Friday, July 3, 2020

SHADED MOON AND PLANETS APLENTY

Hey Space Placers!


July offers us some celestial respite to help us along starting this weekend. A hard to see lunar eclipse and planets aplenty await your gaze. Be sure to social distance and wear a mask from your viewing location.


July 4th marks our planet’s farthest distance from the Sun for the year, known as aphelion. We are closest to the Sun in January, known as perihelion. 


The Full Buck Moon will undergo a penumbral lunar eclipse on July 5th. Here are the details of this very hard to see shading of the Moon as provided by Sky and Telescope:=

  • The Moon will undergo a very slight penumbral eclipse tonight for most of the Americas, probably undetectable by eye. The Moon's northern edge will skim through the outermost pale fringe of Earth's shadow, with maximum eclipse coming at 12:31 a.m. Sunday morning EDT; 9:31 p.m. Saturday evening PDT (that's 4:31 July 5 UT). For much of the West Coast, the Moon at that time will be low in the east in evening twilight. Farther east, and for all of Central and South America, the Moon will be higher in a dark sky.
  • At mideclipse the Moon's northern limb will extend only a third of the way across Earth's penumbra. Traditionally, a penumbral eclipse is considered invisible unless the Moon's limb reaches about halfway across the penumbra. Telescopic photos, processed to reveal very weak contrast changes, might succeed in bringing out evidence of this event if your eyes don’t.

Try using binoculars or a telescope to see the eclipse at maximum.


The Full Buck Moon will be keeping the planets Jupiter and Saturn company in the sky on July 5th. Jupiter is the brighter of the two with Saturn being to the lower left of the “King of the Planets”. Binoculars will show the four main moons of Jupiter and this app will tell you which ones you are seeing

Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, July 3-6, 2020

CREDIT: SKY AND TELESCOPE.COM


Jupiter and Saturn will be in our skies all night in July as both planets will be at opposition, or directly opposite the Sun and rising at sunset. Jupiter is at opposition on July 13th and July 20th for Saturn. Be sure to enjoy watching these two gas giants through the summer.


Not to be out done, the Red Planet Mars rises at about 1 a.m. in the East and immediately captures out attention due to its orange color and brightness. Mars will be getting much brighter in the coming months until October when it is closest to our planet. NASA is planning on launching its next Mars Rover, Perseverance, this month. The rover will be carrying the first ever drone to be deployed on another planet and will be searching for signs of ancient life on Mars. Pretty exciting.


Finishing the planetary parade is bright and beautiful Venus rising in the East and visible low on the horizon at about 4:30 a.m. Venus is in the beautiful winter constellation of Taurus the Bull and will be very near the bright star Aldebaran on July 11th. The glorious Pleiades star cluster is just above Venus. The planet will be getting higher in our pre-dawn sky in the coming weeks and months.



CREDIT: SKY AND TELESCOPE.COM


To round out our sky viewing pleasure there is a difficult to see but bright comet very low on the northeastern horizon in the predawn sky.  Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) will barely be above the horizon so binoculars really will help. The Comet will enter the skies at dusk mid-month and may become far easier to see. Only time will tell as comets are just like cats - who knows what they will do.


If you are lucky enough to enjoy dark skies, in mid-July when the Moon is absent from the sky after sunset, look for the grand Milky Way arching across the sky from the South to the North. Our home galaxy is a spectacle to see in the summer and not to be missed when in dark sky locations. 



Summer Milky Way 

Greg Redfern



Sky Guy in VA






Thursday, July 2, 2020

TODAY IS UFO AWARENESS DAY

Hey Space Placers!

Yeah, who knew?

Today is "UFO Awareness Day", at least on the Internet.

UFO's  - Unidentified Flying Objects - has been in our lexicon for quite awhile. 

In 1947 a small plane pilot in Washington State made a report about seeing "flying saucers". And after that movies, books and sightings began to appear, even to modern day incidents.


Where does your state come in?

Personally I have seen 2 UFO's during my lifetime, that is something in the sky I could not identify as being of astronomical, aeronautical or meteorological origin. Does this mean alien or flying saucer in origin? I can't say as the objects were UFOs - Unidentified. 

A LOT of sightings can be explained but a small percentage cannot.

For me the bottom line on UFOs is that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE IN THE UNIVERSE. But, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence as the late Dr. Carl Sagan famously said. Maybe the day will come when we know without question there are other spacefaring species "out there". 

Maybe. 

But we have been unsuccessful in our quest for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). Plus the laws of physics as far as we know apply to the whole Universe which means we shouldn't expect "Warp Drive" or other exotic faster than light space propulsion.

Oh, and the UNIVERSE IS HUGE IN SIZE. When you consider the fastest spacecraft ever launched, New Horizons, cleared the orbit of the Moon in 9 HOURS as opposed to 3 DAYS for the Apollo astronauts it still took 9.5 YEARS (!) to get to Pluto.

The closest exoplanet to Earth is over 25 TRILLION MILES DISTANT and probably harbors no life due to the radiation spewed by its parent star.

I watch the skies ALOT, hoping to see a fireball/bolide/UFO. The odds are overwhelmingly against me seeing anything BUT I do like to look anyway.

Bottom line: watch the skies for their beauty and possibilities......

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

TODAY IS ASTEROID DAY

Hey Space Placers!

IN HOME RESOURCE

Today is ASTEROID DAY.
Check the link to watch the virtual activities and learn about asteroids and how we can defend our planet against impacts.

https://asteroidday.org

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, June 29, 2020

TAKE SIX MINUTES OUT OF YOUR ROUTINE TO SEE THIS VIDEO

Hey Space Placers!

Been tied up with family and grandparenting these past 8 days. 


View it in a dark room with some nice soothing music and a favorite libation to have some true peace in your day.

Enjoy the view of our beautiful planet and marvel at the physical forces at work to cause the eclipse to occur AND see it from space.

Our best future lies in becoming a harmonized species acting as one to protect the planet and exploring space.

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, June 22, 2020

BREAKTHROUGH LISTEN EXOTIC TARGET CATALOG

Hey Space Placers!


CREDIT:Credit: Breakthrough Listen / Danielle Futselaar


Quite interesting to browse through the paper and the catalog.

Sky Guy On Venus VA 

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Thursday, June 18, 2020

IN HOME RESOURCE: KECK OBSERVATORY VIDEOS

Hey Space Placers!

During this Covid19 timeframe I keep a keen eye for useful IN HOME RESOURCES that deal with science.


Keck Observatory Selfie

I highly recommend tuning in and enjoying these.

Sky Guy in Perpetually Cloudy VA