Friday, December 31, 2010

Solar eclipse this coming Tuesday

Get ready for last Solar eclipse visible in Israel for the next 10 years!

On Tuesday Jan 4th there will be a partial solar eclipse of the sun visible from much of  North Africa, Europe and central Asia  Here in Israel it will be visible in the morning when the Moon covers almost 60% of the Sun.

 The eclipse in Israel will begin at 9:10am when the Moon first appears to touch the disk of the Sun. For the next hour and a half the silhouette of the Moon will slowly creep over the face of the sun, til at 10:41 it reached the maximum of 57% coverage. The moon will continue to pass before the Sun till it slides completely off by 12:15 local time.

As always, be sure to keep your eyes safe and do not look directly at the Sun. See my previous post about safe methods of solar viewing.

A simple pinhole projection is the simplest and safest method and you don't need any equipment other  than your own fingers. But if you like you cab buy a pair of solar viewing filters. You can find them here in Israel at
Barakat observatory in Moddin or at Cosmos in Ramat Gan.

Here is more info in Hebrew from Barakat.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

How to chose a Telescope or Binoculars

If you are considering buying a telescope - wait!

I have written before with some advice about buying telescopes.
But, apparently I did stress enough my best advice for telescope seekers. Don't do it till you buy a good pair of binoculars first!

This is really good advice. I know because I followed it myself.
Some of the pluses of binoculars:

  • A good pair of binos are cheaper than a telescope
  • You can easily cary it ion your bag or around your neck.
  • You get to use both of your eyes together. Binos are a mini telescope for each eye.
  • Binos have a marge larger field of view that a telescope making it easier to find stuff in the sky.
  • The view is right side up as apposed to upside down or backwards s in many telescopes.
  • And did I mention they are cheaper?
A standard size for astronomy binoculars is 10x50. To learn what that means and more specs see Binoculars for Astronomy  from Sky & Tel.
When you are ready to upgrade to a telescope see my previous New Telescope Review

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Solstice day - Tomorrow!

Although we are missing the Lunar eclipse (happening right now in the western hemisphere) we still get to celebrate the Winter Solstice.
This is the shortest day of the year (about 10 hour and 4 minutes) and the official 1st day of winter in the northern hemisphere. Solstice come from the Latin "Sun stands still" as it is the moment when the sun appears to have moved farthest to the south in our sky, and stops for a moment before turning around. The exact time this year is actually on 1:38am tonight, so even though winter starts today in America and England and Western Europe, in our time zone it won't officially start till tomorrow,

 Stay up to date with the Sun, planets and stars.
 Subscribe to AstroTom with an email to:

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Space station is back

After a hiatus of over a month, the International Space Station has returned for some good evening viewings starting this Wed.

See for details.

DateMag StartsMax. altitude Ends
TimeAlt.Az. TimeAlt.Az.TimeAlt.Az.
22 Dec-2.518:03:4910 SSW18:05:5831SSE18:05:5831SSE
23 Dec-1.818:28:4610 WSW18:30:3931W 18:30:3931W
24 Dec-2.917:18:4610 SSW17:21:2737SE 17:23:4113ENE
25 Dec-2.617:43:4510 WSW17:46:2838NW 17:48:0919NNE
26 Dec-0.818:10:2710 WNW18:11:4212NW 18:12:2911NNW
27 Dec-2.416:58:3510 WSW17:01:1535NW 17:03:5710NNE
28 Dec-0.817:25:2310 NW 17:26:2611NNW17:27:2910NNW

 Stay up to date with the Sun, planets and stars.
 Subscribe to AstroTom with an email to:

Saturday, December 11, 2010

New Telescope Review

I am often asked for advice about what kind of telescope to buy and have 2 articles on the subject
Sky and Telescope has now published a review of the new 2010 model of the Edmund Scientific Astroscan available for $229. It is a great scope, very portable, and especially suited for children. Check it out S&T's review together with  2 other classic scopes, including my personal favorite Dob.


Meteor shower this week.

This Monday night Dec 13-14 is the annual Geminid meteor shower. Although this shower is less well known, it usually puts on a great show, for those able to brave the winter weather. This year we have a 1st quarter Moon which should not bother visibility much as it sets before the shower peaks around 2 am.  More of a problem will be our forecast of partly cloudy skies. Lets pray it rains lots the day before and after instead!


Eclipses for 2011

Some folks have been asking me about upcoming eclipses. Here is a short synopsis of the coming year. Mark the dates on your calendar and I will send updates before the big day.

There is one more eclipse schedule for 2010. It is a total lunar eclipse on Dec 21, well placed for our friends in the US, but not visible here in Israel.

Next month, however, on Jan 04 at 10:41,  there will be a partial solar eclipse of 56% visible here. This will be the last solar eclipse visible here till Nov 2013

Then on June 15  we will finally get a total lunar eclipse visible in Israel at  22:12 IST.

On Dec 10 there will be another lunar eclipse visible in Asia, but here we will just miss it as the eclipse ends as the moon rises. (It also will not be visible in the US.)