Category Archives: Observing

The Aurora

I looked for the aurora in the evening, I could tell it was there but the (busier and normal) traffic was not helping the situation and then the moon was washing things out in the very early morning.


Orionid Meteor Shower

If you can take a look for the Orionid Meteor Shower set to peak tonight!  The Orionids come from the debris trail of Halley’s comet.  The shower lasts for the second half of October.  The closer to the peak day you can look the more meteors you are likely to see.  There are not a huge number of meteors but they stand out nicely.

Look for the constellation Orion ( should rise enough by midnight your local time in he eastern sky and likely the best viewing between 03:00 and 04:00.

A finders map below shows the constellation and the radiant which is off the red giant Betelgeuse, it is marked in blue on the map below as the Orionids (click to enlarge):



Venus – Jupiter – Mars

If you happen to be up and reading this early (before daylight) AND in the north, go outside and look to the east, you will be treated to a planetary line up featuring Venus- Jupiter – Mars in order from highest (above the horizon) to lowest.  If these three weren’t enough Mercury might also be visible at around 06:00 also in the line and much lower on the horizon  although I did not see it due to terrain.

The red color of Mars really shows nicely contrasted with Jupiter and Venus highest and largest looking (it is much closer than the other two) cannot be missed.

This shot from Stellarium shows pretty well what you will see and it is beautiful sight to actually see for yourselves – images can be enlarged by clicking them:


Missed the line up this morning?  No worries, the trio will be visible for a number of days.  What you will notice is Jupiter catching up to Venus over the next few days.  So your view will change some until on 25 October Jupiter and Venus will be side-by-side something like this:


And a few days later on 01 November, Jupiter will have passed by Venus and Mars will sit beside Venus:


If you look at the trio with binoculars (or a telescope) you should also be able to see a few moons of Jupiter – something I hope to see when they are close enough to get all three planets and the moons all in the same field of view.  I wasn’t able to do that this morning because I was traveling and forgot my binoculars and it is going to rain tomorrow.  The Jupiter – Venus pairing would a be a good time too.

As far as Mercury goes, it will only be visible for a few days, hopefully I can position myself to be able to see it.  I have mountains in the way at home.

By the way:  If you don’t have Stellarium you can get it for free at the link above.

The Blue Ring


Yesterday’s viewing of Venus in the daylight was FANTASTIC!!  I was able to see it easily with just my eyes.  It will be too cloudy for me but if you can see the Moon, try looking  the the west of it.  Try extending your arm and look about a thumbs width away. I don’t know if it will be visible at all, worth a try though.  A finders chart is at yesterday’s post.

About the image:

Pluto’s haze layer shows its blue color in this picture taken by the New Horizons Ralph/Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC). The high-altitude haze is thought to be similar in nature to that seen at Saturn’s moon Titan. The source of both hazes likely involves sunlight-initiated chemical reactions of nitrogen and methane, leading to relatively small, soot-like particles (called tholins) that grow as they settle toward the surface. This image was generated by software that combines information from blue, red and near-infrared images to replicate the color a human eye would perceive as closely as possible.  – New Horizons

Image Credit:  NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

A Group of Planets


A nice grouping of planets and the moon about an hour an half before sunrise tomorrow 09 Oct.

Also and it is going to be too cloudy for me but if you can see a crescent moon today look closely you might see Venus also.

Image: Universe Today

Super Moon Eclipse

I’ve been waiting for this eclipse with great anticipation.  I am starting to get settled in to a new location and my skies seem to be nice and  dark.  I probably won’t have the big scope up for a while but I certainly can try to get a decent picture of the eclipse.

I will be participating in the Globe@Night project for October.  You can go to Globe@Night pretty much anytime to see how your skies compare in a measurable way to other locations.  In my case I will compare this place to my former residence of 25 years.  I saw light pollution at my old location degrade my skies by about almost a full magnitude and it happened in just a couple of years.  So Globe@Night is great idea and it is so well done, if you haven’t heard about it before, I will recommend it highly  – it is an especially good  project for the kids that mom and dad can do too.

Anyway, to get back on track, I have always found taking a decent picture of the moon  with a SLR and no filter kind of hit or miss.  So this time I went to YouTube for help and found this video:  Photographing the Total Eclipse (hat tip to Schuch Designs). I will try the settings the video gives at 02:18 into the video. The one thing I need is decent skies and according to the forecast they should be good — I’m still optimistic though.



I am hearing a CME occurred on the Sun and has resulted in a great light show in the form of an aurora.  If it is dark where you are, go out and have a look, it’s only mid-afternoon here so it could be over by the time darkness gets here.