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Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Apr 21, 2020 10:34 pm

I feel bad about being a spoil sport, but...

I'm not sure where that site got that information. In May Venus and Jupiter will be (as they are now) on opposite sides of the sun in the sky (Jupiter is a morning object and Venus is out in the evening). They cannot be in conjunction then. In addition, on that date the moon will be in Aquarius, about 10 or 15 degrees southeast of Mars, but nowhere near either Venus or Jupiter.

(I used the interactive sky map feature on heavens-above to confirm my suspicions).

Then I wondered if they had just gotten the date wrong. It turns out there are no Venus-Jupiter conjunctions at all this year. (The next one is on February 11, 2021, with both planets pretty close to the sun in the sky and thus hard to see - and the moon is new that same day and thus unobservable).
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 johobbit » Apr 22, 2020 5:26 am

I was hoping that would be true! :)) 'Though the news did seem odd to me (without really checking it out), since currently Jupiter is visible in the morning and Venus in the evening, so thanks for the confirmation, 'gazer.

I actually went back into the article to look at the date it was written, thinking it might be an April Fool's joke. But it was published on April 7. :P

And that's cool that you, Rya, and her dad saw the satellite train. But in some ways, it just seems so, what's the word ... intrusive? As you said, very different than seeing the occasional satellite in the night sky. Apparently astronomers aren't pleased with this 'parade', and I can understand why.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby fantasia » Apr 22, 2020 11:19 am

Awww, that's too bad. But thanks for the info Gazer. I will be sure to sleep in that day. ;)
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » Apr 24, 2020 1:56 pm

I can relate, fantasia. I find it harder to get up to observe in the wee hours (especially as the days get longer) than it is to stay up late to see the stars.

SpaceX just launched its sixth set of Starlink satellites, and observers have talked about seeing them as a compact train of satellites moving across the sky together. As time goes by they separate more, so it may be worth looking for them if your sky is clear tonight (heavens-above can provide location-specific predictions for seeing them).
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 fantasia » May 03, 2020 4:47 pm

Question, is it possible that the previous article mistyped and it's supposed to be the Moon, Saturn, and Jupiter?

Also, where's the best place to find out when and where the satellites are supposed to be viewable? We tried to spot them the other night and didn't know where to look.
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Re: Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

Postby stargazer » May 05, 2020 2:15 pm

fantasia, that's a good question, and I did try to rule that out in my earlier investigation. The Moon is fairly close to Jupiter the morning of May 12, and that should be worth getting up early for, skies permitting. (But it won't look like that configuration in the original tweet. A formation like that would have astronomers world-wide buzzing because it is so rare - I'd almost say impossible, but incredibly unusual at best).

There are a variety of sites showing the Starlink satellites, but I'm most familiar with heavens-above.com. You'll need to enter your location (upper right corner), and then there are two options from the main page.

"Daily predictions for brighter satellites" lists everything available (depending on the magnitude you choose to filter by - magnitude 3.0 is the brightest and will leave out some results, but you might miss something using it if your sky is very dark). There might a lot of "noise" in that list, making it harder to pick out specific Starlink parades.

The other option is "Starlink passes for all objects from a launch." This will filter out all the other stuff, making it easier to pick out a parade. There is a drop-down available for launch date, so if the default option (Starlink 6) gives no results, try an earlier one. (We saw some Starlink 3 satellites the other night).

The magnitudes listed are still uncertain. Our Starlink 3 satellites had predicted brightness around magnitude 4 - almost impossible from an urban area - but were easy to see, approaching magnitude 0 at times.

It may look like just a jumble of numbers, but you can click on the time at highest point and it will give a star chart with the path, including tick marks for each minute, so you can find where to look and also when to expect it.

It takes some luck I think - we've seen some great groups of satellites but other times we've seen nothing despite the predictions.
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