Perseids Meteor Shower – 2019

   While August signals the end of summer vacation for students and teachers, for sky-watchers the month signals the beginning of the Perseid meteor shower. This annual event occurs when the Earth passes through the path of debris left behind by the Comet P/SwiftTuttle. The Perseids, like all meteor showers, are named for the region of the sky that the meteors seem to radiate from. The Perseids radiant is within the constellation Perseus.
   The meteor shower lasts slightly longer than a month, beginning around July 17 and ending around August 24. The best times for viewing, when the maximum number of meteors could be seen (under ideal conditions), is the peak night, on August 13th. The best time for viewing the meteors is after midnight and in the couple of hours before the Sun rises. At this time, our position on the Earth will face directly into the “cloud” of debris.
   This year the peak night is 3 days before full Moon which is good news because the waxing gibbous Moon will set at around 4-5 am local time as the area around the Pleiades and the radiant rise in the east. This leaves maybe 2 hours of viewing before the sky brightens too much.

  Where should you look to find Perseus and the meteors? For those viewing from mid-northern latitudes (40-50 degrees Perseus rises around midnight over the northeast horizon. By early morning, the Perseids radiant is very high, nearly overhead toward the northeast horizon.

One Perseid Down- Many More to Go?
Perseids: The Peak Night

Here is a wonderful short video about a falling star by Sascha Geddert.


Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.


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Moon-Spica Conjunction

   Monday evening August 5th the 5-day old waxing crescent Moon will be within about 5-6o from the blue-white star Spica over the southwestern horizon. Both will set shortly before midnight local time.
   Spica is part of the constellation Virgo the Harvest Maiden and represents a bundle of grasses, perhaps wheat, in her left hand.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.


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July Moon at 2nd Ascending Node

   Tuesday July 30th the 27.5-day old thin waning crescent Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving north relative to the ecliptic. This is known as the ascending node, one of two intersections the Moon’s orbital path has with the ecliptic. The ecliptic is actually the Earth’s orbit and the Moon’s orbit is inclined about 6o from the ecliptic. So there are two node intersections, the ascending and descending nodes.

   On the day of the node crossing the very thin waning crescent Moon rises about an hour before the Sun rises and is located nearly directly west from the ‘Twin’ stars, Pollux and Castor.

   Does our Moon actually go around the Earth as many graphics show? From our perspective on the Earth the Moon appears to circle around the Earth. However, in reality, the Moon orbits the Sun together with the Earth*

*Click here to read my 2006 Scope on the Sky column “The Real Shape of the Moon’s Orbit”. (PDF)

Read this very informative article about the Earth-Moon system and their orbital motions, written by Joe Hanson. “Do We Orbit the Moon?”

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.


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Correction to Post

   Okay, I screwed up and sent out a very incorrect post a few minutes ago.
Here is a link to the corrected post.
Sun Not in Leo

Or just scroll down to the corrected post!
   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.


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Sun Enters Cancer – 2019

19july-view-from-earth   Sunday July 21st the Sun in its apparent eastward motion along the ecliptic, moves out of the constellation Gemini the Twins and into the constellation of Cancer the Crab. This is the true or actual position of the Sun as opposed to the pseudoscience of astrology which usually has the astrological Sun one constellation ahead or east from the Astronomical Sun’s position.

   Read a little more about how astrology has the Sun incorrectly placed in a previous blog, and in another blog discussing the effects of precession.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.


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The Time of Apollo – 50th Anniversary

earth from moon   July 20th 1969 was the day the United States landed the Apollo 11 Lunar Lander the Eagle on the Sea of Tranquility. This was the first time someone from Earth walked on the Moon, with several successful missions to follow. Much of the Apollo missions were about beating the former Soviet Union, or probably more appropriate, being the first in some space exploration endeavor. This was the ‘Space Race’ and at least for landing people on the Moon, the United States won. Since then the focus of crewed (aka manned) space exploration has been confined to low, near Earth orbit – primarily with the Space Shuttle and International Space Station missions.
   I can very well remember sitting in the squadron barracks day-room in July of 1969 with other GIs watching the first men to step out of their lander and walk on the Moon. In the years that followed, I left the Air Force, completed undergraduate and graduate schools, and began my teaching career. Along the way I closely followed every NASA mission, crewed or robotic, and incorporated my excitement and passion of space exploration with my teaching. Now with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission it sort of brought home how much time has passed since the days of seemingly endless, almost routine, launches from the Florida coast.
   I don’t think my mother, who used to live in Lake Mary Florida (about 40 miles west from the Kennedy Space Center), ever caught on to the timing for my family vacations to visit with her! We would be there around the time of a rocket launch, or in the case of the Shuttle, launches and landings. From her house we could watch the lift-off on TV and then step outside to see the vehicle climbing into the atmosphere. Or there were times when we would be ‘boomed’ out of bed, and the the windows would rattle as the shuttle passed over head leaving behind it’s signature double sonic boom.

   Somewhat sadly I am part of the only generation to have witnessed earthlings walking on another world. So Far! That may change with the NASA Artemis program plans to land a crew on the Moon by 2024.

   The evening skies on July 20th 1969 and July 20th 2019.

   The four videos below will perhaps highlight and celebrate some of how I and probably many others feel about space exploration. The first video, Overview, is interviews with 5 Astronauts as they describe how viewing the Earth from space has changed them. The second video, The Time of Apollo, is from the 16mm film days, and is a somber look at the Apollo missions. It is narrated by Burgess Meredith (the Penguin in the TV Batman series!). The third video is a look at the Artemis program. The fourth video, Gagarin, is a video I produced with an original musical score by Daniel Eichenbaum. It is a look at our planet from orbit with quotes from Cosmonauts and Astronauts.

Additionally here is a link to my cloud drive where I have a collection of NASA Moon mission videos (mp4 format).

OVERVIEW from Planetary Collective on Vimeo.

The Time of Apollo

Artemis Program to the Moon

Gagarin


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Total Solar Eclipse – Southern Hemisphere Only

   Tuesday July 2nd the new Moon will be about 12 hours away from crossing the plane of the ecliptic, its ascending node. When a node crossing is close to new Moon phase, or full Moon, there will be an eclipse. On July 2nd there will be a total solar eclipse visible throughout the day along a curving path of totality starting southwest of the Pitcairn Islands in the South Pacific Ocean then crossing the Pacific coast of Chile and on to the Atlantic coast of Argentina. The eclipse ends as the Sun is setting for the residents of Buenos Aires.
   Click here to go to the Hermit Eclipse web site for information including a detailed map and eclipse stage times

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.


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