Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for June, 2012

It’s been a momentous month in the skies, what with the Venus transit and Mickey Mouse and all! On this site I like to celebrate not only the rare and novel celestial sights, but the everyday and everynight ones as well. I’ll close out June 2012 with an illustration of how the deepening dusk affects the Moon’s appearance, as well as just how tiny Saturn appears in the telescope compared to the Moon:


Above: The waxing gibbous Moon at 9:05 PM CDT June 30, 2012 (02:05 UT July 1, 2012).
Below: 22 minutes later at 9:27 PM, the dusk has deepened. Both with 8″ reflector telescope and 25mm eyepiece.


Above: The northern portion of the Moon at 9:14 PM my time. Crater Plato near the center, with Sinus Iridum, the “Bay of Rainbows,” to its lower left, both on the edge of Mare Imbrium, the “Sea of Rains.” The lunar “seas” or maria (Latin plural for mare, “sea”) are actually lava plains. Both this photo and the one below with 25mm eyepiece and 2x Barlow (130x magnification).

Below: The central portion of the Moon at 9:09 PM my time, with Kepler crater near the center of the photo. Bright Aristarchus and Herodotus are to the upper left, with Reiner to Kepler’s left, just coming into the Sun. To the upper right Copernicus is beginning to wash out in the high sunlight, and Gassendi is the broken-ringed crater in the lower right. All this is in Oceanus Procellarum, the “Ocean of Storms.”

Below: Just to show you how large (or rather, small) Saturn looks compared to the Moon, the photo below is at the exact same magnification and scale as the lunar closeups above:

9:39 PM CDT June 30, 2012 (02:39 UT 7-1-12), 25mm eyepiece with 2x Barlow.
Mighty Saturn, the second-largest planet at 74,500 miles in diameter, was 879,502,000 miles distant from Earth at the time of this photo (1,415,451,000 km), as compared to our 2160-mile-diameter Moon, which was about 225,400 miles (362,750 km) distant tonight.

All with LG VX8360 cell phone camera. Click to enlarge.

Read Full Post »


Waxing gibbous Moon at 12:04 AM CDT June 29, 2012 (05:04 UT), 8″ reflector telescope with 25mm eyepiece (65x magnification).


Northern portion of the Moon at 12:02 AM CDT 6-29-12 (05:02 UT), with the crater Plato very prominent, one of my perennial favorites. Magnification doubled to 130x with 2x Barlow.

Viewing the Venus transit got me in gear for sunspot observation, and at an apt time, since the Sun is now quite active as it approaches a solar maximum:

The Sun at 8:40 AM CDT June 30, 2012 (13:40 UT), 60mm refractor telescope with 17mm eyepiece via projection. The Sun is getting spotty indeed! Clockwise from upper right, the three conspicuous sunspots are 1512, 1514, and 1513 respectively. According to Spaceweather.com, “Sunspots 1512 and 1513 pose a threat for M-class solar flares,” and the effects have recently been felt across Europe especially.

LG VX8360 cell phone camera. Click to enlarge.

Read Full Post »


The Sun at 9:18 AM CDT June 27, 2012 (14:18 UT), projected onto white paperboard via my 60mm refractor telescope with 17mm eyepiece. The innocent-looking sunspot group just to the lower right of center is Sunspot 1512, which according to Spaceweather.com “poses a growing threat for M-class solar flares.” They also report a coronal hole still on the Sun’s far side, but soon to rotate within sight of Earth, which will likely send a stream of solar wind which will reach Earth on July 1-2, causing aurorae (Northern/Southern Lights), etc. Don’t worry, we’ve been through it all many times before, but I’ll keep you posted.

WordPress.com gives me a report on what kinds of search engine searches brought people to my site, and somebody today searched for “what did the Moon look like on June 19, 2012?” Well, since that was the New Moon phase, it couldn’t be seen from Earth at all that day, but someone viewing the Earth-Moon system from the Sun’s direction would have seen the far side of the Moon fully illuminated. Here’s a simulated view via NASA/JPL’s delightful Solar System Simulator:

Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

Venus, now a “morning star,” is well-situated in my sky for updates on its changing phases, as it continues to recede from Earth after the glorious Transit of June 5/6, 2012, so I’ll keep on updating this photo series every few days or so:

11:21 AM CDT June 27, 2012 (16:21 UT)
Angular diameter 47.07 arc seconds
13.4% illumination
Distance from Earth 32,940,927 miles (53,013,283 km)
25mm eyepiece with 2x Barlow
8:38 AM CDT June 21, 2012 (13:38 UT)
Angular diameter 51.42 arc seconds
7.8% illumination
Distance from Earth 30,154,150 miles (48,528,401 km)
25mm eyepiece with 2x Barlow
8:57 AM CDT June 12, 2012 (13:57 UT)
Angular diameter 56.46 arc seconds
1.6% illumination
Distance from Earth 27,463,558 miles (44,198,313 km)
25mm eyepiece with 2x Barlow
7:33 PM CDT June 5, 2012 (00:33 UT June 6, 2012)
Angular diameter 57.78 arc seconds
0.0% illumination, transiting the Sun
Distance from Earth 26,836,379 miles (43,188,966 km)
Projection method with 60mm refractor telescope and 17mm eyepiece
10:50 AM CDT May 16, 2012 (15:50 UT)
Angular diameter 48.03 arc seconds
12.3% illumination
Distance from Earth 32,284,073 miles (51,956,179 km)
10:26 AM CDT May 10, 2012 (15:26 UT)
Angular diameter 43.71 arc seconds
18.1% illumination
Distance from Earth 35,473,212 miles (57,088,600 km)
25mm eyepiece with 2x Barlow
12:41 PM CDT May 3, 2012 (17:41 UT)
Angular diameter 39.11 arc seconds
24.5% illumination
Distance from Earth 39,649,337 miles (63,809,423 km)
18mm eyepiece

7:14 PM CDT April 22, 2012 (00:14 UT 4-23-12)
Angular diameter 33.12 arc seconds
33.6% illumination
Distance from Earth 46,812,338 miles (75,337,236 km)
25mm eyepiece with 2x Barlow

6:28 PM CDT March 24, 2012 (23:28 UT)
Angular diameter 22.95 arc seconds
52.4% illumination
Distance from Earth 67,571,683 miles (108,746,083 km)

4:10 PM CST February 12, 2012 (22:10 UT)
Angular diameter 16.24 arc seconds
70.2% illumination
Distance from Earth 95,450,953 miles (153,613,419 km)
18mm eyepiece

1:48 PM CST February 8, 2012 (19:48 UT)
Angular diameter 15.82 arc seconds
71.7% illumination
Distance from Earth 98,020,580 miles (157,748,833 km)
18mm eyepiece

2:37 PM CST January 5, 2012 (20:37 UT)
Angular diameter 13.19 arc seconds
81.6% illumination
Distance from Earth 117,572,894 miles (189,215,232 km)
2:21 PM CST November 29, 2011 (20:21 UT)
Angular diameter 11.46 arc seconds
89.5% illumination
Distance from Earth 135,265,885 miles (217,689,541 km)
4:18 PM CST November 20, 2011 (22:18 UT)
Angular diameter 11.13 arc seconds
91.2% illumination
Distance from Earth 139,346,992 miles (227,254,246 km)
12:03 PM CST January 5, 2011 (18:03 UTC)
Angular diameter 25.58 arc seconds
48.6% illumination
Distance from Earth 60,611,164 miles (97,544,214 km)
10:02 AM CST November 27, 2010 (16:02 UTC)
Angular diameter 44.72 arc seconds
20.6% illumination
Distance from Earth 34,669,885 miles (55,795,771 km)
12:40 PM CDT (17:40 UTC), November 5, 2010
Angular diameter 59.94 arc seconds
2.4% illumination
Distance from Earth 25,866,740 miles (41,628,483 km)

Unless otherwise noted, 8″ reflector telescope, 25mm eyepiece. LG VX8360 cell phone camera.

Read Full Post »

When morning dawned on Saturday, October 28, 1995, I didn’t know that a whole era of my life was about to begin. But that day I adopted a round little golden-furred 10-week-old puppy and named him Pluto, and after all these years here he still is!

June 10, 2012:

Relaxing on the deck, June 16.

Born in mid-August 1995, he already has existed now for seventeen years, when you consider the canine gestation period of about 63 days. We can see him slowing down and growing weak and wobbly. He’s weak-eyed and mostly deaf, yet affectionate, cheerful and optimistic as he has always been, and his determination to follow a fascinating scent is completely undiminished. Always very polite in his own way, he’s never, ever licked anyone in the face, but doesn’t hesitate to lick hands, toes, kneecaps, or whatever else is available. Each day could bring the beginning of Pluto’s final decline, so we simply enjoy the miracle of the seventeen-year-old dog one day at a time.

Visiting the dog park, June 17. Indeed, he was born to sniff.

Returning home from the dog park:

Walking (and sniffing) in the neighborhood, June 21:

Paying me a visit as I work on the computer, June 24:

“Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast.” Proverbs 12:10 ESV

Read Full Post »

I continue to receive many visits from people searching for “Mickey Mouse on the Moon,” and of course I’m happy to oblige. As mentioned before, I believe this recent trend finds its original source in the discovery, via the MESSENGER spacecraft, of a “Mickey Mouse” crater formation on the planet Mercury:
NASA – Mickey Mouse Spotted on Mercury!

Meanwhile, tonight was my first chance to photograph the area I like to call “Mickey Mouse on the Moon” since the beginning of the hype. It consists of the crater Janssen and adjoining craters. For more info about the region click here:
The Full Moon Atlas


The waxing crescent Moon at 9:29 PM CDT June 24, 2012 (02:29 UT June 25, 2012), 25mm eyepiece (65x magnification). “Mickey Mouse” is in the southern region, towards the bottom of this photo. Like most astronomical telescopes, my reflector produces an inverted image, but I generally flip it right side up when editing Moon photos.


The Moon was shining through this rather pretty sky at dusk. 9:21 PM.


A closeup of the southern portion of the Moon at 9:32 PM, magnification doubled using a 2x Barlow lens.


A closeup from the above photo. “Mickey” is in the upper right, and a somewhat mouse-eared configuration also appears in the lower left. “Minnie,” perhaps?!?


Saturn at 10:01 PM CDT June 24, 2012 (03:01 UT June 25, 2012), 17mm eyepiece and 2x Barlow (191x).

All with 8″ f8 homebuilt reflector telescope and LG VX8360 cell phone camera.

Read Full Post »

As the glorious Venus Transit of 2012 recedes into happy memory, Venus rises higher in the predawn sky each morning, even as it becomes more distant from Earth. Soon Jupiter and Venus will be a twin spectacle before sunrise that you won’t want to miss.

8:38 AM CDT June 21, 2012 (13:38 UT)
Angular diameter 51.42 arc seconds
7.8% illumination
Distance from Earth 30,154,150 miles (48,528,401 km)
25mm eyepiece with 2x Barlow
8:57 AM CDT June 12, 2012 (13:57 UT)
Angular diameter 56.46 arc seconds
1.6% illumination
Distance from Earth 27,463,558 miles (44,198,313 km)
25mm eyepiece with 2x Barlow
7:33 PM CDT June 5, 2012 (00:33 UT June 6, 2012)
Angular diameter 57.78 arc seconds
0.0% illumination, transiting the Sun
Distance from Earth 26,836,379 miles (43,188,966 km)
Projection method with 60mm refractor telescope and 17mm eyepiece
10:50 AM CDT May 16, 2012 (15:50 UT)
Angular diameter 48.03 arc seconds
12.3% illumination
Distance from Earth 32,284,073 miles (51,956,179 km)
10:26 AM CDT May 10, 2012 (15:26 UT)
Angular diameter 43.71 arc seconds
18.1% illumination
Distance from Earth 35,473,212 miles (57,088,600 km)
25mm eyepiece with 2x Barlow
12:41 PM CDT May 3, 2012 (17:41 UT)
Angular diameter 39.11 arc seconds
24.5% illumination
Distance from Earth 39,649,337 miles (63,809,423 km)
18mm eyepiece

7:14 PM CDT April 22, 2012 (00:14 UT 4-23-12)
Angular diameter 33.12 arc seconds
33.6% illumination
Distance from Earth 46,812,338 miles (75,337,236 km)
25mm eyepiece with 2x Barlow

6:28 PM CDT March 24, 2012 (23:28 UT)
Angular diameter 22.95 arc seconds
52.4% illumination
Distance from Earth 67,571,683 miles (108,746,083 km)

4:10 PM CST February 12, 2012 (22:10 UT)
Angular diameter 16.24 arc seconds
70.2% illumination
Distance from Earth 95,450,953 miles (153,613,419 km)
18mm eyepiece

1:48 PM CST February 8, 2012 (19:48 UT)
Angular diameter 15.82 arc seconds
71.7% illumination
Distance from Earth 98,020,580 miles (157,748,833 km)
18mm eyepiece

2:37 PM CST January 5, 2012 (20:37 UT)
Angular diameter 13.19 arc seconds
81.6% illumination
Distance from Earth 117,572,894 miles (189,215,232 km)
2:21 PM CST November 29, 2011 (20:21 UT)
Angular diameter 11.46 arc seconds
89.5% illumination
Distance from Earth 135,265,885 miles (217,689,541 km)
4:18 PM CST November 20, 2011 (22:18 UT)
Angular diameter 11.13 arc seconds
91.2% illumination
Distance from Earth 139,346,992 miles (227,254,246 km)
12:03 PM CST January 5, 2011 (18:03 UTC)
Angular diameter 25.58 arc seconds
48.6% illumination
Distance from Earth 60,611,164 miles (97,544,214 km)
10:02 AM CST November 27, 2010 (16:02 UTC)
Angular diameter 44.72 arc seconds
20.6% illumination
Distance from Earth 34,669,885 miles (55,795,771 km)
12:40 PM CDT (17:40 UTC), November 5, 2010
Angular diameter 59.94 arc seconds
2.4% illumination
Distance from Earth 25,866,740 miles (41,628,483 km)

Unless otherwise noted, 8″ reflector telescope, 25mm eyepiece. LG VX8360 cell phone camera.

Read Full Post »

I’ve been getting lots of hits from people trying to find “Mickey Mouse on the Moon,” which I’ve posted about here and here. I believe the reason why is because a “Mickey Mouse” pattern of craters has just been found on Mercury by the MESSENGER spacecraft!  Here’s a link direct to a picture on the official MESSENGER NASA website: Mickey Mouse Spotted On Mercury!

The area I like to call “Mickey Mouse On the Moon” shows up well in the lower right in this photo which I took last September 15, 2011, at 6:12 AM CDT (11:12 UT). Click to enlarge:

Here’s a closeup from the photo above:

8″ reflector telescope, 25mm eyepiece, LG VX8360 cell phone camera.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »