Archive for the ‘Happenings’ Category

Good news this Groundhog Day

After the predition. (Photo courtesy of Woodstock Groundhog Organization)

After the prediction. (Photo courtesy of Woodstock Groundhog Organization)

Maybe the handlers of Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania and Woodstock Willie in Illinois decided the Midwest and Northeast US deserved spring.

But whatever guideline they used from how cloudy it was when they woke their respective groundhogs early in the morning Feb. 2 when no shadow was seen, to possibly consulting the Farmers’ Almanac, they both announced an early spring for 2019.

Visit  Groundhog for Phil and Woodstock for Willie to learn more about their history, town fun and predictions.

For the movie connection to Woodstock visit Where Groundhog Day was Filmed.  It also has a link to the movie clips.

 

Lunar eclipse happenings

NASA photo of a lunar eclipse June 15, 2011. (Photo courtesy of NASA)

NASA photo of a lunar eclipse June 15, 2011. (Photo courtesy of NASA)

Look up the night of Jan 20 into morning of Jan 21. You won’t need a telescope or special glasses. It’s a “Supermoon,” “Wolfmoon,” “Bloodmoon. Ooh, it’s disappearing.

 

Eclipse Times

About midnight, CT, the full moon will have fully moved in its orbit between the earth and the sun. so it won’t be reflecting the sun’s rays. The total eclipse will last a long time – an hour.

The Adler Planetarium site lists Central Times for when it begins and happens as partial eclipse starting at 9:34 pm, and total eclipse from 10:41 to 11:43 pm, Jan. 20. Then watch as the moon emerges from behind the earth Jan.l 21.

In Universal Time the eclipse will last almost 3½ hours from the beginning of the partial phase at 3:34 UT until it ends at 6:51 UT. Totality lasts 63 minutes, from 4:41 to 5:44 UT.

 

Moon Names

So why “Supermoon?” “The moon’s orbit is not a perfect circle,” said Adler Director of Public Observing Michelle Nichols. “Sometimes it is closer to earth so it looks larger,” Nichols said. She noted that the closest it will come near the eclipse will be during the day of Jan. 21 at 1:59 p.m. She calls the appearance of the rising moon seeming to loom large, “an optical illusion.”

She suggested viewers use the thumb test. “Put an arm straight out and cover the moon with your thumb. Then, do it again later when the moon is over head. It will be the same size.”

“Bloodmoon” is a term describing the moon’s color during total eclipse. “Sometimes it looks brick red, sometimes grayish. The sunlight is reflecting at the edge of the earth. The earth has blotted out the blue of the sun so sometimes it could be reddish sometimes grayish. It also depends on how dusty the earth’s atmosphere is,” Nichols said.

“Wolfmoon” is a term for the first full moon of the year, acquired over the years similar to Harvest Moon and Hunter Moon. It also has other names such as Ice Moon according to Time and Date

which explains that people often named the full moons according to the seasons and the phenomena they associated with its time of year.

 

Where to Watch

View outside your abode. See it happening inside on a live stream at Time and Date Live which will be streaming the event on its site.

But to appreciate and enjoy the lunar eclipse with astronomers go over to the Adler for “Lunapalooza.”  The outside observing part is free. Inside events, adults $12, children $8 (members free) include seeing the new Adler show “Imagine the Moon” which charts how people considered the moon over the centuries. Lunar eclipse

 

More Sky and Eclipse Information

These sites have charts, photos and lots of good astronomy information: Time and Date, Earth and Sky, Sky and Telescope and Space.

 

 

 

Best meteor shower this year

Meteors are flying over head that seem to come from the Gemini Constellation. (Photo courtesy of Gregg Dinderman/Sky & Telescope

Meteors are flying over head that seem to come from the Gemini Constellation. (Photo courtesy of Gregg Dinderman/Sky & Telescope

 

 

If it’s the second week of December it’s Geminid time!

Get an armful of warm blankets, a mat and find a place to lie down where there aren’t any street or other lights to interfere with meteor spotting.

Bring a buddy or BFF to help and keep you company because the best time to see the Geminids, a meteor shower that can have 120 meteors racing across the sky, is between 11:30 p.m. Dec. 13 and 2:30 a.m. Dec. 14.

Well actually, the Geminids have already begun but there aren’t as many now as will be seen in a couple of nights. They are named for the Gemini (Twins) Constellation because it seems as if the meteors come from somewhere near the constellation’s star Castor.

No telescope is needed. Just hope that the weather cooperates and the sky is clear and look up. It may take a little while, maybe even an hour, to adjust to the night sky before “catching a falling star (translate that as meteor). But be patient. The meteors are out there.

Two good sites that have more information are Space and Time and Date.

 

Good luck and enjoy the sky show

October is a good month to look up

Meteor showers happen when Earth is in a comet's orbital path and comet debris fly across the sky. (NASA photo)

Meteor showers happen when Earth is in a comet’s orbital path and comet debris fly across the sky. (NASA photo)

Watch for sky shows this month. The Draconids, North Taurids (Northern Hemisphere, South Taurids in Southern Hemisphere) and the Orionids are all shooting across the sky.

If lucky enough to have a cloudless sky, very little moonlight and no street and commercial lights, you may catch a shooting star. Actually meteorites merely look like falling stars as they streak across the sky.

Light from the moon won’t interfere with seeing the Draconids that peak the evening of Oct. 9, 2018 because the moon will be in its new phase. The Taurids are around all month but don’t worry, you can still catch them Nov. 8 during the next new moon phase.

The Orionids will be peaking around Oct. 21 but the moon will be waxing gibbous (more than half) as it heads to becoming a full moon Oct. 24.

So how many meteorites might be up there during each shower?

Well, it’s hard to predict the Draconids. They may be producing only a few per hour but the good news is that you don’t have to stay up late to watch for them and some years they produce quite a show with more than 500 meteorites an hour.

Their radiant point is from the head of Draco the Dragon near the stars Eltanin and Rastaban and they are best seen when the Dragon is highest in the evening sky. The Draconid shower happens when the Earth crosses the orbital path of Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner.

The Taurids, originating from Taurus the Bull, are residue from the Comet 2P Encke. There aren’t a lot of them per hour and they may peak towards the end of October when the moon is still in its bright waning gibbus phase. But the good news is that they are around all month. Watch for them early morning before dawn. The other good news is that they are very bright balls of fire.

The  Orionids typically fly across at 20 meteorites per hour but have been known to quadruple that number. Look for quick streaks of bright light. They’re fast.

Best Orionids watching time is before dawn when the moon sets by 1 a.m. and meteorite numbers are highest. The particles come from Comet 1P/Halley. The Orionids are named for their radiation point which is near the constellation Orion (The Hunter). In October, Orion is best visible around 2 a.m.

For good sky reference sites visit NASA, Earth/Sky, Space and Time and Date.

 

 

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