Lyrid meteor shower 2017 April 17, 2017Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, MichiganAstro.
Tags: amateur_astronomy, astronomy, meteor shower, observing
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The first potentially big warm weather meteor shower is coming this weekend. Predictions of the peak’s timing all place the peak during daylight in the Midwest on the 22, but this shower usually has an extended peak. In fact, you may see as many meteors on the 21 or 23.
The radiant lies in Lyra, near Hercules. It’s not really high enough to observe until 2 AM, it transits the meridian around 5:30, and it starts getting light out at about 6 AM, so the best time to observe is about 4 – 6 AM local time. Here’s a map for 5 AM with the stars of the summer triangle marked:
The Lyrids are an irregular shower, usually producing a mere 10 – 20 meteors per hour, but occasionally reaching rates of around 100 meteors per hour. This year is expected to be a pretty average year, which means waiting several minutes between meteors. If you don’t have dark skies, it may mean 10 – 15 minutes between bright meteors.
Venus brightest around February 16 | EarthSky.org February 16, 2017Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, MichiganAstro, Urban Observing.
Tags: Mars, MichiganAstro, urban observing, Venus
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If it’s clear where you are this evening (or the next several evenings really), look high in the west about half an hour after sunset. That incredibly bright point of light you see is not a star, it’s Venus! If you happen to have a small telescope or good pair of binoculars, take a look at it. You’ll see it’s actually a crescent!
As long as you’ve got your telescope/binoculars out, be sure to check out the little red point nearby. That’s Mars. In fact, it’s pretty much a full Mars. How can two planets be so close in the sky and so different in appearance? Because one of them is nearby, almost between us and the Sun, while the other is far away, with the Sun in between.
For more on Venus, check out this story from Earth-Sky:
Venus is brighter around February 16-17, 2017 than at any other time during its ongoing, approximate, 9.6-month reign in the evening sky.
Summer 2016 meteors July 26, 2016Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, MichiganAstro.
Tags: astronomy, meteor shower, observing
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It’s meteor shower season, and The summer meteor showers are ramping up!
The Delta Aquariids are in progress now. Although the peak is expected to fall on July 28, this is a long, slow shower, worth watching for at least a week after the peak. Don’t expect to see a lot of meteors though. Even at its peak there are only 10 – 20 meteors per hour (or about 5 minutes between meteors.) The radiant is highest at around 3 AM this time of year, so that would be the best time to observe if it weren’t for the waning Moon in the last week of July. Going out around 1:30 – 2:30 on the 28th gives a good combination of reasonably high radiant and a low Moon.
While the Perseids don’t peak until August 11 or 12, you should already be able to spot a few. The real show should be the early morning of August 12, and continue through the morning of the 13th and maybe the morning of the 14th. Some experts think this could be a spectacular year, with rates of 200 per hour at the peak (that’s about 3 meteors per minute!) Better still, a waxing moon means dark skies most of the early morning hours. The best time to view will be around 3 – 5AM, when the Moon has set, Perseus is high, and twilight hasn’t really started yet. Here is a map for 4:30 AM on August 11 with both radiants marked.
Urban Observing June 2016 – Planets version June 7, 2016Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, MichiganAstro, Urban Observing.
Tags: astronomy, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Moon, Saturn, urban_observing, Venus
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I’m a little overloaded these days, but there’s so much good stuff in planets I wanted to get those out there.
Mars Opposition was on May 22, and it’s closest approach on May 30, so early June is still a great time to check out the red planet.
It’s not far from Saturn, which is at opposition on June 3. It has a nice tilt now too, so it’s a great month for cell phone pictures through a telescope.
Jupiter is still a great evening target. Look for it high in the south at sunset. It’s only 1º from a first quarter moon on the 11th.
Morning observers get some of the easiest viewing of Mercury the first 2 weeks of the month. Of course, the early sunrise means you’ll have about a 15 minute window 30 – 45 minutes before sunrise to catch it. Greatest western elongation is on the 5th, but the best angle relative to the horizon is the 13th (at least at 42º latitude.) Binoculars will help.
Venus fans are out of luck. Superior Conjunction is on the 6th, so it’s lost in the Sun’s glare most of the month. If you’re up for challenge, start watching for it in the evening at the end of the month.
The lowest full moon of the year will be on June 20. If you’re a fan of optical illusions, check it out – the low altitude enhances the Moon Illusion.