Monday, May 30, 2016

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT Mars CLOSEST Today 5/30/16

Hey Space Placers!

Well the wild weather we had earlier in May has given way to occasionally clear skies so that we can see the planet Mars at its closest and brightest.

At 4:35 pm EDT today Mars will be closer to planet Earth than it has been since November 2005. Its distance will be 46,762,695 miles. Mars will be a bright yellowish-orange and easily visible in the SE sky right after dark. The Red Planet will remain visible through most of the night.

If it is cloudy tonight www.slooh   main.slooh.com/event/the-red-planet-rocks/   will be carrying a live Internet program viewing Mars through a telescope from 9-10 pm EDT.

Mars has close company in the sky as the planet Saturn and the reddish-colored star Antares form a celestial triangle. Mars will be far brighter than the other two. 

Saturn is a yellowish-colored ‘star’ to the lower left of Mars. NASA’s Cassini mission  https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/main/index.html   has been studying the ringed planet for 11 years and is still going strong.

The Greek name Antares means ‘equal of Mars’ and this month you can really see why the star got its name. Antares is below and to the left of Mars

Mars has several active and planned missions exploring it from orbit and on the surface http://www.planetary.org/explore/space-topics/space-missions/missions-to-mars.html . It is a fascinating world and in amateur sized telescopes  actual features can be seen for the next several weeks. 

If you have a dark sky you can also see the gorgeous Milky Way to the left of this celestial triangle. The view will be best around 1:00 a.m. in the South.

Mars will remain bright for the next several weeks before it begins to noticeably fade so make sure you take a look. Mars gets close to our planet every 26 months and will do so again in July 2018 when it will be even closer and brighter than it is now.

You can also see bright Jupiter high in the southwest sky all month. The four main moons of Jupiter  http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/jupiter/moons    can be seen in binoculars and mimics the view Galileo would have had in his crude telescope in 1610 when he discovered them. NASA’s Juno spacecraft   http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/juno/where    is closing in on the king of the planets and is due to arrive July 4, 2016.


As  we head into June and summer I hope you can join me at Shenandoah National Park for one of my lectures and sky viewing sessions  http://www.goshenandoah.com/activities-events/astronomy .

You can see my Mars pics in earlier posts.

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Jupiter Is Now in The Driver's Seat For Juno!

Hey Space Placers!


Artist's Conception Of Juno at Jupiter
NASA JPL
Jupiter's gravity is now dominating the flight path of the Juno spacecraft. Get details here.

Jupiter is high in the SW sky at dark, take a look and envision Juno enroute to the king of the planets in our solar system.

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, May 27, 2016

More Mars Pics

Hey Space Placers!

More Mars Pics.

 BIG MEADOWS MARS WITH ANTARES & SATURN 5/27/16

 BIG MEADOWS MARS WITH ANTARES & SATURN 5/27/16

SKY & TELESCOPE MARS PROFILE FOR MY PIC BELOW

USE MAP ABOVE TO MATCH FEATURES
More this weekend I hope.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Mars 5/24/16

Hey Space Placers!

FIRST pics of Mars.

Thru 10" telescope & DSLR - some features

Firefly in Lower Right Keeps Mars Company

Beautiful Mars 
More & better tonight hopefully.

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Are Primordial Black Holes the Dark Matter?


Hey Space Placers!

Left: This image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows an infrared view of a sky area in the constellation Ursa Major. Above: After masking out all known stars, galaxies and artifacts and enhancing what's left, an irregular background glow appears. This is the cosmic infrared background (CIB); lighter colors indicate brighter areas. The CIB glow is more irregular than can be explained by distant unresolved galaxies, and this excess structure is thought to be light emitted when the universe was less than a billion years old. Scientists say it likely originated from the first luminous objects to form in the universe, which includes both the first stars and black holes.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/A. Kashlinsky (Goddard)

Here is a VERY interesting news story on the possibility that primordial black holes could be the mysterious dark mater.

Be sure to click on the links in the article to get more background information.

I might FINALLY have clear skies to see Mars tonight. Wish me luck.....

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT!!! Full Flower BLUE Moon 5/21/16

Hey Space Placers!

Tonight is the Full Flower - and Blue - Moon.


CREDIT: www.skyandtelescope.com

Tune in to Slooh tonight  5:00 PM PDT | 8:00 PM EDT | 00:00UTC (International Times: http://bit.ly/1siTmXJto see it LIVE.

Enjoy the view as we here on Planet Venus Virginia continue to be cloud covered.

Sky Guy Under Clouds

Friday, May 20, 2016

Sky Guy VIEWING ALERT - Mars Beckons Part 4

Hey Space Placers!

Read this article for viewing Mars the next several weeks.

Credit Sky & Telescope 
I'm still cloudy with more of the same for the coming week :-(

Sky Guy on Venus

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Mars Beckons Part 3 Hubble Space Telescope Views Mars

Hey Space Placers!

Due to Virginia becoming Venus as far as cloud cover I have not been able to take one single picture of Mars through my telescope or even in the night time sky. Needless to say this has been very, very FRUSTRATING to me!!

Well, Hubble Space Telescope (HST) doesn't have that problem. This picture of the Red Planet was taken by HST on 5/12/16 at a distance of 50 million miles from Earth and the detail is exquisite as you can see.

NASA/ESA

I really hoping that the sky will clear so I can attempt some pics of Mars this opposition.

I'll have my final part tomorrow on what to look for in the coming weeks.

Sky Guy in Venus VA

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Mars Beckons - Part 2

Hey Space Placers!

Here are some of the current plans for getting humans to Mars in the coming decades:

Lockheed Martin  and Popular Science article

Space X

NASA

NASA
You can follow the ongoing "Humans 2 Mars Summit" here.

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Mars Beckons-Part 1

Hey Space Placers!

I will be doing a multi-part series on Mars this week.

Here is Part 1.

Sky Guy in Cloudy/Rainy VA

Monday, May 16, 2016

Another Confirmation Einstein Was Right

Hey Space Placers!

Enjoy this Universe Today article on how astronomers have proven Einstein was right regarding his Theory of General Relativity.

Sky Guy in More Rain To Come VA

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Today Is Astronomy Day - Moon & Jupiter Tonight

Hey Space Placers!

We in VA will have more days of clouds and rain ahead BUT it is still Astronomy Day today. Here are some events taking place.

Hold your own celebration tonight and get out to look at the sky. The waxing gibbous Moon and Jupiter are near each other and brightening Mars is in the SE at 10 pm local.



Enjoy!

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, May 13, 2016

ANOTHER Mercury Transit Video

Hey Space Placers!

Happy Friday the 13tth.

Here is another video of the Mercury transit taken in very high definition and tracking the planet closest to the Sun.



Pretty impressive view.

Hoping to get my first pic of Mars in the sky tonight.....

Sky Guy in Still Cloudy VA

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Watch This STUNNING Video Of Mercury's Transit

Hey Space Placers!

If you were unable to see Monday's transit of Mercury across the Sun check out this STUNNING video done by the talented people at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. They used multi-wavelength images taken during the event by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) spacecraft to compose the video and added some very nice music. Wow.

Watch it a couple of times and truly comprehend what we are seeing - a planet in orbit around our star  passing across its immense sphere complete with solar activity. This transit event really brings home the 3-D nature of our solar system.

Sky Guy in STILL Cloudy VA

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT! Mars, Saturn and Milky Way

Hey Space Placers!

No joy on the Mercury transit yesterday as I was totally clouded out. I did see portions of it online.

The record breaking consecutive days of rain in Washington D.C. and the surrounding cloud cover have frustrated me to no end. I do not have a SINGLE picture of Mars this season!!!!!!!!

A GORGEOUS picture appeared today in APOD which shows Mars, Saturn and the Milky Way in all their glory. Be sure to roll over the image to get the identification of what you are seeing and click on the pic to get a larger view.

Saturn and Mars visit Milky Way Star Clouds 
Image Credit & Copyright: Carlos Eduardo Fairbairn ; Rollover Annotation: Judy Schmidt

You cannot see all of this detail in the Milky Way or around Antares with your unaided eye BUT you can see Saturn, Mars, Antares and the dust clouds of the Milky Way.

The view will be best in the next week around 3 a.m. local when the planets are almost due South in the sky and the Moon does not interfere.

Mars will be getting brighter until May 30th when it will be closest to the Earth and will be rising earlier and earlier. On May 22nd it will rise at sunset when the Red Planet is directly opposite the Sun.

Enjoy the view and I hope the clouds clear soon.

Sky Guy in Still Cloudy VA

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mercury Transit May 9, 2016

Hey Space Placers!


Safety Note: Do NOT look directly at the Sun or photograph it as injury to your eyes and damage to your camera will result. Tips on how to safely and properly view the Sun are here http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/observing-news/view-the-sun-safely/  How to safely photograph a transit is discussed here http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/observing-news/photographing-the-transit-of-venus/ and applies to Mercury as well as Venus.



With all of these clouds and rain we haven’t seen too much of the sky lately and tomorrow’s forecast predicts more of the same here in Virginia. The planet closest to the Sun, Mercury, will move across the face of the Sun as seen from Earth in an event astronomers call a “transit”. Mercury transits the Sun 13 or 14 times each century. The last time this occurred was November 8, 2006 and the next transit will be on November 11, 2019. Hopefully you were able to view Mercury last month http://wtop.com/the-space-place-tech/2016/04/look-up-the-april-sky-sights-are-upon-us/slide/1/ 

For the East Coast USA the transit starts at 7:12 A.M. EDT and lasts until 2:42 p.m. EDT with the midpoint being at 10:57 a.m. EDT. Mercury is so small you cannot see it with your eyes and need a properly filtered telescope to see it. Details of the event are provided here http://www.nasa.gov/topics/solarsystem/features/eclipse/index.html   and here            http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/observing-news/may-9th-transit-of-mercury-everything-you-need-to-know/ 


6/5/12 pic of the transit of Venus taken through a properly filtered telescope
Greg Redfern
In the Washington, D.C. area the following events are taking place:

NASA will have coverage of the transit  www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-to-provide-coverage-of-may-9-mercury-transit-of-the-sun and there will also be an hour long program broadcast and images posted as detailed in the news release.

National Air & Space is holding a viewing event https://airandspace.si.edu/events/detail.cfm?id=22731

University of Maryland Observatory   www.astro.umd.edu/openhouse/   will have telescopes available.

David M. Brown Planetarium, Arlington http://friendsoftheplanetarium.org/post/75/.


You can check with your local astronomy clubs, observatories and planetariums in your area to see if they are holding an event.

The safest and easiest view of Mercury’s slow movement across the face of our enormous star will be by watching live on the Internet. There are several venues for you to choose from:


You can learn more about the planet Mercury here http://messenger.jhuapl.edu. NASA’s MESSENGER mission, which involved our very own Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory rewrote the textbooks on Mercury.

Be sure to see this month’s night sky sights when the clouds clear.

When it is dark you will see bright Jupiter high in the southeast sky all month. The four main moons of Jupiter  http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/jupiter/moons    can be seen in binoculars and mimics the view Galileo would have had in his crude telescope in 1610 when he discovered them. NASA’s Juno spacecraft   http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/juno/where    is closing in on the king of the planets and is due to arrive July 4, 2016.

If you are up late - around 11:00 p.m. - the Red Planet Mars and Saturn await your gaze. Mars will be closest to our planet on May 30th and it is stunning as a reddish-colored ‘star’ in the southeast sky. Do not confuse Mars with the reddish-colored star Antares that is almost directly below it - Mars will be much brighter. The Greek name Antares means ‘rival of Mars’ and this month you can really see why the star got its name.

Mars has several active and planned missions exploring it from orbit and on the surface http://www.planetary.org/explore/space-topics/space-missions/missions-to-mars.html . It is a fascinating world and in amateur sized telescopes   actual features can be seen for the next several months. I hope to get some pictures to share with you.

Saturn is a yellowish-colored ‘star’ to the lower left of Mars. NASA’s Cassini mission  https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/main/index.html   has been studying the ringed planet for 11 years and is still going strong.

Mars, Saturn and Antares make a beautiful triangle in the sky this month. If you have a dark sky you can see the gorgeous Milky Way to their lower left. The view will be best around 2:00 a.m. in the South over the next week before the Moon starts to light up the sky.


As you can see there is much to enjoy in the sky this month. I hope you can join me at Shenandoah National Park  http://www.goshenandoah.com/activities-events/astronomy  Peaks of Otter Lodge http://www.peaksofotter.com/Astronomy.aspx    or Capon Springs and Farms  http://www.caponsprings.net/news/capon-under-the-cosmos/    for one of my lectures and sky viewing sessions.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

UPDATED Sky Guy Viewing ALERT-Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower Pre-dawn May 5 & 6

Hey Space Placers!

UPDATE:

Tune in live to www.slooh.com

You can also listen here on radar
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We remain cloud covered here in VA. But for the rest of you tomorrow and Friday morning before dawn get out and look for meteors from the Eta Aquarids meteor shower.

Northern hemisphere viewers can expect about 10 meteors or so an hour from the shower and the Moon is a slim crescent which helps viewing conditions.

Be sure to look at bright Mars in the South.

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

UPDATED: Drilling Into Ground Zero of Dinosaur Killer

Hey Space Placers!

UPDATED:

Here is the latest story on the dino-killer dig. There will be more on this as they get deeper and analyze the recovered coring samples.
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Here is a story on the drilling going on at the site of the cosmic impact that is believed to have killed off the dinosaurs.

Here are some related stories

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/03/scientists-gear-drill-ground-zero-impact-killed-dinosaurs

http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/04/world/scientists-drill-impact-crater-irpt/

It will be some time until the science results are published but we should get updates in the meantime.

I was fortunate enough to witness the US Geological Survey's International Drilling Project into Virginia's own impact crater located in Chesapeake Bay.

Courtesy Richard Drumm
We learn much about our planet from studying these impacts as we have with other planets and moons in the solar system.

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, May 2, 2016

1 TRILLION SPECIES!!!!

Hey Space Placers!

You have to read this....our planet could be home to 1 TRILLION SPECIES and we only have scratched  the surface in their discovery. I find that so incredible a number and discovery. What a planet we live on.

Homo Sapiens is the dominant species at the very top of the food chain and is affecting our planet with human activities induced climate change.

I can only hope that humanity can come up with the global solutions to our current planetary peril. Only time and our collective actions will tell.

Remember, the Earth does not need us......we need planet Earth.

Sky Guy in VA