Archive for the ‘Visual phenomena’ Category

This post concludes my longest period ever without posting! Been busy, & the winter has been cold and snowy. But the northern winter has its glories, and here are a couple:
Above: Light, fluffy, delicate snow on tree branches, February 16, 2013 at 10:22 AM.
Below: Sundogs shining through the trees at 9:04 AM on the bitterly cold morning of February 19.

It was slightly hazy this morning, but it was so much fun to get out to the telescope again and observe Saturn, I went with it anyway. Here’s a Saturn series, similar in format to my Venus phase updates, beginning with this morning and working back through a few of my best Saturn photos. Note how over time Saturn’s rings are “opening up” as viewed from Earth. Unless otherwise noted, these photos are with the 8″ reflector telescope, 17mm eyepiece, and 2x Barlow:

0221030645asaturn17mm2xb200 6:45 AM CST February 21, 2013 (12:45 UT)
Angular diameter 17.60 arc seconds
Distance from Earth 873,809,000 miles (1,406,259,000 km)
7:01 AM CST November 20, 2012 (13:01 UT)
Angular diameter 15.49 arc seconds
Distance from Earth 992,918,000 miles (1,598,000,000 km)
11:42 PM CDT June 7, 2012 (04:42 UT June 8, 2012)
Angular diameter 18.15 arc seconds
Distance from Earth 847,415,000 miles (1,363,782,000 km)
4:38 AM CDT April 12, 2012 (09:38 UT)
Angular diameter 18.97 arc seconds
Distance from Earth 810,707,000 miles (1,304,706,000 km)
6:13 AM CST January 8, 2012 (12:13 UT)
Angular diameter 16.82 arc seconds
Distance from Earth 913,348,000 miles (1,471,501,000 km)
25mm eyepiece with 2x Barlow, scaled to match the others
3:23 AM CDT April 14, 2011 (08:23 UT)
Angular diameter 18.97 arc seconds
Distance from Earth 810,570,000 miles (1,304,487,000 km)

Read Full Post »

6:49 AM, September 14, 2012, a few minutes before sunrise. Venus is visible above the right end of the contrail, just to the left of the tree. More Moon, Jupiter, and Venus photos soon, including more about last week’s Jupiter-Moon conjunction.

Read Full Post »

I’m truly honored to have been nominated for the “One Lovely Blog Award” by Kay of Kay-Kay’s Bird Club. It’ll be a great opportunity to honor some good folks whose blogs I appreciate, though I’ll admit I’ve hardly even had time to read my own lately! But keep watch for my own nominations.

Speaking of birds, my heart is always warmed by the arrival of the new ducklings and goslings of the year at the neighborhood park. Three proud pairs of Canada Goose parents have been devotedly caring for their goslings since about the first of May, and just this morning I spotted the first family of enthusiastic little Mallard ducklings, attended by their intensely watchful, constantly quacking mother, a regular helicopter parent:

There was a lovely halo around the Sun yesterday, caused by ice crystals high in the atmosphere. 10:25 AM CDT May 9, 2012:

I’ve been working on a simple solar projection box for general solar observation, not to mention the upcoming 5-20-12 partial solar eclipse (annular for fortunate folks in the American Southwest), and of course, the 6-5-12 Venus transit. It needs a little work, but here’s the Sun at 10:33 AM CDT May 10, 2012 (15:33 UT), using the 60mm refractor with 17mm eyepiece to project the image on white paperboard. Note the rather large sunspot group currently in view. Ignore the lighter patches – they’re just reflected glare – I’ll be looking for something else less prone to glare:

Here’s the waning gibbous Moon at 6:12 AM CDT May 10, 2012 (11:12 UT), 8″ reflector telescope with 25mm eyepiece:

As of May 10, 2012, the upcoming Venus Transit of June 5/6, 2012 is T-Minus 26 days away, and counting. Here’s yet another plug for my community education class.

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.

All with LG VX8360 cell phone camera, perfect for capturing those small moments in the history of the universe. Click to enlarge, though the Venus photos won’t get any bigger.

“We should always endeavor to wonder at the permanent thing, not at the mere exception. We should be startled by the sun, and not by the eclipse. We should wonder less at the earthquake, and wonder more at the earth.”
― G.K. Chesterton

Read Full Post »

Cloudy, snowy weather, not promising for astronomy, so here’s a September photo of the Moon at about the same phase as the current phase for 12-1-11:

8:12 PM CDT September 3, 2011 (1:12 UT 9-4-11), 8″ reflector telescope, 25mm eyepiece. The crater Aristoteles lies on the terminator towards the north. Due to a favorable libration, the aptly named Mare Marginis (“Sea of the Edge”) may be seen obliquely but clearly along the edge or “limb” of the Moon east of Mare Crisium (Sea of Crises), with Mare Smythii (“the Sea of Smyth”) also along the edge to the south. Mare Undarum (“Sea of Waves”) is the spotty patch to the southeast of Mare Crisium.

More fun with the toy microscope:

The date on a dime, magnified 30 times. Yes, a 2005 dime. Kinda reminds me of the title card for the “Lord of the Rings” films.

Below, a room in the manufacturing plant where I work has a painted floor with several worn patches, including this one:

In the “peninsula” just to the left of center, does anyone besides me see the face of a glamorous young woman with lots of lipstick, winking her right eye? The technical term for this type of thing is pareidolia.

Read Full Post »