Taurus Faces the Moon

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   This evening the 13.5 days old waxing gibbous Moon, some of the stars of the winter hexagon, and the planet Jupiter rise above the eastern horizon of Kansas City MO as this graphic shows. The Moon is within the constellation of Taurus the Bull as the banner graphic at the top of the page shows.

The Hyades Star Cluster

The Hyades Star Cluster

   The Moon is within 2 degrees from the reddish star Aldebaran and the stars of the V-shaped open cluster the Hyades. The V-shape represents the face the angry bull with reddish Aldebaran at the top of the V as one of the eyes of Taurus, the other eye, Epsilon Tauri is at the top of V’s other side. The bull’s nose is the point of the V, Gamma Tauri.


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.

It’s Our Home

   “It’s our home, our only home” is a quote I came across and copied into my collection. It is from a video I used in my classroom many years ago. Can’t remember the video name nor find it but nonetheless it makes a powerful statement about our home planet. So this posting is in the spirit of celebrating our home planet.
   Monday the 22nd is Earth Day, an annual event sponsored by individuals, groups, and organizations who are activists (this is a positive use of the word), or stewards striving to create a more healthy environment for all. This is accomplished through education as well as events such as Earth Day.
group-large   Two years ago I joined with a group of musicians to form Dark Matter, a group of educators, scientists, musicians, and artists with the initial purpose of producing a series of Astronomically-based videos that would accompany a live musical performance. The videos were originally developed for use in the full dome video system at the Gottleib Planetarium at Union Station in Kansas City. The dome was approximately 60 feet in diameter and could seat around 150. The original videos were warped to suit the projection system however the two below are flat screen versions of the videos.
   The performance was called Orbit and with that as a theme I developed the videos with the compositions the composers provided. The style of music is described as electro-acoustical and was a combination of live combined with digitized sound samples and real-time sound sampling as the musicians played. The videos below were the opening and closing compositions and both were called Water Meditation. In the first piece the flute is played by Rebecca Ashe, and the second piece has a clarinet played by Cheryl Melfi. Music is composed by Daniel Eichenbaum and Richard Johnson with Richard also doing the real-time sampling during the performance.

The Banner graphic is from a high altitude balloon launched as part of the production for another full dome video and live performance called Ascent. This was during the fall of 2011 and is a view from 95,000 feet of the two neighboring cities of Kansas City Missouri and Kansas Kansas City Kansas.

   Click here to go to the Dark Matter web site.

   Water Meditation – Flute by Richard Johnson: Earth is a water world with more than 70% of its surface covered with water. Gain a different perspective of the planet as you orbit the Earth with a satellite. Flute is played by Rebecca Ashe.

   Water Meditation – Clarinet by Daniel Eichenbaum: As the closing composition I wanted to leave the audience with a sense of what it would be like to orbit the Earth with the International Space Station. So from that perspective we see a sunrise from orbit and our home planet as the rising Sun brightens the daylight side of the Earth. Clarinet is played by Cheryl Melfi.

ed   Click here to go to the Earth Day web site.

epa   Click here to go to the Environmental Protection Agency web site for Earth Day information.

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

Mid-West Snow Storm- part 2

ruler   Once again our part of the world is getting a smack down from ‘mother nature’. As of around 8:30 a.m. CST there was a total of 15 inches on the ground in most places in my backyard although there are some places where it is deeper. This means about 12 inches of fresh snow since around 3 this morning. It is a heavy wet type of snow and is weighing heavily on tree branches, power lines, clothes lines, and so on.
   A friend from the northeast sent me this, “oh you poor flat landers… lol got 28, 15, and another 12 to come.. Snows almost to the window sill.

From a Facebook posting:

I think its time for Old Man Winter to get Mother Nature drunk, and have a little fun making spring.

   Some pictures from the storm.

   A short video from the backyard at around 8:30 a.m.

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

Saturn Rising

Saturn Meets Venus

   Following its solar conjunction during October the planet Saturn now moves into the pre-dawn morning skies on the western side of the Sun. As the Earth moves along its orbital path around the Sun, the Sun with its apparent motion along the ecliptic toward the east gives the appearance of moving away from Saturn. Gradually the distance between the Sun and Saturn increases resulting in Saturn rising earlier each day.
Try this: Observe Saturn at the same time each morning and you will notice that Saturn is appearing higher above the horizon at the same time.
   Venus is also on the move eastward and since its orbital speed is greater than the Earth and the Sun’s apparent speed it (Venus) will catch up with the Sun in the next month or so. Along the way Venus will pass by Saturn, coming within 1-degree, on the mornings of November 26th and 27th as this animated graphic shows. The graphic is set at 1 frame per day and shows the sky at 6:40 a.m. CST.

   The video below is a clip from a longer one I developed for a Planetarium performance last year. The longer video, Orbit, was part of a series of full-dome videos that were developed to be accompanied by original musical scores written by Daniel Eichenbaum, and performed live by Dark Matter under the 60-foot dome at the Arvin Gottleib Planetarium in Kansas City, MO.

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