2017 Perseid Meteor Shower – Not A Good Year

   In reality this year’s annual Perseid Meteor shower will be affected by the Moon. The waning gibbous Moon will rise at about the same time as the constellation Perseus – the location for the meteors. With the bright reflected light from the Moon it will be nearly impossible to see any meteors.
   Also keep in mind that the numbers quoted for meteors per hour, the ‘ZHR’ or Zenith Hourly Rate, is an average not a guarantee that you will see that many. On a good peak night in some years I have seen 30 or 40 bright meteors per hour from dark skies. The best time is the few hours before sunrise as the Earth rotates your location into the direction the Earth is moving and sort of puts you face-on into the meteors.
(graphic source from Facebook with this URL: http://sci-techuniverse.com/) — link takes you to a non-existent web site, or to a Go-Daddy advertisement
Update: I did a search for the web site and found that the correct address is http://www.sci-techuniverse.com/, and after searching the web site I could not find this graphic. There is, however a write-up from last year about the Perseids.

   The peak time for the Perseids is August 12th and 13th but more specifically during the predawn hours of the 13th as the constellation Perseus is rising.
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

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.

Juno at Jupiter-Update

   The Juno Spacecraft is now fully engaged in making its planned orbits around the outer planet Jupiter. Since arriving and orbital insertion the spacecraft has made 6 orbits around Jupiter sending back amazing images and advancing our knowledge of the planet and its role in the solar system.
   Showing my age but I can remember how excited I was during the Voyager 1 and 2 flybys of the outer planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune during the 1980s. It was 40 years ago, Voyager 1 September 5th1977 – Voyager 2 August 20th 1977, when the spacecraft were launched. While both were targeted for a Jupiter and Saturn flyby Voyager 2 eventually had its mission rearranged so that it would fly past all four of the outer giant planets in a mission called the ‘Grand Slam’ or ‘Grand Tour’. The images from those flybys were just as exciting as the images we see from the current Juno mission albeit improved after 40 years of imaging technology advances.
   So Where are the two Voyagers now? Click here to find out.
   Click here to go to the NASA Video web site to see a short video (15 minutes) about the Voyager mission to the outer planets. This is part of a video series I often used in my Planetarium and classroom during the 1990s – so please realize that the graphics and animations, as well as some descriptions and some explanations are not necessarily as ‘advanced’ as things are now. However two of my heroes, Dr. Edward Stone, and Dr. Andrew Ingersoll, are featured making comments about some of the Science and discoveries.
   Below is a well done video compilation of images taken by the Juno Spacecraft. Click here to go to the Vimeo web site for the original video.

   
   
   

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.

August Moon at Apogee

   Our Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), on Wednesday August 2nd. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 31.75 Earth diameters (405,934 km or 252,857 miles) from the Earth.
   On the day of the apogee Moon the 11-day old waxing gibbous phase, rises mid-afternoon and is about 3o from Saturn and around 14-15o degrees from the reddish star Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion. The Moon and Saturn will fit easily within the field of view binoculars.
   Does our Moon actually go around the Earth as the above 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 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 go to bobs-spaces.

Venus Gets Buzzed!

   Tuesday morning August 1st the inner planet Venus will pass within 3o from the open star cluster, M-35. Also known as the ‘Beehive Cluster’ this is an open star cluster located near the feet of the Gemini Twins. M-35 consists of several hundred stars and is approximately 2800 light years from our solar system. The star cluster has an apparent magnitude of around 5.5 making it naked-eye visible and certainly a binocular-worthy object.

   Through binoculars it is easy to see M-35 as well as a 3rd and a 2nd magnitude star within a couple of degrees. However the ‘ruler’ of the binocular field of view is Venus with a -4.0 magnitude.

   
   
   

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 Passes Antares and Saturn

   Welcome to August!
   Over the next few days the Moon will wax from first quarter on Sunday July 30th into its waxing gibbous phases prior to reaching full Moon on August 7th. During this time, Tuesday August 1st to Thursday August 3rd, the Moon will first pass the reddish star Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion then the next day pass the outer planet Saturn on the 2nd. The following day has the Moon about mid-way across the Milky Way as the picture shows, however given the Moon’s bright reflected light it would be nearly impossible to see the Milky Way.
                           Click on a graphic below to see it larger               

   
   
   

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 in Conjunction with Jupiter and Spica


   Friday July 28th the 6-day old waxing crescent Moon will be within 2-3o from the outer planet Jupiter, and about 8-9o from the bluish star Spica in Virgo the Harvest Maiden. The Moon will be closest to Jupiter on the 28th and then closer to Spica on Friday the 29th.

   With a 7×50 binoculars the Moon and Jupiter will easily fit within the field of view on the 28th, however the gap between Jupiter and Spica on the 29th will be just beyond that same field of view – as this animated graphic set for 2 days, 28th-29th, shows the view with 7×50 binoculars .

   
   
   
   
   
   

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, Phone Home!

mars-solar-conjunction-above   Thursday July 27th the planet Mars will be at solar conjunction, on the opposite side of the Sun from the Earth. Mars will reappear on the west side of the Sun as a morning planet next month and gradually will become more visible in the morning skies.
    So while Mars is out of sight for observers it is also out of ‘radio sight’ for all of the spacecraft at Mars – either on the surface or in orbit. Between July 22nd to August 1st mission controllers will stop sending messages to the spacecraft at Mars, however the orbiters will continue their science observations and collecting data. The rovers on Mars on the other hand will not rove until after the radio silence period, but will still be able to carry on with some investigations.

   Click here to read more about how NASA prepares for the radio silence.

   
   
   
   

   
   
   

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.