Sun Enters Aries

April 19th   Monday April 18th the Sun in its apparent eastward motion along the ecliptic, moves out of the constellation Pisces the Fishes and into the constellation of Aries the Ram. 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.
   
   
   


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

Sun Not In Aries But It Is The March 2016 Equinox

   Sunday March 20th is an equinox day. This means that for those in the northern hemisphere winter is ending and spring has ‘sprung’ (starts). For our counterparts south of the equator summer is ending and fall is beginning. From a geographical perspective we would describe the Sun as being over the Earth’s equator, and as this graphic shows there would be an equal amount of daylight and night on our planet as a result.
    At mid-day on the equator the sun is directly overhead and from that latitude you have no shadow, just a ‘blob-like’ shadow at your feet as this picture of my feet taken at mid-day in Quito Ecuador shows.

    Regardless of your hemispheric preference get outside and cast a shadow!

seasons-ani  Northern hemisphere spring officially (well at least astronomically) begins at 4:30 UT on the 20th (11:30 pm CDT 19 March) when the Sun reaches the celestial coordinates of 0 hours and 0 degrees as it moves northward along the ecliptic crossing the celestial equator. At this location the Sun is within the constellation of Pisces the Fishes and not just entering Aries the Ram as the pseudoscience of astrology would have you believe.

    To learn more about the celestial coordinates click here to read a previous post about seasons and the equinox.

   Click here to see the online world sunlight map used to make the day/night graphic at the top of the page.

sun-earth   Click here to go to the NASA Sun-Earth Days web site.

   Here is a short series of hourly pictures taken during the day on the September equinox on the equator in Quito Ecuador at Collegio Menor San Francisco de Quito, a private school that I visited and did the SunShIP project with (Sun Shadow Investigation Project).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


   
   
   

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.

Sun Not In Pisces

The view from Earth - 18 February.

The view from Earth – 19 February.

  According to the pseudoscience of astrology the Sun enters the constellation of Pisces the Fishes on Friday February 19th. In fact the actual position of the Sun is still within the boundary of the constellation of Aquarius the Water Bearer, as this graphic shows. The Sun had just entered Aquarius 2 days ago.

   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.
   
   
   
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 Is Okay To Point

clicl on picture to see it larger   During the lunar eclipse the other evening (on my side of the world) I had, for a time, the company of my daughter, granddaughter, wife, and our dog Tyler. As my daughter pointed toward the Moon and helping our granddaughter aim her binoculars I had this cosmic thought. Am I the only one wondering “if the Moon is there where is the Sun?” Obviously more or less 180o away from where the Moon is. After all this is a full Moon. So by putting the Moon behind you point toward the ground at an angle that is the same as the angle the Moon is above the horizon. That is where the Sun is at that moment.
camera-points    A look at how I had my camera setup sort of conveyed that idea as well.
   The Moon is within the constellation of Pisces near the vernal equinox, the crossing between the ecliptic and celestial equator. This means the Sun, if opposite from the Moon, would be at a similar crossing but the opposite season in the constellation of Virgo the Harvest Maiden – the autumnal equinox.

   Some pictures of the lunar eclipse around the center of my universe.

   
   
   
   

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.

Sun Enters Aquarius

feb-view from earth   Monday 16 February at 20 UT (2 pm CST), the Sun in its apparent eastward motion along the ecliptic, moves out of the constellation Capricornus the Sea Goat and into the constellation of Aquarius the Water Bearer. 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. Which will be Wednesday 18 February when the sun is not in Pisces according to astrology.

   
   
   
[centup]
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.

Luna Has Aquarius’s Back

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   This evening, Sunday 10 November, the first quarter Moon is high above the southern horizon at sunset local time. Since yesterday the Moon has been waxing its way through the water part of the northern hemisphere celestial sphere. Here ‘swim’ the northern fishes, and from the mythologies a sea-goat, and some dude dumping a bucket of water into the mouth of the southern fish. As this graphic set for 7:30 pm CST shows, the Moon is in a region of not very bright stars – the exception being the 1st magnitude star Fomalhaut in the ‘Southern Fish’.
s toe pan   However turning toward the eastern horizon will bring into view the beginning of the stars and constellations making up the ‘winter hexagon’ (northern hemisphere) group of bright winter season stars. These include the open star clusters the Pleiades and the Hyades. The star Algol, a variable star in the constellation Perseus the Hero is now also in prime viewing for timing and graphing a light curve showing how this star varies in brightness. More on this in a future post.
   
   
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.

Go Fish

astronomical_sun   The Sun, today, enters the boundaries of the constellation Pisces the Fishes. This is the astronomical position of the Sun based on its apparent motion eastward along the ecliptic. This apparent eastward motion along the ecliptic is due to the real orbital motion the Earth follows as it revolves around the Sun. From our perspective it appears as if the Sun is moving.
   That’s Comet PanSTAARS in the picture – to the left of the Sun.
   The Banner picture above shows a portion of the sky from the Hyades and Jupiter on the left past the Pleiades to Perseus the Hero on the right side. Click here for the full-size version of the picture.

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

Not Pisces Today!

click on this image to see it full size

click on this graphic to see it full size

   According to the pseudoscience of astrology the Sun enters the constellation of Pisces the fishes today. However according to the real position of the Sun on this date the Sun is already within the boundaries of the constellation Aquarius the water bearer, (as shown in the banner graphic) the constellation to the west of Pisces. Based on the apparent motion of the Sun along the ecliptic path the Sun entered Aquarius two days ago on the 16th as shown in this graphic.
   Click here for a little more information about the difference between astrology and Astronomy and an effect caused by precession.
      
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.

ISS and Uranus

29 December - 6:42 pm CST

29 December – 6:42 pm CST

   After complaining about cloudy skies the other day I got a break last night and had very clear skies. As a result I was able to capture a sequence of images of the ISS flying over my part of the world. I use the Starry Night Pro program to simulate the flight path of the ISS so I can determine where best to aim my camera. My technique is basically to use a wide angle (18 mm) lens and once I determine the appropriate F-stop and shutter speeds I lock the tripod and wait until the ISS appears. Then I take pictures either manually from the laptop or with a digital cable release set to take a sequence of pictures. My preference, however, is to use the utility program that came with the camera. I connect the camera with a USB cable to the laptop and this gives me a real-time view on my laptop computer screen as well as remote control of the camera settings and picture taking. The camera is on a tripod several feet away to reduce any camera jitters.
ISS in Motion

click on the image to see it full size and animated

   During the fly-over the ISS was traveling toward the southeast and crossed the ‘Square of Pegasus’ asterism, and then past the ‘Circlet’ asterism in Pisces coming within a few degrees from the planet Uranus. The images are each 3.2 second time exposures – long enough to capture the dim stars making up the ‘Circlet’ – but also so long in the sense that in 3.2 seconds the ISS has moved enough to show up as a streak of light, like star trails in longer time exposures. This animated graphic is slightly faster than the actual event but I have set it to give a sense of how quickly the ISS moves and how its brightness increase, peaks, then fades.
Click to see this image larger   Looking toward the east were the stars of the Pleiades and, lower toward the horizon were Jupiter and the Hyades. Obviously I couldn’t resist!
   And then this morning there was a neat contrast between the reds and pinks toward the west, the setting waning gibbous Moon, and some high thin cirrus clouds.
   
   
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.