Tag: quarter moon

4 Sky Events This Week: Inner Planets Dance While Saturn Dazzles


Illustration of moon pairing with star in the Virgo constellation
The moon pairs with the brightest star in the constellation Virgo on Tuesday.
Illustration by A.Fazekas, SkySafari


Excerpt from news.nationalgeographic.com

An eclipse of a volcanic moon by the king of planets, Jupiter, will thrill stargazers this week, as Earth's moon rides above the ringed world, Saturn.

Moon meets Maiden. On Tuesday, January 13, early birds will enjoy a particularly close encounter with the last quarter moon of the month and with the bright star Spica. All the action takes place in the constellation Virgo, the Maiden, halfway up the southern sky at dawn.

The 250-light-year-distant star appears only 2 degrees below the moon, a distance equal to about the width of your thumb held at arm's length.

It's amazing to realize that the light from Spica left on its journey to Earth back in 1765. That's the year that Great Britain passed the Stamp Act, the first direct tax levied on the American colonies and a prelude of the parliamentary oversteps that led to the American Revolution.

Mercury at its best. Look for faint Mercury about a half-hour after sunset on Wednesday, January 14, just above the southwestern horizon.

The innermost planet will appear at its farthest point away from the sun, a moment called the greatest elongation. Sitting 19 degrees east of the sun, it would be challenging to track down its faint point of light if it weren't for the nearby, superbright Venus.

The planetary duo will appear only 1.3 degrees apart, making the pair particularly impressive when viewed through binoculars or a small telescope. Look carefully and you may notice that Mercury appears to be a miniature version of the half-lit moon...

Illustration of Venus and Mercury in close conjunction in the southwest sky
This skychart shows Venus and Mercury in close conjunction in the southwest sky after sunset on Wednesday.
Illustration by A.Fazekas, SkySafari

Volcanic moon eclipse. Sky-watchers armed with telescopes will witness a distant eclipse of Jupiter's moon Io in the early morning hours of Friday, January 16.

At 12:27 a.m. EST, the gas giant's own shadow will glide across the tiny disk of the volcanic moon, which will be visible to the west of the planet.

Also early on Thursday night at 10:56 p.m. EST, Jupiter's massive storm, the Great Red Spot, crosses the middle of the planet's disk. Appearing as an orange-pink oval structure, this hurricane circles the planet every 12 hours or so and is three times larger than the Earth. 

Illustration of Jupiter in the late night southwest sky
This wide-angle skychart shows the location of Jupiter in the southeast sky on Thursday evening and early morning Friday. The insert telescope view shows Jupiter and location of its moon Io just before it enters the planet’s shadow.
Illustration by A.Fazekas, SkySafari
Luna and Saturn. Later on, near dawn on Friday, January 16, the waning crescent moon will appear to park itself just 2 degrees north of Lord of the Rings.

The ringed world can't be missed with the naked eye since it is the brightest object visible in the southeastern predawn sky. Its proximity to the moon will make it that much easier to identify.
Train a telescope on this yellow-tinged point of light, and it will readily reveal its stunning rings, tilted a full 25 degrees toward Earth. Currently Saturn sits nearly 994,000 miles (1.6 billion kilometers) away from Earth, which means that the reflected sunlight off its cloud tops takes 87.4 minutes to reach our eyes.
Happy hunting!

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Must-See Geminid Meteor Shower Peaks This Weekend: An Observer’s Guide



2014 Geminid Meteor Shower Sky Map


Excerpt from
space.com

The spectacular Geminid Meteor shower hits peak activity this weekend. Though competing with some unfortunate moonlight, the shower still should make for a must-see astronomical event.

While moonlight will somewhat hinder this year's Geminid meteor shower, intrepid observers with good weather and low light pollution should still be able to catch a good meteor show Saturday (Dec. 13) night.

"If you have not seen a mighty Geminid fireball arcing gracefully across an expanse of sky, then you have not seen a meteor," note astronomers David Levy and Stephen Edberg. 


Even if you can't see the meteor display from your part of the world, you can watch them online. The online Slooh Community Observatory will host a live webacst of the Geminid meteor display on Saturday night beginning at 8 p.m. EST (0100 Dec. 14 GMT).You can also watch the Slooh webcast directly:http://live.slooh.com/. NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke will also host a live Geminids webchat on Saturday night from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. EST (0400 to 0800 GMT), as well as a live webcast.
You can watch the webcasts of the Geminid shower live on Space.com, starting at 8 p.m. EST, courtesy of Slooh and NASA. The Italy-based Virtual Telescope Project will also host a Geminds webcast, beginning at 9 p.m. EST (0200 GMT).

Although the bright moon will be high in the sky by 11:30 p.m. local time Saturday (Dec. 13) (during the shower's peak), skywatchers can still catch a potentially incredible show before the moon creeps above the horizon, washing out the sky. Stargazers might be able to see an average of one or two Geminid meteors per minute Saturday before the moon rises.

By around 9 p.m., the constellation Gemini — the part of the sky where the meteors seem to emanate from — will have climbed more than one-third of the way up from the horizon. Meteor sightings should begin to really increase noticeably thereafter. By around 2 a.m., the last-quarter moon will be low in the east-southeast, but Gemini will stand high overhead. So you might still see a good number of meteors in spite of the moon's presence.

A brilliant shower

The Geminids are, for those willing to brave the chill of a December night, a very fine winter shower, and usually the most satisfying of all the annual showers. They can even surpass the brilliant August Perseid meteor shower.

Studies of past displays show that the Geminid shower is rich both in slow, bright, graceful meteors and fireballs, as well as in faint meteors, with relatively fewer objects of medium brightness. Many Geminids appear yellowish in hue; some even appear to form jagged or divided paths.     

These meteors travel at a medium speed and appear to emanate, specifically, from near the bright star Castor, in the constellation of Gemini, the Twins, hence the name "Geminid." In apparent size, that's less than half the width of the moon. As such, this is a rather sharply defined radiant as most meteor showers go. It suggests the stream is "young," perhaps only several thousand years old.

Generally speaking, depending on your location, Castor begins to come up above the east-northeast horizon right around the time evening twilight comes to an end. As the Gemini constellation begins to climb the eastern sky just after darkness falls, there is a fair chance of perhaps catching sight of some "Earth-grazing" meteors. Earthgrazers are long, bright shooting stars that streak overhead from a point near to even just below the horizon. Such meteors are so distinctive because they follow long paths nearly parallel to the Earth's atmosphere. 

Because Geminid meteoroids are several times denser than the comet dust that supply most meteor showers and because of the relatively slow speed with which the Geminids encounter Earth (22 miles or 35 kilometers per second), these meteors appear to linger a bit longer in view than most. As compared to an Orionid or Leonid meteor that can whiz across your line of sight in less than a second, a Geminid meteor moves only about half as fast. Personally, their movement reminds me of field mice scooting from one part of the sky to another.

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Today’s New Moon Commences Libra Cycle

cafeastrology.comA NEW Moon occurs on Wednesday, September 24, 2014, at 2:14 AM EDT. Early Wednesday, a new cycle begins. The Virgo New Moon cycle ends and the Libra New Moon cycle begins. The New Moon in Libra cycle is a good time to commit ...

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Friday, November 4, 2011

The Oracle ReportDaily Energetic Analysis for Post-Modern Life First Quarter Moon Phase An extremely strong coronal mass ejection will hit Mercury today.  This powerful wave is expected to blow out the weak atmosphere of Mercury.  Here on Earth, com...

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