Tag Archives: International Observe The Moon Night

“Upstate NY Stargazing In April” Article Posted To newyorkupstate.com And syracuse.com

Greetings, fellow astrophiles!

The latest article in the Upstate NY Stargazing series, “Upstate NY Stargazing in April: Comet Hunting and the Lyrid Meteor Shower,” has just been posted to newyorkupstate.com and syracuse.com.

Direct Link: newyorkupstate.com/outdoors/index.ssf/2017/03/…the_lyrid_meteor_shower.html

Direct Link: syracuse.com/outdoors/index.ssf/2017/03/…the_lyrid_meteor_shower.html

* We extend last month’s discussion of Messier Objects by briefly discussing the objects Messier was most keen on finding – comets. Many thanks to Brad Loperfido for the kind reprint permissions of his excellent Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak et al. catch (below).

Caption: One-hour motion of Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak (left) within Ursa Major, including M108 (the “Surfboard Galaxy”, upper right) and M97 (the Owl Nebula, lower right). (Image by NY photographer Brad Loperfido on March 22, 2017)

* We continue our look north with Ursa Minor, the second of six constellations that are always visible in the nighttime sky from our latitude (readers then can guess where the next four articles are headed).

* This month, we await the Lyrid Meteor Shower, which peaks on the early morning of April 22nd. The Lyrids peak in the presence of a sliver of a waning crescent Moon – this is excellent news for observers annoyed by the many washed-out 2016 meteor showers, as the Moon will not be bright enough to dull bright Lyrid trails.

Caption: The Lyrid Meteor Shower radiant, roughly between the bright star Vega and the southern elbow of Hercules. Pending the skies and brightness, you may even be able to see Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak between the head of Draco and arm of Hercules that night. Click for a larger view.

“Upstate NY Stargazing In October” Article Posted To newyorkupstate.com And syracuse.com

Greetings, fellow astrophiles!

The latest article in the series, “Upstate NY stargazing in October: Prominent constellations of summer and winter visible on Autumn nights,” has just been posted to newyorkupstate.com and syracuse.com. This month, we look for globular clusters in Hercules, and follow the recent progress of Mars, Saturn, and Venus – all while getting early sights of the very best of winter – Orion, Taurus, and the Pleiades.

Direct Link: newyorkupstate.com/outdoors/2016/10/…nights_offer_some_of_the_best.html

Direct Link: http://www.syracuse.com/outdoors/index.ssf/…nights_offer_some_of_the_best.html

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Caption: This photo, taken by a stationary camera at Mount Megantic National Park in Quebec, captured a fireball that shot over Montreal Wednesday night. The “bolide,” a rock entering Earth’s atmosphere, was seen across the Northeast. The Summer Triangle is shown as a red overlay. (ASTROLab du parc national du Mont-Megantic)

This article also marks the third official mention of our upcoming MOST/TACNY/CNYO hosting of International Observe The Moon Night on Saturday, October 8th. Additional details to follow, but expect the observing to happen somewhere around The MOST itself.

We’ll update the website and social media as we get a better idea on what the weather is supposed to do Saturday night (else we stay inside The MOST the entire time).

International Observe The Moon Night, October 8th – A Joint CNYO, TACNY, And MOST Event

Greetings, fellow astrophiles!

2014august28_logo_finalWe’re now days away from the 2016 installment of International Observer the Moon Night (IOMN), and I’m very pleased to report that the session has become a joint effort between CNYO and TACNY, graciously hosted by Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology as part of a revamped “Sweet Lecture Series,” now to be known as “Sweet Science Series.” I, for one, am very happy that something akin to the good olde Cafe Scientifique Syracuse that used to be held downtown has returned to (nearly) the same location, and that the series has shifted to a greater community effort to educate on topics of scientific and engineering interest.

Interested parties can get a jump on the session’s focus by checking out CNYO’s brochure, A Guide For Lunar Observing. In the meantime, the official TACNY announcement is posted below – you can also register for the event on meetup.com.

Sweet Science Series

Join Us As We Celebrate NASA’s
International Observe The Moon Night

October 8, 7:00-9:00 pm
Milton J Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology (MOST)
500 S. Franklin Street, Syracuse

The Technology Alliance of Central New York (TACNY) has retooled our 103 year old Sweet Lecture Series! Now called the Sweet Science Series, the program is aimed at adults of all levels of technical understanding. Moving downtown to The MOST should make it easier to attend too! Future presentations will start earlier (5:30pm) too, with some time available to wander around the MOST, and be held the second Thursday of the month! If you have come before, check us out and tell us how you like the new format. If you’ve never been, now is the time to start participating!!

Damian Allis, director of CNY Observers and contributing astronomy writer for syracuse.com, will lead a discussion and observing session for NASA’s International Observe the Moon Night. The evening will start at 7 p.m. with snacks and the option to tour the MOST’s general exhibits for free. Attendees who wish to tour the museum’s new visiting exhibit, Nature’s Machines: Biomechanics, may pay a $5 per person surcharge. Dr. Allis will lead a discussion about the moon and night sky at 7:30 p.m., and everyone is invited outside at 8 p.m. to peer through telescopes and binoculars at the moon and stars (weather-permitting).

Dr. Allis is a Research Professor of Chemistry, Research Fellow with the Forensic and National Security Sciences Institute, bioinformaticist with AptaMatrix Inc., and High Performance Computing researcher, all at Syracuse University. He is a founding member and director of CNY Observers, monthly astronomy writer for syracuse.com and newyorkupstate.com, and a NASA Solar System Ambassador. More information about him can be found at his website.

Walk-ins are welcome, but we ask that people RSVP by replying to this message or emailing sweet.lecture@tacny.org by Oct. 6. Parking is available on the street and in the lot behind the MOST.

ABOUT SWEET SCIENCE SERIES

TACNY John Edson Sweet Lectures, a program founded in 1913, is now called the Sweet Science Series and features discussions about topics in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in an informal atmosphere for adults of all levels of technical understanding. A minimum of six free and open to the public presentations are held each year.

ABOUT TACNY

Founded in 1903 as the Technology Club of Syracuse, the nonprofit Technology Alliance of Central New York’s mission is to facilitate community awareness, appreciation, and education of technology; and to collaborate with like-minded organizations across Central New York.

“Stargazing In Upstate NY In September” Article Posted To newyorkupstate.com And syracuse.com

Greetings, fellow astrophiles!

The latest article in the series, “Stargazing in Upstate NY in September: Look for more subtle objects on autumn nights,” has just been posted to newyorkupstate.com and syracuse.com. Among other topics, this article continues our exploration of the Summer Triangle, using Vega (for the easy find) and Lyra to guide new observers to a few binocular highlights in the late-Summer sky.

Direct Link: newyorkupstate.com/outdoors/…for_more_subtle_objects_on_autumn_nig.html

This article also marks the first official mention (to the best of my knowledge) of our upcoming MOST/TACNY/CNYO hosting of International Observe The Moon Night on Saturday, October 8th. Additional details to follow, but expect the observing to happen somewhere around The MOST itself.

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Extra-special thanks to Nick Lamendola from the Astronomy Section of the Rochester Academy of Science (image above, taken from the grounds of Farash Center – click for a larger view) for the use of his Perseid composite as the article opener.

Prepping For International Observe The Moon Night (Sept. 19) And A Total Lunar Eclipse (Sept. 27)

UPDATE: 19 Sept 2015, 5:00 p.m. – Sadly, the weather is not cooperating with us this evening, so our IOMN session downtown in CANCELED. We’ll hope for better conditions during the lunar eclipse next week.

UPDATE: Meetup.com and Facebook Events have been added for both the IOMN (meetup | facebook) and eclipse IOMN (meetup | facebook) sessions.

Greetings fellow astrophiles!

We focus on the Moon this month with one natural event and one “nature-derived” (sounds better than “artificial”) event.

International Observe The Moon Night – Saturday, Sept. 19th, 7 – 9 p.m.

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It’s the Moon, so doesn’t much matter where you set up to observe. A snapshot from last year’s CNYO IOMN session in Armory Square (near The MOST and Sound Garden).

International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN) is an annual event that is dedicated to encouraging people to ‘look up’ and take notice of our nearest neighbor, the Moon. From looking at the Moon with a naked eye to using the most sensitive telescope, every year on the same day, people from around the world hold events and activities that celebrate our Moon. On this site, you can find information about an InOMN event near you or register your own event. We encourage everyone to join us in the celebration!

Because the viewing was easier (and the crowd a little easier to find) from close to The MOST last year, we’re going to set up the scopes at (or close to) the very beginning of the south end of the Onondaga Creekwalk (map below, right below The Sound Garden). This spot provides ample parking and a fairly clear view of the Southwest/South/Southeast (certainly enough for lunar viewing) while not being quite as bright as other spots in the vicinity.

2014august28_logo_finalThe 6 day old waxing crescent Moon is a nice compromise of brightness and detail for giving the Moon a good looking at (given the preference to have IOMN on a Saturday night, anyway). Not only will we have a terminator to give us shadows and perceived depth, but we’ll have pleasant views of the many large “seas” on the Moon’s surface – including Mare Tranquillitatis (with the Apollo 11 landing site just on its coast), Fecunditatis, Serenitatis, and Crisium – out in the open for inspection. For those wondering about the timing (besides the whole weekend thing), Full Moon is actually one of the most boring times to observe the Moon. With the Sun’s light beating straight down on the Moon’s surface, we have no shadows to bring out crater depth or mountain height. Most observers agree that the most interesting views are right along the terminator where light and dark meet, so having a nice piece of that to observe makes for a much more visually appealing session.

Total Lunar Eclipse – Sunday, Sept. 27th, 8:11 p.m. to 1:22 a.m. (28th)

NOTE: Bob Piekiel will be hosting a total lunar eclipse session at Baltimore Woods on the 27th. If you want to see the Moon in fine detail through telescopes, this will be an excellent place to be.

Those who’ve been keeping constant track may recognize the eclipse discussion below as a re-post from April, 2014 (Total Lunar Eclipse, Mars Just Past Opposition And A Very Early Observing Event At Baltimore Woods on April 15th), itself followed up by another lunar eclipse post from October, 2014 (CNYO Observing Log: Lunar Eclipse And Syracuse Academy Of Science, 8 October 2014).

And now onto the upcoming total eclipse – and my continued belief that lunar eclipses don’t get the respect they deserve. Yes, solar eclipses are much more exciting and it has been well-documented that people have previously responded very strongly (and not always pleasantly) to solar eclipses. The sudden darkening of the sky and noticeable temperature drop can cause all shades of responses (no pun intended) in people. That said, all we really get (besides a view of the solar corona) is an example of what happens when you put a black disc in front of the Sun. Lunar eclipses, on the other hand, tell us a bit about how the Earth itself interacts with the Sun by how this interaction alters our view of the Moon.

Both solar and lunar eclipses tell us something about the Sun/Earth/Moon relationship. Specifically, we learn that the Sun/Earth orbital plane (the oval made as the Earth goes around the Sun each year) and the Earth/Moon orbital plane (our local oval) are not the same – the Earth/Moon plane is tilted slightly off the Sun/Earth plane by 5.2 degrees (small, but just enough). That is, the Moon spends some time above and some times below the Sun/Earth orbital plane, while sitting right in the plane only two times each orbit (where the two planes intersect). How do we know this? Simple. If the Earth/Moon plane were exactly in the Sun/Earth plane, there would be a total solar eclipse and total lunar eclipse every month because there would be a time each month (New Moon) when the Sun, Moon, and Earth made a straight line (Sun-Moon-Earth = solar eclipse) and a time each month (Full Moon) when the Sun, Earth, and Moon made a straight line (Sun-Earth-Moon = lunar eclipse). As the two planes are slightly off, the New Moon is simply “off the radar” of most people because it can’t be seen during the daytime. The Full Moon, on the other hand, is brilliantly bright most of the time because it only infrequently enters the Earth’s shadow.

The image below shows this very nicely (and it’s always better to find and cite a good image than to have to roll your own). Give it a look for 30 seconds to make sure each of the four cases make sense to you.

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The Sun/Earth and Earth/Moon orbital planes. Note the top and bottom orientations that are perfect for eclipses (and the left and right that are not). Image taken from www2.astro.psu.edu (from Chaisson & McMillan Publishing). Click for a larger view.

Total solar and lunar eclipses, then, occur on special, but periodic and predictable, occasions when the Moon finds itself exactly in the Sun/Earth plane. When it’s just ever-so-slightly off this plane AND still between the Sun and Earth (or still falls into the Earth’s shadow in the Sun-Earth-Moon arrangement), we get partial eclipses. Just that simple.

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What to expect on April 15th (the government’s cashing in on its short wavelength tax!). Image from this article at io9.com.

Perhaps the most striking difference between a solar and lunar eclipse is that a solar eclipse obstructs the disc of the Sun, leaving only a view of its wispy exterior (corona), while a lunar eclipse alters the color of the Moon while still allowing us to see it in its entirety. Those watching the lunar eclipse will see the Moon go from its usual bright grey to orange, then a dark red before reversing the color order. The reason for this dark red coloring is the same reason why our sky is blue – the scattering of light in our atmosphere. Recalling our handy scattering relationship – that scattering (I) is proportional to 1 / wavelength4, we see that shorter wavelengths scatter more than longer wavelengths (because the wavelengths are in the bottom of the proportion, so larger numbers decrease the value of “I”). The image below was taken from one of the great non-wikipedia physics sites (well worth several afternoons to explore), hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu.

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The scattering relationship. See hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/…/blusky.html for much, much more.

We see that shorter wavelength light gets “bounced around” more, while longer wavelength light passes for longer distances unimpeded by interactions with molecules and larger particles (like soot after big volcanic eruptions) in our atmosphere. Light going straight from the Sun hits our atmosphere and gets increasingly scattered as the wavelength gets shorter – blue scatters more than red, so we see the blue strongly when we look up during the day. With the blue light strongly scattered, those people on the edges of where the Sun’s light falls – those just starting or ending their days – see more red light because that wavelength wasn’t as strongly scattered – effectively those at sunrise and sunset get the filtered-out leftovers of the light that those at high noon see as blue. The “lit” side of the world experiences a range of different colors depending on where they are during the day, but all are being illuminated by waves of light from the Sun that left at the same exact time (plus or minus a nanosecond or two).

Because it’s a busy week and the author is feeling lazy, he refers you to the top image of the three-panel image below, showing how the scattering of sunlight in our atmosphere occurs sooner after entry (on average) for blue, a bit later (on average) for green, then a bit later (on average) for yellow, then out to red, some of which is and isn’t scattered (on average).

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The scattering of light by Earth’s atmosphere (shorter wavelengths scatter sooner). The other two images are placed into context by your reading about extrasolar planetary atmosphere studies. See www.universetoday.com/…-in-blue-light/ for that info.

And so, we know that blue is scattered strongly and red is not. This red light then races to the edges of our illuminated globe and the red light not scattered directly down to Earth or scattered in the opposite direction (out into space right above you) races past Earth at various altered (scattered) angles. During the most complete part of the lunar eclipse, the red color you see is, in fact, the red light that is passing through the edges of our atmosphere at those places experiencing sunrise and sunset (the sunlight performing a “grazing blow” of our atmosphere). As you might guess, if Earth were to lose its atmosphere (but don’t give any of your industrious friends any ideas), our lunar eclipses would appear quite different. Instead of a dark red Moon, we’d simply see a black disc where no stars shone (like placing a quarter at arms length and obscuring anything behind it).