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Watch the Partial Solar Eclipse Online | Sky & Telescope October 23, 2014

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, MichiganAstro.
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Watch the Partial Solar Eclipse Online | Sky & Telescope.

Sky & Tel has a great list of live eclipse webcasts, so if the one you’re using isn’t working, check their list!

Partial Solar Eclipse Observing October 16, 2014

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, Galileoscope, MichiganAstro, Urban Observing.
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There’s only a week left to get ready for the partial solar eclipse! Since it is only a partial, there is never a moment when it will be safe to look at the sun without proper protection.

It’s so important, I’ll say it again:


Got a small ‘scope and want a way to view the sun safely with it? How about building a sun funnel! Get the directions for a sun funnel from the transit of Venus site.

Don’t have the patience for that much effort? Projection screens are simpler, but you’ll have to keep an eye on your telescope to make sure nobody tries to actually look through it. In fact, I don’t recommend using this method at star parties or public events. Most non-astronomers don’t know how to tell the difference between a filtered and unfiltered telescope. Even if you make the tripod short and project onto the ground, that just makes it perfect for a curious four-year-old. However, for yourself or an older audience, this is a very quick and easy way to observe the sun. The simplest version of this this is a white piece of paper on a clipboard, held in front of the eyepiece. If you’re going to use a projection screen, make sure you have real glass eyepieces. Nothing like having eyepiece go up in smoke halfway through the eclipse. If you are using a Galileoscope, you probably shouldn’t use the eyepiece that came with it.

This screen is mounted on a dowel, which is zip-tied to the telescope. I've still had kids try to squeeze their head in against the dowel.

This screen is mounted on a dowel, which is zip-tied to the telescope. I’ve still had kids try to squeeze their head in against the dowel.

No telescope? You can do the projection with a pair of binoculars to. Again, keep a close eye to make sure no one actually looks through the binoculars.

If you have no optics whatsoever, you can still watch the eclipse. Just poke a hole in a piece of paper and project the image onto the ground or another piece of paper.  This isn’t a great way of looking for small features like sunspots, but it will certainly show off of eclipse. For that matter, so will the shadow of a leafy tree.

A solar eclipse viewed using leaf shadows. Click for original image and more information.

Resources for the Oct 8 2014 lunar eclipse October 7, 2014

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, MichiganAstro, Urban Observing.
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This is a straight-up list of resources for the eclipse on Oct 8, 2014.

Information on observing the eclipse:







Live feeds (so you can watch if the Moon isn’t out or it’s cloudy)







Oct 8 Lunar eclipse October 1, 2014

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, MichiganAstro.
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Between the department move, classes starting, and Kensington Astronomy at the Beach, I’ve been a bit too busy for the urban observing posts. I’ve started October though, so hopefully I’ll have that up soon.  In the meantime, here’s a bit about the lunar eclipse on Oct 8.

The wonderful thing about lunar eclipses is that you can see it from anyplace where it’s night and clear during the eclipse. The interesting part of the eclipse will be 9:15 – 12:34 UT on October 8.

For Michigan, it will be visible just before dawn in the west-south-west. The noticeable part of the eclipse begins at 5:15 EDT. You’ll want to get out there early, because totality begins at 6:27, and the Moon will be dim enough that you may have trouble finding the Moon in the pre-dawn light. Mid eclipse is 6:55, and sunrise will be around 7:40. The Moon sets 7 minutes latter. To finds times for your location, check out  http://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/lunar/2014-october-8

A deeply eclipsed Moon is very difficult to see in the purple twilight.

Deepest eclipse occurs at 6:55 AM on October 8, when the Moon is about 8º above due west.

Usually, you don’t need anything be clear skies and darkness to see an eclipse. Dawn eclipses are a bit tricky though since the Moon disappears into the dawn light. A telescope that can track the Moon can be very helpful to keep the Moon in sight. If you don’t have that, a pair of binoculars can also help.

If you do have a telescope, swing it over to the eastern limb of the Moon. At 6 AM, Uranus will be just a bit north of due east and about 1º (or 2 Moon diameters) away. By 7AM it’s only half a degree and due east, but the sky will be starting to brighten (H/T Abrams Planetarium Sky Calendar – I didn’t notice this conjunction!)

A partially eclipsed Moon and Uranus in a starry sky.

Uranus is about 1º off the eastern limb of the Moon at 6 AM. By 7 AM, it is only half a degree away but to the SE.

For more information on the eclipse, check out one of these: