2018-5-1 : What’s Up in the Night Sky in May 2018?

The Moon and Saturn meet Mars in the morning as NASA’s InSight spacecraft launches to the red planet on May 5.

Some lucky viewers in Central and Southern California, and even into the coast of parts of Mexico will get a chance to see the launch of InSight–NASA’s latest mission— with their unaided eyes AND see the spacecraft’s destination, Mars, at the same time! InSight is scheduled to reach Mars on November 26, 2018.

Man now embarks on the “Search for Life”.  Readers interested in pathogen contamination issues and challenges can read more here : READ MORE

The launch window from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Central California opens on May 5, at 4:05 a.m. Pacific Standard Time and lasts for two hours. On subsequent dates,

The window opens a few minutes earlier each day until 1:30 a.m. Pacific time on June 8th. This will be the first interplanetary launch from the West Coast.

Mars shines a little brighter than last month, as it approaches opposition on July 27. That’s when Mars and the Sun will be on opposite sides of Earth.

This is will be Mars’ closest approach to Earth since 2003!

Compare the planet’s increases in brightness, with your own eyes between now and August!

The Eta Aquarids meteor shower will be washed out by the moon this month. This shower is better viewed from the southern hemisphere, but medium rates of 10-30 meteors per hour may be seen before dawn.

Of course, you could travel to the South Pacific to see the shower at its best!!

There is no sharp peak to this shower—just several nights with good rates centered on May 6th.  Give yourelf an hour to view meteors, as they sometimes come in spurts with lulls in between.

Plus it takes about 20 minutes for your eyes to dark adapt.  You don’t need to look directly at the radiant, the direction in the sky the meteors appear to radiate from.  Instead, look away or even lie on the ground looking directly overhead. That gives you a wide amount of sky to watch comfortably.

Jupiter reaches opposition on May  9th, heralding the best observing season for Jupiter viewing, especially mid-evening. This is when the planet is on the opposite side of the sky to the sun. In this position Jupiter appears brighter and even larger through a telescope. It is a fast spinning gas giant; its equatorial regions bulges outwards. The Great Red Spot  is a huge, never ending storm, having been seen for the last 188 years. A 4 inch telescope is needed to see this feature.

The king of the planets rises in the East at sunset over Oak Bay and Mount Baker, setting over the Sooke Hills in the West at dawn.

Wait a few hours after sunset, when Jupiter is higher in the sky for the best views!

If you viewed Jupiter last month, expect the view to be even better this month!

Ganymede transits Jupiter May 14th.  This is the largest planetary moon in the Solar System,  larger than planet Mercury even. As it crosses Jupiter’s disc on May 14, it will be followed by its giant shadow at 18:00 PST.  Unfortunately in Oak Bay,  it will be too light to see.

Venus is also stunning this month. It is visible low above the north-west horizon after sunset. If you are driving to the airport, it is low over Mount Newton to your left, following you from over the Malahat all the way to the airport – like the “Star of David”.   It would be well worth driving your kids up Mount Tolmie before bedtime to see Venus. But please don’t forget your binoculars.

As you watch the super-bright planet Venus, look for its accompanying star Aldebaran — the red “eye” of Taurus, the bull.  Remember planets (the wanderers) are local to Earth inside our solar system, whereas stars are often full galaxies located light years away.  These two star-like objects will appear to be separated by the width of your fist. While both objects will appear similar in brightness, you should be able to detect their distinct colors: bright white for Venus and orange-red for Aldebaran.

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

Dark Skies to all friends of Cattle Point Star Park.

This summary is from the transcript of “What’s Up in May 2018” 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.

2018-4-1 : What’s Up in the Sky in April 2018?

The Moon, Mars and Saturn form a pretty triangle in early April;  the Lyrid Meteors are visible in late April, peaking high overhead on the 22nd.

You won’t want to miss red Mars and golden Saturn in the South-southeast morning skies this month. Look towards Seattle.

Mars shines a little brighter than last month. By the 7th, the moon joins the pair. From a dark sky you may see some glow from our Milky Way galaxy. Of course our solar system is located within the galactic disk, about 26,000 light-years from the Galactic Center where a giant black hole has been identified. Our solar system (the sun and planets) lies in the inner edge of the Orion Arm, one of the spiral-shaped concentrations of gas and dust. We used to think the galaxy was like a spinning wheel (firework).

Now we know we see this spinning galactic “wheel” because we only “see” the visible light. But in fact the galaxy is a huge “dough-nut shaped” body – called a Torus.

This shape seems to apply to so many “objects” in the Universe no matter how large or how small.

Mid-month, start looking for Lyrid meteors, which are active from April 14 through the 30th. They peak on the 22nd.  The Lyrid meteors are the dusty trail of a comet with a centuries-long orbit around the sun.  As I like to remind the readers, the Earth passes through the tail every April.

In the very early morning sky, a patient observer will see up to more than a dozen meteors per hour in this medium-strength Lyrid shower.

A bright first quarter moon plays havoc with sky conditions, marring most of the typically faint Lyrid meteors. But Lyra will be high overhead after the moon sets at midnight,  so that’s the best time to look for Lyrids.

Did you know that people in the southern hemisphere see the moon “upside down”. So the man in the moon (the two eyes, nose and mouth) which is a
really pronounced “pareidolia” effect here in the north hemisphere, is much less obvious in Australia as our brains don’t create the compelling face when the moon is viewed upside down.

For a little fun on your phone or PC device I recommend you take a look at :

In-The-Sky.org

    The various “tabs” along the top show you :
  • A traditional circular overhead sky diagram with each constellation clearly displayed
  • The Planets with a simple paragraph per planet to help you enjoy the planetary news this month
  • Comets – a fine list of all comets in April 2018
  • Asteroids – a list of 200 rocky asteroids telling you when and where (and how bright) they are from Victoria

Through a telescope, Jupiter’s cloud belts and zones are easy to see. Watch the Great Red Spot transit–or cross– the visible (Earth-facing) disk of Jupiter every 8 hours.

The Juno spacecraft continues to orbit Jupiter. And Juno’s JunoCam citizen science team is creating exciting images of Jupiter’s features based on the latest spacecraft data.

Next month Jupiter is at opposition, when it rises at sunset, sets at sunrise, and offering great views for several months!

You can catch up on solar system missions to Jupiter (like Juno) and all of NASA’s missions at www.nasa.gov

Great website : In-The-Sky.org customized to Oak Bay

Dark Skies to all friends of Cattle Point Star Park.

Summary is from the transcript of “What’s Up in April 2018” 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. 

2018-3-1 : What’s Up in the Sky in March 2018?

Both Venus and Mercury play the part of “evening stars” this month.

At the beginning of the month they appear low on the western horizon
over the Sooke Hills.

The moon itself joins the pair from March 18th through the 20th. The moon skims by the Pleiades star cluster and Taurus’s bright red star Aldebaran
on the next few evenings, March 21 through the 23rd.

Jupiter, king of the planets, rises over Mount Baker just before midnight this month, and earlier by month end. Even through the smallest telescope or average binoculars,  you should see the 4 Galilean moons, Europa, Io, Callisto and Ganymede.

The March morning sky offers dazzling views of Mars and Saturn all month long. Through a telescope, you can almost make out some of the surface
features on Mars. Look a little farther into Mars’ future and circle May 5th with a red marker. When NASA’s InSight spacecraft launches for its 6 month
journey to the red planet, Mars will be easily visible to your unaided eye. Keep watching Mars as it travels closer to Earth.


It will be closest in late July, when the red planet will appear larger in apparent diameter than it has since 2003!

You are in for a real treat if you can get away to a dark sky location (like Cattle Point Star Park) on a moonless night this month — the Zodiacal Light
and the Milky Way intersect! The Zodiacal light is a faint triangular glow seen from a dark sky just after sunset in the spring or just before sunrise in the fall.
The more familiar Milky Way is one of the spiral arms of our galaxy. What we’re seeing with the Zodiacal light, is sunlight reflecting off dust grains that circle the Sun in the inner solar system. These dust grains journey across our sky in the ecliptic, the same plane as the moon and the planets, what we call here in the Salish Sea Bioregion the “Salish Walk of the Planets”.

I’d like to finish by highly recommending a palm size computer device called ISS-ABOVE.

“My most recent obsession is this gizmo called ISS-Above… I watch it all day. I leave it on more than is reasonable. It’s just a beautiful thing.”
— Bill Nye, CEO, The Planetary Society – Wall Street Journal, Nov 2014

I echo Bill Nye’s comments. The hand sized computer connects to a TV allowing you to view LIVE HD video from the experimental cameras on board the ISS. Loads of information provided on your TV especially on when the next pass over your Oak Bay home is expected. The “real-time” HD video of the Earth below is wonderful.

I was talking to them in Los Angeles telling them how much I liked it. They kindly gave me a promo code of “wesmith” that will drop the price of the ISS-Above by 10% to any Oak Bay News readers. The device is the amazing Raspberry Pi computer – there are hundreds of projects and experiments your grandchildren can do with this little computer that is sweeping the educational world. Well worth $135.

You can find out about all of NASA’s missions, including Insight, at: www.nasa.gov
ISS-Above : https://www.facebook.com/ISSAbove/

Bill Smith

Oak Bay, February 2018

2018-2-1 : What’s Up in the Sky in February 2018?

What’s Up for February 2018? Let’s look at some celestial “pairs” in honor of Valentine’s Day February 14th!

The constellations Perseus and Andromeda are easy to see high overhead this month.
According to lore, the warrior Perseus spotted a beautiful woman—Andromeda–chained to a seaside rock. After battling Medusa and a whale, he rescued her.
As a reward, her parents Cepheus and Cassiopeia allowed Perseus to marry Andromeda. You can see this starry couple together nearly overhead, traveling around the north celestial pole.

The great hunter Orion fell in love with seven sisters, the Pleiades, and pursued them for a long time. Eventually Zeus turned both Orion and the Pleiades into stars.
Orion is easy to find. Then draw an imaginary line through his belt stars to the Pleiades, and watch him chase them across the sky forever.

Two easy to see pairs of star clusters are visible on February nights. The Perseus Double Cluster is high in the sky near Andromeda’s parents Cepheus and Cassiopeia.

Through binoculars, you can see dozens of stars in each cluster. Actually there are more than 300 blue-white super-giant stars in each of the clusters.

There are some colorful star pairs, some visible just by looking up, and some requiring a telescope. Gemini’s twins, the brothers Pollux and Castor, are easy to see without aid.

Orion’s westernmost (or right) knee, Rigel, has a faint companion. The companion, Rigel B, is 500 times fainter than the supergiant Rigel but is visible only with a telescope.

Orion’s westernmost belt star, Mintaka, has a pretty companion. You’ll need a telescope.

Finally, the moon pairs up with the Pleiades on the 22nd, and with Pollux and Castor on the 26th,

 

Now a couple of special mentions : On Thursday February 8th before dawn see a waning Moon close to Jupiter – with Mars nearby.

The Moon and Jupiter are in the pre-dawn sky. If clear before dawn on the 8th, notice a waning moon, between Full Moon and Last Quarter, lies close to Jupiter. Down to the left is Mars lying above Antares in Scorpius.

On Friday February 23rd/24th evening: The Moon in a beautiful skyscape : In the evenings of the 23rd and 24th of the month, the Moon, coming towards first quarter, will pass through Taurus and Orion.

On the 23rd, it will lie close to Aldebaran and on the 24th lie above Orion.

You can find out about 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 February 2018” 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

2018-1-1 : What’s Up in the Sky in January 2018?

What’s Up for January 2018? The new year’s first meteor shower fizzles, Mars meets Jupiter in the morning sky, and Oak Bay will enjoy a total lunar eclipse!

Most meteor showers radiate from recognizable constellations like the Leonids, Geminids and Orionids.

But the Quadrantids are meteors that appear to radiate from the location of the former Quadrans Muralis constellation an area that’s now part of the constellation Boötes.

The Quadrantids peak lasts for just a few hours, and sadly, this year their timing coincides with a very bright nearly full moon that will wash out most of the meteors.

Throughout the month, you might see a few Anthelion meteors radiating from Gemini, Cancer or Leo. “Anthelion” meteor showers are variable, weakly-active minor showers.

Surprisingly, you can look in any direction to see all the meteor showers. When you see one of these meteors, hold up a shoestring along the path it followed. The shoestring will lead you back to the constellation containing the meteor’s radiant point. All the meteors radiate from a single point in the sky.

On the morning of January 6th look in the south-southeast sky over Seattle, 45 minutes before sunrise, to see Jupiter and fainter Mars almost as close as last month’s Jupiter and Venus close pairing.

Mars is only 1/6th the apparent diameter of Jupiter, but the two offer a great binocular and telescopic view with a pretty color contrast. They remain in each other’s neighborhood from January 5th to the 8th.

Two stellar occultations occur this month too. An occultation occurs whenever the moon (or other celestial object) passes in front of another celestial object such as a star, asteroid or planet.

Leo’s white Regulus is occulted by the moon on January 4 and 5, visible from Southeast Alaska to the Maritime provinces of Canada. Taurus’s red star Aldebaran will be covered by the moon on January 27th, visible from Alaska, Canada and the Pacific Northwest.

Finally, to end the month, a great total lunar eclipse favors the Western US, Alaska and Hawaii and British Columbia on January 31st. Australia and the Pacific Ocean are also well placed to see a major portion of the eclipse—if not all of it. There will be one more lunar eclipse this year, but it will be visible only from central Africa and central Asia.

There are wonderful websites now on the Internet to help everyone understand and see (ie get the right dates and times) . For this January 31, 2018 — Total Lunar Eclipse — from Victoria,
British Columbia, Canada, here are the details :

  • Local Type: Total Lunar Eclipse, in Oak Bay
  • Begins: Wed, Jan 31, 2018 at 2:51 am
  • Maximum: Wed, Jan 31, 2018 at 5:29 am 1.32 Magnitude
  • Ends: Wed, Jan 31, 2018 at 7:50 am
  • Duration: 4 hours, 59 minutes

READ MORE

As a last topic I’d like again to encourage you to re-explore the Smartphone apps. Now in 2018 we have many great apps which instantly bring the night sky alive.

Check out this video, “Tom’s Guide” to see 15 of the best “space watching apps” :  https://youtu.be/3LKitnRmjEw

You can find out about 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 January 2018” 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

2017-12-1 : What’s Up in the Sky in December 2017?

What’s Up for December 2017?  The best meteor shower of the year and the brightest stars in familiar constellations.

Christmas Eve – Mount Tolmie

Don’t forget to take your grand children to the top of Mount Tolmie around 5pm on Christmas Eve. Pyjamas are allowed (for the kids) as long as you stay in the car.

Santa Claus or The International Space Station or both should be seen if you are lucky.

CLICK HERE for best times from Mount Tolmie

VICTORIA, B.C.: November 25, 2012 – Santa shows up during Oak Bay’s Christmas Festival Light Up in VICTORIA, B.C. November 25, 2012. (ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST). For City story by Stand Alone

The Geminds

The Geminds peak on the morning of the 14th, and are active from December 4th through the 17th. The peak lasts for a full 24 hours , meaning more worldwide meteor watchers will get to see this spectacle. If you can see Orion and Gemini in the sky you’ll see some Geminids. Expect to see  up to 120 meteors per hour between midnight and 4 a.m. but only from a dark sky. You’ll see fewer after moonrise at 3:30 a.m. local time.

Dec14th

The Geminid Meteor shower looking South high over Port Angeles
Image:Stellarium/IM

Take a moment to enjoy the circle of constellations and their brightest stars around Gemini this month. Find yellow Capella in the constellation Auriga. You should be facing South towards the Olympic Mountains and Port Angeles.

Going clockwise–at 3 o’clock find Taurus and bright reddish Aldebaran, plus the Pleiades.

At five o’clock, familiar Orion, with red Betelgeuse, blue-white Rigel, and the three famous belt stars in-between the two.

Next comes Leo, and its white lionhearted star, Regulus at 10 o’clock.

December 22nd/23rd – late evenings: the Ursid Meteor Shower

There’s a second meteor shower in December, the Ursids, radiating from Ursa Minor, the Little Dipper, in the North over Mount Douglas.

If December 22nd  and the morning of December 23rd are clear where you are, have a look at the Little Dipper’s bowl, and you might see about ten meteors per hour.

Ursid meteor Shower
The Ursid meteor shower . The radiant point is just below Polaris the North Star high above the University of Victoria. 
Image: Stellarium/IM

 

The late evenings of the 22nd and 23rd of December are when the Ursid meteor shower will be at its best – though the peak rate of ~10-15 meteors per hour is not that great.   Pleasingly, the Moon soon after new, will not affect our view during much of the night.   The radiant lies close to the star Kochab in Ursa Minor (hence their name), so look northwards at a high elevation.   Occasionally, there can be a far higher rate so its worth having a look should it be clear.

There are so many sights to see in the sky. Use the Night Sky Network, the Solar System Ambassadors, and the Royal Astronomy Club of Canada (Victoria) to look up local astronomy clubs, and join them for stargazing events in town, and under dark skies.

December 2nd before dawn looking towards Seattle :

Mars, Jupiter and Venus climb the “Salish Walk of the Planets” with Mars rising first, then Jupiter and then Venus. The SUN comes quickly behind.

As we all know, the planets, just like the Sun, rise in the East over Mount Baker, and set in the West over Metchosin and the Sooke Hills. They walk across the sky in a huge arc which ends in the West over Sooke Hills.

Venus

To spot Venus, a very low horizon will be needed so waterfront owners on Oak Bay will be well positioned facing East across the Salish Sea. Locals can also go to Cattle Point Star Park or even up Mount Tolmie. Great views of the Salish Sea horizon from both locations.

Use binoculars – but please to not use them after the Sun has risen.   The chart has reduced the sky brightness to make Venus visible.

You can find out about 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 December  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

Here is the article as it was published in the Oak Bay News :

2017-11-1 : What’s Up in the Sky in November 2017?

Title:  What’s Up For November? The moon passes three pretty star clusters, a close conjunction of Venus and Jupiter, sparse meteor showers, and one comet!

Your binoculars will come in handy this month, to view the moon, star clusters, and the close pairing of Venus and Jupiter.

You can’t miss bright Venus in the predawn sky. This month Venus pairs up with Jupiter on the morning of November 13th, as they did in 2015 and 2016 when the two planets appeared a little closer than this year.

You’ll have to be looking very low on the east-southeast horizon over Seattle early in the morning around 07:00 am – about 45 minutes before sunrise –  but protect your eyes!

Don’t aim your binoculars directly at the sun and don’t look at the approaching sunrise with your unaided eyes or binoculars or telescopes.

There are three meteor showers this month, but none of them will present high numbers of meteors at their peak.

The Leonids peak on a moonless November 17th. Expect no more than 10 meteors an hour  around 3:00 a.m., the height of the shower.

The Northern and Southern  sub-branches of the Taurid meteor shower offer sparse counts of about 5 meteors per hour, but slow, bright meteors are common.

The nearby November Orionids peak on the 28th.  In contrast to the nearby Taurids, the Orionids are swift, but don’t expect more than 3 meteors per hour.

The moon glides by three beautiful star clusters in the morning sky this month, and a pair of binoculars will allow you to see the individual stars in the clusters.

Aim your binocs at the Pleiades and moon on  the 5th, Messier or M-35 cluster and the moon on the 7th and the Beehive cluster and the moon on the 10th.

Meanwhile, at dusk, catch Saturn as it dips closer to the western horizon, over the Sooke Hills this month, and pairs up with Mercury on the 24th through the 28th.

Comet ASASSN1, short for All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae, discovered only in July, came close to the sun in October, and should still be a binocular-friendly

magnitude 7-8 greenish object in November. Use Polaris, the North Star as a guide. Look in the East to Northeast sky over Vancouver, in the late evening.

Hope you will explore this link : https://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/night/canada/victoria

which shows you the time each planet is Visible in the Night Sky in Oak Bay, British Columbia, Canada.

Remember all planets walk from east to west during the night, just the same as the SUN and Moon, moving along an arc in the sky that we call “The Salish Walk of the Planets” – or the “ecliptic”.

All the rest of the stars and galaxies rotate around the North Star over #YYJ, the Victoria Airport.

As a last topic I’d like to encourage you to re-explore the Smartphone apps.  Now in 2017 we have many great apps which instantly bring the night sky alive.

Check out this video, “Tom’s Guide”  to see 15 of the best “space watching apps” : https://youtu.be/3LKitnRmjEw

So if you have internet access with your phone from a place like Cattle Point Dark Sky Star Park, there is no better experience than exploring the night sky on a calm clear evening.

Try comparing the night sky (after your eyes have adjusted to the darkness) with the “visualization” of the stars, galaxies and constellations displayed on your Smartphone. For example

you see a bright object over Vancouver then you point your phone towards it and the constellation image is named and re-displayed for you to compare with the wonder of the “real” sky.

It is brilliant to have this instant expert helping you name each object in the sky.

You can find out about 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 November  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

Here is the article as it was published in the Oak Bay News :

2017-10-1 : What’s Up in the Sky in October 2017?

Title: What’s Up For October? Planet Pairs, Stellar Superstars, Observe The Moon Night!!

What’s Up for October? International Observe the Moon Night, planet and moon pair-ups, and a meteor shower!

You can’t miss bright Venus in the predawn sky over Mount Baker. Look for fainter Mars below Venus on the 1st, really close on the 5th, and above Venus after that.

Mid-month, the moon is visible near Regulus, the white starry heart of the constellation Leo.

In the October 8-11 predawn sky watch the moon glide near the Pleiades star cluster and pass near the red stars Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus and Betelgeuse in Orion.

October 13, the Moon and M44 will make a close approach, passing within 2°53′ of each other. The Moon will be 23 days old.

“M44 aka the Beehive Cluster, is an open cluster in the constellation Cancer. It is one of the nearest open clusters to the Solar System, and it contains a larger star population than most other nearby clusters. Under dark skies the Beehive Cluster looks like a nebulous object to the naked eye; thus it has been known since ancient times. The classical astronomer Ptolemy called it “the nebulous mass in the breast of Cancer,” and it was among the first objects that Galileo studied with his telescope” see Wikipedia.

From Victoria (click to change), the Moon and M44 will be visible in the dawn sky, rising at 00:43 (PDT) – 6 hours and 48 minutes before the Sun – and reach an altitude of 57° above the south-eastern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks at around 07:10.

After dusk in the early part of the month look for Saturn in the southwest sky over Metchosin. It will be above another red star: Antares in Scorpius. Later in the month, find the moon above Antares October 22 and 23.

Saturn will be above the moon on the 23rd and below it on the 24th.

Uranus reach opposition on October 19th. It’s visible all night long and its blue-green color is unmistakeable. It may be bright enough to see with your naked eye–and for sure in binoculars.

Don’t forget each night, all the planets walk across the sky on a 12 hour night walk following the path of the Sun and Moon – from East to West along the ecliptic.

In Oak Bay we call this path the Salish “Walk of the Planets”. Milky Way Stars and other Galaxies move differently, rotating each night around the North Star.

The Orionids peak on October 20 — a dark, moonless night. Look near Orion’s club in the hours before dawn and you may see up to 10 to 15 meteors per hour.

Use binoculars to look for bright asteroid 7 Iris in the constellation Aries. Newbies to astronomy should be able to spot this magnitude 6.9 asteroid.
Look later in the month and sketch its positions a day or two apart–to see it move.

Finally, celebrate International Observe the Moon Night on October 28 with our RASC (Royal Astronomy Club). The first quarter moon that night will display some great features!

You can find out about all of NASA’s missions at: www.nasa.gov
Great website : In-The-Sky.org customized to Oak Bay

Dark Skies to all friends of Cattle Point Star Park.

Summary is from the transcript of “What’s Up in October  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

This article is from Oak Bay News in October 2017.

2017-9-1 : What’s Up in the Sky in September 2017?

What’s Up for September 2017 ? Set your sights beyond the solar system and take a late summertime road trip along the Milky Way!

On September 15 the Cassini spacecraft ends its glorious Saturnian science tour by plunging into the atmosphere of Saturn, becoming forever a part of the ringed planet.

This web page is a copy of the article printed by Oak Bay News.

Asteroid 3122 Florence

Over the next few days, a huge Asteroid known as 3122 Florence will be traveling roughly south to north, crossing through the constellations Capricornus, Aquarius, Delphinus, Vulpecula, and Cygnus.

READ MORE

Milky Way – Our Galaxy and Home

The waning days of summer are upon us, and the sun sets earlier, revealing the starry sky bisected by the Milky Way.

This month Saturn is the only prominent evening planet low in the southwest sky over Metchosin. Look for it near the constellation Sagittarius.

Above and below Saturn–from a dark sky–you can’t miss the summer Milky Way spanning the sky from Vancouver in the northeast to Sooke in the southwest.

Grab a pair of binoculars and scan the teapot-shaped Sagittarius, where stars and some brighter clumps appear as steam from the teapot. Those bright clumps are near the center of our galaxy, which is full of gas, dust and stars.

Directly overhead is the great Summer Triangle of stars. Vega, Altair and Deneb are in the pretty constellations Lyra, Aquila and Cygnus.

Cygnus the Swan is where the Kepler telescope focussed its search for exoplanets. For a long time I wondered why it was pointing in this direction. Then I finally realized it was pointing along the plane of the galaxy  along a spiral arm where the density of stars was high – but not directly at the centre of the galaxy.  It was a good choice.

As you gaze toward the northeast you’ll see Cassiopeia, the familiar W-shaped constellation…and Perseus. Through your binoculars, look for the Perseus Double Cluster. Both of the clusters are visible with the naked eye,  are 7500 light years away, and contain more than 300 blue-white super-giant stars!

Every star and every object you can see with your unaided eye is part of the Milky Way Galaxy. With one exception: the great Andromeda galaxy, which is faintly visible through binoculars on the opposite side of the night sky from Saturn and the teapot.

So in general stars are seen inside our galaxy along the plane of the Milky way. Whereas “stars” outside this plane, are nearly all in fact complete galaxies so much farther away.

As Earth spins daily on its axis, the stars and galaxies, and even the whole milky way, appear to rotate in circular paths around the north pole.

As a reminder the planets, plus the SUN and Moon, do not move this way. They rise in the east and set in the west moving along the ecliptic arch – what we call the Salish Walk of the Planets.

P.S. I was in Tuscany August 21 , 2017 and sadly missed the eclipse. But here is a special photograph to commemorate the event which I trust was awesome for you.

Sergei Karpukhin

 
kottke.org

 

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 September  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

2017-8-1 : 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