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Astronomy a Go Go! September Sky Tour



This tool displays the approximate Moon phases for a given month(images are close approximations). For official phase times and dates for this month and past months are available from the U.S. Naval Observatory.

Astronomical Online Glossary

Download this month's sky map!

Skymaps.com is our favorite monthly skymap provider. Download either the Northern hemisphere, Equatorial, or Southern Hemisphere sky map so you can follow along with our viewing sessions.
Creator: Kym Thalassoudis

Southern Hemisphere Additional Information

As Astronomy a Go Go! finds its home in the higher Northern latitudes those of you who live south of the equator will benefit from these two Southern Hemisphere sites: Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand's Southern Hemisphere Calendar RASNZ site (absolutely outstanding) and Southern Sky Watch.

September Planets

(click images to enlarge)


 

  • Mercury- Inferior conjunction on the 3rd moving into the morning sky during the last half of the month. Greatest elongation to the west on the 19th and FINALLY the angle will favor the Northern Hemisphere. If you can get a clear horizon it is worth getting up early to see Mercury! 4.6 mag (1st) to -0.6 (21st)
  • Venus- Beautiful in the western evening sky but very, very low! In the PNW smoke from forest fires in the Olympics is giving Venus a soft amber glow. Observe frequently to watch Venus' phases change. Maximum brightness on the 29th with an angle favoring the Southern Hemisphere. !! A crescent Moon occults Venus on the 11th if you are in eastern Brazil and SW Africa. Check with the International Timing and Occultation Association (under Upcoming Occultations) for information in your viewing area. -4.6 mag (1st) to -4.8 mag (21st)
  • Mars- Very, very low in the western sky with Venus. To help you find dim little Mars it will pass 2 deg N or Spica on the 4th and 6 deg N of Venus on the 29th. Try pulling Mars out of focus to glimpse polar caps. Angle again favors the Southern Hemisphere. Delete or burn any emails you get about Mars being huge and/or close the the Earth...we just can't get that email to go a way. Between now and 2012 we will the furthest we can be from Mars! 1.5 (1st) to 1.5 mag (21st)
  • Jupiter- Rising mid-evening in Pisces and the brightest object in the eastern sky sans the Moon or Sun. Jupiter reaches opposition on the 21st and is 0.8 deg S of Uranus. -2.9 mag (1st) to -2.9 mag (21st)
    Finder for Jupiter's moons: Sky and Telescope
  • Saturn- Going, going, almost gone! 1.0 mag (1st) to 0.9 mag (21st)
    Finder for Saturn's Moons: Sky and Telescope
  • Uranus- Rises late, just before Jupiter in Pisces 5.9 mag (1st) to 5.9 mag (21st)
  • Neptune- Rising later near the Aquarius-Capricorn us border 7.9 mag (1st) to 7.9 mag (21st)
    Finder charts for Uranus and Neptune: Sky and Telescope


*complements of the RASNZ (flip this as needed for your hemisphere/optics)

 

Astronomical Highlights for September 2010

Days and Times in UT: (help with time)
Observations are for 9 pm for Northern Hemisphere and 9 pm for the Southern Hemisphere.
Today's sunrise and sunset times or plan ahead using the US Naval Observatory Website

Occultation information can be found at the IOTA website!

 

  Day and Events
  - Check out the FREE iPhone App from the Night Sky Network!
1 - Last Quarter Moon
- Moon 0.8 deg S Pleiades (M45) eastern sky early, early morning
- Venus 1.2 deg from Spica in the evening sky
2-5 - Citizen Sky Workshop in San Francisco, CA
looking more closely at Epsilon Aurigae and the data collected
by YOU!
3 - Moon 0.2 deg S of M35
- Mercury in inferior conjunction, moving to the morning sky
4 - Mars 2 deg N of Spica
5 - Zodiacal Lights visible in the Northern Latitudes before
morning twilight(in the east) for the next 2 weeks
- Moon near the Beehive Cluster (M44)
6 - Venus at aphelion (furthest distance from the Sun)
8 - Moon at perigee (closest to Earth at 357190 km) expect Large tides because...
- New Moon (10:20UT)
9 - Saturn 8 deg N of Moon
11 - Mars 5 deg N of Moon and Venus 0.3 deg N of the Moon
(possible occultation for eastern Brazil to SW Africa)
- Last good evening planet 'photo op' of the season
14 - Moon near Antares..also reddish not to be mistaken for Mars!
15 - First Quarter
18 - International Observe the Moon Night! Find out what is happening in your area,
- Go the the NSN iPhone app
- Or to the
NSN's awesome event calendar!
19 - Mercury greatest elongation W (18 deg)
21 - Mercury at perihelion
- Jupiter at opposition
- Uranus at opposition
- Moon at appogee (406162 km)
22 - Jupiter 0.9 deg S of Uranus
23 - September Equinox!! The Sun is crossing the celestial equator
and heading to the Southern Hemisphere. This is all due to the tilt of the Earth.
- Full Moon (9:17UT) near Jupiter
- Too many cool reason to party!
27 - Venus at its brightest for the year
28 - Moon 1.1 deg S of Pleiades (M45)

 

Date information courtesy of: RASC Observer's Handbook, Skymaps.com, Astronomical Calendar 2010, CalSky. sunrise and sunset times for your home*
Comparative lengths of day and night

September Messier Objects

The sky is alive with globular clusters, all are possible in binoculars, and two of these are the finest globulars which can be seen from northern locations.

Many of the globular clusters surrounding the center of the Milky Way can be found in the direction of Sagittarius...makes sense, it is the direction of our galactic center. Seven of the these globulars appear in the Messier catalog, we will be visiting five of them this month. When you complete the search for these objects be sure to spend some time scanning this region with binoculars or a telescope and see what other sights you can discover. You will not be disappointed.

  • M13 The great globular cluster in Hercules is bright enough to be seen with naked eye. Binoculars easily show this cluster as a bright fuzzy ball. M13 is partially resolvable in small aperature telescopes and becomes a fantastic swarm of tightly packed individual stars through large scopes.
  • M92 Another globular cluster in Hercules, M92 is easy to find in binoculars appearing slightly dimmer and smaller than M13. As with M13 it is partially resolvable in small scopes and is a fine sight in large instruments.
  • M14 A small, bright globular cluster in Ophiuchus. It is a difficult binocular object, look for a small fuzzy patch of light. Through a telescope M14 is an even patch of light, the stars not resolvable except through large scopes.
  • M22 This is the other great globular in our tour this month. Located just above the teapot asterism in Sagittarius, M22 can be seen with no optical aid. M22 is easy to find in binoculars, and easy to resolve in telescopes, with about the same impressiveness as M13.
  • M28 Located near M22 in Sagittarius, this is a small bright globular. A tough binocular object, look for a small fuzzy patch. Easily seen in a telescope, but requires large aperatures to resolve individual stars.
  • M69, M70, M54 All of these are small bright globular clusters laying along the bottom of the teapot in Sagittarius. Very similar in appearance to M28, these are all tough binocular objects requiring dark skies and possibly averted vision to see. M54 is slightly brighter and appears more starlike through binoculars than the other globulars. These are all easily seen in telescopes, though not easily resolvable.

Messier information courtesy of Tony Cecce

 

Bright(er) Comets for September 2010

More comet information at Seiichi Yoshida's comet website, especially his bright comet page. Also checkout Gary Kronk's comet and meteor pages
Skyhound Comet pages

Historical and Current Events

...Did you know?

Mark has developed his own website so let's all trot on over and see the pages of wonderful history he has for us this month!

 

Help us out by leaving a donation in the ol' PayPal hat

or write us a favorable review in iTunes of Podcast Pickle or iPodder!

Music B.D. Lenz -"Lazy Bones"
Catriona- "Sunrise"
Cross the Border- "Winter Sun"

 

Great Astronomy Activities!

Citizen Sky

For those in Northern Hemisphere, Capella, the "She Goat" in Aurigae, is circumpolar. At my 47 deg North, Capella disappears behind the tree line, and into the light polluted horizon, but she pops up in a few hours and is easy to find. Also easy to find are epsilon Aurigae (al Maaz the Billy Goat) and "The Kids" which make a small, long, triangle of stars just to the Southwest of Capella.

Epsilon Aurigae and some unknown dark partner, rotate around a common center of mass and every 27 years that dark companion eclipses the giant F-type star. Last August marks the anticipated beginning for that eclipse which will last for 714 days, dimming from 3.0 mag to about half of its brightness.

So why am I calling this a great astronomy activity? Epsilon Aurigae has some definite quirks and more eyes are needed to help scientist figure out what Epsilon Aurigae's invisible partner really is! We need help...WE NEED YOU!! Anyone can participate; we need people to observe epsilon Aurigae, folks to look at the data for quirks, patterns, or voids, artist to help present the data to the public, friends willing to get the word out to others! To find out more visit:



 

Direct download: AAGG_sky_tour_Sept_2010.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:31 AM

Astronomy a Go Go! August Sky Tour



This tool displays the approximate Moon phases for a given month(images are close approximations). For official phase times and dates for this month and past months are available from the U.S. Naval Observatory.

 

Astronomical Online Glossary

Download this month's sky map!

Skymaps.com is our favorite monthly skymap provider. Download either the Northern hemisphere, Equatorial, or Southern Hemisphere sky map so you can follow along with our viewing sessions.
Creator: Kym Thalassoudis

 

Southern Hemisphere Additional Information

As Astronomy a Go Go! finds its home in the higher Northern latitudes those of you who live south of the equator will benefit from these two Southern Hemisphere sites: Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand's Southern Hemisphere Calendar RASNZ site (absolutely outstanding) and
Southern Sky Watch.

 

August Planets
(click images to enlarge)

 



 

  • Mercury- Following the setting Sun in the west for the beginning of the month, greatest elongation on the 7th. Views improve as you move south 0.2 mag (1st) to 1.3 (21st)
  • Venus- Beautiful in the western evening sky and brighter than last month! Observe frequently to watch Venus' phases change. Moving quickly eastward, greatest elongation on the 10th. Together with Mars and Saturn this trio makes for wonderful twilight viewing. -4.3 mag (1st) to -4.3 mag (21st)
  • Mars- Small and moving quickly eastward along with Venus and Saturn. Try pulling Mars out of focus to glimps polar caps. 1.5 (1st) to 1.5 mag (21st)
  • Jupiter- Rising just before midnight in Pisces and the brightest object in the eastern sky sans the Moon or Sun -2.7 mag (1st) to -2.7 mag (21st)
    Finder for Jupiter's moons: Sky and Telescope
  • Saturn- Placed in the western evening sky and delightful to see. Visible before full dark and racing eastward along with Venus and Mars. The Sun is creeping closer and Saturn will slowly disappear into twilight as it heads towards solar conjunction in October. 1.0 mag (1st) to 1.0 mag (21st)
    Finder for Saturn's Moons: Sky and Telescope
  • Uranus- Rises late, just before Jupiter in Pisces 5.9 mag (1st) to 5.9 mag (21st)
  • Neptune- Rising later near the Aquarius-Capricornus border 7.9 mag (1st) to 7.9 mag (21st)
    Finder charts for Uranus and Neptune: Sky and Telescope


Astronomical Highlights for August 2010

Days and Times in UT: (help with time)
Observations are for 10 pm for Northern Hemisphere and 8 pm for the Southern Hemisphere.
Today's sunrise and sunset times or plan ahead using the US Naval Observatory Website

Occultation information can be found at the IOTA website!

Day Event
3 - Last Quarter Moon
4 - Moon near Pleiades (M45) eastern sky early, early morning
5 - AAGG at Jazz Under the Stars Pacific Lutheran University
6 - Jupiter 0.5 deg S of Uranus
7 - Mercury at greatest elogation E (27 deg)
  - Moon 0.05 deg S of M35 (at the toe of Castor in Gemini)
8 - Mercury at aphelion
10 - Venus 3 deg S of Saturn
  - New Moon (3:08 UT)
  - Moon at Perigee (357857 km) expect large tides (18 UT)
12 - Mercury 2 deg N of Moon
  - AAGG at Jazz Under the Stars Pacific Lutheran University
12-13 - Perseid meteor shower peak. The radiant point for this shower will be in the constellation Perseus. The thin, crescent moon will be out of the way early, setting the stage for a potentially spectacular show. For best viewing, look to the northeast after midnight.
13 - Double shadow transit on Jupiter (10:12 UT)
  - Waxing crescent moon with Venus, Mars and Saturn
16 - First Quarter
20 - Venus greatest elongation E (46 deg)
  - Double shadow transit on Jupiter (12:06 UT)
  - Neptune at opposition
24 - Full Moon - Smallest in 2010
  - Moon at apogee (406386 km)
27 - Double shadow transit on Jupiter (15:50 UT)
  - Moon near Jupiter in the morning sky
31 - Venus together with Spica and Mars in the early evening sky

Date information courtesy of: RASC Observer's Handbook, Skymaps.com, Astronomical Calendar 2010, CalSky. sunrise and sunset times for your home*
Comparative lengths of day and night

 

Bright(er) Comets for August 2010

More comet information at Seiichi Yoshida's comet website, especially his bright comet page. Also checkout Gary Kronk's comet and meteor pages
Skyhound Comet pages

Historical and Current Events

...Did you know?

 

 

Mark has developed his own website so let's all trot on over and see the pages of wonderful history he has for us this month!

 

Help us out by leaving a donation in the ol' PayPal hat

or write us a favorable review in iTunes of Podcast Pickle or iPodder!

 

Music B.D. Lenz -"Lazy Bones"
Gred Federico- "Beneath the Stars"
Great Big Sea- "Eavesdropper's/Both Meat and Drink/Off We Go"

 

Great Astronomy Activities!

Citizen Sky

For those in Northern Hemisphere, Capella, the "She Goat" in Aurigae, is circumpolar. At my 47 deg North, Capella disappears behind the tree line, and into the light polluted horizon, but she pops up in a few hours and is easy to find. Also easy to find are epsilon Aurigae (al Maaz the Billy Goat) and "The Kids" which make a small, long, triangle of stars just to the Southwest of Capella.

Epsilon Aurigae and some unknown dark partner, rotate around a common center of mass and every 27 years that dark companion eclipses the giant F-type star. Last August marks the anticipated beginning for that eclipse which will last for 714 days, dimming from 3.0 mag to about half of its brightness.

So why am I calling this a great astronomy activity? Epsilon Aurigae has some definite quirks and more eyes are needed to help scientist figure out what Epsilon Aurigae's invisible partner really is! We need help...WE NEED YOU!! Anyone can participate; we need people to observe epsilon Aurigae, folks to look at the data for quirks, patterns, or voids, artist to help present the data to the public, friends willing to get the word out to others! To find out more visit:



Category:Sky Tours -- posted at: 8:58 AM

Astronomy a Go Go! June Sky Tour



This tool displays the approximate Moon phases for a given month(images are close approximations). For official phase times and dates for this month and past months are available from the U.S. Naval Observatory.

Astronomical Online Glossary

Download this month's sky map!

Skymaps.com is our favorite monthly skymap provider. Download either the Northern hemisphere, Equatorial, or Southern Hemisphere sky map so you can follow along with our viewing sessions.
Creator: Kym Thalassoudis

Southern Hemisphere Additional Information

As Astronomy a Go Go! finds its home in the higher Northern latitudes those of you who live south of the equator will benefit from these two Southern Hemisphere sites: Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand's Southern Hemisphere Calendar RASNZ site (absolutely outstanding) and
Southern Sky Watch.

June Planets
(click images to enlarge)



  • Mercury- Visable in the Eastern morning sky for the beginning of the month. Views best for the Southern Hemisphere. Superior conjunction on the 28th 0.1 mag (1st) to -0.4 (21st)
  • Venus- Beautiful in the western evening sky. -3.9 mag (1st) to -4.1 mag (21st)
  • Mars- Fantastic! Western evening sky in Leo. 1.1 (1st) to 1.3 mag (21st)
  • Jupiter- Morning sky in Pisces within 0.5 deg S of Uranus on the 26 -2.3 mag (1st) to -2.3 mag (21st)
  • Saturn- Placed in the western evening sky and delightful to see. Visible before full dark. 1.0 mag (1st) to 1.0 mag (21st)
  • Uranus- In the Eastern morning sky near Pices 5.9 mag (1st) to 5.9 mag (21st)
  • Neptune- In the Eastern morning sky near the Aquarius-Capricornus border 7.9 mag (1st) to 7.9 mag (21st)

Astronomical Highlights for June 2010

Days and Times in UT: (help with time)
Observations are for 10 pm for Northern Hemisphere and 8 pm for the Southern Hemisphere.
Today's sunrise and sunset times or plan ahead using the US Naval Observatory Website

Occultation information can be found at the IOTA website!

Day Event
4 - Last Quarter Moon
6 - Jupiter 0.5 deg S of Uranus

- Mars 0.9 deg N of Regulus

- Jupiter 7 deg S of Moon
7 - Venus at greatest heliocentric lat. N
9 - Mercury 6 deg S of Pleiades (M45)

- Venus 5 deg S of Pollux
10 - Moon 0.6 deg S of Pleiades (M45)
11 - Mercury 5 deg S of Moon
12 - New Moon (11:15 UT)
15 - Venus 4 deg N of Moon

- Moon at perigee (365932 km)
17 - Mars 6 deg N of Moon
18 - Ceres at opposition
19 - First Quarter

- Saturn 8 degrees N of Moon
20 - Mercury at ascending node

- Venus 0.4 deg N of Beehive (M44)
21 - Solstice (11:28 UT) The Sun reaches it furthest point North where it pauses before turning around and heading back towards the equator and the Southern Hemisphere
24 - Antares 1.8 degrees S of Moon
25 - Ceres 0.01 degrees N of Moon

- Pluto at opposition

- Mercury at perihelion
26 - Full Moon - Partial Lunar Eclipse
28 - Mercury in superior conjunction

Date information courtesy of: RASC Observer's Handbook, Skymaps.com, Astronomical Calendar 2009, CalSky, Skymaps.com. sunrise and sunset times for your home*
Comparative lengths of day and night



Image courtesy of Randy Brewer

Virgo Galaxies!



Start by arc-ing from the handle of the big dipper to Arcturus and then "Speed on" or "Spike" to Spica. Once at Spica work you way up the body of the Maiden to Porrma, her throat, and then up her outstretched arm to Vindemiatrix.

Another way is to start from the head of Leo the Lion wander west to Denebola and then across to Vindemiatrx.

43 Galaxies?!?!? Okay, here we go....

North is up

Object Magnitude Type Notes
Section 1

The 'on ramp'.....
Epsilon Virginis - Vindemiatrix 2.8
Yellow giant 100 light yrs away
Bunsen Burner 9 and 10th
This asterism point away from Epsilon and in the direction we want to go
Struve 1689 7 and 9.5 29" apart.
NGC 4762 and NGC 4754 10.3 and 10.5 Sp 4754 is off by itself and 4762 is between a 9th and 10th mag star. Use averted vision or tap the scope to get 4762 to pop out
NGC 4694 11.4 Sp Very hard to find 11.4 mag elongated NW-SE
NGC 4660 11.8 E Tiny round cotton ball
M60 8.8 E One of the biggest and brightest ellipticals in tonight's tour. At higher powers you can make out a slight halo as well as the companion galaxy 4647
NGC 4647 11.3 Sp Close companion to M60, 3' to the NW a challenge to pick up unless you use averted vision. It is a spiral but looks much more like a smaller version of its elliptical companion
M59 9.6 E Has a profile more like a spiral but this evening is all about being faint so- 0.4deg W not as bright as M60. Giant elliptical slightly elongated SE-NW
NGC 4638 11.2 Sp Fainter and smaller depending upon your field of view (FOV) you can squeeze it in along with M60 and M59 making an isosceles triangle with the three.
NGC 4606 11.8 Sp A toughie. Look for a fuzzy star with two stars on the south. If you have a larger scope you may have passed over 13.0mag 4607 an edge on spiral galaxy out of reach of our smaller scopes.




North is up

Object Magnitude Type Notes
Section 2

The first 'fork in the road'....
M58 13.0 Sp Spiral galaxy a little fainter and smaller than M59 a dark sky and larger scope (bigger than 8") will start to pick out its smoke like wisps of spiral arm. Take a good look at where you are because we will need to return back to M58 after a detour down the M90 (and friends)side alley.
NGC 4550 and NGC 4551 11.7 and 12.0 Sp and E (Misprint in the MacRobert's narrative where they are referred to as 4450 and 4451) Heading NW from M58 these two sit very close together and are both very faint and tricky to find.
M89 9.8 E A nice break from hunting around for the last two. It will seem to pop into view...strange how perspective does that to you. A round fuzzy blob with a brighter core.
M90 9.5 Sp Just after M89 is a little "W" that runs to the NNW to M90 a giant spiral galaxy with a low surface brightness but it is very large. There is an unrelated 12 mag star sitting between the Earth and the center of this galaxy. Elongated N-S look for a darkened lane on the eastern edge.
NGC 4564 11.1
Backtrack to M58 and then 0.5 deg SW to a tall box asterism just off the NE corner is 4564.
NGC 4567 and 4568 11.3 and 10.8 Sp Another pair of spirals that seem to be joined at the ends. They are nicknamed the "Siamese Twins" (Who am I to argue but they reminded me much more of amoeba from high school biology class)
NGC 4528 12.1 Sp Very tiny and quite faint another candidate for power, aperture and dark conditions
NGC 4503 11.1 Sp Off by itself and very diffuse on 10" or smaller scopes this might take DARK skies, tapping, averted vision...all of your faint fuzzy objects tricks.
North is up

Section 3

Back way in....
NGC 4452 12.0 Sp This galaxy is a tiny little fuzzy. It is in between two rows of stars and there is a third row of stars below it housing...
NGC 4429 10.0 Sp An easier find, still a fuzzy blob but easier than 4452
NGC 4440 11.7 Sp Slid back up to 4452 and then to the NW corner of the three rows (or Arcs) of stars. It sits just SW of the Northern most star in the arc
M87 8.6 E Now we begin to appreciate the "Ms" in front of numbers. After so many faint NGC an "M" gives us hope for something bigger and brighter. Not to disappoint M87 is .75 deg East of 4440 and a nice big bright giant elliptical. The bright nucleus is one of the brightest radio sources in the sky.
NGC 4478 11.4 E Is M87's companion much fainter and again needing your faint object tricks
NGC 4476 12.2 Sp Here we go getting super faint again, another target for larger scopes or darker skies (or sometime more experience) but give it your best because your rewards is...
North is up

Section 4

"The Grand Tour" or "Markarian's Chain"
M84-M86 9.1 and 8.9 E We start with the 'face' of the Chain M84 and M86, both elliptical galaxies, make up the eyes of the face. M86 is distinctly brighter with its own little cluster on the NE corner.
NGC 4388 and 4387 11.0 and 12.1 Sp and E Making an equilateral triangle to the South and forming the mouth is NGC 4388 and edge on E-W spiral galaxy and directly in the middle of the triangle finishing off the nose is NGC 4387 another elliptical galaxy.
NGC 4402 11.8
If the face had an eyebrow then it would be 4402. North 8.5ish' from M86 the E-W edge on spiral galaxy appears to have a slight dust lane and a North leaning bulge. Almost like a ladies broad brim hat.
NGC 4413 12.2 Sp In the opposite direction 9'WSW of 4388, NGC 4413 is an almost face on spiral galaxy
NGC 4425 11.8 Sp From 4388 make and equilateral triangle to the west with M86 and your corner will be roughly in the area of 4425 another edge on spiral galaxy brighter than 4413



Now we can start moving up the Chain in pairs...
NGC 4435 and 4438 10.8 and 10.2 Sp Draw a line WNW from M84 and M86 to the first pair in the chain, both spiral galaxies. Nick-named "The Eyes" 4438 is slightly longer with wispy arms reaching NW-SE and both galaxies mirror each other in orientation NW-SE
NGC 4461 and 4458 11.2 and 12.1 Sp and E The next pair, fainter the elliptical 4458 is all but indistinguishable (for me)from the small 10.95 mag star to its NW. 4461 is slightly brighter spiral galaxy elongated N-S
NGC 4473 10.2 E This slightly brighter elliptical lost her buddy (bad Scout) and lays E-W alone in the middle of the Chain. You may not have noticed but you are now in Coma Berenices.
NGC 4477 and 4479 10.4 and 12.4 Sp About 12' NNW are another pair of spiral galaxies. 4477 is the brighter and Eastern most of the pair
NGC 4459 and 4474 10.4 and 11.5 Sp A wider pair of spirals 4459 is very close to a 8.2 yellow star and look like an elliptical galaxy. 4474 is much fainter but has that familiar central bulge of an edge on galaxy.
M88 9.6 Sp The last two links in the Chain are biggies and brighties! M88 is a partial face on spiral with a multitude of arms making a nice even frisbe disk.
M91 10.2 Sp A particularly appropriate reward at the end. This face on barred spiral is beautiful with two large arms sweeping out on opposite sides.

Bright(er) Comets for May 2010

McNaught has returned!

Look for a McNaught to brighten to just naked eye magnitude around mid-month in Perseus! For those watchin Epsilon Aurigae with me find McNaught near Capella on the 21st. More details here: Spaceweather.com and tracking maps here: Sky and Telescope

More comet information at Seiichi Yoshida's comet website. Also checkout Gary Kronk's comet and meteor pages
Skyhound Comet pages

Historical and Current Events

...Did you know?

Mark has developed his own website so let's all trot on over and see the pages of wonderful history he has for us this month!

Help us out by leaving a donation in the ol' PayPal hat

or write us a favorable review in iTunes of Podcast Pickle or iPodder!

Music B.D. Lenz -"Lazy Bones"
Gred Federico- "Beneath the Stars"
Great Big Sea- "Eavesdropper's/Both Meat and Drink/Off We Go"

Great Astronomy Activities!

Citizen Sky

For those in Northern Hemisphere, Capella, the "She Goat" in Aurigae, is circumpolar. At my 47 deg North, Capella disappears behind the tree line, and into the light polluted horizon, but she pops up in a few hours and is easy to find. Also easy to find are epsilon Aurigae (al Maaz the Billy Goat) and "The Kids" which make a small, long, triangle of stars just to the Southwest of Capella.

For the next 21 months Epsilon Aurigae, usually the brightest of the trio, will start behaving quite differently than it has for the past 27 years. Epsilon Aurigae is a type of variable star called an eclipsing binary. Epsilon Aurigae and some unknown dark partner, rotate around a common center of mass and every 27 years that dark companion eclipses the giant F-type star. August marks the anticipated beginning for that eclipse which will last for 714 days, dimming from 3.0 mag to about half of its brightness.

So why am I calling this a great astronomy activity? Epsilon Aurigae has some definite quirks and more eyes are needed to help scientist figure out what Epsilon Aurigae's invisible partner really is! We need help...WE NEED YOU!! Anyone can participate; we need people to observe epsilon Aurigae, folks to look at the data for quirks, patterns, or voids, artist to help present the data to the public, friends willing to get the word out to others! To find out more visit:



Direct download: AAGG_sky_tour_June_2010.mp3
Category:Sky Tours -- posted at: 1:10 PM

Astronomy a Go Go! May Sky Tour

This tool displays the approximate Moon phases for a given month(images are close approximations). For official phase times and dates for this month and past months are available from the U.S. Naval Observatory.

Astronomical Online Glossary

Download this month's sky map!

Skymaps.com is our favorite monthly skymap provider. Download either the Northern hemisphere, Equatorial, or Southern Hemisphere sky map so you can follow along with our viewing sessions.
Creator: Kym Thalassoudis

 

Southern Hemisphere Additional Information

As Astronomy a Go Go! finds its home in the higher Northern latitudes those of you who live south of the equator will benefit from these two Southern Hemisphere sites: Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand's Southern Hemisphere Calendar RASNZ site (absolutely outstanding) and
Southern Sky Watch.

 


M13 image courtesy of my friend Gianluca Masi at the "Virtual Telescope - Bellatrix Observatory" in Italy! Follow him on Facebook!

May Planets
(click images to enlarge)

 


 

  • Mercury- In the morning sky during the last three weeks of May viewing is better the further south your latitude. Greatest elongation west on the 26th. 5.8 mag (1st) to 0.9 (21st)
  • Venus- Beautiful in the western twilight. Look for the crescent Moon occulting Venus on the 16th visible in the Eastern Hemisphere. -4.0 mag (1st) to -4.0 mag (21st)
  • Mars- Fantastic! Moving from Cancer to Leo this month. 0.7 (1st) to 1.0 mag (21st)
  • Jupiter- Near the Pisces-Aquarius border in the morning sky. Favors the southern hemisphere -2.1 mag (1st) to -2.2 mag (21st)
  • Saturn- High in the early evening sky in the arms of Virgo all month. The rings continue to open with clear spaces, on the sides, now visible in small scopes and binoculars. 0.7 mag (1st) to 0.7 mag (21st)
  • Uranus- In Pisces just to the south of the 'circlet' in the eastern morning sky 5.9 mag (1st) to 5.9 mag (21st)
  • Neptune- On the Aquarius-Capricorn in the eastern morning sky 7.9 mag (1st) to 7.9 mag (21st)

Astronomical Highlights for May 2010

Days and Times in UT: (help with time)
Observations are for 8 pm for Northern Hemisphere and 10 pm for the Southern Hemisphere.
Today's sunrise and sunset times or plan ahead using the US Naval Observatory Website

Occultation information can be found at the IOTA website!

Day Event
2 - Mercury in descending mode
3 - Venus 6.4 degree N of Aldebaran
4 - Pallas at opposition
6 - Last Quarter Moon
  - Moon at apogee (404236 km)
  - eta Aquarid meteor shower peak. A light shower, usually producing about 10 meteors per hour at their peak. Viewing should be good on any morning from May 4 - 7. The radiant point for this shower will be in the constellation Aquarius. Look to the east after midnight.
9 - Jupiter 7 degrees S of the Moon
11 - Mercury stationary
12 - Mercury at aphelion AND 8 degrees S of the Moon
14 - New Moon (1:04 UT)
16 - Venus at perihelion
  - Venus 0.1 degree S of the Moon, possible occultation
  - Moon 0.04 degrees N of M35(Gemini)
20 - Moon at perigee (369733 km)
  - Mars 5 degrees N of Moon
  - First Quarter
21 - Venus 0.7degree N of M35(Gemini)
23 - Saturn 8 degrees N of Moon
26 - Mercury greatest elongation W
27 - Full Moon (23:07 UT)
28 - Antares 1.8 degrees S of Moon
29 - Ceres 0.01 degrees N of Moon, possible occultation
31 - Saturn stationary

Date information courtesy of: RASC Observer's Handbook, Skymaps.com, Astronomical Calendar 2009, CalSky, Skymaps.com. sunrise and sunset times for your home*
Comparative lengths of day and night

Monthly Messier*

This month our observing will take in 10 more galaxies...faint fuzzy objects. Most are possible to see in binoculars, but you will need a telescope and dark skies to really enjoy the sights. This will be a good practice for the Virgo Cluster of galaxies. Besides these bright and spectacular objects are a treat to tired eyes after a night of galaxy hunting.

M51
The famous Whirlpool galaxy in Canes Venatici is a bright face on spiral with a smaller elliptical companion, NGC 5195. Look for a pair of fuzzy patches of light. The slightly larger and brighter one is M51. Make sure to spend some time here as there is almost always some spiral structure to be seen, on good nights the detail possible is unbelievable. This is a difficult but very possible object in binoculars appearing as a hazy patch of light.
M63
Another spiral galaxy in Canes Venatici smaller and fainter than M51, but seen more edge on so the galaxy appears as an elongated patch of light with a bright star at one end. Further inspection will show a faint halo around this patch. A difficult object in binoculars.
M94
Just past M63 is another galaxy in Canes Vanitici. Look for a bright fuzzy star to find the core of M94, surrounded by a faint haze. A tough binocular object.
M101
In Ursa Major one of the most difficult Messier objects to find in a telescope. This is a large faint patch of light almost as big as the full moon. There are no real condensations so use low power and look for a brighter part of the sky, more of a change in contrast than an object at first glance, which is the galaxy. Dark skies really help in the search of this one and are a to find M101 in binoculars.
M102
Not an official Messier object in most references, we will look for the galaxy NGC 5866 which is a somewhat standard insertion. Look for a small, faint patch light that looks like a short fuzzy line.
M64
In a telescope this galaxy in Coma Berenices is a fairly bright, slightly oval shaped patch of light. Look for the dark lane which gives this galaxy the common name Black Eye. The galaxy appears as a faint fuzzy patch in binoculars.
M85
This elliptical galaxy lies in Coma Berenices just north of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies. This appears as a bright, but small, patch of light with a bright stellar core.
M49
This is an elliptical galaxy in Virgo just south of the main cluster of galaxies. M49 is round patch of light with bright center gradually fading to a round halo. M49 looks like a faint fuzzy star in binoculars.
M61
This is a face on spiral galaxy just south of M49 in Virgo, but much fainter. Look for a faint, round fuzzy patch of light.
M104
This is the well known Sombrero galaxy in Virgo. It is bright edge on spiral galaxy which looks like a bright, elongated streak. It is very possible to see in binoculars.

From the Astronomical Connection and the Moncton Center in Canada

From the Tony Cecce, Corning, NY - Twelve Month Tour of The Messier Catalog

Bright(er) Comets for May 2010

More comet information at Seiichi Yoshida's comet website. Also checkout Gary Kronk's comet and meteor pages
Skyhound Comet pages

Historical and Current Events

...Did you know?

Mark has developed his own website so let's all trot on over and see the pages of wonderful history he has for us this month!

 

Help us out by leaving a donation in the ol' PayPal hat

or write us a favorable review in iTunes of Podcast Pickle or iPodder!

 

Music B.D. Lenz -"Lazy Bones"
Gred Federico- "Beneath the Stars"
Great Big Sea- "Eavesdropper's/Both Meat and Drink/Off We Go"

 

Great Astronomy Activities!

Citizen Sky

For those in Northern Hemisphere, Capella, the "She Goat" in Aurigae, is circumpolar. At my 47 deg North, Capella disappears behind the tree line, and into the light polluted horizon, but she pops up in a few hours and is easy to find. Also easy to find are epsilon Aurigae (al Maaz the Billy Goat) and "The Kids" which make a small, long, triangle of stars just to the Southwest of Capella.

For the next 21 months Epsilon Aurigae, usually the brightest of the trio, will start behaving quite differently than it has for the past 27 years. Epsilon Aurigae is a type of variable star called an eclipsing binary. Epsilon Aurigae and some unknown dark partner, rotate around a common center of mass and every 27 years that dark companion eclipses the giant F-type star. August marks the anticipated beginning for that eclipse which will last for 714 days, dimming from 3.0 mag to about half of its brightness.

So why am I calling this a great astronomy activity? Epsilon Aurigae has some definite quirks and more eyes are needed to help scientist figure out what Epsilon Aurigae's invisible partner really is! We need help...WE NEED YOU!! Anyone can participate; we need people to observe epsilon Aurigae, folks to look at the data for quirks, patterns, or voids, artist to help present the data to the public, friends willing to get the word out to others! To find out more visit:



 

Direct download: AAGG_sky_tour_May_2010.mp3
Category:Sky Tours -- posted at: 1:38 PM

Astronomy a Go Go! March Sky Tour

This tool displays the approximate Moon phases for a given month(images are close approximations). For official phase times and dates for this month and past months are available from the U.S. Naval Observatory.

Astronomical Online Glossary

Download this month's sky map!

Skymaps.com is our favorite monthly skymap provider. Download either the Northern hemisphere, Equatorial, or Southern Hemisphere sky map so you can follow along with our viewing sessions. Creator: Kym Thalassoudis

 

Southern Hemisphere Additional Information

As Astronomy a Go Go! finds its home in the higher Northern latitudes those of you who live south of the equator will benefit from these two Southern Hemisphere sites: Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand's Southern Hemisphere Calendar RASNZ site (absolutely outstanding) and Southern Sky Watch.

 

March Planets (click images to enlarge)

 

The Sun is where the party is this month!

  • Mercury- Passing from the morning sky to join Venus in the evening skies this month, in superior conjunction on the 14th. Starting around the 26th (earlier if you are further south) start looking for Mercury as he sneaks up on Venus, the bright becon near the horizon. -0.7 mag (1st) to -1.6 (21st)
  • Venus- Beautiful in the evening twilight near the horizon. Pull out your binoculars (after sunset) and look for the changes phases as Venus pulls away from the Sun. From the end of this month into the beginning of April Mercury will be paired up with Venus in the evening sky. -4.0 mag (1st) to -4.0 mag (21st)
  • Mars- King of the Night Sky! In Cancer all month as it on the 11th becoming prograde. Mar's northern hemisphere is tipped towards us and with dark skies and good optics you can expect some spectacular views. As we pull away from each other Mars will shrink in apparent diameter from 12" to 9" Look for the bright red point of light to the SE of Castor and Pollux -0.6 mag (1st) to -0.1 mag (21st)
  • Jupiter- Starts the month in the glare of the Sun having just passed into conjunction Feb 28th. Jupiter rises slightly earlier each morning and sharp-eyed viewers may be able to pick the gas giant out of the low eastern horizon by the end of the month. For northern viewers Jupiter is on a very shallow path, better for southern viewers. -2.0 mag (1st) to -2.0 mag (21st)
  • Saturn- Fantastic! Rises early-evening is in the arms of Virgo all month. Look to the SE of Leo the Lion as he rises on his tail... Saturn is next brightest object to rise. The rings continue to open with clear spaces, on the sides, now visible in small scopes and binoculars. Give it a couple of hours to get above the local horizon then start looking for rings and moons. 0.7 mag (1st) to 0.7 mag (21st)
  • Uranus- Still too close to the Sun. 5.9 mag (1st) to 5.9 mag (21st)
  • Neptune- Just coming out of conjunction reappearing in the morning sky near the Aquarius-Capricornus border 8.0 mag (1st) to 8.0 mag (21st)

Astronomical Highlights for March 2010

Days and Times in UT: (help with time) Observations are for 8 pm for Northern Hemisphere and 10 pm for the Southern Hemisphere. Today's sunrise and sunset times or plan ahead using the US Naval Observatory Website

Occultation information can be found at the IOTA website!

Day Event
  - Zodiacal lights visible in Northern latitudes in W after evening twilight for next 2 weeks
7 - Last Quarter Moon (15:47 UT)
11 - Mars stationary, switching from retrograde to prograde
12 - Moon at apogee, furtherst from the Earth at 406,008km
14 - Daylight saving time begins
12-13 - TAS Student Messier Marathon...good luck everyone!
15 - New Moon (21:01 UT)
17 - Sliver of a waxing cresenct near Venus in the evening twilight skies. Photo-op!
20 - Equinox! The Sun on the Ecliptic passes from South to North across the celestial equator.
21 - Possible occultation of the Plieades check the IOTA website for visibility in your area.
22 - Saturn at opposition. It is at it brightest for the year and also its closest Earth-Saturn distance
23 - First Quarter Moon (11:00 UT)
28 - Moon at perigee, closest to Earth at 361,876km
30 - Full Moon (2:25 UT)

Date information courtesy of: RASC Observer's Handbook, Astronomical Calendar 2009, CalSky, Skymaps.com. sunrise and sunset times for your home* Comparative lengths of day and night

Monthly Messier*

This month we will look for 10 objects, 8 open clusters in the southern milky way and a pair of galaxies, all are within reach of binoculars. The open clusters are easy binocular targets and most are visible with the naked eye. M81 and M82 are difficult binocular targets that offer a stunning telescopic view.

M41 This cluster in Canis Major is visible as a hazy patch to the naked eye just below Sirius. M41 is resolvable in binoculars and appears fairly loose in telescopes at low power.
M93 This is a small fuzzy patch of light in Puppis, partially resolvable in binoculars. The hardest part of finding this cluster in binoculars is picking it out of a fairly rich region of the milky way. Use low power to examine this cluster and the surrounding richness in a telescope. Medium power provides a nice view of the cluster itself.
M47 A bright cluster in Puppis, easily visible as a hazy patch to the naked eye. Binoculars will show a large hazy patch with many stars resolvable. Telescopes show a fairly loose cluster with stars of wide variety of magnitudes.
M46 This cluster is right next to M47 and is also visible to the naked eye. In binoculars M46 appears as a large hazy patch with no stars resolvable, giving a nice contrast to M47. In telescopes at low powers this cluster evenly fills the eyepiece. While you are here go to medium or high power and look for the planetary nebula NGC2438. It will appear as a faint uneven ring, with a blue/green color.
M50 An open cluster in Monoceros. This is a small hazy patch in binoculars, partially resolvable. Like M93, the richness of the surrounding field is the only difficulty in finding this object. This is a fairly tight cluster at low power in a telescope.
M48 Moving on to Hydra, we find another naked eye cluster. M48 is a large fuzzy patch in binoculars, partially resolvable. Use low to medium power in your telescope for a spectacular view.
M67 In the southeast portion of Cancer is another open cluster, barely visible as a fuzzy patch to the naked eye. Binoculars show M67 as a large hazy patch of light, similar to M46. Use low power to resolve this large, rich cluster in a telescope.
M44 Known as the Praesepe or Beehive Cluster, this open cluster is easily visible to the naked eye as a large, fuzzy patch bigger than the moon. Binoculars or rich field telescopes provide the best view of M44.
M81, M82 This pair of galaxies in Ursa Major are very possible to see in binoculars, they look like a pair of fuzzy stars. Both galaxies will fit into the same low power telescope field. M81 will appear as a large oval gray patch of light. M82 is a pencil like streak of light next to and perpendicular to the long axis of M81.

From the Astronomical Connection and the Moncton Center in Canada

From the Tony Cecce, Corning, NY - Twelve Month Tour of The Messier Catalog

Bright(er) Comets for March 2010

More comet information at Seiichi Yoshida's comet website. Also checkout Gary Kronk's comet and meteor pages Skyhound Comet pages

Historical and Current Events

...Did you know?

Mark has developed his own website so let's all trot on over and see the pages of wonderful history he has for us this month!

 

Help us out by leaving a donation in the ol' PayPal hat

or write us a favorable review in iTunes of Podcast Pickle or iPodder!

 

Music B.D. Lenz -"Lazy Bones" Albert- "Life on a Beach" Brain Bucket- "Rocket Science"

 

Great Astronomy Activities!

Globe at Night

Help measure light pollution by gazing at Orion...what could be better than star gazing for Science! Find all the tools you need at their website Globe at Night.

Citizen Sky

For those in Northern Hemisphere, Capella, the "She Goat" in Aurigae, is circumpolar. At my 47 deg North, Capella disappears behind the tree line, and into the light polluted horizon, but she pops up in a few hours and is easy to find. Also easy to find are epsilon Aurigae (al Maaz the Billy Goat) and "The Kids" which make a small, long, triangle of stars just to the Southwest of Capella.

For the next 21 months Epsilon Aurigae, usually the brightest of the trio, will start behaving quite differently than it has for the past 27 years. Epsilon Aurigae is a type of variable star called an eclipsing binary. Epsilon Aurigae and some unknown dark partner, rotate around a common center of mass and every 27 years that dark companion eclipses the giant F-type star. August marks the anticipated beginning for that eclipse which will last for 714 days, dimming from 3.0 mag to about half of its brightness.

So why am I calling this a great astronomy activity? Epsilon Aurigae has some definite quirks and more eyes are needed to help scientist figure out what Epsilon Aurigae's invisible partner really is! We need help...WE NEED YOU!! Anyone can participate; we need people to observe epsilon Aurigae, folks to look at the data for quirks, patterns, or voids, artist to help present the data to the public, friends willing to get the word out to others! To find out more visit:

Direct download: AAGG_sky_tour_Mar_2010.mp3
Category:Sky Tours -- posted at: 8:48 AM

 

 

This tool displays the approximate Moon phases for a given month(images are close approximations). For official phase times and dates for this month and past months are available from the U.S. Naval Observatory.

Astronomical Online Glossary

Download this month's sky map!

Skymaps.com is our favorite monthly skymap provider. Download either the Northern hemisphere, Equatorial, or Southern Hemisphere sky map so you can follow along with our viewing sessions. Creator: Kym Thalassoudis

Southern Hemisphere Additional Information

As Astronomy a Go Go! finds its home in the higher Northern latitudes those of you who live south of the equator will benefit from these two Southern Hemisphere sites: Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand's Southern Hemisphere Calendar RASNZ site (absolutely outstanding) and Southern Sky Watch.

 

Planets for February 2010

Mars image courtesy of my friend Gianluca Masi at the "Virtual Telescope - Bellatrix Observatory" in Italy! Follow him on Facebook!

  • Mercury- Southern Hemisphere views have a better chance of catching Mercury, in the morning sky on the ESE horizon, as it sinks away into the dawn twilight during February. Mercury is bracketed between (and the same color as) Antares far to its upper right and Altair far to its upper left. -0.1 mag (1st) to -0.3 (21st)
  • Venus- In the glare of the Sun as it enters the evening sky this month. Just after sunset look low (no lower!) on the western horizon and with binoculars (AFTER the sun has set completely) see if you can see both Jupiter and Venus -4.0 mag (1st) to -4.0 mag (21st)
  • Mars- Fantastic! In Cancer all month. Mar's northern hemisphere is tipped towards us and with dark skies and good optics you can expect some spectacular views. The image of Mars above was taken just this evening! (not in my rainy Seattle but in clear and cold Italy! -1.3 mag (1st) to -0.8 mag (21st)
  • Jupiter- All but gone from the sky as it continues to sink towards the Sun (the Sun is actually the one doing all of the moving in this case) Early in the month try and catch in LOW on the horizon after the Sun sets (see Venus). On the 16th Jupiter is .5 degrees N of Venus. Conjunction with the Sun on the 28th. -2.0 mag (1st) to -2.0 mag (21st)
  • Saturn- Rises mid-evening is in the arms of Virgo all month. The rings continue to open with clear spaces, on the sides, now visible in small scopes and binoculars. 0.7 mag (1st) to 0.7 mag (21st)
  • Uranus- In Pisces just to the south of the 'circlet' vanishes into the glare of the Sun by mid-month. 5.9 mag (1st) to 5.9 mag (21st)
  • Neptune- In Capricorn is in conjunction with the Sun on the 14th of this month 8.0 mag (1st) to 8.0 mag (21st)

Astronomical Highlights for February 2010

Days and Times in UT: (help with time)Observations are for 8 pm for Northern Hemisphere and 10 pm for the Southern Hemisphere. Today's sunrise and sunset times or plan ahead using the US Naval Observatory Website

Occultation information can be found at the IOTA website!

Day    Event
2 - Zodiacal lights visible in Northern latitudes in W after evening twilight for next 2 weeks
  - Comet C/2007 Q3 (Siding Spring) Closest Approach To Earth (2.193 AU)
5 - Last Quarter Moon
7 - Mars 3 degrees N of M44 (Praesepe or Beehive Cluster) great binocular pairing!
  - Antares 1.1 deg S of the Moon possible occultation (SW Alaska)
8 - Alpha Centaurids meteor shower. Favorable southern meteor shower this a waning Moon won't interfere. Best in the pre-dawn sky.
12 - Mercury 2 deg south of the Moon
13 - Moon at apogee (406540 km)
14 - New Moon (2:51 UT)
  - Neptune in conjunction with the Sun
  - Moon, Jupiter and Venus all together in the western sky after sunset. Only 9 deg from the Sun! Use caution!
15-16 - Between the evenings of February 16th and 17th, Vesta threads the gap between Gamma Leonis (magnitude 2.5) and 40 Leonis (magnitude 4.8), which is located 22 arcminutes to Gamma’s south. This familiar binocular pair will have a faint new interloper! Watch the asteroid’s progress from night to night
18 - Vesta at opposition in Leo (finder chart)
21 - Moon 0.1 deg S of M45 (Pleiades) possible occultation
22 - First Quarter Moon
24 - Moon 0.7 deg N of M35 (Gemini)
26 - Mars 0.7 deg N of Moon (waxing gibbous)
27 - Moon at perigee (357829 km) Large tides (Alice kayaking in Baja!)
28 - Jupiter in conjunction with the Sun
  - Full Moon (16:38 UT)

Date information courtesy of: RASC Observer's Handbook, Skymaps.com, Astronomical Calendar 2009, CalSky, Skymaps.com. sunrise and sunset times for your home*Comparative lengths of day and night

Monthly Messier*

This month highlights 10 messier objects, most are within reach of binoculars, and over half can be seen with the naked eye

M1 - The Crab nebula is a supernova remnant in Taurus. It is a hazy patch in small telescopes, large scopes can resolve some detail. It is difficult but possible to see in binoculars in dark skies and with some experience (you know what you are looking for).
M45 - The Pleides are a large open cluster in Taurus. Easy to resolve six stars naked eye. Binoculars provide the best view. Large telescopes can show some nebulosity.
M35, M37, M36, and M38 - A series of open clusters in the winter milky way. M35 is in Gemini, the others are in Auriga. All can be seen naked eye as faint fuzzy stars, binoculars reveal fuzzy patches, low power telescopes can resolve these rich clusters.
M42, M43 - M42 is the great Orion Nebula. It can be seen as small fuzzy patch naked eye. Binoculars show some detail, and the view is superb in most any scope. M43 is a small region of nebulosity next to M42, and probably requires the use of a telescope to view. Use low to moderate powers for the best view of this pair.
M78 - A small emission nebula in Orion, a tough binocular object. Best viewed in a telescope at moderate powers.
M79 - One of the smallest and dimmest globular clusters in the catalog. A tough binocular object in Lepus, best viewed in a telescope at moderate powers.

From the Astronomical Connection and the Moncton Center in Canada

From the Tony Cecce, Corning, NY - Twelve Month Tour of The Messier Catalog

Bright(er) Comets for February 2010

More comet information at Seiichi Yoshida's comet website. Also checkout Gary Kronk's comet and meteor pagesSkyhound Comet pages

Historical and Current Events

...Did you know? Mark has developed his own website so let's all trot on over and see the pages of wonderful history he has for us this month!

Help us out by leaving a donation in the ol' PayPal hat

...or write us a favorable review in iTunes or Podcast Pickle or iPodder!

Music B.D. Lenz -"Lazy Bones", Jody Gnant-"Me Who Changed", Jacky and Strings-"Rosa Maria"

Great Astronomy Activities!

Globe at Night

Help measure light pollution by gazing at Orion...what could be better than star gazing for Science! Find all the tools you need at their website Globe at Night.

Citizen Sky

For those in Northern Hemisphere, Capella, the "She Goat" in Aurigae, is circumpolar. At my 47 deg North, Capella disappears behind the tree line, and into the light polluted horizon, but she pops up in a few hours and is easy to find. Also easy to find are epsilon Aurigae (al Maaz the Billy Goat) and "The Kids" which make a small, long, triangle of stars just to the Southwest of Capella.

For the next 21 months Epsilon Aurigae, usually the brightest of the trio, will start behaving quite differently than it has for the past 27 years. Epsilon Aurigae is a type of variable star called an eclipsing binary. Epsilon Aurigae and some unknown dark partner, rotate around a common center of mass and every 27 years that dark companion eclipses the giant F-type star. August marks the anticipated beginning for that eclipse which will last for 714 days, dimming from 3.0 mag to about half of its brightness.

So why am I calling this a great astronomy activity? Epsilon Aurigae has some definite quirks and more eyes are needed to help scientist figure out what Epsilon Aurigae's invisible partner really is! We need help...WE NEED YOU!! Anyone can participate; we need people to observe epsilon Aurigae, folks to look at the data for quirks, patterns, or voids, artist to help present the data to the public, friends willing to get the word out to others! To find out more visit:

Direct download: AAGG_sky_tour_Feb_2010.mp3
Category:Sky Tours -- posted at: 2:55 PM

Astronomy a Go Go! January Sky Tour



This tool displays the approximate Moon phases for a given month(images are close approximations). For official phase times and dates for this month and past months are available from the U.S. Naval Observatory.

Astronomical Online Glossary

Download this month's sky map!

Skymaps.com is our favorite monthly skymap provider. Download either the Northern hemisphere, Equatorial, or Southern Hemisphere sky map so you can follow along with our viewing sessions.
Creator: Kym Thalassoudis

 

Southern Hemisphere Additional Information

As Astronomy a Go Go! finds its home in the higher Northern latitudes those of you who live south of the equator will benefit from these two Southern Hemisphere sites: Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand's Southern Hemisphere Calendar RASNZ site (absolutely outstanding) and
Southern Sky Watch.

 

January Planets
(click images to enlarge)

 


Mars and the Hexagon


Flame Nebula, Alnitak, Horsehead Nebula

  • Mercury- moving into inferior conjunction on the 4th and moving into the morning sky later in the month 2.9 mag (1st) to -0.0 (21st)
  • Venus- too close to the Sun for reliable viewing passing through superior conjunction on the 11th moving into the evening sky -4.0 mag (1st) to -4.0 mag (21st)
  • Mars- in Western Leo (between Cancer and Leo) visible most of the night (yeah!). In opposition on the 29th 5.5 light minutes from Earth. Closest to Earth on the 27th. -0.8 mag (1st) to -1.2 mag (21st)
  • Jupiter- low on the western horizon after sunset moving from Capricorn to Aquarius. Starts the month out near Neptune before heading quickly eastward -2.1 mag (1st) to -2.0 mag (21st)
  • Saturn- in Virgo all month rising after midnight and about 4 hours after Mars. Time to start watching for a return of the ring (yessss my Precious)through 2010. 1.1 mag (1st) to 1.1 mag (21st)
  • Uranus- Hovering just inside the Aquarius side of the Aquarius/Pisces border crossing back into Pisces in mid-January 5.7 mag (1st) to 5.7 mag (21st)
  • Neptune- In Capricorn all month. Jupiter slides eastward south of Neptune with a close, moon-less encounter on Dec. 24-25 7.9 mag (1st) to 7.9 mag (21st)

Astronomical Highlights for January 2010

Days and Times in UT: (help with time)
Observations are for 8 pm for Northern Hemisphere and 10 pm for the Southern Hemisphere.
Today's sunrise and sunset times or plan ahead using the US Naval Observatory Website

Occultation information can be found at the IOTA website!

1 - Moon at perigee (closest to the Earth 358,682 km) Large Tides
3 - Earth at perihelion (closest to the Sun 147097907 km)
- Quandrantids meteor shower (too much Moon)
4 - Mercury at inferior conjunction
6 - Moon near Saturn
7 - Last Quarter
11 - Antares 1.1 deg S of Moon possible occultation (check the IOTA website check the event for your area)
15 - New Moon (7:11 UT)
- Annular solar eclipse (check here for visibility from your location)
17 - Moon at apogee (furtherest from Earth 406,435 km)
18 - Moon near Jupiter
23 - First Quarter Moon
25 - Moon near Pleiades (early evening)
27 - Mars nearest to Earth at 19:02 UT (99.3 million km from Earth)
29 - Mars at opposition visible all night
30 - Full Moon (largest in 2010)
- Moon at perigee (356593 km) Large Tides

Date information courtesy of: RASC Observer's Handbook, Skymaps.com, Astronomical Calendar 2009, CalSky, Skymaps.com. sunrise and sunset times for your home*
Comparative lengths of day and night

Monthly Messier*

This month on the tour we will be attempting several of the most difficult objects in the Catalog, a small faint planetary nebula, and a pair of face on spiral galaxies. Also featured this month is a small, but fairly bright galaxy and three open clusters. You will need binoculars and a telescope to fully enjoy the January tour.

M33 - This is a very large (about the size of the full moon) face on spiral galaxy in the constellation Triangulum. The total light from M33 is about magnitude 5.3, but when spread out over its large area it yields a very low surface brightness. The best and easiest views of M33 can be found with a pair of binoculars. Look for a large, round hazy patch of light with little detail at first glance. M33 can be glimpsed with the naked eye in dark clear skies. Finding M33 in a telescope can be a challenge because of its size. Use the widest field eyepiece you have and look for a change in light level to identify the galaxy.
M103 - This is a fairly small, sparse open cluster in Cassiopeia. Look for a tight group of stars in binoculars, being careful not to mistake it for several other clusters in the same area. Through a telescope the cluster is very sparse, four bright stars amidst the slight glow of much fainter companions.
M52 - This rich open cluster in Cassiopeia is fairly easy to see in binoculars as a faint smudge of light. A small to mid telescope will begin to resolve this cluster. Look for a triangular patch of light with some stars clearly resolved, but most of the cluster members provide only a hint of graininess.
M76 - Known as the little dumbbell, this planetary nebula in Perseus is one of the dimmest objects in the Catalog. Look for a small, faint, oblong patch of light. Not a very obvious object, if you don't see it at first try varying magnifications in an attempt to bring it out. Fortunately M76 is located near a bright star which aids in locating the correct field to search.
M34 - This is a large and bright, but sparse open cluster located in Perseus. Visible as a faint patch of light to the naked eye, it is very obvious and easy to resolve in binoculars. In fact, binoculars provide a better view of this cluster than most telescopes.
M74 - This galaxy in Pisces is a smaller and fainter version of M33, a face on spiral galaxy with low surface brightness. M74 is arguably the most difficult object to find in the Catalog. You will need very dark, clear skies to easily see it, anything less than perfect conditions will make M74 nearly impossible to find. Look for a very faint fuzzy star, which is the bright central condensation, surrounded by a very faint glow. Try all of your tricks on this one; star hop to the correct field, try varying magnification, tap the scope to detect the galaxy through its motion. If all of the above fail, try again another night or seek darker skies.
M77 - This is a small faint galaxy in Cetus. Possible to see in binoculars, but very difficult, look for a faint fuzzy star. Through a telescope look for a fuzzy, oval shaped patch of light, bright in the center, fading towards the edges.

From the Astronomical Connection and the Moncton Center in Canada

From the Tony Cecce, Corning, NY - Twelve Month Tour of The Messier Catalog

Bright(er) Comets for January 2010

More comet information at Seiichi Yoshida's comet website. Also checkout Gary Kronk's comet and meteor pages
Skyhound Comet pages

Historical and Current Events

...Did you know?

Mark has developed his own website so let's all trot on over and see the pages of wonderful history he has for us this month!

Help us out by leaving a donation in the ol' PayPal hat

or write us a favorable review in iTunes of Podcast Pickle or iPodder!

 

Music B.D. Lenz Quartet -"Lazy Bones"
Greg Federico- "Beneath the Stars"
Boom Boom Beckett- "In a Sentimental Mood"

 

Great Astronomy Activities!

Citizen Sky

For those in Northern Hemisphere, Capella, the "She Goat" in Aurigae, is circumpolar. At my 47 deg North, Capella disappears behind the tree line, and into the light polluted horizon, but she pops up in a few hours and is easy to find. Also easy to find are epsilon Aurigae (al Maaz the Billy Goat) and "The Kids" which make a small, long, triangle of stars just to the Southwest of Capella.

For the next 21 months Epsilon Aurigae, usually the brightest of the trio, will start behaving quite differently than it has for the past 27 years. Epsilon Aurigae is a type of variable star called an eclipsing binary. Epsilon Aurigae and some unknown dark partner, rotate around a common center of mass and every 27 years that dark companion eclipses the giant F-type star. August marks the anticipated beginning for that eclipse which will last for 714 days, dimming from 3.0 mag to about half of its brightness.

So why am I calling this a great astronomy activity? Epsilon Aurigae has some definite quirks and more eyes are needed to help scientist figure out what Epsilon Aurigae's invisible partner really is! We need help...WE NEED YOU!! Anyone can participate; we need people to observe epsilon Aurigae, folks to look at the data for quirks, patterns, or voids, artist to help present the data to the public, friends willing to get the word out to others! To find out more visit:



Direct download: AAGG_sky_tour_Jan_2010.mp3
Category:Sky Tours -- posted at: 9:43 AM


Direct download: AAGG_sky_tour_Dec_2009.mp3
Category:Sky Tours -- posted at: 2:48 PM

Monthly notes are up!  Audio will be up tomorrow!
Category:Sky Tours -- posted at: 7:26 AM

Astronomy a Go Go! December Sky Tour



This tool displays the approximate Moon phases for a given month(images are close approximations). For official phase times and dates for this month and past months are available from the U.S. Naval Observatory.

Astronomical Online Glossary

Download this month's sky map!

Skymaps.com is our favorite monthly skymap provider. Download either the Northern hemisphere, Equatorial, or Southern Hemisphere sky map so you can follow along with our viewing sessions.
Creator: Kym Thalassoudis

 

Southern Hemisphere Additional Information

As Astronomy a Go Go! finds its home in the higher Northern latitudes those of you who live south of the equator will benefit from these two Southern Hemisphere sites: Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand's Southern Hemisphere Calendar RASNZ site (absolutely outstanding) and
Southern Sky Watch.

 

December Morning Planets
(click images to enlarge)

 


December morning sky



December evening sky


 

December late night

  • Mercury- the "evening star" through December much better viewing the further South your viewing site -0.5 mag (1st) to -0.4 mag (21st)
  • Venus- too close to the Sun for reliable viewing -3.8 mag (1st) to -3.8 mag (21st)
  • Mars- in Western Leo (between Cancer and Leo) look very late evening or very early morning. Mars will slowly creep towards the 'mouth' of the Lion all month -0.1 mag (1st) to -0.5 mag (21st)
  • Jupiter- in Capricorn in the early evening. Bright in the SW for a few hours after Sunset look for Mercury, Jupiter and the Moon together on the 18-19th. -2.3 mag (1st) to -2.2 mag (21st)

  • Saturn- in Virgo all month rising after midnight and about 4 hours after Mars 1.1 mag (1st) to 1.1 mag (21st)
  • Uranus- Hovering just inside the Aquarius side of the Aquarius/Pisces border crossing back into Pisces in mid-January 5.7 mag (1st) to 5.7 mag (21st)
  • Neptune- In Capricorn all month. Jupiter slides eastward south of Neptune with a close, moon-less encounter on Dec. 24-25 7.9 mag (1st) to 7.9 mag (21st)
  • Ceresand Eta - Finder chart from the New Zealand RAS (RASNZ) great charts! Northern Hemisphere observers this time you get to flip the chart or stand on your head!
    Vesta chart temporarily missing...use this one until site is corrected

Key Dates for December 2009

Days and Times in UT: (help with time)
Observations are for 8 pm for Northern Hemisphere and 10 pm for the Southern Hemisphere.
Today's sunrise and sunset times or plan ahead using the US Naval Observatory Website

Occultation information can be found at the IOTA website!

Astronomical Highlights - December 2009

1 - Algol at minimum (6:15 UT) Moon 0.03 deg S of Pleiades (M45)
2 - Uranus stationary
3 - Jovian moon phenomena: Io occults Europa (2:08 UT) Transit of the Great Red Spot 10 minutes later
- Full Moon (7:30 UT)
4 - Moon at perigee (363479 km)
6 - Moon near Beehive Cluster (M44)
7 - Mercury at greatest heliocentric lat. South
- Mars 5 deg N of the Moon
9 - Last Quarter (0:13 UT)
10 - Saturn 8 deg N of Moon
14 - Geminid meteor shower peak, with little Moon and an early rising of Gemini should make this a favorable shower. Expect up to 80 bright, medium-speed meteors per hour.
16 - New Moon (12:02 UT)
18 - Mercury 1.4 deg S of Moon and greatest elongation East
20 - Venus in descending mode
- Jupiter 0.6 deg S of Neptune
- Moon at apogee (405731 km)
21 - Double shadow transit on Jupiter (1:34 UT)
- Jupiter 4 deg S of Moon
- Mars stationary
- Solstice (17:47 UT) The Sun reaches its furtherest point South of the Celestial Equator. Summer for the Southern Hemisphere, Winter for the Northern. A description can be found here.
22 - Jovian moon phenomena: Europa occults Io (2:48 UT) Transit of the Great Red Spot (3:07 UT)
24 - First Quarter (17:36 UT)
- Pluto in conjunction with the Sun
26 - Mercury at ascending node
31 - Mercury at perihelion
- Full Moon a "Blue Moon"
- Partial lunar eclipse penumbral grazing the umbra visible through most of Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia

Date information courtesy of: RASC Observer's Handbook, Skymaps.com, Astronomical Calendar 2009, CalSky, Skymaps.com. sunrise and sunset times for your home*
Comparative lengths of day and night

    Monthly Messier*

    This will be a fairly easy month on the tour. We will view two small, but bright globular clusters, two open star clusters, and the grandest galaxy in the sky along with it's two companions. All of these objects are possible to find in binoculars, most are fairly easy.

    M2
    This is a small, bright globular cluster in Aquarius. To find it in binoculars look for a fuzzy star in a star poor field. A low power telescope field will show a round fuzzy patch, brighter in the center and fading to the edge, in a field with no other bright objects.
    M15
    This globular cluster in Pegasus is very similar to M2 in size and brightness, except it is surrounded by several bright stars. Fairly easy to find in binoculars but the best view is through a telescope at medium to high power.
    M29
    This galactic cluster is a small, sparse group of stars in Cygnus. It appears as a small fuzzy patch amongst a rich star field in binoculars. A telescope will easily resolve the members of this cluster. The shape of the cluster reminds me of the Pleiades as viewed through binoculars.
    M39
    Dark skies will allow this large, bright cluster in Cygnus to be seen with the naked eye as a hazy patch of light. Binoculars easily resolve this cluster into it's bright and widely scattered members, and provide a better view than can be seen with most telescopes.
    M31
    This is the famous Andromeda Galaxy, our closest galactic neighbor, and the largest, brightest galaxy to be seen in the northern sky. The ability to see M31 with the naked eye provides a good test of the darkness of your skies. M31 is so large that binoculars provide the best view, allowing the entire galaxy to be seen in one field of view. Look for an elongated patch of light, with a bright, round central core.
    M32
    This is an elliptical companion galaxy to M31. Through a telescope look for a slightly oval ball of fuzz in the same low power field as the core of M31. M32 is very possible to find in binoculars as a star like point of light.
    M110
    Another elliptical companion galaxy to M31, lying on the opposite side of the core as M32. Through a telescope look for a large, oval patch of light. Although M110 is as bright as M32 it is much larger and thus has a lower surface brightness making it a difficult object in light polluted skies. M110 is a very difficult binocular object requiring dark transparent skies, and trained eyes to have a chance at finding it.

    From the Astronomical Connection and the Moncton Center in Canada

    From the Tony Cecce, Corning, NY - Twelve Month Tour of The Messier Catalog

    Comets for December 2009

    More comet information at Seiichi Yoshida's comet website. Also checkout Gary Kronk's comet and meteor pages
    Skyhound Comet pages

    Historical and Current Events

    ...Did you know?

    Mark has developed his own website so let's all trot on over and see the pages of wonderful history he has for us this month!

    Help us out by leaving a donation in the ol' PayPal hat

    or write us a favorable review in iTunes of Podcast Pickle or iPodder!

     

    Music Scottish Guitar Quartet -"Romance Within You"
    Black Lab- "See the Sun"
    Anne Farnsworth- "Saturday Morning"

     

    Great Astronomy Activities!

    Citizen Sky

    For those in Northern Hemisphere, Capella, the "She Goat" in Aurigae, is circumpolar. At my 47 deg North, Capella disappears behind the tree line, and into the light polluted horizon, but she pops up in a few hours and is easy to find. Also easy to find are epsilon Aurigae (al Maaz the Billy Goat) and "The Kids" which make a small, long, triangle of stars just to the Southwest of Capella.

    For the next 21 months Epsilon Aurigae, usually the brightest of the trio, will start behaving quite differently than it has for the past 27 years. Epsilon Aurigae is a type of variable star called an eclipsing binary. Epsilon Aurigae and some unknown dark partner, rotate around a common center of mass and every 27 years that dark companion eclipses the giant F-type star. August marks the anticipated beginning for that eclipse which will last for 714 days, dimming from 3.0 mag to about half of its brightness.

    So why am I calling this a great astronomy activity? Epsilon Aurigae has some definite quirks and more eyes are needed to help scientist figure out what Epsilon Aurigae's invisible partner really is! We need help...WE NEED YOU!! Anyone can participate; we need people to observe epsilon Aurigae, folks to look at the data for quirks, patterns, or voids, artist to help present the data to the public, friends willing to get the word out to others! To find out more visit:



    Earth's major motions for 2009

    Perihelion
    Jan 4 15(UT)
    First Cross Quarter Day
    Feb 2-6
    Equinox
    Mar 20 11:44(UT)
    Second Cross Quarter Day
    May 4-7
    Solstice
    June 21 05:45(UT)
    Aphelion
    July 4 02h (UT)
    Third Cross Quarter Day
    Aug 5-8
    Equinox
    Sept 22 21:18(UT)
    Fourth Cross Quarter Day
    Nov 5-8
    Solstice
    Dec 21 17:47(UT)

    Planet Positions for 2009


    2009 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
    Venus Sgr Cap Aqr Psc Tau Gem Cnc Vir Vir Sco Sgr Cap
    Mars Sgr Cap Aqr Psc Psc Ari Tau Tau Gem Cnc Cnc Leo
    Jupiter Cap Cap Cap Cap Cap Cap Cap Cap Cap Cap Cap Cap
    Saturn Leo Leo Leo Leo Leo Leo Leo Leo Vir Vir Vir Vir

     

    Interesting Planet Pairing for 2009

    • December 31, 2008 - Jupiter and Mercury - After sunset a little more than one degree apart in Sagittarius. Pull out the binos and telescopes because Mercury will be a mere 15 arcminutes from the globular cluster M75. All three will be together in one field of view in most home binoculars.
    • January 22nd - Venus and Uranus - After sunset 1.3 degrees apart a few days later on the 29th they are joined by a waxing crescent moon.
    • February 23rd - Jupiter, Mars and Mercury - In the early morning sky just before sunrise the trio are in a space about 2 degrees wide. Binoculars will be helpful but beware the quickly rising Sun. The Moon, almost invisible, will be between Mars and the Sun.
    • March 23rd - Mars, Moon, Neptune, and Jupiter - Makes a nice line-up in the morning sky with Neptune just off the tip of the waning crescent moon.
    • April 21st - Venus, Mars, Uranus, waning crescent Moon, Neptune and Jupiter - all in the pre-dawn sky together. First the right triangle of Venus, Mars, and Uranus followed by the waning crescent Moon and then finally by Neptune and Jupiter. Mars will be a faint 1.41 mag so binoculars will be helpful. The next day, possible occultation of Venus by the Moon. Check the IOTA website for occultations in your area.
    • May 25th - Jupiter and Neptune - Jupiter is less than 1/2 degree South of Neptune in the morning sky. If you have ever had problems finding Neptune this would be a good time to try, between now and June.
    • June 19th - Venus and Mars - In the pre-dawn sky just south of a waning crescent Moon. Closer to the Sun is Mercury and the Pleiades.
    • August 17th - Saturn and Mercury - Very close to the Sun low in the evening sky. Much better view for Southern viewers.
    • September 3rd UT 4:43 - Jupiter hides its Galilean moons. Not until 2019 will all of Jupiter's Galilean moons orbit in such a way.
    • September 4th - Saturn - Not exactly a pairing but the Earth will cross the plane of the rings from south to north making the rings invisible
    • October 16th - Mercury, Venus, and Saturn - All lined up in the pre-dawn sky close to the horizon. A faint waning crescent is just south of the trio.
    • December 24th - Jupiter and Neptune - Just after sunset Jupiter and Neptune sit side-by-side just north of delta Capricornus and east of the "42,44,45 Cap Wall"

    Phases of the Moon 2009


    (click to enlarge)

    Universal Time

          NEW MOON    FIRST QUARTER       FULL MOON     LAST QUARTER
    
           d  h  m          d  h  m         d  h  m          d  h  m
           
                     JAN.   4 11 56   JAN. 11  3 27   JAN.  18  2 46
    JAN.  26  7 55   FEB.   2 23 13   FEB.  9 14 49   FEB.  16 21 37
    FEB.  25  1 35   MAR.   4  7 46   MAR. 11  2 38   MAR.  18 17 47 
    MAR.  26 16 06   APR.   2 14 34   APR.  9 14 56   APR.  17 13 36  
    APR.  25  3 23   MAY    1 20 44   MAY   9  4 01   MAY   17  7 26
    MAY   24 12 11   MAY   31  3 22   JUNE  7 18 12   JUNE  15 22 15
    JUNE  22 19 35   JUNE  29 11 28   JULY  7  9 21   JULY  15  9 53  
    JULY  22  2 35   JULY  28 22 00   AUG.  6  0 55   AUG.  13 18 55  
    AUG.  20 10 02   AUG.  27 11 42   SEPT. 4 16 03   SEPT. 12  2 16
    SEPT. 18 18 44   SEPT. 26  4 50   OCT.  4  6 10   OCT.  11  8 56  
    OCT.  18  5 33   OCT.  26  0 42   NOV.  2 19 14   NOV.   9 15 56  
    NOV.  16 19 14   NOV.  24 21 39   DEC.  2  7 30   DEC.   9  0 13  
    DEC.  16 12 02   DEC.  24 17 36   DEC. 31 19 13
    
    

    Eclipses for 2009

     

    2009 January 26
    [ Solar: Annular ]
    2009 February 09
    [ Lunar: Penumbral ]
    2009 July 07
    [ Lunar: Penumbral ]
    2009 July 21-22
    [ Solar: Total ]
    2009 August 05-06
    [ Lunar: Penumbral ]
    2009 December 31
    [ Lunar: Penumbral ]

     

    January 26 - Annular Solar Eclipse ( see map, times, and animation!): The first solar eclipse of 2009 occurs at the Moon's ascending node in western Capricornus. An annular eclipse will be visible from a wide track that traverses the Indian Ocean and western Indonesia. A partial eclipse will be seen within the much larger path of the Moon's penumbral shadow, which includes the southern third of Africa, Madagascar, Australia except Tasmania, southeast India, Southeast Asia and Indonesia.

     

    February 09 - Penumbral Lunar Eclipse ( see map, times): The first lunar eclipse of 2009 is one of four such events during the year. The first three eclipses are penumbral while the last (on Dec. 31) is partial. The Feb 09 event is the deepest penumbral eclipse of the year with a penumbral magnitude of 0.899. It will be easily visible to the naked eye as a dusky shading in the northern half of the Moon. The times of the major phases are listed below.

    July 07 - Penumbral Lunar Eclipse ( see map, times.): July's penumbral eclipse is only of academic interest since the magnitude is just 0.156. Although the Moon will be above the horizon from most of Canada, the eclipse is so minor as to be completely invisible to the naked eye.

    July 21-22 - Total Solar Eclipse ( see map, times, and animation!): To make up for the anemic lunar eclipse earlier in the month, a major total eclipse of the Sun occurs two weeks later. The path of the Moon's umbral shadow extends across India, China, a handful of Japanese islands and the South Pacific Ocean (Espenak and Anderson, 2008). A partial eclipse is seen within the much broader path of the Moon's penumbral shadow, which includes most of eastern Asia, Indonesia, and the Pacific Ocean.

    August 05-06 - Penumbral Lunar Eclipse ( see map, times): A shallow penumbral eclipse occurs 15 days after the total solar eclipse. Since its magnitude is only 0.402, it will not be visible to the naked eye.

    December 31 - Penumbral Lunar Eclipse ( see map, times): The last eclipse of 2009 occurs on New Year's Eve. This minor partial lunar eclipse takes place in Gemini, and is visible primarily from the Eastern Hemisphere (Figure 8). Greatest eclipse takes place at 19:23 UT when the eclipse magnitude will reach 0.0763.

    Eclipse information from: NASA Eclipse Homepage, Eclipses Online (HM Nautical Almanac Office, UK in coordination with the U.S. Naval Observatory)

    2009 Meteor Shower Calendar

    Shower Activity Period Maximum Radiant Velocity r ZHR Class Moon
        Date S. L. R.A. Dec. km/s        
    Antihelion Source (ANT) Dec 14-Sep 07 - - - - 30 3.0 3 II -
    Quadrantids (QUA) Dec 26-Jan 13 Jan 03 283°16 15:20 +49° 42 2.1 120 I 6
    Alpha Centaurids (ACE) Jan 28-Feb 21 Feb 07 319°2 14:00 -59° 56 2.0 5 II 12
    Delta Leonids (DLE) Feb 15-Mar 10 Feb 25 336° 11:12 +16° 23 3.0 2 II 0
    Gamma Normids (GNO) Feb 25-Mar 22 Mar 13 353° 16:36 -51° 56 2.4 4 II 16
    Lyrids (LYR) Apr 16-Apr 27 Apr 23 033° 18:12 +33° 46 2.1 18 I 27
    Pi Puppids (PPU) Apr 15-Apr 28 Apr 23 033°5 07:20 -45° 18 2.0 var III 27
    Eta Aquarids (ETA) Apr 27-May 23 May 07 047° 22:36 -01° 68 2.4 60 I 12
    Eta Lyrids (ELY) May 06-May 14 May 10 050° 19:22 +43° 43 3.0 3 II 15
    June Bootids (JBO) Jun 22-Jul 02 Jun 27 095°7 14:56 +48° 18 2.2 var III 5
    Piscis Austrinids (PAU) Jul 15-Aug 10 Jul 28 125° 22:44 -30° 35 3.2 5 II 7
    Alpha Capricornids (CAP) Jul 12-Aug 08 Jul 28 125° 20:20 -10° 24 2.5 4 II 7
    Delta Aquarids (SDA) Jul 21-Aug 30 Jul 30 127° 22:42 -17° 43 3.2 20 I 9
    Perseids (PER) Jul 13-Aug 26 Aug 12 140° 03:12 +58° 59 2.6 100 I 20
    Kappa Cygnids (KCG) Aug 03-Aug 25 Aug 17 145° 19:04 +59° 25 3.0 3 II 25
    Alpha Aurigids (AUR) Aug 28-Sep 03 Sep 01 158°6 06:06 +39° 65 2.6 7 II 11
    September Perseids (SPR) Sep 06-Sep 13 Sep 10 168° 03:12 +40° 65 2.9 5 II 19
    Delta Aurigids (DAU) Sep 18-Oct 10 Sep 29 186° 05:52 +49° 64 2.9 2 II 13
    Draconids (GIA) Oct 06-Oct 10 Oct 08 195°4 17:28 +54° 20 2.6 var III 18
    Southern Taurids (STA) Sep 18-Nov 26 Oct 11 198° 02:18 +09° 29 2.3 5 II 21
    Epsilon Geminids (EGE) Oct 18-Oct 21 Oct 20 207° 06:48 +28° 71 3.0 2 II 2
    Orionids (ORI) Sep 28-Nov 10 Oct 21 208° 06:22 +16° 68 2.5 23 I 3
    Leo Minorids (LMI) Oct 17-Oct 27 Oct 23 209° 10:40 +37° 61 2.7 2 II 4
    Northern Taurids (NTA) Oct 20-Nov 29 Nov 13 231° 03:52 +22° 29 2.3 5 II 25
    Leonids (LEO) Nov 07-Nov 28 Nov 18 236° 10:16 +22° 71 2.5 var III 1
    Alpha Monocerotids (AMO) Nov 15-Nov 25 Nov 21 239°32 07:48 +01° 65 2.4 var III 4
    Dec Phoenicids (PHO) Nov 28-Dec 09 Dec 06 254°25 01:12 -53° 18 2.8 var III 18
    Puppid/Velids (PUP) Dec 01-Dec 15 Dec 07 255° 08:12 -45° 40 2.9 10 I 19
    Monocerotids (MON) Dec 06-Dec 20 Dec 07 255° 06:32 +09° 41 3.0 2 II 10
    Sigma Hydrids (HYD) Nov 22-Dec 23 Dec 09 257° 08:24 +03° 60 3.0 3 II 21
    Geminids (GEM) Dec 05-Dec 19 Dec 14 262°2 07:36 +32° 35 2.6 120 I 26
    Coma Berenicids (COM) Dec 10-Jan 25 Dec 19 268° 11:40 +25° 64 3.0 5 II 3
    Ursids (URS) Dec 16-Dec 25 Dec 22 270°7 14:34 +75° 32 3.0 10 I 5

    Information and Table Template Courtesy The American Meteor Society, International Meteor Organization, and Meteors Online.

    Explanation of the 2009 Meteor Shower Calendar

    Shower: named for the constellation or closest star within a constellation where the radiant is located at maximum activity.

    Activity Period: the dates when the ZHR (Zenith Hourly Rates) are equal to or greater than one.

    Maximum: the date on which the maximum activity is expected to occur.

    S.L.: the equivalent solar longitude of the date of maximum activity. Solar longitude is measured in degrees (0-359) with 0 occurring at the exact moment of the spring equinox, 90 at the summer solstice, 180 at the autumnal equinox, and 270 at the winter solstice.

    Radiant: the area in the sky where shower meteors seem to appear from. This position is given in right ascension (celestial longitude) and declination (celestial latitude).

    Velocity: the velocity at which shower meteors strike the Earth's atmosphere. The velocity depends on the angle meteoroids (meteors in space) intersect the Earth. Meteoroids orbiting in the opposite direction of the Earth and striking the atmosphere head-on are much faster than those orbiting in the same direction as the Earth. This velocity is measured in kilometers per second.

    r: The Population Index, An estimate of the ratio of the number of meteors in subsequent magnitude classes. Simply stated: the lower the "r" value, the resulting overall mean magnitude of each shower will be brighter. "r" usually ranges from 2.0 (bright) to 3.5 (faint).

    ZHR: Zenith Hourly Rate, the average maximum number of shower meteors visible per hour if the radiant is located exactly overhead and the limiting magnitude equals +6.5. Actual counts rarely reach this figure as the zenith angle of the radiant is usually less and the limiting magnitude is usually lower. ZHR is a useful tool when comparing the actual observed rates between individual observers as it sets observing conditions for all to the same standards.

    Class: A scale developed by Robert Lunsford to group meteor showers by their intensity:

    Class I: the strongest annual showers with ZHR's normally ten or better.

    Class II: reliable minor showers with ZHR's normally three or better.

    Class III: showers with widely variable rates. They may be strong one year and totally inactive the next.

    Class IV: weak minor showers with ZHR's rarely exceeding three. The study of these showers is best left to experienced observers who use plotting and angular velocity estimates to determine shower association. Observers with less experience are urged to limit their shower associations to showers with a rating of I to III. These showers are also good targets for video and photographic work.

    Moon: the age of the moon in days where 0 is new, 7 is first quarter, 14 is full, and 21 is last quarter. Meteor activity is best seen in the absence of moonlight so showers reaching maximum activity when the moon is less than 10 days old or more than 25 are much more favorably observed than those situated closer to the full moon.

    Information from the "Observer's Handbook 2009" RASC



    Category:Sky Tours -- posted at: 7:20 AM