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