Earth Hour 2021

   Saturday March 27th is the annual Earth Hour celebration. Started in 2007 the Earth Hour celebration is a world-wide citizen-powered effort to call attention to our planet’s environment and the need to better take care of our home (our only home).
   Earth Hour, although one hour, is an ongoing effort to encourage taking action about climate change as well as the destruction of nature and decreases in biodiversity.
   So on Saturday evening March 27th, at 8:30 pm (your local time), turn the electrically powered lights off in your house for one hour. But don’t stop there. Act locally and think globally! Get involved – stay involved.

   With lights out this may be a good time to step outside, weather permitting, and take a look at what could possibly be darker night skies with lights off in your neighborhood. Mars is visible high above the southern horizon near the stars of Taurus the Bull, however this year the light from the full Moon will brighten the skies.

            Watch this short video story “There Once Was A Sky Full of Stars”.

   From the Earth Hour web site:

Our first-ever Earth Hour “Virtual Spotlight”
Over the years, the lights-off moment saw entire streets, buildings, landmarks, and city skylines go dark – an unmissable sight that drew public attention to nature loss and the climate crisis.
This year – amidst the current global circumstances – in addition to switching off your lights, we also invite you to raise awareness and create the same unmissable sight online, so that the world sees our planet, the issues we face, and our place within it, in a new light.

   That’s us, and we have a home that is danger from not only climate change, the destruction of nature, and decreases in biodiversity, but our only home is also losing to the demands of an increasing population and its effect on the local environment. At the 8 Billion Angels web site there is information about the effect a growing population is having on our planet. Be sure to watch the video trailer and perhaps consider organizing a community viewing.
click on graphic to go to the Earth Overshoot web site   Continue learning about our impact on the Earth by visiting the 8 Billion Angels companion web site Earth Overshoot.

   
   
   

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.

March Equinox – 2021

   Saturday March 20th is an equinox day. While typically called the Vernal or Spring Equinox it is more globally appropriate to call this day the March Equinox as it is the start of Fall in the Southern Hemisphere. The official time for the equinox is 09:40 UT on the 20th which for my time zone is 5:40 am CDT. So for those in the northern hemisphere winter is ending and spring has ‘sprung’ (starts). From a geographical perspective we would describe the Sun as being over the Earth’s equator, and as this graphic shows there would be an equal amount of daylight and night on our planet as a result.
    At mid-day on the equator the sun is directly overhead and from that latitude you have no elongated shadow, just a ‘blob-like’ shadow at your feet as this picture of my feet taken at mid-day in Quito Ecuador shows.


   
    Regardless of your hemispheric preference get outside and cast a shadow!

   
   
  Northern hemisphere spring, Astronomically speaking, is when the Sun reaches the celestial coordinates of 0 hours and 0 degrees as it moves northward along the ecliptic crossing the celestial equator. At this location the Sun is just within the constellation of Pisces the Fishes and not entering Aries the Ram as the pseudoscience of astrology would have you believe.

    To learn more about the celestial coordinates click here to read a previous post about seasons and the equinox.

   Click here to see the online world sunlight map used to make the day/night graphic at the top of the page.


   Celebrate Solar Week March 22nd-26th. Click here to go to the Solar Week web site.

   
   
   
   During a trip to Quito Ecuador to visit one of the exchange student we had hosted, and her family, we spent the day at a Museum on the equator, Mitad del Mundo. I brought along my over-sized protractor knowing in advance that we would be at the museum. So at mid-day I had my wife stand on the equator (yellow line) and hold a string to the top of her head while Cathy, a sister of our exchange student, held the protractor. This was done during the summer so the Sun was over the northern horizon at mid-day and the Sun’s angle above the northern horizon was around 75o.

   Here is a short series of hourly pictures taken during the day on the September equinox on the equator in Quito Ecuador at Collegio Menor San Francisco de Quito, a private school that I visited and did the SunShIP project with (Sun Shadow Investigation Project).

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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.

Sun Enters Astronomical Constellation Pisces the Fishes

11 March 2014   Thursday March 11th the Sun in its apparent eastward motion along the ecliptic, moves out of the constellation Aquarius the Water Bearer and into the constellation of Pisces the Fishes. 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.

Earthkam Week

   Several times each year a down-looking camera on the International Space Station (ISS) is made available by NASA for making picture requests for the surface of the Earth. The camera is the Sally Ride Earthkam and as the blog title says, this is Sally Ride EarthKam Week. As these pictures, show our planet has a remarkably diverse surface.
   A popular thing to do is choose an orbital path and follow it across a part of the Earth you are interested in. Maybe where you live, a place you have visited or want to visit? Zoom in to see more detail, especially where the orbital path (the red one – for daylight), crosses. If satisfied click on the red line and make your request.
   Participating in the program requires registering so you can receive e-mail notifications of the next Earthkam week. I am registered as a classroom Teacher however any educator may apply. This would be great for Scout groups, or any other group interested in learning more about our planet, not to mention learning about NASA and its missions to Earth as well as off world endeavors.

                        Pictures from March 3-5 2021 Earthkam Week

   
   
   

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.

Inner Meets Outers – In A Triple Conjunction

   Sunday morning February 28th the innermost planet, Mercury, and two of the ringed outer planets, Jupiter and Saturn, will be in a triple conjunction as Mercury moves eastward past Saturn and then Jupiter. Mercury will be about 3-4o from Saturn and about 2-3o from Jupiter.
   All three will almost fit within the field of view of binoculars and should make for an interesting contrast in apparent magnitudes however Jupiter (-1.97) far outshines Mercury (0.30) and Saturn (0.71).

   
   
   

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.

February Moon at Apogee

   Our Moon reaches apogee, (furthest from Earth), for this orbit, on Thursday February 18th. For this apogee the 7.25-day old waxing crescent Moon will be at a distance of 31.70 Earth diameters, 251,282 miles (404,400 km) from the Earth.

   On the date of the apogee Moon the nearly first quarter Moon will be high above the southern horizon and will be within a few degrees from the planet Mars.


   Does our Moon actually go around the Earth as this graphic shows? 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 Scope on the Sky column “The Real Shape of the Moon’s Orbit”. (PDF)

   
   
   
   

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


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The Moon, Mars, and NASA’s Perseverance

   Thursday evening February 18th the 7-day old almost first quarter but still waxing crescent Moon will be about 3o from the ‘Red Planet’ Mars. Despite the -11.75 apparent magnitude of the Moon Mars, with an apparent magnitude of 0.75, will still be visible.

   
   NASA Perseverance is scheduled to land on Mars on 18 February 2021, at around 20 UT or 2 pm CST.

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

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 – Uranus Conjunction

   Wednesday evening February 17th the 6-day old waxing crescent Moon will be about 3-4o from the outer and ringed Planet Uranus. While the Moon with an apparent magnitude of -11.5 will certainly be visible, Uranus with an apparent magnitude of 5.81 will not!

   
   
   

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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Eppur Si Muove


   February 15th is Galileo Day.
   Quoting Galileo, “and yet it still moves”, in reference to the Earth actually orbiting the Sun. So how to acknowledge his achievements and contributions to modern Science? Read on…

   Jupiter’s Moons
   One enjoyable pasttime is to observe the constantly changing four largest moons orbiting Jupiter. Sometimes known as the Galilean Satellites, they are: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. Named after Galileo who made many observations of the moons and from these observations and other observations led him to question the Geocentric model of the solar system. These four planet-sized moons are visible as small bright stars on either side of Jupiter and depending on the time and date of viewing their arrangement around Jupiter is never the same as this animated graphic, set to 1-Earth day intervals, is showing.
   Recreate Galileo’s observations of the Galilean satellites through the use of an online simulation, the Java applet, Juplet. Input dates or times to see the position of the four Galilean satellites.
The Juplet will display the planet and the satellite configuration for the date and time on the computer, or you could easily edit the date and time, and after pressing the Enter key see a different configuration. To keep track of these changes the position of each satellite relative to Jupiter could be drawn on a data table similar to Galileo’s data table.

   This video, ‘Orbs of Jupiter’, was one of the videos I made for a live musical performance at the Gottleib Planetarium at Science City in Kansas City MO. The original videos were made for full-dome projection – this one has been flattened. Music was written by Richard Johnson and performed by Rebecca Ashe (Flute) and Cheryl Melfi (Clarinet). Live and pre-recorded Electro-acoustical sampling by Richard Johnson and Daniel Eichenbaum. The soundtrack for the video is from the live performance by Dark Matter.

   
   
   

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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Take a Deep Dive into Deep Space

   Take a deep dive into deep space at the DESI Legacy Imaging Surveys web site. This is an interactive display using a 10 trillion pixel composite picture of much of the night sky, based on different imaging data sets to create the image. The zoom-in is incredible as the billions of points of light resolve into galaxies, nebulae and other deep sky objects. Some of the datasets even show a spectral display. There are a number of ways to interact with the images including a way to flip back and forth between two images to watch for any objects in motion. Clicking on the screen will bring up options for joining a forum to ask or discuss what you are viewing. There are links to other information about that object or part of the sky.
   The video is a short tour of around Taurus and Orion.

   
   
   

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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