Mid-Winter Skies

   Tuesday evening December 24th around sunset or after the skies darken look toward the western horizon and you can’t miss noticing the bright celestial object – the inner planet Venus. Also, despite the fact that we are now two seasons away from our summer (Northern Hemisphere), over the western horizon are three stars making up the ‘Summer Triangle’. These three stars each belong to a seperate constellation but together they form an asterism,not a constellation, but a recognizable star shape.

   Wednesday morning December 25th look toward the eastern horizon for the ‘Red Planet’ (Mars) to be above the horizon and about 15o from the reddish star Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion. In this graphic Antares is just above the horizon.
Higher above Mars, toward the right or the west, is a the bluish star Spica in Virgo the Harvest Maiden. And higher still but toward the left is another reddish star. This is Arcturus in Bootes the Herdsman.

   As this year and decade come to a close I’d like to thank all my readers and the universe in general for allowing me an opportunity to share things celestial.
Have a happy and safe Holiday however you celebrate.


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.


Also Follow me and other great resources at Feedspot.

Evening Sky Views-ISS

Click on picture to see it full size.

Click on picture to see it full size.

   This evening the ISS flew across my southern horizon from the southwest to southeast and at its maximum visibility reached around 45 degrees in altitude and got to about -3 magnitude. Its path, as the banner graphic shows carried it past the ‘teapot’ asterism of Sagittarius toward the ‘Square of Pegasus’. I took a series of pictures with my fisheye lens with a shutter speed of 5-seconds, F4.6 aperture, and an ISO of 3200. The path the ISS followed started from behind some trees and then behind my big Oak tree. As it emerged on the east side of the tree it faded from view. Near the top of the picture are the three stars forming the ‘Summer Triangle’ asterism, and on the left side look for the ‘Square of Pegasus’.
Click on picture to see it full size.

Click on picture to see it full size.

   So after the ISS faded from sight I aimed the camera straight up toward the zenith and took a few pictures of the ‘Summer Triangle’ asterism. The shutter speed was 5-seconds, with an F4.5 aperture, and ISO 3200. Two smaller constellations, Delphinus the Dolphin and Sagitta the Arrow are in the picture but easy to see in this cropped picture.

   Click here to read about and see additional pictures of the ISS and Iridium flares.

   
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

New Nova

Click on image to see full size

Click on image to see full size

   A new nova (isn’t that redundant??!!) has been discovered near the stars making up the kite-shaped small constellation of Delphinus the Dolphin, and the even smaller Sagitta the Arrow. As of earlier this morning it was reported to have reached 6th magnitude – just within what may be seen with the naked eye in dark skies. It should be visible with binoculars however, and since this is the initial sightings then it may brighten even more.
The nova is within the summer triangle asterism which for us is over the southeastern horizon at sunset. It is located within the area indicated by the red circle.
Current name or desigination is: PNVJ20233073+2046041
Here is a link to Wikipedia with a few more links there: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PNVJ20233073+2046041

   
   
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.

Finding Uranus

Click on image to see it full size

Click on image to see it full size

   Okay – the ‘cute’ answer is look behind you, however from an Astronomer’s perspective this may prove difficult so look westward shortly after sunset for the 4 stars making up the asterism The Square of Pegasus and follow the two stars on the left side of the square in a straight line toward the horizon and you will have found Uranus. It is just to the east from another asterism, the Circlet of Cetus the Whale. Uranus is right at the limit of brightness for naked-eye seeing but in binoculars or telescope it is visible as small dot.
location
   Uranus is located just east of the 0-hour line, the location of the Sun on the March equinox.
   
   
   
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.