Maybe 1% of all people ...

By: LowerCal , 4:18 AM GMT on January 29, 2007

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***** February 5 Evening Update

Maybe 1% of all people have seen the planet Mercury with their naked eye and knew what they were looking at.

One reason Mercury is seldom noticed is because it's appearances are so brief. While the planet Venus' current appearance as the evening star lasts over half a year Mercury's current evening appearance will only last another week. You can spot it 40 minutes to an hour after sunset above the WSW horizon to the lower right of Venus. (See the February 2 Evening Update below for more details).


Venus & Mercury by BurlingtonRoute


Venus and Mercury at dusk by dabobman

More information:
Sky & Telescope - Observe Mysterious Mercury


***** February 5 Late Evening Alert

Anyone still awake in the central northern US or in Canada should check their sky for possible aurora activity now ... unless it's just too cold. ;^)


***** February 2 Evening Update

Venus and Mercury are very easy to spot at 6:00pm with a clear sky and a clear horizon to the WSW. I spotted them wearing my computer glasses (not my distance glasses) -- brilliant and white Venus about a fist and a half above the horizon, less bright and golden Mercury half as high and to the lower right. All you need to know is precisely which direction WSW is from your viewing location.


***** February 1 Afternoon Update

Solar conditions are no longer as favorable for auroral displays; however there are still worthwhile things to see in the evening sky.

The Moon


full moon 2 by MargieKieper

One is the moon which will be full tonight and nearly so for the next couple of days.

Venus and Mercury

The other is the close approach of Venus and Mercury at dusk for about the next week. 40 minutes to an hour after sunset Mercury can be seen less than a fist width (at arm's length) to the lower right of Venus in the WSW.

Although Mercury will be higher (in a darker area of the sky) later in the week it will be getting dimmer too. It's hard to predict when its visibility will be best. If you're photographing try throughout the week if possible.


Blogging Hint: Don't use "xxx" as a temporary placeholder for links. 8^[ (Either that or check all your links in "Preview This Entry", lol.)


***** January 31 Early Morning Update

Current solar conditions still make significant auroral activity possible this evening and the rest of the week.

During day and evening in the US you can look for the real time (minute by minute) display of the aurora on the color All Sky Cam in Kiruna, Sweden from noon through midnight EST, 9:00am through 9:00pm PST. The bright round object in the sky during that time is not the Sun, it's the nearly full Moon.

You can see where it's currently nighttime and daytime in the world with The Night Sky Live. (Thanks to sp34n119w for the link.)


***** January 29 Afternoon Update

Current solar conditions make significant auroral activity possible this evening and the rest of the week.

Earlier today the auroral activity level was high enough to make some activity visible as far south as St. Louis -- if it had been nighttime there. Auroral activity can fluctuate quite rapidly so it's best to monitor the yellow and orange auroral oval link (the link automatically updates). When the yellow edge of the auroral oval is near your location that's the time to check the sky.

For those of us too far south we can watch the actual aurora minute by minute on the color All Sky Cam in Kiruna, Sweden.


***** Original Entry

Aurora activity is possible in the central northern US tonight.

Northern Auroral Activity Monitor
(NOTE: This view does not automatically update.)

(When the yellow part of the oval gets close to your location it's time to check the sky.)

The enlarged view will automatically update. The smaller view above doesn't.



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76. MaryEstherFLA
9:32 PM GMT on February 08, 2007
checking in before you change the blog to a new topic...

I can now count myself in the 1% population of Naked Eye Mercury Spotters!! Thanks for showing the way.. and thanks to whoever drives the clouds. We've had several cloudless days.
:o)
Member Since: August 4, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 1190
75. LowerCal
9:11 PM GMT on February 08, 2007
From Kiruna's LIDAR page

A lidar for aerosol and ozone studies in the troposphere/lower stratosphere has been funded by NFR in 2000.

Lidar is a technique to make measurements of the atmosphere from ground. The instrument for lidar measurements consists of two parts, an emitter and a receiver. The emitter sends laser pulses into the atmosphere. There the laser light gets scattered by particles and molecules, a part also backwards to the lidar. There the receiver detects the light which was scattered backwards. Since the speed of light is constant, the time between emission of the laser pulse and detection at the receiver tells us in which height the light was scattered. Changes in intensity can reveal clouds which are invisible for the eye (but important for climate research).


I'll have a new blog entry up soon, a little something for most of the world and very special to lunatics. ;^)
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9689
74. sp34n119w
7:13 PM GMT on February 08, 2007
I was curious as to what else they do at Kiruna (why do they need LIDAR? I think not for aurora studies!) but found the site difficult to navigate. I found this overview of their research areas.
Yet another rabbit hole... lol
Like the hour I spent last night peering at the solar system from all perspectives wasn't enough!
Member Since: January 27, 2007 Posts: 82 Comments: 4327
73. sp34n119w
7:03 PM GMT on February 08, 2007
Well, that makes sense. Not as much fun as aliens, though :)
Wikipedia article on LIDAR
Member Since: January 27, 2007 Posts: 82 Comments: 4327
72. LowerCal
10:39 AM GMT on February 08, 2007
You're welcome sp34n119w.

I intend to keep this blog dialup friendly. If you ever have a problem with the load times please let me know.

BTW I got a response from Kiruna, Sweden to my email about the bright green streak.

Hi ...!

Nice you found our All-Sky camera!

... writes:
> I live in southern California. I have been enjoying the aurora on
> the color Kiruna All-Sky camera
> http://www.irf.se/allsky/rtascirf.php. For the past few days a
> perfectly straight bright green line appears in the image. What it
> is it?

It is the LIDAR instrument, the green line is a laser beam and not an
imager problem as many people seems to think :]

Visit "http://www.irf.se/program/afp/lidar/", or contact Dr Peter
Vlger for further information about the LIDAR.

> More importantly can you please make it go away? :^)

Sorry, but no, it is an important instrument for atmospheric sciences,
however, it is not on all the time.

If you are interested in aurora you might also want to visit
"http://alis.irf.se/"

Fell free to contact me again, and thanks for informing me!

Best wishes!

Urban
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9689
71. sp34n119w
6:14 AM GMT on February 08, 2007
And it's fast, too! Even on dialup... yippee!
Member Since: January 27, 2007 Posts: 82 Comments: 4327
70. sp34n119w
6:10 AM GMT on February 08, 2007
Wow. There's another one for the "astronomy" favorites file! Thanks, LowerCal (again!).
Member Since: January 27, 2007 Posts: 82 Comments: 4327
69. LowerCal
12:46 AM GMT on February 08, 2007
Here's a view from above the solar system that shows why Venus and Mercury appear where they do now. The orbits are counterclockwise and the inner planets orbit faster.


Credit: NASA JPL CIT
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9689
68. LowerCal
11:19 PM GMT on February 07, 2007
I don't know if my email had any effect (I haven't recieved a reply) but the bright green streak has disappeared and there's currently some slight auroral activity on the left side of the image.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9689
67. sp34n119w
9:58 PM GMT on February 07, 2007
yeah... I crack myself up, too. Or, only.
lol
See you later... going to go not stare at computer screen waiting for aurora to show up again!
Member Since: January 27, 2007 Posts: 82 Comments: 4327
66. LowerCal
9:48 PM GMT on February 07, 2007
LOL
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9689
65. sp34n119w
9:41 PM GMT on February 07, 2007
I grabbed one of the pics from Kiruna. The aurora covers the left side and is edged in pink. Very pretty. I may never get anything done today!
So... Feather3 gets the rain, is not where she(?) is supposed to be, and someone is sending signals to the mother ship from Sweden. Coincidence? I think not!
Send me rain, too, Feather! :)
Member Since: January 27, 2007 Posts: 82 Comments: 4327
64. LowerCal
9:16 PM GMT on February 07, 2007
Oh yeah! Really active right now -- greens and reds.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9689
63. LowerCal
9:06 PM GMT on February 07, 2007
sp34n119w~ I was wondering what that bright green streak was, LOL. (It wasn't there last week. I sent them an email about it.)

I can see some lovely aurora activity right now too. The way it changes on the one minute updates hints at how cool it must be in person, like ZRR's description.

Feather3~ Yes, that map shows recent visitors. The main reason I put it up is to give me an idea of the general areas I should cover. For my purposes specific locations aren't necessary.

Hmm, so you aren't really in Hayward, eh? You don't have anything that bright green streak in Kiruna, Sweden do you? LOL

Glad you're getting some needed rain Feather. I'd trade some clear sky time for a little rain myself. We're halfway through our rainy season here but the total is only 20% of average.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9689
62. sp34n119w
7:35 PM GMT on February 07, 2007
Either there is current auroral activity in Sweden, or, the alien light is dramatically reflecting off the clouds over the All Sky Cam.
Quite lovely, in any case.
Member Since: January 27, 2007 Posts: 82 Comments: 4327
61. Feather3
6:45 PM GMT on February 07, 2007
Oh, and yeah, it's raining where I am. So no moon, no sun, nothing but raindrops, thank GOD! :) We NEEDED it.
Member Since: December 12, 2003 Posts: 72 Comments: 2952
60. Feather3
6:44 PM GMT on February 07, 2007
that map shows you who visits this blog, right?

It will ALWAYS show me as Hayward - it's a default setting for SBC Global before the firewall kicks in, otherwise it would show me as being where I really am. *LOL*

Feather
Member Since: December 12, 2003 Posts: 72 Comments: 2952
59. sp34n119w
6:18 PM GMT on February 07, 2007
I finally saw the All Sky Cam without sun or moon to interfere... no aurora but there is a very bright green streak of light across the field. I'm thinking alien aircraft - it is green, after all...
Member Since: January 27, 2007 Posts: 82 Comments: 4327
58. LowerCal
7:56 AM GMT on February 07, 2007
Check out the aurora from Fairbanks, Alaska last night.


Dancing Display by JohnandSarah
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9689
57. LowerCal
7:41 AM GMT on February 07, 2007
ZRR~ I envy your views but not those temps, lol. I hope you can get a picture the next time they happen.

This is how the auroral oval looked when I added the alert last night. It was a period of possible activity for upper Michigan (the yellow is very close).



Occasionally activity just surges like it did last night for no currently predictable reason. We're near the solar minimum now which doesn't rule out activity but the good news is activity will be increasing for the next five years.

sp34n119w~ That is a fantastic image! Thanks for posting the link. :^D
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9689
56. sp34n119w
5:52 AM GMT on February 07, 2007
Hope you don't mind my putting this link here, LowerCal, but this pic from Australia is related to astronomy and weather- and it has fireworks!
Member Since: January 27, 2007 Posts: 82 Comments: 4327
55. ZRR
11:31 PM GMT on February 06, 2007
I've lived north of 45 degrees latitude for about 2 and half years now (Up of Michigan) The events I've seen were august of 2004 first time I had ever seen then wow!!!. The second big time was late January of 2005 bright pink and green waves rippling at to me looked like thousands of mile per hour, it was -26 that night but i stood out there for at least a half hour. I saw them a few times hear and there when they were pretty faint, but I havn't seen them at all in 2006. Hopping that changes soon
Member Since: August 9, 2006 Posts: 217 Comments: 332
54. LowerCal
7:48 PM GMT on February 06, 2007
Hooray! You can now count yourself among the 1%. ;^)
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9689
52. LowerCal
6:43 AM GMT on February 06, 2007
L10 now would be a good time to dust off that telescope and try to take a look at Mercury. Mercury will be easy to find in the sky. Through a telescope you'll be able to see it's phase -- it will be about one half lit up tomorrow night



then increase in size while decreasing to about one third lit up by the 11th.



You could even take a hand held picture through the eyepiece with the focus set at infinity.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9689
51. lightning10
2:33 AM GMT on February 06, 2007
I love astronomy. I got a telescope for christmas one time but I never set it up right and its been collecting dust for years.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 41 Comments: 630
50. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
9:00 AM GMT on February 05, 2007
yup always a cute female villian in super sentai series.

too bad Shizuka of Wind gets a little annoying with her whining.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 49767
49. anvilhead
6:22 AM GMT on February 03, 2007
Night see you tommorow
Member Since: September 14, 2006 Posts: 128 Comments: 5257
48. LowerCal
6:22 AM GMT on February 03, 2007
Good night.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9689
47. anvilhead
6:18 AM GMT on February 03, 2007
forgot to look, I am going to bed now, goodnight
Member Since: September 14, 2006 Posts: 128 Comments: 5257
46. anvilhead
6:18 AM GMT on February 03, 2007
NO
Member Since: September 14, 2006 Posts: 128 Comments: 5257
45. LowerCal
6:17 AM GMT on February 03, 2007
Hello anvil, get any pictures of the planets this evening?
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9689
44. anvilhead
6:09 AM GMT on February 03, 2007
lol
Member Since: September 14, 2006 Posts: 128 Comments: 5257
43. LowerCal
6:08 AM GMT on February 03, 2007
LOL!

You're welcome!
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9689
42. sp34n119w
5:21 AM GMT on February 03, 2007
Well, sometimes I am asleep at the keyboard! I'm on dialup, you know, and sometimes I nod off... :^D

Thanks for the update on the planets!
Member Since: January 27, 2007 Posts: 82 Comments: 4327
41. LowerCal
9:22 PM GMT on February 02, 2007
anvilhead~ What are you doing up so late? LOL

saddlegait~ I'm glad you could enjoy the moonlight. I hope you're feeling better today.

sp34n119w~ You and I never learned writing as a means of conversation (chatting). These young people keep wondering if we're asleep at the keyboard, lol.

I'm glad to know when folks are finding my blog useful and I welcome all ideas, suggestions, comments, and mail. :)
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9689
40. sp34n119w
8:20 PM GMT on February 02, 2007
Oh, also, saddlegait and LowerCal, it's nice to know I had company watching the full moon last night - always better that way - and I'm sure your blog, LC, has lots of folks looking up :)
Member Since: January 27, 2007 Posts: 82 Comments: 4327
39. sp34n119w
8:09 PM GMT on February 02, 2007
I mean no offense to the incredibly bright, well-informed young people who amaze me with their ability to multiply their multi-tasking to levels beyond my imagination! I take time to check my spelling only because I know I can't keep up with you, anyway! :)
Member Since: January 27, 2007 Posts: 82 Comments: 4327
38. sp34n119w
8:02 PM GMT on February 02, 2007
LC: Oops. I've outed myself. Do you think anvil will let me back in his blog, now that he knows I'm old? :)
You know, I could just say that I'm a young connoisseur of classic rock music but that would require my going to look up the spelling of "connoisseur" in the dictionary which no self-respecting twenty-first century teen would do, so... doh! dang it! I've done it again!
Member Since: January 27, 2007 Posts: 82 Comments: 4327
36. anvilhead
8:30 AM GMT on February 02, 2007
It is friday!. LOL
Member Since: September 14, 2006 Posts: 128 Comments: 5257
35. LowerCal
5:52 AM GMT on February 02, 2007
"red is gray and yellow, white"

The Moody Blues - Days Of Future Passed

A lunatic and an old timer like myself, lol. I'm watching the moon among broken clouds and moonbows with just the barest hint of color through my skylight. Thanks for planting the idea you old lunatic. ;^)
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9689
34. sp34n119w
5:25 AM GMT on February 02, 2007
Me, I got nothin' but clear skies! And dead batteries in my camera! lol.
btw, LC, sure the moon is an obstacle when you're looking for something. Sometimes, though, you just want to kick back and gaze... get a moontan... contemplate "red is gray and yellow, white"...
Sorry. Remember, I'm a lunatic! :)
Member Since: January 27, 2007 Posts: 82 Comments: 4327
33. anvilhead
5:10 AM GMT on February 02, 2007
lol
Member Since: September 14, 2006 Posts: 128 Comments: 5257
32. LowerCal
5:08 AM GMT on February 02, 2007
Ah yes, the Marine Layer, I know it well. Not even broken clouds for the full moon to play hide and seek, lol.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9689
31. Feather3
4:46 AM GMT on February 02, 2007
No Mercury or Venus shots for me; the cloud cover *read, Marine Layer* is too thick, despite what my "current weather" banner says. Oh, well. . .

Not a star in sight.

Feather
Member Since: December 12, 2003 Posts: 72 Comments: 2952
30. anvilhead
1:52 AM GMT on February 02, 2007
ok
Member Since: September 14, 2006 Posts: 128 Comments: 5257
29. LowerCal
1:52 AM GMT on February 02, 2007
Take another peek outside from 6:00-6:20 if you can. Mercury should look a little brighter then if it's not behind a cloud.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9689
28. anvilhead
1:49 AM GMT on February 02, 2007
nope, the clouds only let me take pics of venus
Member Since: September 14, 2006 Posts: 128 Comments: 5257
27. LowerCal
1:49 AM GMT on February 02, 2007
Sounds like great fun. Bring back stories from Outdoor Science Camp. Maybe you'll get a photo of Venus and Mercury this evening.
Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 9689
26. SBKaren
1:37 AM GMT on February 02, 2007
I'm going to be up in the mountains next week - I plan on seeing lots of stars! My camera won't do any of them justice though, and no room to pack a tripod. I'm going to Outdoor Science School with my 5th grade class! Thanks for the update, I will go out tonight to look for venus and mercury!
Member Since: February 21, 2005 Posts: 200 Comments: 14810

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Astronomy with a minimum of terminology and technology.

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