it was only 90 %. (Shows some of the distance between those two places as well, doesn't it?)

At Svalbard the viewing conditions were good - in Oslo it was raining. :(
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Mar 22, 2015 7:19 pm

I was wondering if you'd had a chance to see it, Varna. Thanks for the comments.

The Twin Cities happens to be near the 90% coverage line for both the 1979 and 2017 total solar eclipses, but unlike this week's event it's fairly easy to drive to the line of totality. The 1979 event came in February and I remember a number of comments to the effect that towns in southern Manitoba were grateful for tens of thousands of tourists that eagerly came to the Canadian prairies in winter. ;))
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Apr 15, 2015 9:43 pm

Clouds prevented viewing of the April 4 lunar eclipse, though lucky folks about 20 miles south of here caught pictures of it with the Space Needle.

There's also some debate about whether it was actually total or not (since the earth's atmosphere doesn't have a precise edge but gradually fades away, differences in how this fading is applied make a difference). Read more here. Ultimately, this is a rather specialized discussion for astronomers and theorists, though it would spoil the lunar eclipse tetrad currently in progress.

There's a brief chance to see a new satellite in the sky - the SpaceX Dragon CRS-6, which is currently on its way to restock the ISS. Heavens-above.com has predictions for it, and I saw it earlier this evening. It was surprisingly easy to see, even in fading twilight, though it came a bit earlier than predicted. It was chasing the ISS and moving noticeably faster than the station. It is scheduled to arrive at the ISS Friday, so viewing chances are limited. Still, it may be a fun thing to spot.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Jun 06, 2015 4:46 pm

Have you noticed two bright objects in the west after dusk? These are the two brightest planets, Venus (to the lower right) and Jupiter. They've been getting closer the past few weeks and will have a spectacular conjunction at the end of the month (read more here). A crescent Moon joins the pair around June 20.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby johobbit » Jun 06, 2015 7:25 pm

I haven't replied for a long time, but diligently read whenever anyone does post here. I have been following Jupiter's chase of Venus every clear evening, and, goodness, what a beautiful sight. Looking forward to the conjunction at the end of June!

/edit/

stargazer, from the previous page wrote:As [the fireball] blazed through the sky all I could say was "Whoa! Whoa!" ;)) One of the two guys I was with turned in time to see its end but the other did not.

I can relate with the "whoa! whoa!" exclamation! ;)) That type of celestial sight occurs so quickly and almost before one blinks, it's gone. How fortunate you just happened to be looking in the right direction, and glad the one fellow, anyway, saw a brief glimpse. B-)
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Jun 23, 2015 12:48 pm

Imagine my surprise when I went out last night to see an Iridium flare and spotted aurora borealis (Northern Lights) flickering in the north part of the sky! I live in a city with lots of lights so seeing them here is unusual (it's been almost 11 years since I last saw them here in town). The trees and city lights meant they weren't terribly impressive (just faint ghostly white patches), but many observers saw a more spectacular show last night, even as far south as Kansas. Spaceweather's aurora gallery has lots of pretty pictures.

The lights may remain visible the next few nights; spaceweather.com is the place to get the latest info on seeing them.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby Puddleglum » Jun 24, 2015 8:07 pm

Got out last night about 1am but unfortunatly things must already fizzled out. We were out of town so we were treated to a light show from a few hundred fireflys.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby johobbit » Jul 01, 2015 7:24 am

How wonderful you caught a glimpse of the Northern Lights, stargazer, especially given the city lights around. Very memorable! I tried to see them from here a few nights, to no avail.

Yesterday was very, very cloudy, which began to break up a bit towards evening. But not enough to have a clear view of Venus and Jupiter's conjunction here in our area. I did see a glimpse of it through haze, which was better than nothing, but I can only imagine what it was like in full view. However, there were two other treats: fireflies galore in the dark of the night *highfives Puddleglum* and the nearly full Moon rising in the east, with its bright glow radiating through and around the clouds. Gorgeous!

Skyandtelescope has an interesting and informative article on the convergence of these two brightest planets. :)

And here are some conjunction photos from all over the world.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Jul 02, 2015 10:51 am

I'm glad to see some NarniaWebbers were able to view the conjunction...especially with fireflies! I always enjoy seeing them when stargazing (except when the occasional flash overhead makes me think it's a meteor ;)) ).

It's been overcast here but I'm hoping to see them before they get too far apart.

I thought of you, jo, when I found this picture with Canada Day fireworks in the foreground.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby johobbit » Jul 02, 2015 12:06 pm

Nice, stargazer. :) And that's exactly why I'm popping in to post here again because last night I walked to the end of our village (a 1 minute walk west down the road) to see the town's Canada Day fireworks from a distance. They were beautiful, even from miles away, and much less noisy (only distant *booms*, rather than earth-shattering ker-bangs, lol). But best of all, Venus and Jupiter were looking down on us from on high. If I help my hand at arm's length, my thumb covered them both. While the sky wasn't completely clear, the high clouds were light enough that they were visible, yay! However, shortly after, they were covered over, so the timing was good. And the fireflies were still out and about. Then I turned east and saw the full Moon rising up into a cloud wrack, encompassing that part of the clouds and sky with a mysterious white glow.

Haha, I know what you mean about seeing a firefly light up in your overhead peripheral vision and think it's a meteor. ;))

I hope you get to see the two planets soon, 'gazer. :)

Has anyone else seen the conjunction?

/edit/ I forgot another fun factor last evening: bats were out in abundance. Of course, it was a full Moon. ;) B-) ;))
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