The Snow Moon

Full moon over Chicago (J Jacobs photo)
Full moon over Chicago (J Jacobs photo)

According to several astronomy sources it was northeastern native Americans who dubbed February’s full moon the Snow Moon.

Given the amount of snow that covered much of the United States in February, the moon is well named. It’s also called the Storm Moon and Hunger Moon.

That orb will be lighting up the landscape Thursday, Friday and Saturday but best time to view will be Friday night from when it appears above the horizon in the east as the sun sets to midnight when it is overhead.

Some studies mentioned by EarthSky have been done on the relationship of full moons to sleeplessness from the light point of view. Hopefully, scientists will also look at the tidal pull of full moons on sinuses.

More information on the Snow Moon can be found at TimeandDate, NASA and Old Farmers Almanac.

Best meteor shower this year

 

Meteor Shower photo courtesy of NASA
Meteor Shower photo courtesy of NASA

Look up early, early morning after midnight, Sunday, Dec. 13 or Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. The Geminids will be flying across the sky.

Considered the best meteor shower of the year, the Geminids turn out about 120 meteors per hour.

Fortunately the moon, now in its new phase, won’t be a factor. But weather, at least in the Chicago area, is.

However, the Geminids whose radiant is the bright Castor star in the constellation Gemini (The Twins), can be seen in both hemispheres. Its parent is 3200 Phaethon.

Best viewing is away from street and commercial lights so consider bringing a friend to keep you company.

For more information visit NASA Solar System Exploration, TimeandDate, and EarthSky.

 

 

 

Watch NASA mission conference and liftoff

 

First four person crew to International Space Station (NASA photo)
First four person crew to International Space Station (NASA photo)

NASA countdown to Space X’s Crew Dragon is happening now, Nov. 13, 2020

For the press conference with administrator Jim Bridenstine and officials from NASA and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency go to NASA YouTube watch.

For the countdown on Nov. 14 Go to NASA You Tube FLA. Watch the first (this mission has many firsts) crew rotation flight by a U. S. Commercial spacecraft to the International Space Station.

This is the first four person-crew in a capsule and commercial flight. Crew members are NASA astronauts Michael Hopkin, the Crew Dragon commander, pilot Victor Glover and mission specialist Shannon Walker plus JAXA mission specialist astronaut Soichi Noguchi.

Liftoff is 7:49 p.m. EST from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39 A in Florida.

The mission will be six months. Other firsts include Walker as the first woman on a commercial orbital mission, Noguchi8 as the first international partner astronaught to fly on three types of orbital spacecraft.

For more information visit NASA.GOV/crew and NASA invites you to launch America.

Early to rise catches the Perseids

 

Meteor Shower photo courtesy of NASA
Meteor Shower photo courtesy of NASA

Check the weather predictions in your area for Aug. 11-13. That is when the Perseids are supposed to be peaking with bright meteors shooting across the sky at 50 to 100 an hour.

Best time say the experts, is in the northern hemisphere right before dawn, so also check  the sunrise times for your area.

Because these meteors are bright, plentiful and have long tails, the largish waning crescent moon might not be much of a hindrance the night of Aug. 11. By Aug 13 the moon will be thinner though there may be fewer meteors.to spot.

So where do they come from?

The Perseids are debris from the 109P/Swift-Tuttle comet. They are called Perseids because they look like they emanate (their radiant) from the Perseus constellation as the Earth moves through their trail each summer.

The comet’s name comes from Lewis Swift and Horace Tuttle who discovered it in 1862.

For more Perseid meteor shower information visit Time and Date, NASA and EarthSky.

 

Related: Falling Star Alerts

 

Travel to Mars with NASA

 

A compilation of images from Viking Orbiter NASA/JPL-Caltech)
A compilation of images from Viking Orbiter NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Visiting Mars may not be far off.

Although there are already rovers and items that have landed, orbited and explored Mars, a new rover is about to take off for the red planet.

Earthlings can watch NASA’s Perseverance Rover launch July 30, 2020.

Register to join the countdown so the launch isn’t missed.

The rover will arrive on Mars Feb. 18, 2021.

Its mission is to seek ancient life and prepare for human exploration.

For more launch information visit NASA Virtual Guest.

For more NASA and Mars robotic and planet info visit NASA Mars.

 

Falling star alerts

Meteor Shower photo courtesy of NASA
Meteor Shower photo courtesy of NASA

Sky watchers have two meteor showers to spot the rest of July and much of August: the Delta Aquariids and the Perseids.

Although the Aquariids, a sparse shower of about 20 meteors per hour, are best seen in the Southern Hemisphere they can be spotted as far north as the mid-northern latitudes. Just watch for them after the moon sets around midnight this weekend until just before dawn, July 27-28. However, the moon, which is in its first quarter isn’t much of a factor.

The comet of origin is suspected to be 96P Machholz. Named for where they seem to come from, the radiant is the Aquarius Constellation in the southern sky.

Because the Aquariids continue through late August, you may see them when you watch for the Perseids that peak Aug. 11-13.

You will know which is which because the Perseids, a strong shower of up to 150 meteors per hour during its peak, come from the northern part of the sky where you find the Perseus Constellation. The comet of origin is 109P Swift-Tuttle.

If watching for the Aquariids this weekend, you may also see the Perseids because they are very bright and already started about July 17. However, they don’t peak until about the second week of August when the moon will also be bright.

For more meteor shower information visit NASA, Time and Date and Earth Sky.

 

 

Unusual night sky occurrences

Skychart showing the location of Comet C/2020 F3 just after sunset, July 15 through 23. (NASA/JPL-Caltech photo)
Skychart showing the location of Comet C/2020 F3 just after sunset, July 15 through 23. (NASA/JPL-Caltech photo)

The weekend of July 17 will be a great time to check out the night sky.

The NEOWISE Comet (C/2020 F3) can be seen zooming across northern United States and Canada after sunset. Watch for it now because it won’t be back for thousands of years. Tip: Look for the Big Dipper. Start with binoculars to first see the comet below the Big Dipper but then try unaided.

For more information visit NASA/Skywatchingtips  and EarthSky/neowise .

But also try to spot the planets. The schedule of when they first appear this weekend goes from late night July 17 through early July 18. Being able to see all seven planets over two days is a rare occurrence.

For more information visit Time and Date/night.

Travel to space with next launch

NASA launch watched on TV in 2017. (Photo courtesy of NASA)
NASA launch watched on TV in 2017. (Photo courtesy of NASA)

When getting around the country by car and commercial air is challenging, consider a trip to the International Space Station via NASA links.

NASA is inviting the public to virtually experience #LaunchAmerica when astronauts Rober Behnken and Douglas Hurley fly the SpaceX’s Crew Dragon to the International Space Station. Lift-off is May 27.

You can find out what training and take off is like by clicking on NASA Gov/Specials/Virtual.

And you can get to knows Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley by clicking on YouTube/Watch.

Where to visit while staying home

 

The spiral galaxy NGC 2008 sits centre stage, its ghostly spiral arms spreading out towards us, in this image captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. (NASA photo)
The spiral galaxy NGC 2008 sits centre stage, its ghostly spiral arms spreading out towards us, in this image captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. (NASA photo)

Get comfortable. It’s time to visit some of the places that have intrigued you or are on your someday list. Don’t dress for travel.

Lots of destinations have added virtual tours. Some are OK even though they expect you to read French, such as on the 350 degree Louvre exploration or Spanish such as with the Guggenheim in Bilbao videos on Mark Rothko’s “Untitled” and Jeff Koons’ “Puppy.”

Others, like the ones here, have videos and cams that make visitors feel they are there.

So warm-ups or jammies are OK as you visit outer space, a zoo, an amazing garden, a Royal home and an aquarium. Just remember if looking at a cam that the place may be in a different time zone so might have different action at a later or earlier hour.

 

San Diego Zoo

Meet its penguins in Penguin Beach video episodes and safari animals in the cams.

NASA

Visit the Hubble Space Telescope, watch a video on the Evolution of the Moon and experience outer space visits through the Solar Dynamics Observatory.

 

Claude Monet. Water Lily Pond, 1900. The Art Institute of Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection. (Photo courtesy of AIC)
Claude Monet. Water Lily Pond, 1900. The Art Institute of Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection. (Photo courtesy of AIC)

Monet

Tour Claude Monet’s Garden at Giverny where you see what the artist painted including the Water Lily Pond.

Osborne House

Visit Osborne, the house that Victoria and Albert built via a Google Arts & Culture video.

Shedd Aquarium

If you have facebook follow penguin Wellington and his friends explore the closed Shedd Aquarium.

 

Look up for the best meteor shower this year

Perseid Meteor Shower peaks August 12 and 13 in 2018. (NASA photo)
Perseid Meteor Shower peaks August 12 and 13 in 2018. (NASA photo)

 

Don’t bother calling NASA or the local police if you see a fireball during pre-dawn hours this weekend through Monday.

The Perseid meteors are already zooming across the sky but they peak after midnight from August 12 to 13.

This year, 2018, the meteors should be easily seen because the moon is in its new phase Aug. 11, and only a mere waxing crescent Aug. 12 and 13 (Sunday-Monday) which means its illumination is too low to interfere with shining meteors streaking overhead.

However, to best spot them, seek out areas away from street and commercial lights, oh, and be patient. There should be 60 to 70 meteors flying overhead per hour.

The Perseids are pieces from the Comet Swift-Tuttle that we can view when the earth passes through its path. Although it does so mid-summer from July 17 to Aug. 24, the densest pass-through is Aug. 12.

As to fireballs, NASA experts say the Perseids have more than other big meteor showers.  For more NASA meteor information visit NASA Perseids.

Another good meteor information site is Earthsky.

Happy watching

Jodie Jacobs