Saturn and Jupiter continue to be excellent observing targets in the southern sky after sunset; this last weekend. The Warren Astronomical Society hosted a boatload of girl and boy scouts at their Stargate Observatory this last weekend – I was with the girl scouts before dusk showing them a virtual reality fly-over of Saturn, another member was talking to the girls about meteorites. Mars appears low in the eastern sky just before sunrise. The Moon passes through the constellations Cancer and Leo in the mornings of Oct. 22-24th. A very VERY thin waning crescent Moon appears near to Mars above the eastern horizon before dawn on Oct. 26th. Venus and Mercury appear very close to each other in the southwestern sky at dusk on Oct. 22nd – if you use binoculars, and get Venus in your right field-of-view, Mercury will be in your left. Observing this may be a challenge if you have anything obscuring your view of the horizon. … Continue reading →
About Bob Trembley
Bob is a lifelong amateur astronomer, and the 2019 outreach officer for the Warren Astronomical Society, and a volunteer NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador. Bob does a lot of astronomy outreach - he lectures about astronomy and space science, and sets up his telescopes at schools, planetariums, conventions, and other venues. From 2014-2016, he was the editor of the Warren Astronomical Society's newsletter.
Bob is fantastically interested in asteroids and near-Earth objects (NEOs), and a HUGE fan of Kerbal Space Program; he is determined to improve the teaching of astronomy and Space History throughout Michigan, and the U.S. Follow Bob on Twitter, Facebook, The Web, and YouTube.
Saturn and Jupiter are excellent observing targets all week after sunset – Jupiter is getting lower towards the horizon each evening. I’m also noting that it’s getting darker earlier each evening. The Moon appears in the predawn sky this week, moving from west to east; the waning gibbous Moon appears high in the western sky before sunrise on Oct. 15 & 16th. On Oct. 17 and 18th, the waning gibbous Moon appears near the star Aldebaran in the southwestern predawn sky. The third-quarter Moon appears high in the southern predawn sky near the star Pollux on Oct. 21st. Mars appears low in the eastern sky just before sunrise. Orion was again impossible to miss high in the southern predawn sky. Betelgeuse Betelgeuse is generally the ninth-brightest star in the night sky and second-brightest in the constellation of Orion (after Rigel). It is a distinctly reddish, semiregular variable star whose apparent magnitude varies between +0.0 and +1.3, the widest range of any first-magnitude star. At near-infrared wavelengths, Betelgeuse is the brightest star in the night sky. It has the Bayer … Continue reading →
I started off our last club meeting by showing my “In the Sky” post I’d written the day before – hey… why not!? Several of the students said that they had seen Ursa Major, and a couple said they could see the Mizar/Alcor double star! This week’s constellation was Cassiopeia; I showed the students where to find the constellation, and some deep-sky objects in the Cassiopeia, including the open cluster M103. I discussed the differences between open and globular star clusters, and showed a few examples of each. We discussed galaxy mergers, and I showed this animation of galaxy mergers seen from different perspectives: We then discussed how the Andromeda galaxy and the Milky Way will collide in several billion years; I showed this PBS video about the collision: During the video, one of the students asked my wife “What is that band of stars behind the narrator?” I stopped the video, and brought up a photo of the Milky Way … Continue reading →
This week is World Space Week! Held annually every October 4-10th, it is the largest space event on Earth, with more than 5,000 events in over 80 countries. The theme for 2019 is: “The Moon: Gateway to the Stars.” “The General Assembly declares 4 to 10 October World Space Week to celebrate each year at the international level the contributions of space science and technology to the betterment of the human condition” – UN General Assembly resolution, 6 December 1999 Saturn, Jupiter and the Moon continue to be excellent observing targets all week after sunset. The waxing gibbous Moon is in the southwestern sky at midnight on Oct. 8th. At midnight on Oct. 11th, the waxing gibbous Moon is high in the southern sky. The full Moon appears in the southeastern sky at midnight, Oct. 14th. Mars appears a bit higher each morning in the eastern sky just before sunrise. Constellation Pegasus Pegasus is a constellation in the northern sky, named after … Continue reading →
The International Space Station will be visible four times over southeastern Michigan shortly after sunset from Oct.7-10, 2019. Fly-over info from Heavens-Above.com (from my driveway in Chesterfield, MI): Date Brightness Start Highest point End Pass type (mag) Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az. 07 Oct -2.6 20:46:34 10° WNW 20:49:38 35° SW 20:50:12 32° SSW visible 08 Oct -3.4 19:57:52 10° WNW 20:01:10 62° SW 20:03:59 13° SE visible 09 Oct -0.9 20:47:14 10° W 20:48:55 13° SW 20:50:37 10° SSW visible 10 Oct -1.5 19:57:51 10° W 20:00:32 22° SW 20:03:11 10° S visible You can find and chart exact times for several different satellite fly-overs from your location on the Heavens-Above.com website. ISS News: .@Astro_Christina and @AstroDrewMorgan successfully wrapped up a seven-hour and one minute spacewalk today beginning the work to upgrade the station's power systems this month. Read more… https://t.co/J1ZplaY8Ex pic.twitter.com/r6M9Zm8zEw — Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) October 6, 2019Continue reading →
Astronomers have found an exoplanet that orbits its host star every 18 hours – a new record! Exoplanet NGTS-10 b has twice the mass of Jupiter, and orbits so close to its class K6V orange dwarf host star that the star’s gravity will flatten the planet into an oblate spheroid. The planet is classified as a “Hot Jupiter” – with the star-facing side of the planet being incandescently bright! Using data from the announcement paper on arXiv.org and The Extrasolar Planet Encyclopaedia, I added the star and exoplanet into SpaceEngine and took some screenshots; I actually spent quite a bit of time fooling around in this system… I took some artistic liberty with the comet-like tail and wide auroras, but I figured being cooked by the star’s heat, and blasted by the star’s stellar wind will cause the planet’s atmosphere to expand WAY out and be blown away, so why not?! Over 4000 exoplanets have been confirmed as of this … Continue reading →
Saturn, Jupiter and the Moon will be excellent sidewalk astronomy targets all week. The Moon appears near both Jupiter and Saturn during this week. The Moon leaves Saturn and Jupiter behind by the beginning of next week, but this sky is still great for doing observing sessions! Mars emerges from the glare of the Sun and appears low in the eastern predawn sky just before sunrise. The Pleiades are high (and hard to miss) in the eastern predawn sky. The constellation Cassiopeia appears in the northwestern predawn sky, and in the northeastern sky after sunset. M103 – Open Star Cluster in Cassiopeia Messier 103 (also known as M103, or NGC 581) is an open cluster where a few thousand stars formed in the constellation Cassiopeia. This open cluster was discovered in 1781 by Charles Messier’s friend and collaborator Pierre Méchain. It is one of the most distant open clusters known, with distances of 8,000 to 9,500 light-years from the earth and ranging about 15 light-years apart. There are about 40 member stars within … Continue reading →
For our first after-school club meeting of 2019, Mrs. Trembley introduced us both as volunteer NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassadors; I told the students I was the outreach officer for the Warren Astronomical Society, and about the WAS’ free open house and star party – every 4th Saturday of the month at Stargate Observatory – which happens THIS Saturday! I told the students I work for the Vatican Observatory Foundation, and that I write a weekly “In the Sky” post… and that they should read it. 🙂 We told the students our goal this year was to get them observing the nighttime sky – we’re starting them off with the constellation Ursa Major (and the Big Dipper) – which I wrote about in my latest “In the Sky” post. I was truly surprised by how many of the students had never noticed the Big Dipper in the northwestern sky, or if they had, were unaware of what it was! I had … Continue reading →
Saturn and Jupiter continue to make excellent observing targets after sunset all week. A recent tweet from the Hubble Space Telescope shows Saturn’s rings in all their glory! I got a chance to see Saturn through a large telescope recently – the Cassini Division was clearly visible. Hubble’s latest crystal-clear view of Saturn highlights the planet’s signature ring system, revealing its bright, icy structures. The rings are tilted toward Earth, allowing Hubble to see numerous ringlets and the fainter inner rings: https://t.co/TASy4dAXw6 pic.twitter.com/PyeYBf7Y3L — HubbleTelescope (@HubbleTelescope) September 12, 2019 By midnight, Saturn is near to setting in the southwestern sky, and star Fomalhaut is high in the southern sky. The constellation Orion is high in the southern sky before sunrise; I saw it this morning as my wife drove off to work – it’s impossible to miss above the roof of my house! The Moon will be between the stars Regulus and Algieba before sunrise on September 26th – if … Continue reading →
I never got a chance to observe the planet Uranus this last weekend; I was busy non-stop during the Astronomy at the Beach event with my Virtual Reality (VR) gear showing dozens of attendees a VR fly-over of Saturn in OVERVIEW (A Walk Through The Universe); I had a line both evenings. Everyone has been completely blown away by it – from kids to fellow astronomers! Attendees also got to see Saturn through telescopes on the observing field – which was a wonderful bit of synchronicity. Now, MORE THAN EVER, I want to get a dozen Windows 10 workstations and VR headsets, so I can show VR educational apps at schools, planetariums, libraries, SF conventions and whatnot! VR is a great way for the public experience the wonders of astronomy – I’ve actually had a couple people GASP as I removed the headset and they had to “come back to reality.” Broken record again… Saturn, Jupiter and the star Antares … Continue reading →
On September 10th, a tweet caught my attention: Time to call it, #gb00234 is interstellar (he said with no authority or to call such things). https://t.co/9oVHmifV4K — Nick Ascroft (@assscroft) September 11, 2019 Apparently the object named #gb00234 was a second interstellar object on a hyperbolic trajectory through the solar system! Over the next couple days, more information about the object was posted: Here's my best fit (ICRF, barycentric) to the CNEOS astrometry for potential interstellar #gb00234 Conservatively assuming 1 arcsec astrometric uncertainty and dropping the really bad points, eccentricity is 1.07180496 +/- 0.00087880 That's definitely hyperbolic. More coming pic.twitter.com/kxVPqMpd6J — Simon Porter (@AscendingNode) September 11, 2019 Here's what the residuals look like. The very first epoch is a bit off, and there's some curve to the RA, which may be due to cometary non-gravs (basically outgassing as a rocket). Hard to tell with the quality of the data, though. pic.twitter.com/Tw8E93G8dd — Simon Porter (@AscendingNode) September 11, 2019 Here's a … Continue reading →
If you live in the Midwest, especially in southeastern Michigan, this weekend is the annual Astronomy at the Beach event – both Friday and Saturday (13th and 14th of September). I’ll be crewing the Warren Astronomical Society’s table again this year – stop by, and I’ll chat your ear off! For the first time I’ll be presenting at AATB! I’m giving my Sun lecture, and maybe squeezing in some demos of space simulation software. There will be astronomers from clubs and societies across southeastern Michigan who set up their telescopes, presentations and hands-on activities, a sky scavenger hunt, club tables with freebies and enthusiastic astronomers to chat with. The 2018 Astronomy at the Beach events had 5000 attendees! I expect to be pretty tired on Sunday. I feel like a broken clock repeating that Saturn, Jupiter and the star Antares are in the south-southwestern sky all week after sunset… but there they are… Jupiter is setting earlier each night tho. … Continue reading →