Casual Astronomy, Spaceflight News and Lower California Weather

Find Saturn with Your Naked Eye! & March 3 Lunar Eclipse

By: LowerCal, 4:40 AM GMT on February 23, 2007

What is "Casual Astronomy"?
Great Astronomy Links


***** March 6 Evening Update

Chances of auroral activity for the high and mid latitudes have jumped to 1 in 3 for the next 20 hours. The north central US, Canada, Alaska and far northern Europe should be alert to the possibility of auroral activity tonight. Links for monitoring auroral activity for everyone are near the top of the Great Astronomy Links blog entry.


***** March 5 Evening Update

I moved Saturn back to the top of the original entry (scroll down past the updates) with some added info on finding Saturn, Regulus and Leo for the next two weeks.


***** March 3 Evening Update

My favorite

Lunar Eclipse 2 by Jaffa

of all the WU photos so far.

The next total lunar eclipse is in the early morning hours of August 28 for the US. Next time I'll find and post links to the live webcasts that are actually performing before and during the event.


***** March 2 Evening Update

I moved the lunar eclipse info to the top of the original entry (scroll down). Live webcasts are listed on SpaceWeather.com.

You can still look for Saturn on Friday night and then Saturday night after the eclipse. I've added another screen shot of the sky chart to help (scroll farther down).


***** February 28 Afternoon Update

I added some international info at the end of the Lunar Eclipse section.

The solar wind really picked up today and the auroral activity level number has frequently neared "Minnesota level". However the probabilities of auroral activity continued to drop on today's geomagnetic storms forecast!?


***** February 27 Afternoon Update

The moon can help you find Saturn the days before and after March 1 so I added a couple of screen shots (scroll down).


***** February 25 Afternoon Update

The forecast "solar windstorm" failed to materialize and the chances of auroral activity for the high and mid latitudes are now at a low level (but not zero).


***** February 24 Early Morning Update

Chances of auroral activity for the high and mid latitudes have jumped to 1 in 3 starting 12 hours from now. The north central US, Canada, Alaska and far northern Europe should be alert to the possibility of auroral activity starting this evening. Links for monitoring auroral activity for everyone are near the top of the Great Astronomy Links blog entry.


***** Original Entry
(Updates in bold)


Saturn

Looking east at 8pm on Wednesday, February 28 (from central North America).


Looking east at 8pm on Thursday, March 1 (from central North America).



Looking east at 8pm on Friday, March 2 (from central North America).


Looking east at 8pm on Friday, March 3 (from central North America).


Looking east at 8pm on Monday, March 12 (from central North America). Saturn, Regulus, and Leo won't be moving much over the next two weeks so they'll they'll look pretty much like the sky chart above. With the moon out of the area it will be easier to see the fainter stars of Leo. The Big Dipper can help you locate Leo. The Big Dipper will be standing on its handle in the northeast the same height above the horizon as Leo in the east. You can see the Big Dipper on the left of the chart above.

As the sky darkens early next Thursday evening, March 1 Saturn will be the bright cream colored light to the right of the moon.

Once the sky has completely darkened you may notice a backward "question mark" pattern of stars to the left of the moon. This pattern is the front of Lion of the constellation Leo. The somewhat bright "dot" of the "question mark" below the moon is Leo's heart - the star called Regulus. The remainder of the backward "question mark" pattern is his mane. You may also notice the long triangle of stars to the lower left that defines Leo's haunches.

You can also test the saying that stars twinkle and planets don't. See if Saturn doesn't seem to be a much steadier light. This saying is helpful in confirming you've found a planet when you're looking for one with your naked eye.

Saturn and Regulus will barely change position on the following evenings. However the moon will appear lower each succeeding evening. On Friday, March 2 the Moon will appear beside Regulus. The next evening is the eclipse and the moon will be below and not close to either Saturn or Regulus. You can take the opportunity to compare the colors of Saturn and Regulus. They could both be described as white but I think you might see them as different shades. I've already shared my opinion that Saturn is a cream white. I'll withhold my opinion of Regulus' color so I don't influence you. Take a look at both and tell me what your opinion is. HINT: The only "correct" answer is how they actually look to you. :^)


The Lunar Eclipse


Lunar Eclipse by dnedawg

The eclipse will be in progress for North and South America as the moon rises and the sun sets on Saturday evening , March 3 (except for far northwestern Canada and Alaska).

Find your moonrise time by entering your location in the box at the upper left corner of this page (or any Weather Underground page). Press enter then scroll down to the Astronomy section that's left of center. Your moonrise time will be there.

For the US the total phase will be visible east of the Mississippi River. Those in New England will be able to see the full 1 hours of totality while those near the Mississippi will only see a few minutes.

The total phase will be followed by 1 hours of the distinct partial phase. This distinct partial phase will be visible as far west as almost all of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. A very subtle partial phase will follow and be visible from there to the West Coast.

The distinct partial phase begins at
4:30pm EST (not visible from the US)

Totality begins at
5:44pm EST (not visible for all of the time zone)

Totality ends at
6:58pm EST
5:58pm CST (not visible for all of the time zone)

The distinct partial phase ends at
8:11pm EST
7:11pm CST
6:11pm MST (not visible for all of the time zone)

The entire eclipse can be seen from Europe, western Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Later stages of the eclipse can be seen before sunrise/moonset from other areas of Asia and Australia except for the most eastern areas of Asia and Australia.

This eclipse map covers the entire world and has much more detailed information:
NASA map for 2007 March 03 lunar eclipse


Visitor Map
Create your own visitor map!

Updated: 2:30 AM GMT on March 11, 2007

Permalink

Cool Astronomy Links

By: LowerCal, 4:39 AM GMT on February 23, 2007

What is "Casual Astronomy"?

This blog entry will always be under construction. ;^) Add or comment on links here, put them in the comments of my current blog entry or send them to me by WU mail.


Auroral Activity

(NOTE: This small view does not update.
The enlarged view automatically updates.)
Northern Auroral Activity Oval - click for the enlarged view
NOAA's Space Environment Center monitors auroral activity in real time. When the yellow edge of the oval gets close to your location it's time to check the sky.

The color all sky cam in Kiruna, Sweden
will show anyone in the world actual minute by minute real time auroral displays when it's nighttime in Kiruna. It is shut down from early spring to late summer because it doesn't get dark enough. When it is operating use The Night Sky Live to see where it's nighttime and daytime in the world, where the sun and moon are overhead and the phase of the moon. Don't mistake the moon for the sun on Kiruna's all sky cam. The cam is very sensitive and the moon can appear very bright. Something else you sometimes see on the all sky cam is Kiruna's green LIDAR laser pointed into the sky.

The color Aurora Camera in Chatanika, Alaska (at Poker Flat Research Range) updates at 5 minute intervals and is on the opposite side of the Northern Hemisphere from Kiruna, Sweden.


Daily Bytes
Eye candy and mind candy.

WU Astronomy Photos

NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day

Lunar Photo of the Day

Lowell Observatory StarTales


Current and Future Events

SpaceWeather.com
has the most late breaking news.

SkyTonight.com
has detailed descriptions of what can be expected in the days (and nights) ahead.


Satellites

Heavens-Above.com, is the best site for satellite visibility predictions. Satellite spotting and watching is fun casual astronomy.

Some passes of the International Space Station (ISS) can be very bright and impressive. The ISS passes are also interesting when a Space Transport Shuttle (STS) or Russian spacecraft is approaching, docked or departing. The ISS passes are also interesting when the ISS crew has to "put out the trash". They fill up a spent rocket booster and kick it loose to burn up in the atmosphere!

For less bright satellites it's fun to see how soon you can spot it and how long you can follow it. Younger eyes have a real advantage and a lot of fun with this!

Iridium flares can briefly become brighter than Venus and bright enough to cast a shadow at a dark location. It's fun to be able to predict the the exact location and time of their appearance.

NOTE: For Iridium flares you will need a timepiece accurate to seconds and you will need to know your latitude, longitude and elevation to high accuracy. A GPS device can meet all those needs. If a GPS device isn't available then an "atomic" watch or a good watch set to some atomic clock time will meet your timing needs and EarthTools can give your location to sufficient accuracy.

The Heavens-Above site has a "What time is it ?" link to atomic clock time.

EarthTools is slow for dialup connections. An alternative is Maporama.com where you can enter an address for anywhere in the world and get latitude and longitude. However then you'll have to estimate your elevation for Heavens-Above.

Upcoming/Recent Reentries
Past Reentries
What goes up sometimes comes down!


Astronomy Related Weather


Clear Sky Clock
forecasts weather in 1 hour increments for the next 48 hours for thousands of locations in North America. I have seen it accurately forecast a 1 hour break in the clouds during an otherwise overcast timespan!

WU Visibility (Transparency) Forecast
How transparent the atmosphere is greatly affects how easy it is to see faint and fuzzy objects in the night sky.


Visualizing the Solar System and Night Sky
from places on Earth and elsewhere.

Sky & Telescope Interactive Sky Chart
Be sure to allow popups for skytonight.com before you run this. Popup windows allow you to enter your location and time zone. Set the the location and time zone for anywhere on Earth and see how the sky will look on that evening. You can then make it change by minutes, hours, days, months, or years at a time. This chart is easy to use and understand.

Wunderground.com Sky : Weather Underground
To use the WU interactive sky chart you first need to type your location in the box at the top left corner of this page (or any Weather Underground page). Press enter then scroll down to the Astronomy section that's left of center. Click on the " View the Full Star Chart!" link near the bottom of the Astronomy section. This sky chart is a little harder to understand and use. I wouldn't recommend it for beginners but it does have some info that the S&T chart doesn't.

NASA - JPL Solar System Simulator
lets you look at the solar system from places other than the surface of the earth, for example, other planets, moons, the many spacecraft currently scattered throughout the solar system, etc.

NASA Near Earth Object Program's Orbit Simulation
is a 3D orbit visualization tool for objects that pass through the inner solar system. Here's an example using the earth threatening asteroid Apophis. Apophis will have close encounters with Earth in 2013, 2021, 2029 and 2036. Here's another example using the recent Comet McNaught.

Shadow & Substance
"A website to display popular astronomy both visually and entertainingly," has graphics and animations of selected events.

Sungazer Stereo 3D Sun Images


Meteor Showers

An image of the 2004 Geminid meteor shower
accumulated over eleven and a half hours.

An image of the 2004 Perseid meteor shower
accumulated over six hours.


Miscellaneous

Moonsighting Committee Worldwide




Visitor Map
Create your own visitor map!

Updated: 9:16 PM GMT on September 14, 2007

Permalink

Young Moon and 2007 Lunar Eclipse Schedules & Maps

By: LowerCal, 11:06 PM GMT on February 08, 2007

***** Februay 19 Evening Update

Here is what a very young moon approximately 33 hours old looked like on the 18th. What would a moon less than 24 hours old look like? (HINT: You probably wouldn't see it unless you knew exactly where to look for it.)


Smile Moon by randyfromhq

(Scroll down farther for eclipse info.)


***** Februay 16 Morning Update

A good photo opportunity this coming Sunday evening is a very thin crescent moon to the lower right of Venus after sunset. The moon will be less than 34 hours old and only 3% illuminated for the West Coast. It will be less than 31 hours old and only 2% illuminated for the East Coast. Farther east for Europe and Asia it will be even younger and thinner. For them the thin crescent may not be immediately apparent but Venus will serve as a helpful landmark.

The following evening a slightly thicker crescent will appear to the upper right of Venus.

Photo Ops

Mercury is now very challenging to spot and requires an uncluttered, cloud-free and haze-free W-WSW horizon.


***** Februay 13 Afternoon Update

The north central US, Canada, Alaska and far northern Europe should be alert to the possibility of auroral activity for the next several days. Monitor this link for the yellow edge of the auroral oval coming near your location. Anyone can watch current auroral activity minute by minute at the color all sky cam in Kiruna, Sweden when it's nighttime there.


***** Februay 12 Afternoon Update

Some of you weren't able to see the photo that answered "Where in the Sky is Mercury?" I fixed it so that you should be able to see it now. (Thanks to sp34n119w and MaryEstherFLA for their help.)


***** Februay 11 Afternoon Update

I added the answer to the "Where in the Sky is Mercury?" challenge to the bottom of the blog - a second copy of the photo with tic marks.


***** Original Entry

Two total lunar eclipses will be visible from the continental US this year.
Most of the world will see at least partial phases of the these eclipses.


Lunar Eclipse by dnedawg


The first eclipse will be in progress as the sun sets and the moon rises on the evening of March 3.

The total phase will be visible east of the Missisippi River. Those in New England will be able to see the full 1 hours of totality while those near the Missisippi will only see a few minutes.

The total phase will be followed by 1 hours the distinct partial phase. This partial phase will be visible as far west as almost all of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. A very subtle partial eclipse will be visible from there to the West Coast.

Adjust the following times for your time zone:
The distinct partial phase begins at 4:30 pm EST
Totality begins at 5:44 pm EST.
Totality ends at 6:58 pm EST.
The distinct partial phase ends at 8:11 pm EST.


The second eclipse occurs in the early hours of August 28.

The entire entire eclipse, start to finish, will be visible from the West Coast. In the East the later stages of the eclipse will not be visible. The easternmost US (Maine) will only briefly see totality before the the moon sets as the sun rises. Farther west more of the eclipse will be visible during the early morning hours.

Adjust the following times for your time zone: (EDT = PDT + 3 hours)
The distinct partial phase begins at 1:51 am PDT
Totality begins at 2:52 am PDT
Totality ends at 4:22 am PDT.
The distinct partial phase ends at 5:24 am PDT.


These eclipse maps cover the entire world and have much more detailed information:
NASA map for 2007 March 03 lunar eclipse
NASA map for 2007 August 28 lunar eclipse


Challenge - Where in the Sky is Mercury?


Venus and Mercury by MaryEstherFLA

The obvious bright point in the sky is Venus. Can you spot Mercury?

If don't spot it at first you can use a magnifier, the one built into your computer or a hand held one. It's kind of like spotting something with binoculars first so you then know where to look with your naked eye. :^)

Mercury will still be easy to spot in the actual sky for a few more days. For hints on how to do spot it in the sky or in this photo see the previous blog entry Maybe 1% of all people ... or see the
answer below
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.




Visitor Map
Create your own visitor map!

Updated: 9:55 PM GMT on February 20, 2007

Permalink

About LowerCal

Astronomy with a minimum of terminology and technology.

Personal Weather Stations

APRSWXNET Woodland Hills CA US
Calabasas, CA
Elevation: 984 ft
Temperature: 51.0 °F
Dew Point: 34.0 °F
Humidity: 53%
Wind: Calm
Wind Gust: 2.0 mph
Updated: 5:33 AM PST on December 01, 2013
At Gonzales Drive
Woodland Hills, CA
Elevation: 984 ft
Temperature: 50.2 °F
Dew Point: 33.3 °F
Humidity: 52%
Wind: Calm
Wind Gust: 0.0 mph
Updated: 3:26 AM PDT on April 10, 2014

About Personal Weather Stations