Mornings Have Hang Ups!

   Northern Hemisphere winter in addition to chilly or cold mornings may sort of warm you, at least in your mind. If you are outside looking at the sky, over the eastern horizon is a large triangular shape of three bright stars. One star each from three different constellations. Deneb in Cygnus the Swan, Vega in Lyra the Harp, and Altair in Aquila the Eagle. This is the asterism (star pattern but not a constellation) the Summer Triangle. There, warmer now?!
   So if you are outside checking out the Summer Triangle, or perhaps Mars and nearby Antares and you have an optical aid like binoculars or a lower power wide-field eyepiece in your telescope aim them and your eyes toward the star Altair. In dark enough skies you can make out the stars making up Sagitta the Arrow a few degrees away from Altair.
   As Altair is rising and with binoculars move the field of view up to the left until the stars of Sagitta fill the field of view. This small constellation, yes a constellation, could be used as a sort of pointer stars to look a few degrees away for a small open star cluster, Brocchi’s Cluster, or more commonly known as the ‘Coathanger Cluster’.
   So if mornings with stars like this don’t warm you up then wait a few months of Earth revolution and these same stars will be showing up in the warmer evening skies of Northern Hemisphere summer and fall.

   
   
   

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.


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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.

ISS This Morning

Screenshot_2016-03-25-06-42-20   This morning, despite the cold temperature there were exceptionally clear skies and so I had a great view of the International Space Station as it passed nearly directly overhead. It always amazes me how quickly the space station moves. In 10 minutes it traveled from over the North Pacific Ocean near the Aleutian Islands to my location in Missouri. Then about 40 minutes after passing over Missouri the ISS is south of Africa.
   As the ISS approached my location it rose up from the northwest horizon passing the bowl of the Big Dipper. Then as it set toward the southeast the ISS went right down one side of the Summer Triangle asterism passing the stars Vega in Lyra the Harp and Altair in Aquila the Eagle.
   The screen captures are from an App, ISS Onlive, on my cellphone. This App (Android and Apple) shows the current orbit of the ISS and also has options to show a look-down view of the Earth as the ISS orbits.
   The two pictures are a set of stacked pictures all taken with the same camera settings: 18mm; ISO 1600; F4.5; 4 sec.

   
   
   
   

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.

Triangulate to Mars

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.


   Wednesday evening, December 17th, the planet Mars sits low above the southwestern horizon at sunset. Mars is not particularly bright and it may be difficult to pick out amongst the stars in that part of the sky. However the three bright stars that make the asterism known as the Summer Triangle are over the western horizon forming a right triangle. Imagine a line extending east from the lower side of the triangle, from Vega to Altair, and you will point at Mars as this animated graphic shows.

   
   
   
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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.

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.

On A Great Monday Evening

   One of the benefits of having a high pressure system move in from the northwest is that it brings some relief from high temperatures and high dew points. The last week or so of hazy skies due to the high humidity has meant no nights with a clear sky – or at least one clear enough to try to take pictures of newly discovered and reported Nova Dephini 2013. Today with the passage of a cold front the morning skies were picture worthy as I posted this morning, and this evening was the same, with cooler temperatures, less humidity, and clear skies.

   Below is one of the pictures I took earlier. It is set to transition from a non-labeled picture to one with some objects labeled. It is an 8 second F3.5 picture that shows the summer triangle and two of the smaller constellations nearby. Nova Delphini 2013 is straight off the point of Sagitta the Arrow however it has apparently dimmed enough so that an 8 second time exposure is not enough to capture its light.
   To pause move the cursor over the pictures below to bring up the controls.

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   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.