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Lyrid meteor shower 2017 April 17, 2017

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, MichiganAstro.
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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:

22Apr0500S.png

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.

 

Additional resources:

American Meteor Society guide to the Lyrids

EarthSky All you need to know: Lyrid meteors

 

NASA image & Video Search April 14, 2017

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy.
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NASA has launched a new portal to make it easier to search their vast multimedia collection. Try it out with your favorite object!

https://images.nasa.gov/

Venus brightest around February 16 | EarthSky.org February 16, 2017

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, MichiganAstro, Urban Observing.
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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.

Source: Venus brightest around February 16 | EarthSky.org

Types of Telescopes – Tips for Buying Your First Telescope November 28, 2016

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy.
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It’s that time of year again, when many people consider buying a telescope, either for themselves or others. As always, I’m going to stick with my favorite piece of advice: consider binoculars. You can get a good pair for relatively little money, even if you add a tripod and mounting bracket. And if you discover you aren’t the type of person who wants to go outside at 3 AM for an occultation after all, you can can still take them with you to the game on Saturday.

If you still want a telescope (or you’ve already determined you ARE the type of person who gets up at 3 AM for an occultation), here is some advice from Sky & Telescope.

While there are hundreds of types of telescopes, there is only one that’ll be your first one. Use this guide to help you choose a telescope perfect for you

Source: Types of Telescopes – Tips for Buying Your First Telescope