2017-8-1 : What’s Up in the Sky in August 2017?

The Night Sky in August  2017 :  By Bill Smith and the RASCals of Cattle Point – Volunteers at Cattle Point DARK SKY Urban Star Park

What’s Up for August 2017?  BIG DAY IN USA AND OAK BAY :  Monday August 21st 9:00 am : Total solar eclipse traces a 150 km path across the USA. 90% in Oak Bay, British Columbia. 

Not everyone  will be able to drive down to Oregon, to experience the narrow path of totality  . Here are some things to look for no matter whether you plan to see it live in its totality or whether you  watch it in its 90% penumbra from here in Oak Bay.

90% is NOT the same as 100%, so please make the effort to drive south if you can.  Apparently watching at 90% versus watching at 100% is like watching a movie from the lobby compared with being inside.

YES here in Oak Bay, much to my delight, we will have 90% coverage. At 90%, the daylight is quite dim, only 10% of normal. The air is feeling quite cool, since most of the heat radiation from the Sun is blocked by the Moon.

(http://americaneclipseusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Partial-90.jpg )

Here is the exact times : https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/in/canada/victoria

Be at Mount Tolmie at 8:45 am (For 9:00 am start). The whole experience lasts 2 hrs 20 minutes but the peak is at 10:20 am. The birds will be silent and the wind will feel very strange.

This animation is very cool and shows how deep we are in Oak Bay into darkness. Click on the image below.

SERIOUS WARNING – MOST EYE DAMAGE DANGER HERE IN OAK BAY

You need to read this even if you think you know the danger we face in Oak Bay.

From OREGON

If you drive to Oregon, depending on your location, the corona will be visible for up to 2 minutes 40 seconds. During those precious moments, it is perfectly safe to look directly at the Sun, even through binoculars or a telescope

We are uneasy telling you that as it is crazy to risk looking towards the SUN anytime. We strongly advise buying approved solar filtered glasses. You can buy these today on Amazon : Celestron EclipSmart Deluxe 3-Piece Solar Observing and Imaging Kit.

From BC

Here in BC in the 90% penumbra zone IT IS MUCH MORE DANGEROUS. YOU MUST MAKE SURE YOU and YOUR CHILDREN HAVE GLASSES. The SUN’s disk is never covered as it is in Oregon.

Children will hear the cries of excitement from people wearing glasses who can see the partial coverage, and they will be tempted to look without glasses.

The official advice is as follows : “So whenever any part of the photosphere is uncovered, it is absolutely essential to view the Sun through a safe solar filter, that is, one that meets the ISO 12312-2 international standard.

Such filters are widely available at affordable prices. Looking at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed Sun through dark sunglasses or any other unapproved filter is a recipe for serious and potentially permanent eye injury.

Order here TODAY

See the Eye Safety and Resource page for details. (https://eclipse.aas.org/eclipse-america)

BEFORE ECLIPSE DAY

Before eclipse day, pack your eclipse toolkit with a notebook, pen or pencil, a clock, a stopwatch, the front page of a newspaper, a thermometer, and a stick with a piece of crepe paper tied to it. And bring an assistant to help conduct some observations.

Download and practice using a citizen science phone app to help you study clouds, air and surface temperatures during the eclipse. A good one is the GLOBE app at observer.globe.com.

Go to the location where you’ll view the eclipse and check for trees and buildings that may obstruct your view. Mount Tolmie is recommended here in Oak Bay, But again note we are well away from being to see the full or even partial eclipse.

And if you find you and your family without glasses come the day, then we highly recommend you make this simple pin-hole camera . 

Transition – On Eclipse Day

In Oregon

Review the activities you want to do during the eclipse, and jot notes in your journal or notebook!

If you are travelling to Oregon with your family, or if you just enjoy thinking about it, here are some notes for Totality.

Totality lasts less than 3 minutes, so you may want to focus on doing only one science observation. Or just really experience the eclipse! Don’t waste this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity by watching it on your phone’s screen. Remember this is NOT in Oak Bay. This is for people who have travelled to Oregon.

Plan to have your safe solar-viewing glasses within immediate reach – in your pocket or around your neck for quick eye protection before and after totality.

Just before totality, if you have a good view of the horizon look west for the approaching shadow.  After totality, look under the sun low on the horizon, for the departing shadow. If it’s cloudy, try to see the shadow by looking up at the bottoms of the clouds.

During totality, look for stars. Can you see Regulus in solar corona? The stars of Orion? How early and how late is Venus visible? Can you see other planets?

Before and after totality, look at the ground.  Do you see quivering or moving lighter and darker areas? You may see moving waves of light and shadow – like the patterns you see on the bottom of a swimming pool.

How dark is does it get at totality?  Look at the newspaper you brought and see what’s the smallest print you can read.  Practice after sunset the night before the eclipse, and make notes in your notebook.

How much does the temperature drop during totality? Your assistant can help observe and record in your notebook.

Does the wind start, stop, or change direction?  Tape or tie crepe paper or toilet paper to a stick or post to help you determine the wind’s direction.  At what stages of the eclipse do the changes happen?

Watch and listen for changes in animal and bird behavior.

In Oak Bay – at Mount Tolmie

You can still do a few of the experiments above. Talk to your kids about which they think make sense and why.

And let;s all hope for a wonderful clear morning. Be there for the build up at 8:30 am with your StarBucks.

Now back to “What’s Up for August”?  The evening of August 2nd the waxing moon is at the upper right of Saturn.

August 12th and 13th – midnight to dawn: look out for the Perseid meteor shower which is the annual Earth pass through of the tail and debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle.

We have a more indepth discussion on the Perseids as seen in BC at bcmeteors.net our local BC Meteor Watchers website.

http://www.jb.man.ac.uk/astronomy/nightsky/Perseids3.jpg

You can find out about all of NASA’s missions at www.NASA.gov And you can find out more about the eclipse, including eclipse safety at eclipse2017.nasa.gov

Should you wish to meet the RASCals of Cattle Point – see Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/groups/VictoriaRASCals/

Dark Skies to all friends of Cattle Point Star Park.

Summary is from the transcript of “What’s Up in August  2017” by NASA announcer and astronomer Jane Houston Jones with specific permission for localization to Cattle Point DARK SKY Urban Star Park and the Oak Bay News. You can subscribe to her weekly BLOG at : http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/news/category/10things

2017-7-1 : What’s Up in the Sky in July 2017?

 What’s Up for July? Prep for the August solar eclipse by observing the moon’s phases, plus catch 2 meteor showers.

Solar eclipses occur when the new moon passes between Earth and the sun, and the moon casts a traveling shadow on Earth.

A total solar eclipse occurs when the new moon is in the right position to exactly cover the sun’s disk.  This will happen next month—when the new moon will completely block our view of the sun along a narrow path from Oregon to South Carolina. During August’s total solar eclipse it should be dark enough to see some of the brighter stars and a few planets!

Two weeks before or after solar eclipse there is sometimes, but not always a lunar eclipse someplace on Earth—though it’s not necessarily a total lunar eclipse.  This will happen because the moon will be at opposition. The full moon and Earth and the sun will be lined up – with Earth in the middle.

 

We can see all the moon’s phases beginning on July 1st, when the first quarter moon rises at noon and sets at midnight.  Even through binoculars you’ll see craters and some of the prominent mare or “seas”.   

Here you can see where Apollo 11 Landed and Neil Armstrong first stepped foot on the Moon – July 20, 1969. In 2 years we will celebrate the 50th Anniversary.

Some of the Apollo lunar landing sites are located on the lit side of the first Quarter moon. To see the landing sites, though, you’ll have to rely on photographs taken by lunar orbiting spacecraft.

On July 9th the full moon rises at sunset over Mount Baker and sets at dawn over Metchosin and the Sooke Hills.

July 16 is the last quarter. It rises at midnight and doesn’t set until noon–allowing you to enjoy a nice moon view in the morning sky.

The new moon occurs July 23rd.  The new moon is the phase we’ll look forward to in August when it’ll give us that total solar eclipse. July will end with another first quarter moon phase on the 30th.

Finally, we have two good meteor showers this month, both peaking on the morning of July 30th.  Meteor showers occur when Earth passes through the long tail of ancient comets. As these tails are millions of kilometers in length usually also orbiting the sun, the showers occur at the same time of the year, each year as the Earth rotates around the Sun.

The southern Delta Aquarids have a maximum rate of 25 meteors per hour and radiate from a point in the sky above Port Angeles – between midnight and dawn.

The nearby slow and bright Alpha Capricornids peak at a “neck breaking (ie few)” 5 per hour but often produce fireballs.  These radiate from very close by also over Port Angeles.

If you see some meteors in the Northern sky, those will be early a preview of the August Perseids!

Finally I would be reminiscent in my article if I did not comment on this months BBC sponsored

Sky at Night magazine. Yes they are finally asking “Did Life Come from Space”?   I wonder what you think?

You can catch up on all of NASA’s missions at www.nasa.gov

You can learn all about the total solar eclipse next month at  https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/

You can catch up on solar system missions and all of NASA’s missions at www.nasa.gov

Should you wish to meet the RASCals of Cattle Point – see Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/groups/VictoriaRASCals/

Dark Skies to all friends of Cattle Point Star Park.

Summary is from the transcript of “What’s Up in July  2017” by NASA announcer and astronomer Jane Houston Jones with specific permission for localization to Cattle Point DARK SKY Urban Star Park and the Oak Bay News. You can subscribe to her weekly BLOG at : http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/news/category/10things

2017-6-1 : What’s Up in the Sky in June 2017?

By Bill Smith and the RASCals of Cattle Point – Volunteers at Cattle Point DARK SKY Urban Star Park

 What’s Up for June 2017? Plan a planet party and compare Saturn and Jupiter

Any night in June, why not meet at midnight at Cattle Point DARK Sky Star Park, for a planet party, when you’ll be able to see both Saturn and Jupiter in the sky at the same time? The best time to try will be a few hours after Saturn rises at sunset, and before Jupiter sets.  Jupiter sets at 3 a.m. at the beginning of June and 1 a.m. by the end of the month.

Saturn reaches opposition on June 15, when Saturn, Earth and the sun are all in a straight line, with Earth in the middle.  Opposition provides the best and closest views of Saturn and several of its brightest moons. If you just see one, that’s Titan. Titan is 50% larger than our own moon. It orbits Saturn about every 16 Earth days.  Our moon takes 27.3 days to orbit Earth. Titan is where man is planning one of three “search for life”  NASA/ESA missions.

Through a telescope you’ll be able to compare the cloud band rings on both Saturn and Jupiter.

Saturn’s cloud bands are fainter than the bands of Jupiter. On Saturn, you’ll see delicate shades of cream and butterscotch, while Jupiter’s bands are shades of white, rust and ochre.

A telescope will also show Saturn’s rings tilted toward Earth about as wide as they get:  26.6 degrees. The sunlight reflecting off the ring particles makes the rings look even brighter. You’ll also have a ring-side view of the “Cassini division”, discovered in 1675 by Giovanni Domenico Cassini, namesake of NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.  The spacecraft has been orbiting Saturn since 2004.  Cassini is on a trajectory that will eventually plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere and will end Cassini’s mission in 3 months time, on September 15, 2017.

Through binoculars, Jupiter’s four Galilean moons—Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto—are easy to see.

June is the month of the summer solstice on Wednesday June the 21st . This is also National Aboriginal Day in Canada where there is a tradition of greeting the rising Sun around 5:00 am. In Oak Bay the best spot is at Cattle Point. These two photographs show the solstice in 2015.

The 2015 summer solstice sun is rising quite far north over Lopez Island at the back of San Juan Island, both in the USA to our North East. Here are views from the Oak Bay Beach Hotel and from the Oak Bay Marina.

We encourage Oak Bay residents to get up early and better these images from 5:00 am June 21, 2015. Last year it was too cloudy.

Jupiter is the stand-out object in the night sky and might be mistaken for the International Space Station (ISS), being so bright above Port Angeles around 10:30 pm (PST).

As most months. ISS does pass over Oak Bay and as with most pass-overs, the ISS appears in the west from the Sooke Hills and passes directly over Mount Tolmie – a perfect place to take the grandkids in pyjamas and in the car, on a June evening . Watch in wonder as the ISS passes above heading towards Bellingham like a very bright silent Airbus. Get the date and times off the Cattle Point Star Park website. If you are lucky you just might also see the mysterious Aurora TR-3B as my spouse and I did. It seems to like practising over the USA submarine testing range towards Seattle. Yes it IS a UFO to most people. But no, it is not alien.

You can catch up on solar system missions and all of NASA’s missions at www.nasa.gov

Should you wish to meet the RASCals of Cattle Point – see Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/groups/VictoriaRASCals/

Dark Skies to all friends of Cattle Point Star Park.

Summary is from the transcript of “What’s Up in June 2017” by NASA announcer and astronomer Jane Houston Jones with specific permission for localization to Cattle Point DARK SKY Urban Star Park and the Oak Bay News. You can subscribe to her weekly BLOG at : http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/news/category/10things

Article was originally written for Jun 1 2017 Oak Bay News.

2014-9-7 : Cattle Point Update – Mark Bohlman on CFAX Radio

Mark Bohlman, the Star Park manager, was on Victoria’s CFAX radio last week. The Star Park has become a favorite for locals and tourists, day-time or night-time.  Mark gave an update on the “Vancouver Island Walk of the Planets”.  The custom map below has interesting hot-links for each planet on the various walks.

https://mapsengine.google.com/map/embed?mid=zqthU5vi9lQQ.kBj1Obbfty90&ll=48.438244,-123.298767&zoom=14

Cattle Point DARK SKY Urban Star Park, Oak Bay, BC, Canada

Cattle Point DARK SKY Urban Star Park was created by Oak Bay Municipality to support the International Dark Sky Movement.

The Municipality is pleased to report a substantial reduction in light pollution as a result of an increased awareness of this issue by Municipal Employees, local citizens and businesses.

A classic implementation by a local business is at the Oak Bay Beach spa area where there was initially extremely bright lights purchased and installed as part of the rebuilding. These have been reduced to a bare minimum using the bright lights only in emergencies. The result is that occupants of the various pools can now enjoy the night skies and see the stars, constellations and planets.

Residents will also notice the Municipal street lamps are now carefully configured to throw minimal light up into the night sky.