Category Archives: Observing

June is Going to be Fun

Going to plan on seeing Mercury. If I have decent skies that is and that’s a big “if”. It has been terrible for any kind of observing and has been terrible for a good long time.

I have had just one good opportunity to see the StarLink satellites and I don’t know what happened because they did not show up. Of course that was very early on.

We were supposed to have mostly clear skies yesterday but it seemed hazy. Turned out it was hazy because of smoke from wild fires 3,700 km (2300 miles) away.

Hopefully the weather turns around and dries out. We’ll just have to wait and see.

See the Starlink Satellites

Dr. Marco Langbroek (sattrackcam.blogspot.com) captured the SpaceX Starlink satellites streaking over the Netherlands shortly after launch in this video (posted by VideoFromSpace).

I saw this particular video was released yesterday (Saturday) morning and went immediately to Heavens-Above and N2YO to get tracking information. Neither source had any, but luckily N2YO does list it today.

Starlink tracking from N2YO

I’ll include the Heavens-Above link because they are sure to have predictions up soon.

I have not been able to see them yet, plenty of opportunity in terms of passes overhead, but sadly I have lots of clouds. Perhaps tonight?

See The ISS Fly-Over

Want to see the International Space Station fly overhead? I know many readers look every now and then, however if you have never tried, give it a try. Just check when it will be visible and go out and have a look, providing you have clear skies that is.

NASA’s “Spot The Station“.

I usually look at Heavens-Above and have done so for years with great success.

Sunspots

The Sun is showing some activity in terms of sunspots.

Here is a magnetogram of Sunspot 2741, this along with 2740 have been firing off solar flares and the occasional coronal mass ejection (CME). We are being impacted with kind of a glancing blow from a CME at this time so be mindful of the possibility of an auroral display if you have clear skies as we are in a minor geomagnetic storm.

At the moment I have clouds but perhaps they will clear tonight and if I’m lucky I might get to see the northern lights — it’s been a while. I would like to try and gets some photos too now that I have a better camera. We’ll see.

The image above comes from SolarHam.com.

April Skies

This month’s episode from JPL has some good tips, starting with how to find Polaris.

What in the world is going on with my internet connection now??

Could it be the update to the computer last evening causing problems or is this thing on it’s last legs? Ah well, it’s always something.

Hope this goes through this time.

Super Moon Eclipse

Early tomorrow morning or tonight (depending on where you are), if you have decent skies you may be able to enjoy this eclipse.

The eclipse begins about 02:35 UTC. The images came from Wikipedia, pretty good.

Not sure if I will get to see it or not, depends on this storm. The image below was taken from my front door this morning. We have around 30 cm / 12 inches of new snow on the ground and it looks like there is another 30 to 50 cm on the way.

I need to get out and see if I can get some of it cleared away, it has warmed up to -18 C, I’ll wait a bit more but the wind is supposed to be bad so I don’t want to wait too long.

Oh and yes the roads are passable if one get to them.

M 105

A very nice Hubble image of the Messier Object 105 or simply M 105.

A good telescope target not that it is all that bright or distinctive but it is in a nice region of the sky with plenty to look at.

The ESA caption: It might appear featureless and unexciting at first glance, but NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope observations of this elliptical galaxy — known as Messier 105 — show that the stars near the galaxy’s centre are moving very rapidly. Astronomers have concluded that these stars are zooming around a supermassive black hole with an estimated mass of 200 million Suns! This black hole releases huge amounts of energy as it consumes matter falling into it and causing the centre to shine far brighter than its surroundings. This system is known as an active galactic nucleus.

Hubble also surprised astronomers by revealing a few young stars and clusters in Messer 105, which was thought to be a “dead” galaxy incapable of star formation. Messier 105 is now thought to form roughly one Sun-like star every 10 000 years. Star-forming activity has also been spotted in a vast ring of hydrogen gas encircling both Messier 105 and its closest neighbour, the lenticular galaxy NGC 3384.

Messier 105 was discovered in 1781, lies about 30 million light-years away in the constellation of Leo (The Lion), and is the brightest elliptical galaxy within the Leo I galaxy group.

Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, C. Sarazin et al.

Comet 46P/Wirtanen

Comet 46P/Wirtanen is in our night sky and visible without a telescope. I cannot say it is a naked-eye object, but I will qualify that by telling you I have not been out in the most favorable time. Most of my viewing has been at 03:00 to 04:00 and if I could get outside a couple hours earlier I might indeed glimpse it. So I am looking to the west and not so much to the south. I do have pretty good skies too so if you have any light pollution at all you will need assistance in seeing Wirtanen (in my experience that is).

If you have even a small pair of binoculars you are all set. I chose the image above because it is a great facsimile of what I see (image from: Astronomy Sketch of the Day). If you have even a small telescope you may be able to see a tail.

How do you find it? The best finders chart I’ve found is here and the chart comes from the Comet Wirtanen Observing Campaign website.

Hopefully I will be able to get one of my scopes on it this weekend. From the weather forecast here that is in doubt, so it’s either brave the -20 C temps or hope the clouds and rain (!) stays away.