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.