Venus and the Twins


   Over the next few evenings, June 7th to 10th, the inner planet Venus will pass the star Pollux, marking the head of one of the Gemini Twins. Pollux is on the left side as we view the ‘Twins’ face-on. This animated graphic is set for 10 pm CDT and shows the daily movement of Venus toward the east, combined with the daily motion of the stars toward the west as the Earth revolves around the Sun.


   The separation between Venus and Pollux will vary from about 4.5o to about 5.5o allowing at least these two to fit within a binocular field of view.

   
   
   

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 Not Really in Gemini

  According to the pseudoscience of astrology the Sun enters the constellation of the Gemini Twins on Monday May 21st. When in fact the actual position of the Sun on this date is still within the boundary of the constellation of Taurus the Bull, as this graphic and the banner graphic show.

   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 more observing information for this month.

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 Near a Beehive


   Very early Sunday morning October 23rd the 22-day old last quarter Moon will be a few degrees from the open star cluster M-44, or commonly known as the ‘Beehive Cluster‘. This should make for an interesting sight with binoculars despite the reflected light from the Moon.

   If you are not a late night observer but like me an early morning observer then the Moon will still be close to M-44 before sunrise. However at that time look south-southeast and high above the horizon. To the right is Procyon in Canis Minor and above the Moon are the ‘Twins’ Pollux and Castor.

   
   
   

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 Not in Gemini

  According to the pseudoscience of astrology the Sun enters the constellation of the Gemini Twins on Friday May 20th. When in fact the actual position of the Sun on this date is still within the boundary of the constellation of Taurus the Bull, as this graphic and the banner graphic show.

   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 more observing information for this month.

Sun Enters Cancer

19july-view-from-earth   Tuesday July 21st at 6 UT, (1 am CDT) 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.
   
   
   
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Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Morning Sky Views

Click on picture to see it full size.

Click on picture to see it full size.

   Didn’t work today so while waiting for the phone to ring, just in case a sub position opened up, I started making arrangements to do some more photo experimentation of various constellations and planets, and then ending with an Iridium Satellite Flare just before 7 am CDT. For the flare I knew where to look, just slightly northeast and at an altitude of 57 degrees. This would put the flare above and to the right of the North Star Polaris as I face north looking over the roof of my house. This picture used a 3-second shutter speed with the 18mm lens set to F5.7 and the ISO at 1600.
   So I aimed my camera and took a few test shots hoping to be able to frame the stars of the Big Dipper and Little Dipper – which I was able to do as the picture above shows. However by the time the Iridium Satellite did its thing the sky was too bright for the ‘dipper’ stars to be visible as the (banner picture) shows. This picture used a 1-second shutter speed with the 18mm lens set to F8, and the ISO 200.

The Pleiades

The Pleiades

   Before my encounter with the Iridium 3 Satellite I spent about an hour taking pictures of Mars and the backward question mark shape of Leo; Jupiter and the Gemini Twins stars; Orion, and the Orion Nebula. These pictures were taken with a 55mm lens set to various exposure times and ISO settings. I was curious about how long of an exposure or shutter speed I could use without getting ‘star trails’, or a streak of light from each star as the Earth rotates. The picture of the Pleiades used a 55mm lens set for an 8-second shutter speed and there are noticeable ‘star trails’. This more or less confirmed what I had suspected and that a 6-second shutter speed was probably ideal – at least for my camera. So, while I was changing the shutter speed I also played around with the ISO setting and the aperture setting. Each of these had an effect that bears looking into further. Somewhere I’ll find the right mix of ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. But then the sky transparency is never the same so that right mix setting may be an elusive thing.

Orion

Orion: 43mm; 4-Sec.; F5.6; ISO 1600

   
Mars and Leo

Mars and Leo: 55mm; 6-Sec.; F5.6; ISO 3200

Jupiter

Jupiter and Twins: 55mm; 6-Sec.; F5.6; ISO 1600

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

               Click on each of these thumbnails to see it full size.

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