Friday, July 8, 2016

Who will be the first to spot Venus?


shadowandsubstance.com
I have gotten used to sharing the evening sky with our 3 visible superior planets of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars. They are called "superior" not because they are smarter, but because they are farther from the Sun then we are.

However, the "inferior" planet Venus is about to make a comeback. After spending nearly a year in the morning sky, Venus just finished rounding the far side of the Sun and is coming back to our night sky.

Because of the season, the ecliptic now makes a shallow angle with the western horizon after sunset. This means that although venus will be getting farther from the Sun each night, it will not move much above the horizon, making viewing difficult. However, I have already heard of one report of someone in Israel finding Venus in binoculars.

Tonight Venus will set by 8:20 pm, only about 35 minutes after sunset. Each night venus will set a minute or 2 later. By the beginning of August Venus will still only be about 4 degrees above the horizon 1/2 hour after sunset. But bright enough for keen observers to spot.

See this great  animation  of Venus and all the the other visible planets dancing in the western sky over the next year. It is created by the Shadow and Substance guy. Note that Venus and Jupiter will pass in a very close conjunction on Aug 28th. Stay tuned for more on that later.


So keep looking up, and let me and the list know if you are able to spot Venus!


-AstroTom


Heavenly Update



I hope everyone has been enjoying our clear skies and views of Mars over the past few weeks. The Earth is pulling ahead of Mars now, so it is getting a little smaller and less bright each night. But Mars is still the brightest "star" in its area of the southern sky.

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/sky-at-a-glance/this-weeks-sky-at-a-glance-july-8-16/
From Israel the Moon will be a bit to the right of what is shown here.
Now that the new crescent Moon of Tammuz is out, we can use its help to find 3 planets over the coming week. Tonight on your way home from Shul, look for the thin crescent Moon in the west. You will then see a very bright "star" to its left. That will be Jupiter!

As the Moon continues it journey around the Earth it will pass Jupiter and appear to its left by tomorrow night (Sat). By next Thursday the Moon will cruise to just above  Mars in the southern sky. Two days later on next Friday, the Moon will be to the right and above Saturn. The Ringed Planet is now about 1/2 as bright as Mars in a cluster of bright stars, but the Moon will help you spot it.


-AstroTom





Sunday, May 22, 2016

Mars is now it's closest to Earth


If you were wondering what that really bright "star" in the sky is, it is Mars!

Because of the way our orbits work, Mars and the Earth line up about once every 2 years. (You probably learned that watching "The Martian"). Mars now rises at sunset and is up all night. By about 9pm it is high enough in the southeast to be easily visible. Although it is hazy tonight, you can still find it near the full Moon. (After tonight, the Moon will be getting farther from Mars in our sky, so not as useful as a landmark.




-AstroTom

http://astrowife.blogspot.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AstroTom/
 Stay up to date with the Sun, planets and stars.
 Subscribe to AstroTom with an email to:
     AstroTom-subscribe@yahoogroups.com





Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Mercury transit report


On the roof in Rosh Haayin (thanks to Monica)
On the roof in Rosh Haayin (thanks to Monica)

On Monday the weather was rather hazy here. I brought my Mead ETX 90 with a solar filter to the roof at work in Rosh Haayin to share the view with my co-workers. You can see how hazy it was by the lack of shadows in the picture above. (See more pics) We did get a few moments of good seeing when we were able to spot Mercury.

As it turns out later in the afternoon the sky did mostly clear up, but by then I was on the road. However my friend Gadi, in Petah Tikva was ready and captured some nice photos and video. See his report in English or Hebrew.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Transit of Mercury next week



When Mercury swung in front of the sun on November 8, 2006, it appeared as a small black dot (lower right of center), not nearly as conspicuous as the big sunspot at the left edge of the solar disk. Photo by Brocken Inaglory.
When Mercury swung in front of the sun on November 8, 2006, it appeared as a small black dot (lower right of center), not nearly as conspicuous as the big sunspot at the left edge of the solar disk. Photo by Brocken Inaglory.
(from 
http://earthsky.org/?p=234431)
Next week on Monday May 9th will be a rare transit of Mercury across the face of the sun. This means our innermost planet will be passing directly between the Earth and the Sun. The last time this occurred was 2006, but was not visible from Israel. It will not happen again till 2019. 

(For pictures of the 2006 transit captured in Efrat see here.)

In order to view the transit you will need special equipment. There will be a public viewing in Bet Shemeh by the Dubeh HaGedolah group. See this link for info and to sign up.

If you can't make it to Bet Shemesh you can see a great simulation at http://www.shadowandsubstance.com/ There will also be a live streaming event at http://www.ccssc.org/webcast.html starting at 2:00pm Israel time.


-AstroTom

http://astrowife.blogspot.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AstroTom/
 Stay up to date with the Sun, planets and stars.
 Subscribe to AstroTom with an email to:
     AstroTom-subscribe@yahoogroups.com



Friday, October 23, 2015

Updated Faroe Island slide show






I just realized there was a permission problem with the photos I posted in my eclipse report from the Faroe Islands. I have updated the post to include a new, correct link to the  photo slide show 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Orionid Meteor Shower this Wed night




The Orionid Meteor Shower peaks this Wednesday  night.

Like all meteor showers, the Orionids are visible from anywhere on Earth. All you need is a dark location, and clear skies to view them. So if you are adventurous, go down to the dark desert. Otherwise find a relatively dark corner away from street lights.

The shower peaks on the night of the 21st (Wed night, Thur morning) Like most meteor showers, this one peaks after midnight, with most meteors (about 10 per hour) visible as we get closer to dawn. This year the moon sets by midnight so it will be out of the way as a light source. The weather is a bit iffy, but Barry's forecast currently shows  clear skies for most of the night in the Jerusalem area.

You can read more about the Orionid shower and EarthSky.

-tom