Category Archives: Observing

See Comet Lovejoy Tonight

A beautiful image of Comet Lovejoy from Andrew Dumont.
A beautiful image of Comet Lovejoy from Andrew Dumont.

Want to see a comet?

You can see this comet for yourself. The comet C/2014 Q2 or Comet Lovejoy is easily visible with binoculars. If you can see the constellation Orion and Taurus you should be all set.

I just used the finders chart from NASA (see it here). Stepped out on back porch and after watching a satellite pass over, found the Comet in just a couple of minutes. I did use binoculars (could not see the comet otherwise). The binoculars were nothing special so if you have a pair handy give it a try. If you have a even a small telescope this looks really cool.

Cloudy skies?  The comet will be around for a bit so don’t worry if you have to wait a short time.

Could it be visible with the naked eye?  I would think so.  I am going to try in the morning, the best skies I get.  I could not see it a while ago, too cold to be outside for too long and not be well prepared, so I can’t say for sure.

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What’s Up for January

Here’s a look at what’s doing in the skies this month from JPL.

We had an aurora alert the other night. I was out and about on three different occasions and did not see anything. I do have a bit of light pollution these days. Still the way the forecast was going I still should have seen it.

I did’t look long though I must admit especially early on. Temps to -25 C / -13 F and wind chill to -40 C / -40 F meant I was not having fun. I was having to work on an electrical problem outside too. I diagnosed the problem and bypassed the circuit and did the repair the next day.

Video source

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Aurora Alert

Credit: NASA/ESA/SOHO
Credit: NASA/ESA/SOHO

Via SpaceRef:

NOAA has issued a space weather warning of the potential for a geomagnetic K-index of 7 or greater. Severe to extreme space weather conditions may result. Resulting aurora may be seen as low as Pennsylvania to Iowa to Oregon.
Space Weather Message Code: WARK07
Serial Number: 45
Issue Time: 2015 Jan 07 1122 UTC

WARNING: Geomagnetic K-index of 7 or greater expected
Valid From: 2015 Jan 07 1122 UTC
Valid To: 2015 Jan 07 1500 UTC
Warning Condition: Onset
NOAA Scale: G3 or greater – Strong to Extreme

NOAA Space Weather Scale descriptions can be found at
www.swpc.noaa.gov/noaa-scales-explanation

Potential Impacts: Area of impact primarily poleward of 50 degrees Geomagnetic Latitude.

Induced Currents – Power system voltage irregularities possible, false alarms may be triggered on some protection devices.

Spacecraft – Systems may experience surface charging; increased drag on low Earth-orbit satellites and orientation problems may occur.

Navigation – Intermittent satellite navigation (GPS) problems, including loss-of-lock and increased range error may occur.

Radio – HF (high frequency) radio may be intermittent.  (will try 10 and 6 meters!!)

Aurora – Aurora may be seen as low as Pennsylvania to Iowa to Oregon.

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Partial Solar Eclipse

Tomorrow afternoon there will be a partial solar eclipse that most of North America is going to get to see.  Heavy rain expected here and the eclipse being very near or at sunset, well, I’m going to miss out on the “live” version but NASA TV will be showing coverage stating at 17:00 EDT / 22:00 UT, you should be able to find it at the link in the banner.

Hopefully YOU are going to be more fortunate!  Here is a static image of the “timing map” from the video:

Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak, NASA's GSFC - http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/
Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak, NASA’s GSFC – http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/

Video source

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Supermoon 3

Watching the moon from St Michael’s Tower on Glastonbury Tor.  Click for larger Image Ben Birchall/PA via deskarati.com
Watching the moon from St Michael’s Tower on Glastonbury Tor. Click for larger Image Ben Birchall/PA via deskarati.com

If you have noticed the moon looks a little larger than usual you are not alone. This morning it was looking pretty big here. This is the third perigee-moon or supermoon in a row. The moon will be full on 09 Sept 2014 at 01:38 UT (21:38 ET 08 Sept on the US East Coast).

I think I will have clear skies for a change! Yes, I am pleased.

I am also fairly well positioned for the partial lunar eclipse coming on 23 Oct 2014. Europe will miss out on this one. Here’s a (PDF) map from the US Naval Observatory.

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September Sky

NASA’s JPL gives us “What’s Up for September 2014″

One of the nice things about this time of year is the clearing skies. I mean really clear skies, cooler temperatures and stable “seeing” kind of clear. If you have a telescope you probably know exactly what I mean.

We have a few nice pairings of stars / planets / moon. These pairings are especially nice for casual viewing and interesting conversation with those friends who might not otherwise notice and I find they almost always will look.

I don’t always get the best view of the zodiacal light right here because of the hills to my east but I can see it. If I’m on the road at the right time I can drive to a good location and stop long enough to let my eyes acclimate some and sip my coffee or tea for a short time and appreciate the view. Yes, I know coffee / tea doesn’t help the process, but it does make it more enjoyable. :)

Source.

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Perseid Meteor Shower

My favorite meteor shower of the year is here, actually it will peak 12 to 13 August. We are usually treated to a great show thanks to the debris from comet Swift-Tuttle. I’ve seen activity in the hundreds of meteors per hour in the past.

This year we have the Supermoon so skies will be pretty bright, if I have good clear skies I’ll be out looking anyway, who knows perhaps a fireball will happen by – I’d see that! Too bad it is going to rain on me and to think I arraigned the next two days off from work and everything.

Here’s hoping YOU have better luck and if nothing else you can see the moon!

Video

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