Friday, June 24, 2022

Eight Planets to See...

 ...and More...  This is a pretty auspicious display of all the other planets in our system.  All of the major planets in this solar system, eight of them, are able to be seen from our vantage point at this time.  This is pretty rare.  Of course you can't see all of them with eyes alone.  It takes some time to look at the whole line.  Pluto rises at around 11:00 PM, and then you can see the whole line of planets stream over the eastern horizon until dawn.  Having a relatively powerful telescope will help a lot...

Friday, November 19, 2021

Blood Beaver Moon

 Really close to a Lunar Eclipse. The Blood Beaver Moon is about 97% Full Eclipse. It is also the longest eclipse we can see in around 1229 years. The last eclipse like this was in the year 1440, and the next is in 2669. The moon is close to its apogee, which is the farthest away from Earth in its orbit. This makes the Moon appear smaller, and apparently spends more time in the Umbra, Earth's shadow, making the eclipse last longer. Another thing that makes this lunar orbit unique is there will also be a Solar Eclipse on December 4, 2021. One Orbit, Two Eclipses, rare, and unique indeed...


 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

21st Century Star Map

 Starry Night Software is the 21st Century Star Map.  When I first started Stargazing all we had were paper maps.  OK, we are working outside, at night, with people that were sensitive about stray light, so using a flashlight was not a good idea.  Having a Full Moon helped, but was bad for deep sky observing.  So, tricky situation.  I've seen a lot of impromptu ways to accomplish the task, but we needed something a lot better.

Starry Night Software has dynamic annotations that change with your zoom level, and observing angles.  You can zoom at any portion of the sky up to like 65,000X.  Typically the zoom factor will be much smaller.    The zoom factor is the blue box at the lower, left part of the screen, and this shot is only 2.32X.  But say you wanted to look at M42 exclusively, letz go zoomin...

Now at zoom factor 11.5X, you can see other objects become bright enough to see, and get annotated.  The annotations have a number of selections as well, from large scale things, like planets, and moons, to the very finest NGC objects.  You can even track satellites, and space missions.

The shot above has a few LEO satellites which are SXM8, STAR ONE D2, and SBIRS GEO-5 (USA 315).  Low Earth Orbit Satellites track with the movement of the Sun, so they are stationary to the rest of the stars.  Then there also a couple geostationary satellites that are IRIDIUM-36, and SL-16 R/B.  The geostationary satellites will go flying past your viewpoint, and it is a neat feature.  With each object viewed you can click on the object, and get information on demand.  What is IRIDIUM-36?  Click on the object, then go to the description tab, and you get a synopsis of the object.

There are also real time information tabs.  When you hover the mouse over objects it provides some information about it.  When you zoom in to planets, and moons you can also get surface detail data.  The zoom factor in the Moon shot is 40.3X, so the movement of the sky becomes a factor, and your view keeps trying to get away.  So, another feature lets you freeze time, so you can take a long look.

The with the help of a GIF editor you can make these nifty animations.  This helps to explain the way the sky works visually.  Various motions that celestial bodies make are not always plainly obvious.  One way to understand these motions is to collect a bunch of data, and run it in a sequence.  Like making a little movie, but with astronomical data.  Starry Night Software is a pretty neat tool to use as a Star Chart, but also has voluminous information, some really neat space photography, and will even drive your telescope for you, LOL!

Saturday, September 4, 2021

R U Sirius?

Sirius, The Dog Star, is now visible on the eastern horizon early in the morning. The first sighting on Sirius in the late summer is a harbinger of cooler weather coming, at long last. Sirius is a part of the constellation Canis Major, which literally means Big Dog, or Great Dog. LOL! I know something about that. Also in Canis Major you can find Messier 41 (M41), or The Little Beehive Cluster. Nice Stars this morning...


 Shot of M41, The Little Beehive Cluster...

 

Friday, June 11, 2021

June Solar Eclipse

 The Solar Eclipse yesterday happened before dawn here in Denton County, Texas.  So, we really didn't get a chance to see it.  So to get a shot I've used the Starry Night software once again.  This is just after the Eclipse, right at dawn...


Monday, May 31, 2021

Wild Brambles

 My neighbor calls this stuff Devil Weed.  Botanically they are Brambles, more info here https://northernwoodlands.org/knots_and_bolts/wild-brambles.  Brambles are wild berries that are like Blackberries, Raspberries.  OK, yeah I like berries, but not in my front lawn.  The Briar Patch comes to mind when thinking of this patch in my yard.  The Brambles attempted to take over the southwest corner of my house.  Lets call it a sticky situation.  The Brambles are covered with millions of tiny thorns.  This is much worse than Roses, which have large easily identified thorns.  Brambles have tiny thorns, that get microscopic...

The Brambles are all through the Euonymus shrub, but down the front of the house about 10 feet, and back another 10 feet.  The Brambles, like the berries, are vines, called canes, and everywhere they touch the ground they put down roots.  The only way to control this one is to get the roots out.  If you just pull the tops off they come back, stronger.  So, itz kinda of a perpetual task, and if you let it go too long it will turn into the Briar Patch.

So this task involves careful precision, and attention to detail.  If you get tangled up in the Brambles you will get all scratched up.  My forearms have scratches all over them.  I used heavy leather garden gloves which spared my hands.  You can see the difference in the last picture.  I found three Hearty Hibiscus plants in there.  Several saplings were also in there, one Live Oak, one Pecan, one Pistache, and a Bradford Pear which sprouted by a Rhizome from a close tree.  What a mess...  I'm still clearing out some dead wood from the Artic Blast last winter, and at least I am getting to clean up the front beds really well.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Super Blood Flower Moon

 The Lunar Eclipse is happening right now. But, the Moon is over the horizon, I can't see it. That makes it difficult to take a picture. With the Starry Night software I can change my viewing location. So, I took a quick trip to Honolulu, Hawaii to look at the Full Moon, and Lunar Eclipse. The eclipse is simulated in the Starry Night software, and appears red like the eclipsed moon should. That is why it is called a Blood Moon...

It is a Super Moon because the Moon is at the Perigee of its orbit, appears larger.  It is a Blood Moon because it is a Full Lunar Eclipse.  Then it is a Flower Moon because it is May, and the Flowers are blossoming...