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Earth Day Meteor Shower – NASA Science April 21, 2015

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, MichiganAstro.
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Earth Day Meteor Shower – NASA Science.

If it’s clear and dark where you are tomorrow night/ Thursday morning, you should go look for meteors.

Lyra is nearly at zenith around 5 AM, but the sky will start getting light around then, so the best time to observe will be about 1 – 4 AM.

The radiant of the Lyrids is about half way between the east horizon and zenith  at 3 AM on April 23.

The radiant of the Lyrids is about half way between the east horizon and zenith at 3 AM on April 23.

Evening Gathering April 21, 2015 April 20, 2015

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, MichiganAstro, Urban Observing.
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There’s a gathering of goodies for urban observers this week in the west.

The best night is April 21, about half an hour after sunset. Venus, the Moon and Aldebaran gather about 30º above the west horizon that night. to the right and a little lower, you’ll find the Pleiades. Grab a pair of binoculars or a small ‘scope to find Mars and Mercury, just above the WNW horizon. As long as you have those binoculars out, look over to the WSW for the Orion nebula, M42.

If you miss the evening of the 21, don’t worry. You’ll get a few more nights for everything but the Moon. And if it’s Mercury you’re after, next week will be better.

Looking west at 8:45 PM on April 21 from Ann Arbor.

Looking west at 8:45 PM on April 21 from Ann Arbor.

April 4 lunar eclipse April 3, 2015

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, MichiganAstro, Urban Observing.
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Here in the midwest, we’ll have a partial lunar eclipse at dawn on April 4. Further west observers get to see the whole eclipse of course, and if you go far enough west, it’ll be Friday night when the eclipse happens. check out Timeanddate.com for timing and how much will be visible from your area.

If you want some details on what features to look for, check out Fred Espenak’s eclipsewise site. He includes information on things like how to photograph it, what to look for, and even data amateurs can collect.

If it’s not visible for you, here are some places you can watch online:





One interesting thing about this eclipse is that there’s actually a little debate about whether or not it’s really a total eclipse. Even the best shadows don’t have a shape edge. Add the fact that Earth has an atmosphere, and it’s not perfectly round, and it’s seriously challenging to figure out exactly where to draw the line.  Because of that hint of uncertainty, most eclipse predictions call this the shortest total eclipse of the century, but a few people consider it the deepest partial eclipse of the century. You can find out more about it in the comments on the Sky and Telescope article about the eclipse.  And of course, you could go and look for yourself!

Apple cheese breakfast pie March 14, 2015

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy.
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What better way to start the Pi day of the century and then with an easy cheese and apple pie.

Start with a crust for a 9 inch pie. I haven’t had any time to bake this week, so I used Pillsberry. 

Thinly slice two apples. I like a mix of a sweet  and a tart but firm baking apple, but this morning my fruit bowl contained two pink ladies, so that’s what I used. Arrange as many of the slices as you can on about one third of the piecrust, leaving about an inch margin for sealing the edges. I’m usually left with about a quarter of an apple that I can’t get on the crust. 

Next up, 4 to 5 ounces of cheese. I like a sharp cheddar, like a Vermont or Glouchester, combined with something smoked, like a smoked Gouda. I don’t like too strong of a smoky flavor, so I’ll usually use about 1 ounce of smoked Gouda for 3 ounces of cheddar. Lee that she is as evenly as possible across the top of the apples.

What’s the edge of the piecrust. Fols the empty half of the crust overtop of the filling, and seal the edges. If you don’t seal the edges, the cheese tends to leak out and scorch on your pan and you end up with a burned-bottom pie, and that’s no good. 

Bake in a 400° oven for about 50 minutes, give or take about 10 minutes. Since there’s no thickener, the only thing you have to worry about is getting the crust cooked, so the pie is done when it’s a beautiful golden brown. 

Allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before cutting or oily cheese gushes out all over the place. 

Serve at 9:26 on March 14, 2015, for pi day of the century, or any other time you feel the need for quick and easy breakfast pie. 


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