Moon – Mars Conjunction


   Friday morning February 9th the 23-day old waning crescent Moon will be within 4-5o from the red planet Mars, and about 8o from the reddish star Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion.

   
   
   

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.

Moon – Jupiter Conjunction


   Wednesday morning February 7th the 21-day old waning gibbous Moon will be within 6-7o from the ringed giant gas planet Jupiter. Mars is next in line for a conjunction with 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.

Moon – Spica Conjunction

click on graphic to see it larger
   Monday morning February 5th the 19-day old waning gibbous Moon will be within 6-7o from the blue-white star Spica in Virgo the Harvest Maiden.

   
   
   

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.

Imbolog 2018

   Watch That WoodChuck!
groundhog newspaper   On February 2, we watch for the groundhog to emerge for reasons that originate from ancient Celtic tradition. Groundhog Day was known as lmbolog, or sheep’s milk, a time for nurturing young sheep and planting spring crops. The belief arose that if lmbolog were to be sunny and clear, then winter’s effects would endure, foreshadowing a long winter. How­ever, if skies were overcast, then the warmer days of spring would arrive early. To farmers then and today, an early spring means early spring plant­ing and a subsequent early harvest. Often fires were lit to commemorate the event as fires were a sign of warmth and light, both of which increased as days lengthened.
not a meteorologist   German immigrant farmers are credited with bringing Groundhog Day with them to the United States as they settled in Pennsylvania. To them, February 2 was called Candlemas Day, because of the practice of lighting candles on this day in celebration of early planting. The Germans believed that the badger was able to predict the weather on the basis of whether or not its shadow appeared. If the badger, or groundhog, saw its shadow on Candlemas, it would be scared and return to its burrow for another six weeks to sleep through the long winter. However, if the skies were cloudy then no shadows would appear, and an early and warm spring would be expected. The importance of this day to German immigrants, and its impact on their farming gave rise to the couplet:
         A farmer would rather see his wife upon a bier,
         than that Candlemas Day should be sunny and clear.

puxs-phil-lied   Year after year, since 1898, crowds have gathered in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, on February 2 to wait for a certain groundhog to emerge from its burrow. Today the belief in this as a predictor of weather is not nearly as consequential as it appears despite all the hoopla created by the news media. Yet, there is some scientific rationale to this ritual, albeit not in the accuracy of the forecast. When the skies are clear, temperatures tend to be cold as the ground radiates heat absorbed during the day back into the atmosphere; and when skies are over­cast temperatures tend to moderate as clouds trap heat nearer the ground.
Midpoints
Groundhog-Standing2   To other cultures in the Northern Hemisphere Candlemas Day was celebrated as the midpoint, or cross­ quarter day, between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Cross-quarter days occur midway between the astronomical events that mark the beginning of each of the four seasons, the solstices and the equinoxes. The second cross-quarter day of the year, as it is calculated mathematically, occurs on May 6, although it is often associated with May Day, on May 1. The third cross­ quarter day of the year is August 7, the only one of the four without a significant event associated with it. Mid-autumn, the fourth cross-quarter day, occurs on the last day of October, Hallowmas Eve, or as we now know it, Halloween.
   Interestingly this system of equinox, solstice, and cross-quarter days has led to some confusion as to when the seasonal midpoints and endpoints occur. For example, June 21-22 is the official date for the start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, but it is sometimes referred to as midsummer’s day. This would suggest that summer actually begins on May Day and ends in early August. In a similar manner, December 21, the start of winter for the Northern Hemisphere, is some­times referred to as midwinter’s day. This would imply winter actually begins at the end of October, and concludes (assuming no shadow is seen) on Groundhog Day.
groundhog   So will we have a long winter, or will it be short, and our spring be an early spring? No one can predict this, at least not based on seeing one’s shadow. However, come this February 2, rest assured that crowds will once again gather to watch Punxsutawney Phil emerge from his hole.
   Adapted from “Watch that Woodchuck” Scope on the Skies. Science Scope Magazine. February 1993.

   
   
   

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.

Lunar Eclipse – January 31 2018

Here are two pictures from the rising Moon last evening.

   
   And this morning got a late start out the door – made a mistake and let the dogs out in front (north side) while I looked to see where the Moon was. Then chased the ‘guys’ for a while until they peed and sniffed enough and got them back inside.
Drove out east to our community park for a better horizon. Had planned on using 3 cameras but then applied the KISS or Occam’s Razor logic and set up one camera. In reality I had about 30 minutes prior to totality and only a couple of minutes as you see in the video near totality. The clouds were too thick near the horizon.
   This is a sequence taken at 300mm with several exposure times, f-stop and ISO changes along the way.

   
   
   

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.

Moon – Regulus Conjunction


   Thursday morning February 1st the waning gibbous Moon will be in conjunction with the star Regulus in Leo the Lion. Depending on your location the two will be anywhere from around 1o to at least 5.5o as is the separation from my location.


   And while outside remember to turn toward the south and east to see Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn stretched out above the horizon. The brighter stars, Spica in Virgo the Harvest Maiden and Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion are also arranged along the same ‘line’ as the three planets.

   
   
   

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.

Mars Opposite Uranus

   Tuesday January 30th Mars and Uranus will reached their respective orbital positions that have them 180o apart. Mars will be located at approximately 207.6o and Uranus at approximately 27.6o of heliocentric longitude. This called heliocentric opposition.
   Interestingly at their last heliocentric opposition, February 26th 2016, Mars was located at approximately 200.0o and Uranus at approximately 20.0o of heliocentric longitude.
   
   
   

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.