Casual Astronomy, Spaceflight News and Lower California Weather

Evening Binocular Planets
☾Morning Crescent Moons
August 31 / September 1 · ) Thinnest Evening Crescent Moon
September 4 · Delta II Launch from Vandenberg AFB
September 10
· ISS Resupply Launch (Double Spacecraft Flyovers)
· 'Space Arrow' Launch
September 19 · Moon Reveals Pleiades Sisters
No Earlier Than Late September · Atlas V Launch from Vandenberg AFB
September 26 · Delta IV Launch from Cape Canaveral AFS

By: LowerCal, 12:14 AM GMT on August 01, 2008

Today - SpaceWeather.com
This Week - SkyandTelescope.com - This Week's Sky at a Glance
This Month - SkyandTelescope.com - Observing Highlights - Tour August's Sky by Eye and Ear

All events described below can be viewed with your naked eye. Occasionally simple binoculars will improve the view and that will be noted. Scroll down for future dates, farther down for past dates.


Planet Dance
August & September
Bring binoculars.
SkyandTelescope.com - The Four-Planet Dance of 2008
(The article contains a a nice animation.)


Dark Moon (a.k.a. astronomical new moon)

August 30
Exact at
1958 UT/GMT
3:58pm EDT
12:58pm PDT.

Lower and thinner morning crescent moons the week before. Higher and thicker evening crescent moons the week after. Has a stronger effect on tides producing higher highs, lower lows and faster flows.


Binocular Planets
August 31
Image of the western sky after sunset from SkyandTelescope.com - This Week's Sky at a Glance.


) Thinnest Evening Crescent Moon (the original meaning of "new moon")

WU Photo: One day old Moon by LaddObservatory Friday June 15, 2007
August 31
/ September 1

Low in western sky shortly after sunset.
Moonsighting.com


Launch of GeoEye-1 Satellite

August 22
September 4

Mission: GeoEye-1
Launch Vehicle: Delta II 7420
Launch from Vandenberg AFB, California August 22 September 4
1850:57 GMT
2:50:57pm EDT
11:50:57am PDT (local time).

Launch status updates at
Spaceflight Now | Tracking Station | Worldwide launch schedule.

As the launch date grows closer you can find more information and a live webcast of the launch at United Launch Alliance.


◐ First Quarter Moon

September 7
Exact
1404 UT/GMT
10:04am EDT
7:04am PDT.

Rises near noon and sets near midnight. Has a weaker effect on tides producing lower highs, higher lows and slower flows.

Evening crescent moons for a week before. Each one thicker and higher above the horizon.


Double Spacecraft Flyovers

WU Photo: SPACECRAFT by Westerberg Wednesday June 20, 2007

Between the launch of the Progress ship and its docking with the ISS it may be possible to sight both craft in the sky at the same time.

Check satellite pass predictions at
Heavens-Above or try the simpler tool at
Satellite Flybys by SpaceweatherPhone.com.

Launch of Resupply Mission to ISS
September 10
Mission: Flight 30P to ISS
Spacecraft: Progress M-65
Launch Vehicle: Soyuz-U
Launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
September 10
To Be Determined (TBD) GMT
AQTT (Aqtobe Time, local time)
EDT
PDT.
Docking with ISS
TBD.

Launch status updates at
Spaceflight Now | Tracking Station | Worldwide launch schedule.

Possible live coverage of the docking on NASA TV.


Launch of GOCE Satellite

Credits: ESA - AOES Medialab
September 10
Spacecraft: Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) Satellite
Launch Vehicle: Eurockot Rockot
Launch from Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia
September 10
1421 GMT
6:21pm MSD (Moscow Summer Time, local time)
10:21am EDT
7:21am PDT.

Launch status updates at
Spaceflight Now | Tracking Station | Worldwide launch schedule.

Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

... Its arrow shape and fins help keep the satellite stable as it flies through the wisps of air still present at an altitude of 260km. ... To increase resolution, the satellite will fly in an unusually low orbit; an electric engine will make up drag losses to compensate for the residual drag losses. ...
BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | 'Space arrow' to map Earth's tug
... Goce data will have many uses, probing hazardous volcanic regions and bringing new insight into ocean behaviour.

The latter, in particular, is a major driver for the mission.

By combining the gravity data with information about sea-surface height gathered by other spacecraft, scientists will be able to track the direction and speed of ocean currents.

"If we want to improve our climate models then we need to improve our knowledge of how the oceans move, and Goce will help us do that," mission scientist Dr Mark Drinkwater, from the European Space Agency (Esa), told BBC News. ...

○ Full Moon

WU photo: moonset by grichardanderson Tuesday May 20, 2008
September 15
Exact at
0913 UT/GMT
5:13am EDT
2:13am PDT.

Rises near sunset and sets near sunrise. Has a stronger effect on tides producing higher highs, lower lows and faster flows.


Moon Hides/Reveals Pleiades Sisters

WU photo: Halo Around the Moon by stoneygirl Friday February 23, 2007
September 19
SPACE.com -- 2008 Preview Night Sky Highlights
... moon will already be within the Pleiades as it rises over the Eastern U.S. and Canada during the mid-evening hours. The reappearance of stars such as Alcyone and Taygeta should be well-seen along the moon's dark limb.

◑ Last Quarter Moon

September 21/22
Exact at
September 22 0504 UT/GMT
September 22 1:04am EDT
September 21 10:04am PDT.

Rises near midnight and sets near noon. Has a weaker effect on tides producing lower highs, higher lows and slower flows.

Morning crescent moons for a week after. Each one thinner and closer to the horizon.


Launch of DMSP F-18

No Earlier Than Late September
Mission: Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) F-18
Launch Vehicle: Atlas V 401
Launch from Vandenberg AFB, California
No Earlier Than (NET) Late September
1612 GMT
12:12pm EDT
9:12am PDT (local time).

Launch status updates at
Spaceflight Now | Tracking Station | Worldwide launch schedule.

As the launch date grows closer you can find more information and possibly a live webcast of the launch at United Launch Alliance.


NRO Launch 26

September 26
Mission: National Reconnaissance Office Launch 26 (NROL-26)
Launch Vehicle: Delta IV Heavy
Launch from Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida
September 26
To Be Determined (TBD) GMT
TBD EDT (local time)
TBD PDT.

Launch status updates at
Spaceflight Now | Tracking Station | Worldwide launch schedule.

As the launch date grows closer you can find more information and possibly a live webcast of the launch at United Launch Alliance.


Dark Moon (a.k.a. astronomical new moon)

September 29
Exact at
0812 UT/GMT
4:12am EDT
1:12am PDT.

Lower and thinner morning crescent moons the week before. Higher and thicker evening crescent moons the week after. Has a stronger effect on tides producing higher highs, lower lows and faster flows.


Outline of Sky Events for the Year
2008
SkyandTelescope.com - Observing Highlights - Sky Highlights of 2008

SkyandTelescope.com - Observing Highlights - Eclipses in 2008

SkyandTelescope.com - Meteors - Meteor Showers in 2008

The question, "How could I make a valuable contribution to the science of astronomy as a simple naked eye observer?" is answered in
SkyandTelescope.com - Stargazing - The Scientific Value of Visual Observing
which may lead you to the following, in order:
SkyandTelescope.com - Meteors - Meteors: A Primer,
SkyandTelescope.com - Meteors - Basics of Meteor Observing and
SkyandTelescope.com - Meteors - Advanced Meteor Observing.


***** Past Dates *****

SkyandTelescope.com - Eclipses - How to Watch a Partial Solar Eclipse Safely
Looking at the Sun is harmful to your eyes at any time, partial eclipse or no. The danger that a partial solar eclipse poses is simply that it may prompt people to gaze at the Sun, something they wouldn't normally do. The result can be "eclipse blindness," a serious eye injury that can leave temporary or permanent blurred vision or blind spots at the center of your view. Fortunately, there are many easy ways to watch the show safely. ...
Total Solar Eclipse
August 1
SkyandTelescope.com - Observing Highlights - August 1st's Eastern Solar Eclipse

NASA links:
NASA - Total Solar Eclipse of 2008 August 01 (color map with general info and links),
Total Solar Eclipse of 2008 Aug 01 (detailed map with precise technical info),
Live Web Coverage of the 2008 Total Solar Eclipse and
Ancient Eclipses in China.

Some areas will be able to see all or part of the dark moon this month. Its silhouette will hide part of the Sun.

Dark Moon (a.k.a. astronomical new moon)

August 1
Exact at
1013 UT/GMT
6:13am EDT
3:13am PDT.

Lower and thinner morning crescent moons the week before. Higher and thicker evening crescent moons the week after. Has a stronger effect on tides producing higher highs, lower lows and faster flows.


) Thinnest Evening Crescent Moon (the original meaning of "new moon")

WU photo: Brand New Moon by Ohlen Wednesday June 4, 2008
August 2
Low in western sky shortly after sunset.
Moonsighting.com


Preview - Graphic of early evening western sky August 2-4
from SkyandTelescope.com - Homepage Observing - This Week's Sky at a Glance.


◐ First Quarter Moon

August 8
Exact
2020 UT/GMT
4:20pm EDT
1:20pm PDT.

Rises near noon and sets near midnight. Has a weaker effect on tides producing lower highs, higher lows and slower flows.

Evening crescent moons for a week before. Each one thicker and higher above the horizon.


Minuteman III Launch

August 13
Space Archive - The Southwest's Source for Regional Space Information
Next Vandenberg Launch

As of August 1

The next publicly announced Vandenberg AFB missile launch is a Minuteman III on August 13. The vehicle will fly a ballistic (non-orbital) trajectory. A launch window has not been announced.
Update: "The six-hour launch window is from 1:01 a.m. to 7:01 a.m." PDT

"Weather permitting, Wednesday morning's launch should be visible to the naked eye for a least 200 miles."


Meteor Showers

WU photo: Searching for Shooting Stars by johnlanoue Monday October 8, 2007

For Better Viewing
Find a Dark Location
A dark rural location without "security" lights is best. If that's not convenient try to find a location where you can't see any lights or lighted surfaces. A nearby park or maybe even your backyard would qualify. On a beach facing the water could be a good alternative.

Where to Look
Meteors can appear in any part of the sky. To see the most meteors face the darkest part of your sky and look at least 45° above the horizon.

Be Comfortable
A reclining chair will keep you from getting a stiff neck and tired feet. A sleeping bag will keep you warm. (Even in the summertime you can get chilly at night if you are just lying still.) Insect repellent will keep you from being distracted by those little pests.

General Meteor Shower Information
An easy to read introduction to meteors with an interesting summary of annual showers is
Astronomy - Meteors and meteor showers - Francis Reddy.

The two primary sources of most of what you'll read about meteor showers are
The American Meteor Society and
The International Meteor Organinzation.

Perseid Meteor Shower
Early Morning August 12 N America & W Europe
Early Morning August 13 Asia
Early Morning August 12 & 13 Middle East & E Europe
(also see comment #19)
The peak rate is 100 per hour at ideal locations. Dates given are for peak visibility. A significant number of meteors will be visible before and after the peak dates. The peak rate of the shower coincides with peak visibility for N America.

The meteors will be most visible after moonset and before dawn begins to lighten the sky. For 30°N (the southern US) that will be about 2:15-5:00am local time. For 45°N (the northern US) the best viewing time will be about 1:15-4:30am.

Source and more information at
IMO Meteor Shower Calendar 2008 | International Meteor Organization - Perseids.

Also see
SkyandTelescope.com - Observing Highlights - Dodge the Moon, See More Perseids and
SkyandTelescope.com - Meteors - Here Come the Perseids!

International Meteor Organization (IMO) - Perseids 2008 Visual Data


Planet Show
Mid August
Bring binoculars.
SkyandTelescope.com - The Amazing August Planet Show.


Binocular Planets
August 14
Western sky after sunset
from SkyandTelescope.com - This Week's Sky at a Glance.


Deep Partial Lunar Eclipse

WU photo: Lunar Eclipse by jbedford Wednesday February 20, 2008
August 16
Partial Eclipse Begins at
1936 UT/GMT, 3:36pm EDT, 12:36pm EDT PDT

Maximum Eclipse at
2110 UT/GMT, 5:10pm EDT, 2:10pm EDT PDT

Partial Eclipse Ends at
2245 UT/GMT, 6:45pm EDT, 3:45pm EDT PDT

This month the Earth will pass almost directly between the Sun and Moon and it will cast its shadow on the Moon.

SkyandTelescope.com - Observing Highlights - August's Partial Lunar Eclipse

None of it will be seen from North America though. :^[ However you can find a list of live webcasts at SpaceWeather.com.

NASA links:
Partial Lunar Eclipse of 2008 August 16 (detailed map with precise technical info) and
NASA - Lunar Eclipse Page (general info with many links).


○ Full Moon
August 16
Exact at
2116 UT/GMT
5:16pm EDT
2:16pm PDT.

Rises near sunset and sets near sunrise. Has a stronger effect on tides producing higher highs, lower lows and faster flows.


Binocular Planets
August 16
Western sky after sunset
from SkyandTelescope.com - This Week's Sky at a Glance.


Binocular Planets
August 20
Western sky after sunset
from SkyandTelescope.com - This Week's Sky at a Glance.


◑ Last Quarter Moon

August 23
Exact at
2350 UT/GMT
7:50pm EDT
4:50pm PDT.

Rises near midnight and sets near noon. Has a weaker effect on tides producing lower highs, higher lows and slower flows.

Morning crescent moons for a week after. Each one thinner and closer to the horizon.




Visitor Map
Create your own visitor map!

Updated: 10:33 PM GMT on August 25, 2008

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Total Solar Eclipse Tomorrow

By: LowerCal, 6:00 PM GMT on July 02, 2008

Today - SpaceWeather.com
This Week - SkyandTelescope.com - This Week's Sky at a Glance
This Month -
SkyandTelescope.com - Observing Highlights - Tour July's Sky by Eye and Ear
SkyandTelescope.com - Observing Highlights - Tour August's Sky by Eye and Ear

All events described below can be viewed with your naked eye (except for all partial stages of the solar eclipse). Occasionally simple binoculars will improve the view and that will be noted. (Do NOT use binoculars, camera viewfinders or telescopes to view the Sun.) Scroll down for future dates, farther down for past dates.


SkyandTelescope.com - Eclipses - How to Watch a Partial Solar Eclipse Safely

Looking at the Sun is harmful to your eyes at any time, partial eclipse or no. The danger that a partial solar eclipse poses is simply that it may prompt people to gaze at the Sun, something they wouldn't normally do. The result can be "eclipse blindness," a serious eye injury that can leave temporary or permanent blurred vision or blind spots at the center of your view. Fortunately, there are many easy ways to watch the show safely. ...
Total Solar Eclipse
August 1
SkyandTelescope.com - Observing Highlights - August 1st's Eastern Solar Eclipse

NASA links:
NASA - Total Solar Eclipse of 2008 August 01 (color map with general info and links),
Total Solar Eclipse of 2008 Aug 01 (detailed map with precise technical info),
Live Web Coverage of the 2008 Total Solar Eclipse and
Ancient Eclipses in China.

Some areas will be able to see all or part of the dark moon this month. Its silhouette will hide part of the Sun.

● Dark Moon

August 1
Exact at
1013 UT/GMT
6:13am EDT
3:13am PDT.

Lower and thinner morning crescent moons the week before. Higher and thicker evening crescent moons the week after. Has a stronger effect on tides producing higher highs, lower lows and faster flows.


Four-Planet Dance
August & September
SkyandTelescope.com - Observing Highlights - The Four-Planet Dance of 2008
(The article contains a a nice animation.)


) Thinnest Evening Crescent Moon
August 2
Low in western sky shortly after sunset.
Moonsighting.com


Meteor Shower

WU Photo: Searching for Shooting Stars by johnlanoue Monday October 8, 2007

For Better Viewing
Find a Dark Location
A dark rural location without "security" lights is best. If that's not convenient try to find a location where you can't see any lights or lighted surfaces. A nearby park or maybe even your backyard would qualify. On a beach facing the water could be a good alternative.

Where to Look
Meteors can appear in any part of the sky. To see the most meteors face the darkest part of your sky and look at least 45° above the horizon.

Be Comfortable
A reclining chair will keep you from getting a stiff neck and tired feet. A sleeping bag will keep you warm. (Even in the summertime you can get chilly at night if you are just lying still.) Insect repellent will keep you from being distracted by those little pests.

General Meteor Shower Information
An easy to read introduction to meteors with an interesting summary of annual showers is
Astronomy - Meteors and meteor showers - Francis Reddy.

The two primary sources of most of what you'll read about meteor showers are
The American Meteor Society and
The International Meteor Organinzation.

Perseid Meteor Shower
Late Night August 12 - Early Morning August 13
SkyandTelescope.com - Homepage Observing - Prepare for the Perseids
(This article was for 2007. The dates, times and moon phase are different this year.)
Early Morning August 12 N America & W Europe
Early Morning August 13 Asia
Early Morning August 12 & 13 Middle East & E Europe
The peak rate is 100 per hour at ideal locations. Dates given are for peak visibility. A significant number of meteors will be visible before and after the peak dates. The peak rate of the shower coincides with peak visibility for N America.

The meteors will be most visible after moonset and before dawn begins to lighten the sky. For 30°N (the southern US) that will be about 2:15-5:00am local time. For 45°N (the northern US) the best viewing time will be about 1:15-4:30am.

Source and more information at
IMO Meteor Shower Calendar 2008 | International Meteor Organization - Perseids.


Deep Partial Lunar Eclipse
August 16
None of it for North America though. :^[
SkyandTelescope.com - Observing Highlights - August's Partial Lunar Eclipse

NASA links:
NASA - Total Lunar Eclipse: February 20, 2008 (color diagram and with general info and links)
Partial Lunar Eclipse of 2008 August 16 (detailed map with precise technical info).


Outline of Sky Events for the Year
2008
SkyandTelescope.com - Observing Highlights - Sky Highlights of 2008

SkyandTelescope.com - Observing Highlights - Eclipses in 2008

SkyandTelescope.com - Meteors - Meteor Showers in 2008

The question, "How could I make a valuable contribution to the science of astronomy as a simple naked eye observer?" is answered in
SkyandTelescope.com - Stargazing - The Scientific Value of Visual Observing
which may lead you to the following, in order:
SkyandTelescope.com - Meteors - Meteors: A Primer,
SkyandTelescope.com - Meteors - Basics of Meteor Observing and
SkyandTelescope.com - Meteors - Advanced Meteor Observing.


***** Past Dates *****

● Dark Moon

July 2 & 3
Exact at
July 3 0219 UT/GMT
July 2 10:19pm EDT
July 2 7:19pm PDT.

Lower and thinner morning crescent moons the week before. Higher and thicker evening crescent moons the week after. Has a stronger effect on tides producing higher highs, lower lows and faster flows.


) Thinnest Crescent Moon

WU Photo: Brand New Moon by Ohlen Wednesday June 4, 2008
July 3
It will be possible to spot the first thin crescent of the lunar cycle (the new moon) in the Americas very soon after sunset - Moonsighting.com.


Early July
(with special guest appearances by the Thin Crescent Moon)
July 5 & 6
Mars Passes Saturn
July 10
Each succeeding early evening above the W horizon you can watch the reddish planet Mars step to the upper left away from the bluish-white star Regulus and toward the brighter yellowish planet Saturn.

Previews - Graphics of the western evening sky June 30, July 1, July 5 & 6 and July 10 from
SkyandTelescope.com - This Week's Sky at a Glance.


◐ First Quarter Moon

July 9 or 10
Exact
July 10 0435 UT/GMT
July 10 12:35am EDT
July 9 9:35pm PDT.

Rises near noon and sets near midnight. Has a weaker effect on tides producing lower highs, higher lows and slower flows.


○ Full Moon

WU photo: Full moon by spaluch1 Tuesday June 17, 2008
July 18
Exact at
0759 UT/GMT
3:59am EDT
12:59am PDT.

Rises near sunset and sets near sunrise. Has a stronger effect on tides producing higher highs, lower lows and faster flows.


Night Launch
Early Morning July 23 Unknown
Space Archive - The Southwest's Source for Regional Space Information
The next publicly announced Vandenberg AFB missile launch is a Target Launch Vehicle (TLV) early on the morning of July 23 during a 02:15-03:20 PDT launch period. The launch will be observed by the NFIRE satellite to collect data for the Missile Defense Agency.

◑ Last Quarter Moon

July 25
Exact at
1842 UT/GMT
2:42pm EDT
11:42m PDT.

Rises near midnight and sets near noon. Has a weaker effect on tides producing lower highs, higher lows and slower flows.

Morning crescent moons follow the Last Quarter Moon. Each one thinner and closer to the horizon.


Multiple Meteor Showers
Last Weekend of July
While there is no especially strong meteor shower this weekend the combined contribution of many sources will produce a rate well above an average night.

Meteors may be visible in late evening for the hour or two before moonrise. Visibility covers the Southern Hemisphere through the southern Northern Hemisphere. The Southern Hemisphere tropics will have the best visibility.

Source and more information at
IMO Meteor Shower Calendar 2008 | International Meteor Organization - Piscis Austrinids,
IMO Meteor Shower Calendar 2008 | International Meteor Organization - Southern δ(delta)-Aquariids,
IMO Meteor Shower Calendar 2008 | International Meteor Organization - α(alpha)-Capricornids,
IMO Meteor Shower Calendar 2008 | International Meteor Organization - Antihelion Source and
IMO Meteor Shower Calendar 2008 | International Meteor Organization - sporadics.


★★★ Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Regulus and Venus
Mid-Late July
In the early evening above the W horizon you can see the reddish planet Mars. To its lower right stands the brighter yellowish planet Saturn. Farther to the lower right stands the bluish-white star Regulus just a tiny bit brighter than Mars.

These three bright points of light line up to point at the brilliant white planet Venus lower in the WNW. In mid July Venus sets very soon after the Sun and you will need a clear WSW horizon and possibly binoculars to see her. As the month progresses Saturn and Regulus drop lower and Venus rises higher. By July 28 Mars, Saturn, Regulus and Venus appear roughly equally spaced above the W-WNW horizon.

Throughout latter half of July the brilliant cream colored planet Jupiter appears higher in the SE in the evening and set earlier in the SW in the morning.

(Tip: To make the colors more noticeable slightly unfocus your camera, binoculars or remove your eyeglasses.)

Extending the line of Venus, Regulus, Saturn and Mars across the sky should pass very close to Jupiter. That line is the result of you looking at the plane of the solar system edge on.

How the sky will look tonight - Sky & Telescope Interactive Sky Chart. (You can also change locations, dates and times with this tool.)

Previews - Graphics of the western evening sky July 18 and July 30
from SkyandTelescope.com - This Week's Sky at a Glance.


( Thinnest Morning Crescent Moon
July 31
Low in the eastern sky shortly before sunrise.




Click to zoom in on my visitor map!

Updated: 9:08 PM GMT on July 31, 2008

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APRSWXNET Woodland Hills CA US
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Humidity: 53%
Wind: Calm
Wind Gust: 2.0 mph
Updated: 5:33 AM PST on December 01, 2013
At Gonzales Drive
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Humidity: 36%
Wind: Calm
Wind Gust: 0.0 mph
Updated: 12:15 AM PDT on August 28, 2014

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