Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for August, 2012


2:57 AM CDT August 30, 2012 (07:57 UT), 8″ reflector telescope, 25mm eyepiece, LG VX8360 cell phone camera. Click to enlarge.

By one definition (and there’s more than one definition – see this previous post: The Blue Moon After All! With Bonus Jupiter) – tomorrow’s Full Moon is a “Blue Moon,” since it is the second Full Moon within one calendar month. Sky and Telescope “fesses up” to their part in the creation of this new type of “Blue Moon” in these two articles:

Once In a Blue Moon
What’s a Blue Moon

I’m OK with more than one definition floating around. That way we have more Blue Moons!

Read Full Post »


Credit: NASA

NASA Obituary: Neil Armstrong: 1930-2012

It’s impossible to explain how much of an inspiration this man has been to all of us who love to explore the skies. May his memory be for a blessing.

As “one small tribute,” here is the Moon photographed at 7:12 PM CDT October 2, 2011 (00:12 UT 10-3-11), close to the same phase as during Armstrong and Aldrin’s historic visit to the Moon’s surface on July 20, 1969.


8″ homebuilt reflector telescope, 25mm eyepiece, LG VX8360 cell phone camera. Click to enlarge.

Read Full Post »

As I prepared to photograph Venus yesterday, this female Downy Woodpecker was happily hunting for tasty bugs in a nearby telephone pole. I had seen another woodpecker (her mate?) near her on the pole earlier. 60mm refractor telescope with 25mm eyepiece, 1:04 PM August 21, 2012:

Venus is now over 50% illuminated from our point of view, and from week to week there’s no longer such a dramatic difference in its phase and apparent size:

1:15 PM CDT, August 21, 2012 (18:15 UT)
Angular diameter 22.02 arc seconds
53.5% illumination
Distance from Earth 70,401,199 miles (113,299,747 km)
7:36 AM CDT, August 13 2012 (12:36 UT)
Angular diameter 24.07 arc seconds
49.1% illumination
Distance from Earth 64,429,600 miles (103,689,390 km)
1:39 PM CDT, August 6, 2012 (18:39 UT)
Angular diameter 26.05 arc seconds
45.2% illumination
Distance from Earth 59,516,628 miles (95,782,727 km)
8:52 AM CDT July 30, 2012 (13:52 UT)
Angular diameter 28.56 arc seconds
40.6% illumination
Distance from Earth 54,298,771 miles (87,385,401 km)
5:49 AM CDT July 22, 2012 (10:49 UT)
Angular diameter 31.96 arc seconds
34.9% illumination
Distance from Earth 48,512,519 miles (78,073,332 km)
9:18 AM CDT July 13, 2012 (14:18 UT)
Angular diameter 36.52 arc seconds
27.9% illumination
Distance from Earth 42,450,876 miles (68,318,063 km)
11:56 AM CDT July 3, 2012 (16:56 UT)
Angular diameter 42.79 arc seconds
19.0% illumination
Distance from Earth 36,238,688 miles (58,320,514 km)
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)
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)
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)
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

Unless otherwise noted, 8″ reflector telescope, 25mm eyepiece with 2x Barlow, LG VX8360 cell phone camera.

Read Full Post »

Alas, I have to miss it because of work (I already took off work for the Venus Transit, a day well-spent), but if you get the chance and you’re in the right part of the planet, be sure to observe today’s occultation of Venus, in which the planet Venus will be “occulted” (hidden) behind the Moon for about an hour. Details here, via Skyandtelescope.com:

August 13th’s Occultation of Venus

Here’s Venus at 7:36 this morning (12:36 UT 8-13-12). 8″ reflector telescope, 25mm eyepiece, 2x Barlow, LG VX8360 cell phone camera. I’ll put it into a “Venus Phase Update” later on, but you can see that it’s at about the “half moon” stage right now.

Read Full Post »

It certainly wasn’t the first spacecraft landing on Mars. Indeed, I vividly recall being glued to the TV as Viking 1 landed on Mars, thirty-six years ago. I was eleven. But the Curiosity landing definitely is the biggest Mars landing ever, in more ways than one. Here’s a skyandtelescope.com article. I especially enjoy the photo of Curiosity taken from 200 miles away by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter:

Touchdown! Curiosity Lands in Gale Crater

To celebrate, I’m rerunning arguably my two best Mars photos, though you’ll see why I don’t post many Martian photos. My low-budget cell phone astrophotography doesn’t show much of Mars except that it’s round and perhaps slightly reddish. Jupiter with its planet-sized moons, Saturn’s rings, and Venus’ phases show up much better with my pocket camera. But, here goes:

Mars at 7:38 AM CST January 28, 2012 (13:38 UT), 8″ reflector telescope, 25mm eyepiece with 2x Barlow.

Perhaps more interesting in a way is this photo from August last year, Mars and the Moon in conjunction:

Here’s the Moon the last three mornings, all with 8″ reflector telescope and 25mm eyepiece:


5:31 AM CDT August 5, 2012 (10:31 UT)


6:11 AM CDT August 6, 2012 (11:11 UT)


6:05 AM CDT August 7, 2012 (11:05 UT)

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

Read Full Post »

Don’t miss the striking triangle now being formed in the western sky after sundown by Saturn, Mars, and Spica. These objects are assembling in our sky even as the Curiosity Mars Rover approaches its hair-raising landing on Mars. Here are the details:

Meanwhile, my own ultra-low-budget space mission continues, which, for any newcomers, is to explore the Solar System from the relative safety of my backyard, using my good old dusty, trusty homebuilt 8″ reflector telescope and LG VX8360 cell phone camera, and leaving virtually no carbon footprint on this planet or anyone else’s. Here’s Saturn at 9:22 PM CDT August 4, 2012 (02:22 UT August 5, 2012), via the aforementioned telescope using 25mm eyepiece and 2x Barlow.

Read Full Post »

Venus and Jupiter continue to linger brilliantly in the predawn sky. Here they are at 5:27 this morning. Jupiter is fainter to the upper right of Venus, towards the tree:

I never tire of watching Jupiter’s four Galilean Moons as they orbit. It’s the easiest way to see “live” what a planetary system looks like from the outside:

Above: 5:17 AM CDT July 23, 2012 (10:17 UT). L-R: Callisto, Ganymede, Io, Jupiter, Europa.
Below: 5:33 AM CDT August 1, 2012 (10:33 UT). L-R: Ganymede, Io, Europa, Jupiter, Callisto.
Both with 8″ reflector telescope, 25mm eyepiece, and 2x Barlow.

My lunar photography has been a bit sparse as of late, but here are three from the last half of July:

Above: Waning crescent Moon at 5:32 AM CDT July 16, 2012 (10:32 UT).
Below: Waxing crescent Moon at 9:25 PM CDT July 21, 2012 (02:25 UT 7-22-12). Both with 8″ reflector telescope and 25mm eyepiece.


Waxing gibbous Moon at 2:17 AM CDT July 30, 2012 (07:17 UT), 60mm refractor telescope with 17mm eyepiece.

Venus is now just over twice as far away from Earth as it was at the time of the transit:

8:52 AM CDT July 30, 2012 (13:52 UT)
Angular diameter 28.56 arc seconds
40.6% illumination
Distance from Earth 54,298,771 miles (87,385,401 km)
5:49 AM CDT July 22, 2012 (10:49 UT)
Angular diameter 31.96 arc seconds
34.9% illumination
Distance from Earth 48,512,519 miles (78,073,332 km)
9:18 AM CDT July 13, 2012 (14:18 UT)
Angular diameter 36.52 arc seconds
27.9% illumination
Distance from Earth 42,450,876 miles (68,318,063 km)
11:56 AM CDT July 3, 2012 (16:56 UT)
Angular diameter 42.79 arc seconds
19.0% illumination
Distance from Earth 36,238,688 miles (58,320,514 km)
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)
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)
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)
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

Unless otherwise noted, 8″ reflector telescope, 25mm eyepiece with 2x Barlow, LG VX8360 cell phone camera.

Read Full Post »