January 2018 - Post Observations Here

January 2018 - Post Observations Here

Postby rene-gedaly » Fri Dec 29, 2017 10:25 pm

As posted in the announcement, here's the backyard observing plan for January 2018. Make your own or follow along. Clear skies!

NOTE: Never much looked at the Skywatching area on SPACE.com, but this is a handy article: https://www.space.com/33974-best-night-sky-events.html
I'll still be following the Observer's Guide but did not want you to miss the article above.

    Jan 1 - pre-dawn (look ESE) - Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation. 1.6 Mag should be easily viewable thru moon glow if you can see that low on horizon, esp since full moon on other side of sky, setting west. Catch Jupiter, Mars higher up from Mercury in southeast. See drako's post, always.
    January 3-4 - Quadrantid Meteor Shower Peaks. You know those random meteors you see in between major meteor showers? They come from minor showers, like this one.
    January 5 - Moon meets Regulus, morning skies
    January 6 - Mars close to Jupiter, predawn sky in the east
    January 8 - Last Quarter Moon, also 3rd Qtr. "At last quarter, the moon rises around midnight and remains visible in the southern sky during morning daylight. At this phase, the moon is illuminated on the eastern side, towards the pre-dawn sun. During last quarter, the moon is positioned ahead of the Earth in our trip around the sun. About 3½ hours later, earth will occupy that same location in space. After last quarter, the waning moon traverses the last quarter of its orbit around the earth, on the way to new moon.
    January 11 - Waning Crescent Moon meets Mars and Jupiter, predawn east; see all three in one binocular view
    January 13 - Mercury passes Saturn, predawn southeast
    January 15 - Mercury and Saturn meet the Old Moon, predawn southeast. By August, planets will be in evening sky, will be fun to follow them month to month
    January 16 - New Moon. Hopefully I'll be at the dark site. And it will be clear.
    January 19 - **Double shadow transit on Jupiter**
    January 24 - First Quarter Moon. "At first quarter, the relative positions of the Earth, sun, and moon cause us to see the moon half illuminated - on the western (right-hand) side. First quarter moons rise around noon and set around midnight, so they are visible starting in the afternoon hours. The term quarter moon refers not to its appearance, but the fact that our natural satellite has now completely the first quarter of its orbit around Earth since the last new moon."
    January 26-27 - Moon Crosses January 31 - Full Supermoon, Total Lunar Eclipse and Blue Moonhe Bull's Face. The ecliptic passes through Taurus, one of the 12 constellations of the zodiac, or 13 if you count Ophiucus.
    January 31 - Ceres at opposition. Bright, mag 6.85, visible in binoculars all night but try to catch it before moon rises. In Cancer but Leo's head, the backward question mark, will get you there more easily. Use your phone app; how cool to see a dwarf planet.
    January 31 - Full Supermoon, Total Lunar Eclipse and Blue Moon. Should I visit my sister in Seattle?

Mercury - January 2018. January 1, Mercury will reach its greatest angle west of the sun; hour before sunrise, low in the east. Watch until it crosses ecliptic mid-month.
Venus - January 2018. Evening star late month.
Mars - January 2018. Catch mars rising before you leave for work, predawn skies.
Jupiter - January 2018. Climbs higher, earlier, through the month in predawn sky; Galilean moon shadow transits occur frequently during January, including several double shadow events.
Saturn - January 2018. "On Saturday morning, January 13, Mercury's sunward orbital motion will carry it past Saturn. Mercury, about twice as bright as Saturn, will be 0.75 degrees (or 1.5 full moon diameters) below and slightly to the right of the ringed planet."
Uranus - January 2018. "During January, Uranus is well placed in the evening sky, positioned between the two chains of faint stars that link the fishes of Pisces. By month end, the planet will be setting about 10:30 pm local time. At visual magnitude 5.7, Uranus is bright enough to observe in binoculars under dark sky conditions." May have to do a little trip to a park to attempt this one. Or use some aperture.
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Re: January 2018

Postby kdrake » Sat Dec 30, 2017 7:44 am

I noticed that the backyard observing plan does not mention the Full Wolf Moon on Jan. 1 at 8:24pm cst just hours (4h37m) after perigee making it the 1st supermoon of 2018. The supermoon on Jan. 31 will come 25h31m after perigee. So we get two supermoons in the first month of the year. Plus a bonus lunar eclipse. Pretty cool!

If you are in a flat, unobstructed area during the first full moon, you might be able to see both at the same time. They will, for a very short time, share the daylight sky. From my house north of Lake Conroe, the sun sets at 5:44pm while the moon rises 4 minutes earlier. How wonderful is celestial geometry.

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Re: January 2018

Postby rene-gedaly » Sun Dec 31, 2017 12:49 pm

Yeah, almost didn't post anything for this date because of the forecast, which is the habit I want to break. That is, cloudy or clear, step out and observe our solar system.

Looking forward to the 2018 kick off. Could be breaks in the clouds tomorrow.
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Re: January 2018 - Post Observations Here

Postby rene-gedaly » Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:11 pm

9:10 PM 1/1/2018 Viewed Wolf Super Moon at 8:25 pm, time of full moon. Did seem subjectively larger; measured against outstretched little finger (finger measures ~1°) and also seemed larger than usual. Found classroom activity for measuring moon size on JPL education site: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/pdfs/moons ... ksheet.pdf. Moon crosses meridian 00:36, will measure then. M42, M35, Hyades, M45, M37, M36, M38 seen with 12x60 binoculars. Got cold and came in.late evening, early a.m. clouded out, no measurements
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Re: January 2018 - Post Observations Here

Postby michel-leblanc » Wed Jan 03, 2018 7:54 am

Hi Rene and others. 1/3/2018 6:20 am. Beautiful morning for observation. Started with Jupiter and Mars, both close to Zubenelgenubi (alpha Librae). Mercury then showed up exactly where it should, close to the where the sun will rise (about 120 degree azimuth).

Rene: I received a copy of the RASC Observer's Handbook. USA Edition! It's awesome. Looking forward to many backyard sessions this year.
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Re: January 2018 - Post Observations Here

Postby rene-gedaly » Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:02 pm

Looking forward to reading your posts, Michel! Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali have been two of my favorite stars ever since I learned how to say them. Going to be a great year.

1/3/2018 ~ 1:30 AM High clouds prevented my measuring apparent diameter of the moon with any accuracy. Moon appeared very high in the sky; OH 2018 - USA lists its greatest N declination this night as +20.0° and I could measure it as being a fists width down from zenith as it crossed the meridian to the south. This adds up perfectly: +20.0° + +60.0° = +80.0° which is 10.0° down from zenith at +90.0°. Our latitude is ~30.0° N which makes the intersection of the celestial equator and the meridian = 60.0° up from the horizon when looking due south.
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Re: January 2018 - Post Observations Here

Postby michel-leblanc » Wed Jan 03, 2018 1:36 pm

Over the Christmas break, I built the cylindrical star tracker described in "Practical Astronomy: Observations, Experiments, and Exercises" by Ulrich Herrmann and Cecil Thompson. A cool feature of this star tracker is that it can be used to determine the azimuth of sun rise and sun set. I was surprised to find that large value of azimuth: ~116 degree, which means 26 degrees south of due East. Behind our house there is a path along the bayou which goes E-W and I am used to see the sun set and rise south of that line. However, I was surprised by just how large the predicted deviation from East was. This morning, I was able to confirm that the sun did rise in that azimuth. Not with great accuracy, perhaps +/- 5 degreee, but enough to confirm my trust in the star tracker.

I used sidewalk chalk to mark my standing location with an X and to draw an arrow about 10 feet away from the X in the sun rise direction. (My neighbors are going to wonder what those marks are about..) I find very satisfying to do these types of visual observations that have been done from time immemorial but which we usually take for granted and rarely confirm.
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Get Ready for Mars-Jupiter Conjunction

Postby rene-gedaly » Sat Jan 06, 2018 12:42 pm

Jump out of bed Sunday morning by 6:00 am and look Southeast. It's clear skies for you, Houston. This could be pretty spectacular. :D Always better from a rural location but definitely worth a look.

Here's link to the Sky & Tel article you may have seen last week (great info!): http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observin ... njunction/

Also, Bob King, aka Astro Bob, has a new book, eminently readable, fact-filled, entertaining. Just the thing for Backyard Observers. Get this one: '"Night Sky with the Naked Eye" was just published and is now available on Amazon and BN. It covers all the great things you can see at night with just your eyeballs. No equipment needed!"

MarsJupiterSE.PNG


MarsJupiterConjunction.PNG
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Re: January 2018 - Post Observations Here

Postby rene-gedaly » Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:33 am

Got up at 4:15; total cloud out at coast. 05:00 looking hopeful. 05:30 See Spica? Must be; moon clouded over (looked beautiful rising in clear skies last night). From 5:30 to 6:00 saw Jupiter (Mars there, too, not naked eye), two good long looks, last one in time to train 5" reflector but then clouded over. From then until 6:30ish saw Jupiter burn through clouds. Sprinkled on me so moved scope under covered deck and then fast moving clouds opening up bands of clear sky. Around 6:50 ish bands opened up for beautiful pink/purple Belt of Venus. Still looking for Jupiter just in case :)

Speaking of Belt of Venus, take a look at this eponymous site: http://www.perezmedia.net/beltofvenus/. Good info on upcoming lunar eclipse; fave site of mine, you'll see why.
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Re: January 2018 - Post Observations Here

Postby edward-fraini » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:03 am

Observing Report Mars - Jupiter close approach (Hope to get two in the view on this one)
Location: Magnolia, Tx
Time: 1130 GMT
Seeing: Could not determine
Transparency: Zero
Moon: Large Ambiguous disk behind thick overcast
Comments
Going back to bed!. :{


Rene where are you? Glad you had clear skies.
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