Tag Archives: Mercury

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

Greetings, fellow astrophiles!

With the summer nearly over and long nights replaced by early school bus mornings, the UNY Stargazing series has returned to its regularly-scheduled monthly publishing.

The latest article in the Upstate NY Stargazing series, “Upstate NY stargazing in September: Cassini’s end and morning planet delights,” has just been posted to newyorkupstate.com and syracuse.com.

Direct Links: newyorkupstate.com and syracuse.com

The Great American Eclipse for 2017 has come and gone without major reported inconvenience to the cities that ended up hosting large groups. This is good news for Western and Upstate New York, as we will be participants in the observation of totality on April 8, 2024 and have to contend with potential crowds on top of whatever weather early April brings that year. In the meantime, if you still have your eclipse glasses, you can give others an opportunity to enjoy upcoming total eclipses in South America and Asia in 2019. Consider donating your glasses to the great outreach organization Astronomers Without Borders – see the link for all the details.

Caption:The tail end of the August 21st eclipse from Nashville, including sunspot group 2671 at center and sunspot 2672, just clipped by the moon. (Photo by John Giroux)

* It is a busy month for amateur astronomy, with Jupiter getting very close to being un-observable until December (so catch those photons now), Cassini about to take a serious plunge into Saturn, and Mercury, Venus, and Mars doing a wonderful dance in the pre-sunrise skies all month. Try to catch the days shown below (and see the article for more details)!

Caption: The prominent planetary groupings in the morning sky this month. (Image made with Stellarium)

* The constellation of the month is Draco – and with just one more circumpolar constellation to go, we’re two months away from explaining just what that means!

NASA Space Place – What It’s Like On A TRAPPIST-1 Planet

Poster’s Note: One of the many under-appreciated aspects of NASA is the extent to which it publishes quality science content for children and Ph.D.’s alike. NASA Space Place has been providing general audience articles for quite some time that are freely available for download and republishing. Your tax dollars help promote science! The following article was provided for reprinting in March, 2017.

By Marcus Woo

2013february2_spaceplaceWith seven Earth-sized planets that could harbor liquid water on their rocky, solid surfaces, the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system might feel familiar. Yet the system, recently studied by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, is unmistakably alien: compact enough to fit inside Mercury’s orbit, and surrounds an ultra-cool dwarf star—not much bigger than Jupiter and much cooler than the sun.

If you stood on one of these worlds, the sky overhead would look quite different from our own. Depending on which planet you’re on, the star would appear several times bigger than the sun. You would feel its warmth, but because it shines stronger in the infrared, it would appear disproportionately dim.

“It would be a sort of an orangish-salmon color—basically close to the color of a low-wattage light bulb,” says Robert Hurt, a visualization scientist for Caltech/IPAC, a NASA partner. Due to the lack of blue light from the star, the sky would be bathed in a pastel, orange hue.

But that’s only if you’re on the light side of the planet. Because the worlds are so close to their star, they’re tidally locked so that the same side faces the star at all times, like how the Man on the Moon always watches Earth. If you’re on the planet’s dark side, you’d be enveloped in perpetual darkness—maybe a good thing if you’re an avid stargazer.

If you’re on some of the farther planets, though, the dark side might be too cold to survive. But on some of the inner planets, the dark side may be the only comfortable place, as the light side might be inhospitably hot.

On any of the middle planets, the light side would offer a dramatic view of the inner planets as crescents, appearing even bigger than the moon on closest approach. The planets only take a few days to orbit TRAPPIST-1, so from most planets, you can enjoy eclipses multiple times a week (they’d be more like transits, though, since they wouldn’t cover the whole star).

Looking away from the star on the dark side, you would see the outer-most planets in their full illuminated glory. They would be so close—only a few times the Earth-moon distance—that you could see continents, clouds, and other surface features.

The constellations in the background would appear as if someone had bumped into them, jostling the stars—a perspective skewed by the 40-light-years between TRAPPIST-1 and Earth. Orion’s belt is no longer aligned. One of his shoulders is lowered.

And, with the help of binoculars, you might even spot the sun as an inconspicuous yellow star: far, faint, but familiar.

Want to teach kids about exoplanets? Go to the NASA Space Place and see our video called, “Searching for other planets like ours”: spaceplace.nasa.gov/exoplanet-snap/

This article was provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Caption: This artist’s concept allows us to imagine what it would be like to stand on the surface of the exoplanet TRAPPIST-1f, located in the TRAPPIST-1 system in the constellation Aquarius. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle (IPAC)

About NASA Space Place

With articles, activities, crafts, games, and lesson plans, NASA Space Place encourages everyone to get excited about science and technology. Visit spaceplace.nasa.gov (facebook|twitter) to explore space and Earth science!

Bob Piekiel Hosts Observing Sessions At Baltimore Woods (And More!) – 2017 Observing Schedule

This event list will be added to as the year progresses. Check back often!

I’m pleased to have obtained the official schedule for Bob Piekiel’s growing observing and lecture programs for the 2017 season and have added them to the CNYO Calendar. For those who have not had the pleasure of hearing one of his lectures, attending one of his observing sessions, or reading one of his many books on scope optics (or loading the CD containing the massive Celestron: The Early Years), Bob Piekiel is not only an excellent guide but likely the most knowledgeable equipment and operation guru in Central New York.

Notes On Baltimore Woods Sessions:

The Baltimore Woods events calendar is updated monthly. As such, I’ve no direct links to the sessions below. Therefore, as the event date nears, see the official Calendar Page for more information and any updates on the event.

Also…

* Registration for these events are required. Low registration may cause programs to be canceled.
* $5 for members, $15/family; $8 for nonmembers, $25/family.
* To Register By Email: info@baltimorewoods.org
* To Register By Phone: (315) 673-1350

Baltimore Woods:

* January 20 (Fri.)/21 (Sat. weather alternate), 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Winter Skies at their finest, and great views of a large, crescent Venus. No other area of the sky contains as many bright stars, clusters, and nebulae as the area surrounding the winter constellation Orion!

* February 10 (Fri.)/No weather backup, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

A penumbral eclipse of the moon. This is kind of an odd-ball program, as most penumbral lunar eclipses go unnoticed. The moon passes through the earth’s partial shadow and turns a bit of a dim brown color. Interesting to see IF you know what you’re looking at (plus winter skies, but the faint objects will be obscured by the moon).

* February 18 (Sat.)/19 (Sun. weather alternate), 1:00-3:00 p.m.

Solar viewing program, plus great daytime views of Venus and the moon.

* March 3 (Fri.)/4 (Sat. weather alternate), 7:00-9:00 p.m.

Goodbye to winter skies, Maybe still a peek at Venus, and Jupiter will be rising in the east.

* March 31 (Fri.)/April 1 (Sat. weather alternate), 6:00-9:00 p.m.

This is our best chance to see the elusive planet Mercury, plus Jupiter will be rising as Mercury will be setting. Spring skies will be replacing the Winter constellations.

* May 19 (Fri.)/20 (Sat. weather alternate), 8:30 – 10:30 p.m. (meetup.com event)

Spring skies offer a large number of galaxies to be viewed, plus interesting star clusters, and the giant planet Jupiter will be visible all evening. We may also get a look at Saturn later in the program.

* June 16 (Fri.)/17 (Sat. weather alternate), 9:00 – 11:00 p.m. (meetup.com event)

Just because it gets dark late doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the night sky! Saturn and Jupiter will be easily visible, plus an early look into the heart of our Milky Way Galaxy near the end of the program.

* July 21 (Fri.)/22 (Sat. weather alternate), 8:00 – 11:00 p.m. (meetup.com event)

Summer skies at their finest, looking at the rich star fields near the center of the Milky Way, plus a farewell to Jupiter. Saturn will be visible all evening, and maybe even a peek at Mercury early.

* August 12 (Sat.)/13 (Sun. weather alternate), 8:30 – 11:00 p.m. (meetup.com event)

The annual Perseid meteor shower, one of the year’s finest. Plus great views of the heart of our milky Way galaxy, and the ringed planet Saturn. Bring a lawn chair or blanket to sit back and watch for meteors while not looking through a telescope. We may also be able to get good views of Neptune.

* August 26 (Sat.)/27 (Sun. weather alternate), 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Solar observing! Using specially-filtered telescopes, come and see our nearest star as you’ve never seen it before. View sunspots, solar flares, and magnetic fields on the sun’s surface.

* September 15 (Fri.)/16 (Sat. weather alternate), 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.

Goodbye to summer, hello to fall skies and a good view of Uranus and Neptune, our two outermost planets that often go overlooked. Our last chance to see some of the summer Milky Wand its bright clusters.

* October 20 (Fri.)/21 (Sat. weather alternate), 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.

Fall skies, with their galaxies and clusters, plus great views of Uranus and Neptune, and maybe a few meteors from the Orionids, which peak about this time every year.

* November 17 (Fri.)/18 (Sat. weather alternate), 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Hello to winter skies. A 1st-quarter moon starts the show, and as it gets darker, a first look at the area of the sky preceding Orion, with its many galaxies and brighter star cluster. Still good views of Uranus and Neptune. PLUS the Leonid meteor shower!

* December 13 (Wed.)/14 (Thur. weather alternate), 7:00 – 10:00 p.m.

The Geminid meteor shower – “Nuff-Said.” The Geminids are caused by asteroid Phaethon 3200, and unlike most other meteor showers, begin their display much earlier in the evening, so no need to wait til pre-dawn! Also our first views of the area surrounding Orion, with some of the brightest nebulae and clusters visible in the northern hemisphere.

Green Lakes:

* January 14 (Sat.)/15 (Sun. weather alternate), 1:00-3:00 p.m.

Come view our nearest star, the sun, close up in special telescopes that give interesting views of solar flares, eruptions, and sunspots. At the parking lot behind the main office building.

* February 17 (Fri.)/18 (Sat. weather alternate), 7:00-9:00 p.m.

Come see the winter skies at their finest! The area around the constellation of Orion has more bright stars, nebulae, and clusters than any other part of the sky. At the parking lot behind the main office.

* July 7th (Fri.), 7:00-9:00(?)p.m. – CHOOSING AND USING A TELESCOPE Workshop

Got a telescope as a gift but not sure how to make use of it? Thinking about purchasing one and wondering what are the best choices? Have a telescope and want to be able to take great pictures through it? Want to learn more about the night sky? Come to our first telescope workshop (Bring your own scope if you have one!) and let our astronomer Barefoot Bob show you the ins- and outs- of these wonderful pieces of equipment.

– This program will take place rain or shine, clouds or clear skies. It will be at the nature center (Susan – you may want to clarify the location here) if raining and at the field next to the Frisbee golf course if dry.

– Space will be limited, so please pre-register. This program takes place one week prior to our first public astronomy observing program which is scheduled for Friday evening July 14th.

* July 14 (Fri.)/15 (Sat. weather alternate), 7:30-10:30 p.m.

See the summer skies as we look directly into the heart of our Milky Way galaxy, plus the giant planets Jupiter and Saturn. We may also get a peek at Mercury just before sunset!

* August 18 (Fri.)/19 (Sat. weather alternate), 8:00-10:00 p.m.

Summer skies one more time, and the rich star fields of the core of our Milky Way Galaxy, along with the planets Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune.

Clark Reservation:

* July 28 (Fri.)/29 (Sat. weather alternate)

There is a 1st-quarter moon low in the sky that will set and leave the skies dark for the later half of a program. Mercury, which we hardly ever get a chance to easily see, is at best viewing for the summer, as well as good views of Jupiter and Saturn. This is also the time to see the summer skies at their finest, as we look directly into the heart of the Milky Way.