CURRENT SKY EVENTS

 

.FOR A PRECISE CALENDAR CLOCK SHOWING SECONDS AT TOP TO THE YEAR AT THE BOTTOM GO TO:
  
http://beeks.eu/swf/timeline.swf
 

 
 
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Sky Calendar -- August 2012
  

                    SKY & TELESCOPE

   http://www.skymaps.com/articles/n1208.html

    

2 Full Moon at 3:27 UT.
Full Moon Names (Wikipedia)
7 Saturn 4.5° NNE of Spica (evening sky) at 14h UT. Mags. +0.8 & +1.0.
9 Last Quarter Moon at 18:55 UT.
10 Moon at apogee (farthest from Earth) at 11h UT (distance 404,123 km; angular size 29.6').
10 Moon near the Pleiades (morning sky) at 21h UT.
Pleiades (star cluster) (Wikipedia)
10 Mars, Saturn and Spica within circle of diameter 4.5° (65° from Sun, evening sky) at 23h UT. Mags. +1.1, +0.8 & +1.0.
11 Moon near Aldebaran (morning sky) at 19h UT.
11 Moon very near Jupiter (67° from Sun, morning sky) at 22h UT. Occultation visible in Indonesia, Oceania, and Hawaii. Mag. -2.2.
12 Perseid meteor shower maximum predicted between 12h and 15h UT, perhaps at 6h UT. Active from July 17 to August 24. Produces swift, bright meteors (50 to 100 per hour) many with persistent trains. Favorable conditions this year.
Perseids (Gary Kronk)
Meteor Shower Calendar (IMO)
13 Moon very near Venus (45° from Sun, morning sky) at 21h UT. Occultation visible from E. Asia, Japan, N. America (except NE), and Mexico.
Occultation of Venus (IOTA)
14 Mars 1.8° NNE of Spica (evening sky) at 5h UT.
15 Mars 2.7° SSW of Saturn (evening sky) at 8h UT.
15 Venus at greatest elongation, 46° west from Sun (morning sky) at 9h UT. Mag. -4.3.
16 Moon near Mercury (morning sky) at 2h UT. Mag. +0.1.
16 Mercury at greatest elongation, 19° west of Sun (morning sky) at 12h UT. Mag +0.0.
17 New Moon at 15:54 UT. Start of lunation 1109.
Lunation Number (Wikipedia)
21 Moon very near Spica (evening sky) at 23h UT. Occultation visible in New Zealand and Antarctica.
22 Moon, Mars and Saturn within circle of diameter 5.4° (58° from Sun, evening sky) at 2h UT. Mags. +1.2 and +0.8.
23 Moon at perigee (closest to Earth) at 19h UT (369,728 km; 32.3').
24 First Quarter Moon at 13:54 UT.
25 Moon near Antares (evening sky) at 2h UT.
31 Full Moon at 13:58 UT.
Full Moon Names (Wikipedia)
All times Universal Time (UT). USA Eastern Daylight Time = UT - 4 hours.

Clear skies till next month!

Download the latest issue of The Evening Sky Map.

 





































 
 
 

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This Week's Sky at a Glance

FOR  JUNE 30 - JULY 7

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/ataglance/

from Sky & Telescope
by Alan M. MacRobert 

Saturday, June 30

  • The Moon shines in the head stars of Scorpius this evening, with Antares to its lower left.
    Dawn view
    Jupiter and Venus remain 5° apart low in the dawn all week, with the Pleiades above them and Aldebaran just below. The lineup is vertical as seen from near latitude 40° north (New York, Denver), the latitude for which these scenes are always drawn.
  • Remember when Venus and Jupiter paired up spectacularly in the evening last March? Now they're at it again, but this time low in the dawn, as shown at right. Best time: about an hour or so before your local sunrise (make sure the Daylight Saving Time box is checked if needed.)
  • A leap second will be inserted into the world's civil time systems at the end of June 30th Coordinated Universal Time (the second before 8:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time). The minute 23:59 UTC will have 61 seconds, not 60, to adjust for a slight accumulated slowdown in Earth's spin. The last leap second was added to the world's clocks at the end of 2008. As the moment arrives, watch your favorite online time service and see if they get it right.

    Sunday, July 1

  • As soon as the stars come out, look high in the northwest for the Big Dipper hanging straight down by its handle. As night advances, the Dipper dips lower and to the right as if to scoop up water.

    Monday, July 2

  • Vega is the brightest star very high in the east after dark. Deneb is the brightest to its lower left. Altair is farther to Vega's lower right. These three form the big Summer Triangle.

    Tuesday, July 3

  • The full Moon shines in the southeast after dark. The bright star far to its upper left is Altair. Look just above Altair, by about a finger-width at arm's length, for fainter Tarazed (Gamma Aquilae). Tarazed, an orange giant, is much more luminous than Altair but is almost 20 times farther away (330 light-years, compared to Altair's distance of 17 light-years).

    Wednesday, July 4

  • Watching fireworks this evening? As you're waiting for darkness to arrive, point out the two brightest stars of summer: Vega very high in the east, and Arcturus very high in the southwest.

    Far below Arcturus are Saturn and, just under it, Spica. Off to their right and perhaps a bit lower is orangy little Mars.

  • Earth is at aphelion, its farthest from the Sun for the year (just 1/30 farther than at perihelion in January).

    Thursday, July 5

  • The waning gibbous Moon rises around nightfall. The bright star high above it is Altair. Look a fist-width or more to Altair's left, and perhaps a bit lower, for the little constellation Delphinus, the leaping Dolphin. His nose points left.

    Friday, July 6

  • After nightfall at this time of year, the W-shaped constellation Cassiopeia has just passed its lowest point in the north and is beginning its long, slow climb in the north-northeast. The later in the night you look, the more altitude it gains. But the farther south you live, the lower it will be.

    Saturday, July 7

  • The red long-period variable star R Draconis should be at its maximum brightness of about magnitude 7.6 this week. Binoculars should show it. See the article and finder charts in the July Sky & Telescope, page 50.

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    This Week's Planet Roundup
    Venus in five colors on March 11, 2012
    Venus in five colors. Imaging with a 12.5-inch reflector through filters from near ultraviolet to near infrared, S&T's Sean Walker recorded these views near sunset on March 11th. "Seeing was very good; faint details were visible in the eyepiece through the blue filter, enough that I had a very good idea what the images would look like after processing; very rare indeed."
    S&T: Sean Walker
    .

    Mercury has faded right out as it drops back into the glow of sunset. Its next good evening apparition won't come until the second half of June.

    Venus and Jupiter are moving apart now but still form a spectacular pair in the western evening sky. They're 4° apart on March 16th and 9&@176; apart by the 23rd. Venus stays shining at about the same height at dusk all this month and next, but Jupiter is sliding lower. These are the two brightest celestial objects after the Sun and Moon, being magnitudes –4.4 and –2.1 now, respectively.

    In a telescope Venus is a brilliant white "half moon" 22 arcseconds tall. Jupiter shows a much lower surface brightness, since it's farther from the Sun, but its apparent diameter is somewhat larger: 33 arcseconds.

    Mars on March 5-6, 2012
    Syrtis Major is almost dead center in this Mars image taken by S&T's Sean Walker on the night of March 5–6. Mars was 13.9 arcseconds wide. He used a 12.5-inch reflector and stacked-video imaging. Don't expect views this good visually!

    South is up, and celestial east is to the right (the preceding side; Mars's morning side). Notice the bright cloud over Elysium at the 8 o'clock position here, and the edge of the North Polar Cloud Hood over Hellas at top. The North Polar Cap (NPC) has been shrinking in the Martian northern-hemisphere spring, exposing the dark collar around it. Just left of the cap, writes Walker, notice a yellowish apparent dust event.

    S&T: Sean Walker
    Mars (magnitude –1.0) shines bright fire-orange in Leo. Fainter Regulus glitters 7° to its right or upper right during evening. Mars was at opposition on March 3rd; now it's starting to fade and shrink a bit as Earth pulls ahead of it along our faster, inside-track orbit around the Sun.

    But at least Mars is shining higher in the evening sky now, reaching a good altitude for telescopic observing at a more convenient hour. It's at its highest in the south around midnight daylight saving time. Mars is still about 13.6 arcseconds wide, practically the same as its 13.9″ at opposition. It won't appear this big and close again until 2014. Watch the North Polar Cap continuing to dwindle; spring is about to give way to summer in Mars's northern hemisphere. See our Mars map and observing guide in the April Sky & Telescope, page 50.

    Saturn (magnitude +0.3, in Virgo) rises in the east around 9 or 10 p.m. and shines highest in the south around 3 a.m. Accompanying it 6° to its right or upper right is Spica, about half as bright at magnitude +1.0 and bluer. In a telescope Saturn's rings are tilted 14.5° from our line of sight.

    Uranus and Neptune are behind the glare of the Sun.

    Saturn on Jan. 21, 2012
    Saturn's rings are tipped a good 15° from our line of sight. South is up. Note the very pale light band in the north temperate region, the remnant of the dramatic, billowing white outbreak that attracted so much attention last year. Christopher Go took this image on January 21, 2012.




     
  • Comet Garradd at magnitude 6.5
    Despite first-quarter moonlight, Paolo Candy in Italy took this image of Comet Garradd (C/2009 P1) on the evening of November 4th. He used an 8-inch scope at f/3.7 and an SBIG ST-8XE L camera for several exposures, stacked, totaling 20 minutes.
    Paolo Candy
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  •   Supernova in M101. A supernova for backyard telescopes continues brightening in M101, the Pinwheel Galaxy off the Big Dipper's handle. Supernova 2011fe was discovered at magnitude 17.2 on August 24th, reached 13.8 on the 25th, and 12.5 on the 27th. On the American evening of the 29th (August 30.1 UT) I estimated it at magnitude 11.5 using a 12.5-inch scope at 75× and an AAVSO comparison-star chart. It was more readily visible than the galaxy itself in my moderately light-polluted suburban sky. Then on the evening of the 30th, Tony Flanders put it at 11.2.

    The supernova should top out at about magnitude 10.6 if it's a standard Type Ia, as seems to be the case. See our article, Supernova Erupts in Pinwheel Galaxy. Plan to observe soon after dark while the Dipper's handle is still high.



     

  • The brightest asteroid, 4 Vesta, was at magnitude 5.6 at its August 6th opposition. It's in Capricornus, easily visible in binoculars in late evening; use our finder chart.
  • The Dawn Spacecraft has taken up orbit around Vesta and should be starting its science observations around now!
  • SEE MORE ON THIS MISSION WITH NEW PHOTOS ON MY  VESTA PAGE  (UNDER ASTEROIDS)  AT LEFT MENU
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    Mars on Jan. 29, 2012
    Mars had grown to 11.6 arcseconds in diameter by January 29th, when Jim Phillips took this image with a 10-inch apo refractor and a Skynyx color video camera. South is up. The North Polar Cap is by far the most obvious feature. The big dark prong near center is Syrtis Major. Note the edge of the South Polar Cloud Hood just visible around the southern limb, and faint clouds on the morning limb (the celestial east side, at right).
    Jim Phillips 
    Jupiter on Jan. 29, 2012
    Jupiter is shrinking as Earth leaves it farther behind, but Christopher Go in the Philippines caught some excellent seeing on January 29th for this extraordinary shot of developments around the Great Red Spot. South is up. Note the white turbulence on the following (right; celestial east) side, and the stark red part of the South Equatorial Belt on the spot's preceding side.The red transitions to white as it squeezes past the spot.
    Christopher Go 
    Saturn's rings are tilted a good 15° into view; not since 2007 have they looked like this. South is up. Note the very pale light band in the north temperate region, apparently the remnant of the dramatic, billowing white outbreak that attracted so much attention last year. Christopher Go took this image on January 21, 2012.
     

    All descriptions that relate to your horizon — including the words up, down, right, and left — are written for the world's mid-northern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude (mainly Moon positions) are for North America. Eastern Standard Time (EST) equals Universal Time (also known as UT, UTC, or GMT) minus 5 hours.

    Mars on Dec. 2, 2011
    On the morning of December 2nd Mars was 7.1 arcseconds wide and quite gibbous. Although this stacked video image shows far more than you're likely to see in any telescope visually, the North Polar Cap and its dark collar are becoming more apparent. South is up. S&T's Sean Walker took this image with a 12.5-inch Newtonian reflector and a DMK21AU618 video camera.
    S&T: Sean Walker
    Jupiter on Dec. 2, 2011, at 12:01 UT
    Jupiter's Great Red Spot had just crossed the central meridian when Christopher Go in the Philippines took this world-class image at 12:01UT December 2nd with a 14-inch scope. South is up. "Condition was almost perfect this evening except for some clouds." he writes. "These are some of my best images of Jupiter with the GRS. The dark halo around the GRS is also covering the South Tropical Zone. The North Equatorial Belt is narrowing, making the dark ovals prominent."
    Jupiter (magnitude –2.7, at the Aries-Pisces border) blazes high in the southeast after dusk and highest in the south around 8 or 9 p.m. In a telescope Jupiter appears 46 arcseconds wide. See our guide to observing Jupiter with a telescope.

    Saturn (magnitude +0.8) glows in the southeast well before dawn, with Spica (its near twin for brightness at magnitude +1.0) 5° to its right. Brighter Arcturus shines far to their left or upper left.

    Uranus (magnitude 5.8, near the Circlet of Pisces) and Neptune (magnitude 7.9, at the Aquarius-Capricornus border) are in the south and southwest early in the evening. Use our printable finder chart for both, or see the September Sky & Telescope, page 53.


    I Mars is on its way to opposition next March 2012, when it will reach a width of 13.9 arcseconds.

    Mars on Nov. 2, 2011
    With a diameter of just over 6 arcseconds, Mars still isn't much to look at in a telescope. But stacked-video imaging can work wonders. On the morning of November 2nd, Sky & Telescope's imaging editor Sean Walker assembled this shot using a 12.5-inch Newtonian reflector at f/44, a DMK 21AU618.AS video camera, and Astrodon RGB filters.

    South is up; the north polar region is at bottom. The Solis Lacus area is near top, foreshortened.

    S&T: Sean Walker


    Jupiter on Nov. 26, 2011. South is up. "The North Equatorial Belt is quiet and narrow," writes imager Christopher Go. " Note the small dark spot on the NEBn. The SEB is busy. Note the wide dark band [just] south of the SEB!" The time was 13:12 UT. The System II longitude on the central meridian was 37°.
    Jupiter (magnitude –2.8, at the Aries-Pisces border) blazes high in the east at dusk and highest in the south by late evening. In a telescope Jupiter still appears a big 48 arcseconds wide. See our guide to observing Jupiter with a telescope.

    Saturn (magnitude +0.8) is fairly low in the east-southeast as dawn begins, a little higher every morning. Spica (magnitude +1.0) sparkles 4° to its right. Brighter Arcturus shines far to their left or upper left.

    Uranus (magnitude 5.8, near the Circlet of Pisces) and Neptune (magnitude 7.9, at the Aquarius-Capricornus border) are well placed in the southern sky early in the evening. Use our printable finder chart for both, or see the September Sky & Telescope, page 53.


    All descriptions that relate to your horizon — including the words up, down, right, and left — are written for the world's mid-northern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude (mainly Moon positions) are for North America. Eastern Standard Time (EST) equals Universal Time (also known as UT, UTC, or GMT) minus 5 hours.


     
    Jupiter on Nov. 26, 2011. South is up. "The North Equatorial Belt is quiet and narrow," writes imager Christopher Go. " Note the small dark spot on the NEBn. The SEB is busy. Note the wide dark band [just] south of the SEB!" The time was 13:12 UT. The System II longitude on the central meridian was 37°.
    Jupiter (magnitude –2.8, at the Aries-Pisces border) blazes high in the east at dusk and highest in the south by late evening. In a telescope Jupiter still appears a big 48 arcseconds wide. See our guide to observing Jupiter with a telescope.

    Saturn (magnitude +0.8) is fairly low in the east-southeast as dawn begins, a little higher every morning. Spica (magnitude +1.0) sparkles 4° to its right. Brighter Arcturus shines far to their left or upper left.

    Uranus (magnitude 5.8, near the Circlet of Pisces) and Neptune (magnitude 7.9, at the Aquarius-Capricornus border) are well placed in the southern sky early in the evening. Use our printable finder chart for both, or see the September Sky & Telescope, page 53.


    All descriptions that relate to your horizon — including the words up, down, right, and left — are written for the world's mid-northern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude (mainly Moon positions) are for North America. Eastern Standard Time (EST) equals Universal Time (also known as UT, UTC, or GMT) minus 5 hours.

    Jupiter on Nov. 5, 2011
    Io was casting its shadow onto Jupiter's Great Red Spot when S&T's Sean Walker took this image on the evening of November 5th. South is to the upper right. The reddish South Equatorial Belt remains wider (and bicolored) compared to the North Equatorial Belt. Walker used the same imaging setup as for Mars above.
    S&T: Sean Walker
    Jupiter (magnitude –2.9, at the Aries-Pisces border) blazes high in the east at dusk and higher in the southeast to south later in the evening. In a telescope Jupiter still appears a big 49 arcseconds wide. See our guide to observing Jupiter with a telescope.

    Saturn (magnitude +0.8) is low in the east-southeast as dawn begins, a little higher every morning. Spot sparkly Spica (magnitude +1.0) 4½° to its right or lower right. Brighter Arcturus shines far to their left or upper left.

    Uranus (magnitude 5.8, in Pisces) and Neptune (magnitude 7.9, in Aquarius) are well placed in the southern sky early in the evening. Use our printable finder chart for both, or see the September Sky & Telescope, page 53.


    All descriptions that relate to your horizon — including the words up, down, right, and left — are written for the world's mid-northern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude (mainly Moon positions) are for North America. Eastern Standard Time (EST) equals Universal Time (also known as UT, UTC, or GMT) minus 5 hours.


  • Mars on Nov. 2, 2011
    With a diameter of only 6 arcseconds, Mars still isn't much to look at in a telescope. But stacked-video imaging can work wonders. On the morning of November 2nd, Sky & Telescope's imaging editor Sean Walker assembled this shot using a 12.5-inch Newtonian reflector at f/44, a DMK 21AU618.AS video camera, and Astrodon RGB filters.

    South is up; the north polar region is at bottom. The Solis Lacus area is near top, foreshortened.

    S&T: Sean Walker

    Jupiter (magnitude –2.9, in southern Aries) continues blazing unusually brightly now that it's just past opposition. It's low in the east-northeast in twilight, higher in the east to southeast through the evening, and stands highest in the south by the middle of the night.

    Jupiter on Nov. 1, 2011
    Jupiter was a big 49.6 arcseconds wide when S&T's Sean Walker took this image on the evening of November 1st. South is to the upper right. The reddish South Equatorial Belt remains wider (and bicolored) compared to the North Equatorial Belt. Walker used the same imaging setup as for Mars above.
    S&T: Sean Walker

    NEW BOOK: Sue French's DEEP-SKY WONDERS! This big, long-awaited observing guide by Sky & Telescope's Sue French is now available from Shop at Sky. Hefty and lavishly illustrated, it contains Sue’s 100 favorite sky tours (25 per season, with finder charts) from her 11 years of writing the Celestial Sampler and Deep-Sky Wonders columns for S&T.


     
     
  • Jupiter on Sept. 19, 2011
    Io and darker Callisto were just east of Jupiter when S&T's Sean Walker imaged the scene on the morning of September 19th. South is up. Note the reddish Oval BA, "Red Spot Junior," just past the central meridian in the South Temperate Belt.
    S&T: Sean Walker
     
     

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    Jupiter on Feb. 11, 2011
    "Jupiter is getting more difficult now," writes imager Christopher Go in the Philippines. He caught this view of the re-formed South Equatorial Belt (above center) in twilight on February 11th just before Jupiter disappeared behind his building's roof.

    The Great Red Spot is at left. "The SEB is already red in this area and it is also very turbulent," he notes. "The NEB is dark red, and note the dark and white ovals on the NEBn." South is up.



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  •    SCROLL DOWN BELOW THE PHOTOS TO SEE THE STAR CHARTS & CURRENT SKY  DATA





  • Algol comparison-star map
    Algol (Beta Persei) was the first eclipsing variable star discovered. Good comparison stars are Gamma Andromedae to Algol's west, magnitude 2.1, and Epsilon Persei to its east, magnitude 2.9. Click chart for larger view.
    Sky & Telescope illustration
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  • Sky at a Glance is now an iPhone app! Put S&T SkyWeek on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch and get the above listings anytime, anywhere — with interactive sky maps! Tap a button to see the scene described, customized for your location worldwide. From there you can scroll the view all around the sky, zoom in or out, change to any time or date, and turn on animation. Go to Apple's iTunes store from your device and buy S&T SkyWeek — just 99 cents!





    Jupiter on Nov. 24, 2010
    By November 24th, dark material was spreading far from the outbreak region.
    Want to become a better amateur astronomer? Learn your way around the constellations. They're the key to locating everything fainter and deeper to hunt with binoculars or a telescope.

    For an easy-to-use constellation guide covering the whole evening sky, use the big monthly map in the center of each issue of Sky & Telescope, the essential magazine of astronomy. Or download our free Getting Started in Astronomy booklet (which only has bimonthly maps).

    Once you get a telescope, to put it to good use you must have a detailed, large-scale sky atlas (set of charts). The standards are the Pocket Sky Atlas, which shows stars to magnitude 7.6; the larger Sky Atlas 2000.0 (stars to magnitude 8.5); and the even larger and deeper Uranometria 2000.0 (stars to magnitude 9.75). And read how to use your charts effectively.

    You'll also want a good deep-sky guidebook, such as Sky Atlas 2000.0 Companion by Strong and Sinnott, or the more detailed and descriptive Night Sky Observer's Guide by Kepple and Sanner, or the classic if dated Burnham's Celestial Handbook.



     
    This Week's Planet Roundup
  • Saturn on Feb. 6, 2011
    Saturn's dispersing white spot "looks like a comet," wrote Christopher Go. As of March 2nd its head had moved far around the planet to about System III longitude 120°. This image (taken February 6th) exaggerates its contrast. South is up. Click for animation of several images spanning 33 minutes of Saturn's rotation. And see an even more awesome Cassini image.
  • Saturn on April 16, 2011
    Saturn on April 16th. South is up. Note the broad, greenish double band below center — the remains of the great white spot — and the broad reddish belts north and south of it. The Equatorial Zone remains bright. Now that Saturn is well past its April 3rd opposition, the rings have faded back to their normal brightness.
      This Week's Planet Roundup

     

    See our article on the whole next month of this dawn parade — with daily panels in an animation.

    Saturn on April 26, 2011
    Saturn's white spot has erupted again! The head of the pale streamer wrapping around the planet has brightened up, as seen in this image taken by Christopher Go on April 26th (at 12:54 UT; System III central-meridian longitude 274°). Compare with Go's images of the area one day earlier (scroll down to "April 25").

    Also see his animation there of several images confirming dark spokes on the left (celestial west) side of the bright B ring on April 25th. On his website, images are north up.

     
    Jupiter on June 8, 2011
    Jupiter is coming into better view now in the dawn, but it's still very far from its best. Christopher Go obtained this fine stacked-video image on June 8th. Jupiter's dark South Equatorial Belt (above center) has fully returned and is very wide. The narrower North Equatorial Belt remains darker red-brown, with even darker barges. At the time of the photo the Great Red Spot had just barely passed the planet's central meridian (where the System II longitude was 163°). The SEB practically encompasses the Red Spot, and the Red Spot Hollow around the spot has changed from white to dark. South is up.
    Christopher Go.

    This Week's Planet Roundup
     

    Mercury and Venus are hidden in the glare of the Sun.

    Mars (magnitude +1.4, crossing from Taurus into Gemini) glows dim and distant low in the east-northeast before and during dawn. It's lower right of Capella and lower left of Aldebaran. In a telescope, Mars is just a tiny blob only 4.4 arcseconds in diameter. It's on its way to a poor opposition (13.9 arcseconds wide) next March.

    Jupiter on July 28, 2011
    Jupiter on the morning of July 28th, imaged by S&T's Sean Walker. The South Equatorial Belt (above center) remains wide; the North Equatorial Belt remains narrow and darker red-brown. The black dot is the shadow of Europa. Walker used a 12.5-inch Newtonian telescope and an Imaging Source camera during "fairly good" seeing.
    S&T: Sean Walker
    Jupiter (magnitude –2.4, in southern Aries) rises in the east around midnight daylight saving time. Look above it for the little star pattern of Aries and (once Jupiter is well up) closer below it for the head of Cetus, rather dim. By dawn Jupiter shines very high in the southeast.

    Saturn (magnitude +0.9, in Virgo) is sinking ever lower in the west-southwest at dusk. Look 12° left of it for Spica and 2° right or lower right of it for fainter Gamma Virginis (Porrima).

    Uranus (magnitude 5.8, in western Pisces) and Neptune (magnitude 7.8, in western Aquarius) are well up in the east or southeast after midnight. Here's our printable finder chart for both.

    Pluto (magnitude 14.0, in northern Sagittarius) is highest in the south soon after dark. A big finder chart for it is in the July Sky & Telescope, page 64.

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    Saturn on May 12, 2011
    Saturn's white spot continues re-erupting! The head of the pale streamer wrapping around the planet has rebrightened with new upwelling material, as seen in this image taken by Christopher Go on May 12th (at 13:32 UT; System III central-meridian longitude 314°). "The old and new materials are interacting, forming bright and complex features," he writes. South here is up.

    Also see his gif animation or wmv animation of several more images taken over the course of 84 minutes, confirming dark spoke markings on the celestial east (following) side of the bright B ring. In the animations, north is up.



  • All descriptions that relate to your horizon — including the words up, down, right, and left — are written for the world's mid-northern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude (mainly Moon positions) are for North America. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) equals Universal Time (also known as UT, UTC, or GMT) minus 4 hours.

     

  • Saturn on Feb. 11, 2011
    The other side of Saturn, imaged by Go on February 11th. The dark, reddish South Equatorial Belt can be seen just south of the ring. South is up.
     

    All descriptions that relate to your horizon — including the words up, down, right, and left — are written for the world's mid-northern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude (mainly Moon positions) are for North America. Eastern Standard Time (EST) equals Universal Time (also known as UT, UTC, or GMT) minus 5 hours. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) is UT minus 4 hours.

    Jupiter on Jan. 9, 2011
    Jupiter's South Equatorial Belt (above center) continues to thicken and strengthen, even as Jupiter recedes into the distance for Earthly observers. Note the SEB's ragged, gray appearance compared to the smoother, red-brown North Equatorial Belt. (South is up.)

    Christopher Go in the Philippines took this stacked-video image at 10:30 UT January 9, 2011, when the longitude on Jupiter's central meridian was 315° (System II).


  • Saturn with white storm, Jan. 2, 2010
    If you haven't been watching Saturn before dawn, get out there! Its huge white outbreak, now a month old, has spread far around the planet and is easily visible in amateur telescopes when it's facing Earth — though not so vividly as in these extraordinary images. Don Parker in Florida shot them with a 16-inch reflector and a Luminera Skynyx II-0 camera on the morning of January 2, 2010, at 10:09 and 11:30 UT. "On these images the storm extends from 267° to 325° [System III longitude]," he writes. South is up.
    Donald C. Parker 

    In a telescope, Saturn's gigantic new white spot has spread far around the planet! See our article Saturn's New Bright Storm. Here are predicted transit times (through January 27th) for when the storm's original outbreak site crosses the center of Saturn's disk as seen from Earth.


  • Jupiter Dec. 13, 2010
    By December 13th, the dark markings issuing from the South Equatorial Belt Outbreak formed a very obvious, turbulent diagonal line most of the way around the planet. It's now detectable visually in almost any telescope capable of showing belts on Jupiter. Note also the activity in the North Equatorial Belt and the great blue festoons in the bright Equatorial Zone. Christopher Go took this image at 11:15 UT, when the central-meridian longitude (System II) was 267°. South is up.
    Jupiter on Dec. 15, 2010
    Jupiter's other side, on December 15th. The central-meridian longitude (System II) was 163°. South is up. Note the thin streamer of dark material all the way across the disk just above the bright Equatorial Zone. It's from the South Equatorial Belt Outbreak on the far side of the planet, now more than a month old.
    As for the Great Red Spot, it's near System II longitude 157°. Assuming it stays there, here's a list to print out of all the Great Red Spot's predicted transit times for the rest of this observing season. 
    Saturn on Dec. 13, 2010
    Saturn's new white spot leaps out from this stacked-video image made by Christopher Go with his 11-inch scope. "I was even able to see it distinctly visually!" he writes. He took the image at 20:39 UT December 13th. The spot was at System III longitude 261° and is moving toward higher longitudes. South is up.
    Neptune (magnitude 7.9, in Capricornus) is still in the southwest right after dark. See our finder charts for Uranus and Neptune online or (with article) in the September Sky & Telescope, page 56.

    All descriptions that relate to your horizon — including the words up, down, right, and left — are written for the world's mid-northern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude (mainly Moon positions) are for North America. Eastern Standard Time (EST) equals Universal Time (also known as UT, UTC, or GMT) minus 5 hours.






  • Here's a list to print out of all the Great Red Spot's predicted transit times for the rest of 2010. best lower in the south.
     
     

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  • The  Virgo Galaxy Cluster region
    The realm of the Virgo Cluster galaxies, as seen by Northern Hemisphere observers on spring evenings.
  •  Click the image for a view into the boxed region, on the Virgo-Coma Berenices border.
    Akira Fujii
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    Jupiter on June 25, 2010
    Jupiter's Great Red Spot is still floating free in the absence of the South Equatorial Belt. Christopher Go took the bottom image at 20:32 UT June 25th, and the top image 24 minutes later. South is up.
     


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    Jupiter with two red spots, Aug. 30, 2010
    This is an amateur image? Taken from Earth? Star planetary imager Anthony Wesley in Australia took this stacked-video image on August 30th at 17:38 UT, using the 14.5-inch Newtonian reflector he's pictured with below.

    Jupter's Oval BA, also known as Red Spot Junior, has just passed the Great Red Spot without any visible effect on either. Here, Junior is just south of the Great Red Spot.


    Anthony Wesley and discovery telescope
    Anthony Wesley with his 14.5-inch reflector, seven hours after his historic pre-dawn discovery of the impact flare on Jupiter on June 3, 2010.

     
  • Jupiter on Sept. 16, 2010
    Right on schedule, Jupiter's Great Red Spot (GRS) was crossing the planet's central meridian when Christopher Go in the Philippines took this image at 15:29 UT Sept. 16, 2010. Just to its upper left is pale Red Spot Junior (Oval BA), which has finally passed the GRS with no apparent effect on either. Notice too the pale hints of the South Equatorial Belt coming back into view, including the dent in it below the GRS known as the Red Spot Hollow. On the other side of the equator, the North Equatorial Belt is full of busy activity. South is up.

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    Jupiter on July 31, 2010
    The side of Jupiter away from the Great Red Spot is still showing only very thin, broken traces of the South Equatorial Belt (SEB). The SEB is normally about as wide and dark as the North Equatorial Belt, seen here below center. The SEB probably still exists but is hidden under a new layer of white, high-altitude ammonia clouds. These clouds could start to clear at any time, allowing a view once again of the belt below.

    S&T's Sean Walker took this image ABOVE from New Hampshire on the morning of 2010 July 31st, at 7:47 UT = 3:47 AM EDT. The satellite at lower right is sulfury Io.

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  • GREAT PLANETARY PHOTOS BELOW FROM EARLIER IN 2010

    Mars on Jan. 22, 2009
    Mars was showing its "bland side" when S&T's Sean Walker took this image on the morning of     January 22nd. The central-meridian longitude was 153°, with dark Mare Sirenum at top and Olympus Mons, marked by a small white cloud, just past (left of) the central meridian. The north polar cap remains dazzlingly prominent with a wide dark collar. Note the clouds near the left (celestial west; preceding) limb. South is up.

    Walker used a 14-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope and a DMK21AU04.AS video camera. Stacked-video imagery like this shows detail on a planet much more clearly than the eye can see through the same telescope. 


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  • Mars on March 3, 2010
    Mars was Gibbous  ; it's many months past opposition. The north polar cap (bottom)was big and bright despite the advance of spring in the Martian northern hemisphere. At center-left is dark Syrtis Major; at upper right are dark Sinus Sabaeus and Sinus Meridiani. At top, the Hellas region is slightly bright.

    Christopher Go in the Philippines took this image at 14:00 UT March 3rd, when the central meridian longitude was 321°. Stacked-video imagery like this can show detail on a planet much more clearly than the eye can see through the same telescope.

     Saturn was at opposition  on the night of March 21st. Saturn glows low in the east at nightfall, higher in the southeast late in the evening, and highest in the south around 1 or 2 a.m. daylight saving time. In a telescope, Saturn's rings are tilted only 3.4° from edge-on. They'll narrow further to 1.7° by May 26th.
    Saturn on March 13, 2010, with SED
    The giant, long-lived thunderstorm on Saturn known as the Saturn Electrostatic Disturbance (SED), a source of radio emissions detected by the Cassini spacecraft, has returned to amateur visibility as a small white spot, at least for users of large scopes and/or during moments of excellent seeing. It's above center barely past the central meridian here. "The SED is really brightening now!" writes Christopher Go, who took this image. "It is much more prominent than when I last imaged it." How bright might it become?

    Go took this image at 16:48 UT March 13, 2010. The spot is near System III longitude 0°, System II longitude 236°. In addition, he notes, "The [dark] South Equatorial Belt is very prominent, while the North Equatorial Belt looks faint. There are a lot of band details, especially in the northern hemisphere."

    Little Dione is in the background below the right end of the rings. South is up. Click image for a .wmv movie of eight images (with north up).


     



  •    Jupiter on Dec. 30, 2009
    Just when Jupiter is becoming low, distant, and harder to observe well telescopically, things are getting interesting! The South Equatorial Belt has faded to the point that it's almost gone, especially its southern half. And the Great Red Spot, now floating free with barely a trace of the Red Spot Hollow north of it, seems to have darkened.

    Christopher Go took these stacked-video images 19 minutes apart on 2009 December 30th, during "surprisingly good" seeing in twilight. The System II central-meridian longitude was 146° and 157°, respectively. South is up.

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    Dark Syrtis Major was almost dead center on Mars when Ian Sharp in Britain took this image at 0:54 UT 2010 January 4. The North Polar Cap is huge and obvious. The slightly bright region on the southern limb (top) is the dusty Hellas basin. The central meridian longitude was 280°. South is up.

    Stacked-video images like this will generally show much more detail on a planet than can be seen by eye even through the same telescope.

  • In a telescope Mars was 14 arcseconds wide, essentially as large as possible this year. The big, white north polar cap is in fine view, bordered by a very wide dark zone. Identify other surface features using the Mars map and observing guide in the December Sky & Telescope, page 57. Mars was closest to Earth on January 27th, when it was 14.1 arcseconds wide at its opposition on Jan 29th.

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    Mars on Jan. 26, 2010
    This ANIMATION includes FIVE images spanning 90 minutes of Mars's rotation, taken by S&T's Sean Walker on the evening of January 26, 2010. The Solis Lacus/ Tithonius Lacus complex is rotating away at upper left, and dark, narrow Mare Sirenum is coming into view at top right. Note the small, extra-bright white patch in the north polar cap. South is up.

    Walker used a 14-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope and a DMK21AU04.AS camera to take stacked-video still images. These can show detail on a planet much more clearly than the eye can see through the same telescope.

    S&T: Sean Walker
     

         MARS PHOTO BELOW TAKEN 2010 FEB 2

    Mars on Feb. 2-3, 2010
    Dramatic things are happening on Mars's north polar cap (bottom) as it shrinks in the Martian springtime. Note the yellow dust storm on the cap's left side here, and the dulling of its right side compared to recent imagery in which it was bright white. At top are dark Mare Erythraeum, Margaritifer Sinus, Aurorae Sinus, and the Solis Lacus region. Lower left of center are dark Niliacus Lacus and Mare Acidalium. Note the many white clouds.

    Veteran planetary imager Donald C. Parker of Coral Gables, Florida, took this superb image on the evening of February 2nd (at 4:00 Feb. 3 Universal Time), when the central meridian longitude was 62°. Click on the image above for larger views
    and more information.
    South is up.

    Parker used a 16-inch Newtonian reflector and a Skynyx 2-0 camera. Stacked-video imagery like this can show detail on a planet much more clearly than the eye can see through the same telescope.

       
  • All descriptions that relate to your horizon or zenith — including the words up, down, right, and left — are written for the world's mid-northern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude (mainly Moon positions) are for North America. Eastern Standard Time (EST) equals Universal Time (also known as UT, UTC, World Time, or GMT) minus 5 hours.



    "Science is built up of facts, as a house is with stones. But a collection of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house."

    — Henri Poincaré (1854–1912)


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         THE MORNING SKY CHART FOR 2012 MAY 6th at 9 PM EDT
     
                       
       SCROLL DOWN TO SEE THE STAR CHARTS & DATA

     NOTE THAT WHEN AN OBJECT  IS ON THE MERIDIAN DUE SOUTH
     IT  IS  AT  ITS  HIGHEST POSITION POSSIBLE FOR THE NIGHT -  WE THEN SAY IT TRANSITS

    THE MERIDIAN IS THE ARTIFICIAL  NORTH - SOUTH LINE  WHICH DIVIDES THE SKY
    INTO EAST AND WEST HALVES. THE "M" IN AM AND PM STANDS FOR MERIDIAN.
    THE "A" IS ANTE MEANING BEFORE AND "P" IS POST MEANING AFTER -
    SO "AM" IS BEFORE THE SUN REACHES THE MERIDIAN AND "PM" IS AFTER.
    NOON IS NOT  12 AM OR 12 PM  -- IT IS JUST  12 M
    WHEN THE SUN IS ON THE MERIDIAN - NEITHER BEFORE NOR AFTER
    BUT IT IS RARE TO SEE THIS CORRECT WAY OF REPRESENTING NOON


     

     





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    THE EVENING SKY DATA FOR 2012 MAY 6th BELOW


     

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    NOTE THAT SATURN  IS NOW TRANSITING AT 11:28 PM EST ON MAY 6th  WITH ITS RINGS OPEN TO  13.1  DEGREES AND WILL LESSEN DUE TO OUR MOTION ON EARTH UNTIL A MINIMUM FOR 2012
    IS REACHED ON JUNE 18 OF 12.497 DEGREES. A WIDE RING ANGLE OF 19 DEGREES WILL BE REACHED
    BY 2013 JANUARY 9 AND WILL CONTINUE TO OPEN UP MORE.

    VENUS AT MAGNITUDE -4.7 SETTING AT 11:11 PM  .

     VENUS  IS NOW AT A CLOSE DISTANCE OF 37.6 MILLION MILES
    AT AN ANGULAR DIAMETER OF ONLY 41 ARC SECONDS ON  2012 MAY 6th.

    JUPITER SETS ONLY 21 MINUTES AFTER THE SUN SO IT IS LOST IN THE SUN'S GLARE.
    SUPERIOR CONJUNCTION OCCURS ON 2012 MAY 13 WHEN JUPITER WILL SLOWLY APPEAR IN THE MORNING SKY
     
     

    THE NEXT TIME VENUS COMES BETWEEN THE EARTH AND THE SUN, VENUS WILL GO ACROSS THE SUN's SURFACE - A TRANSIT OF VENUS ON 2012 JUNE 5 - NOT TO OCCUR AGAIN UNTIL 2117 DECEMBER 11 (FOR THE EASTERN HEMISPHERE).
    THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE GETS TO SEE THE  FOLLOWING ONE AFTER THAT
     ON 2125 DECEMBER 8.

     

    THE EARTH WAS AT ITS MEAN DISTANCE FROM THE SUN - 92,955,807 MILES - ON
    2012 APRIL 3rd at  9:38.25 AM EDT
    - ONE ASTRONOMICAL UNIT (AU) 

     

     NOTE THAT THE EARTH WAS  CLOSEST TO THE SUN  (CALLED PERIHELION)
    ON 2012 JANUARY 4TH - 8:32 PM EST -  91.401974 MILLION MILES

    THE EARTH WILL BE  FARTHEST FROM THE SUN  ON 
    2012 JULY 4th at 11:32 PM EDT
    AT A DISTANCE OF 94,505,846 MILES FROM THE SUN  (CALLED  APHELION)

     

     

       


     


     
     

     


               
     

     
     

     





     

     
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    WHERE IS SATURN ?

     
    SATURN  IS NOW RISING AT 5:50 AM  AND HIGHEST UP IN THE SOUTH AT 11:28 PM EDT
     ON 2012 MAY 6th.
     
    SATURN IS NOW A CLOSE 816.872 MILLION MILES FROM EARTH - ITS EQUATORIAL DISC DIAMETER NOW IS 18.93  ARCSECONDS
    HAVING REACHED A MAXIMUM THIS YEAR OF 19.06 SECONDS AT OPPOSITION ON 2012 APRIL 15 WHEN IST DISTANCE WAS
    810.53 MILLION MILES.
     "

    THE RINGS ON 2012 MAY 6th ARE NOW OPENED UP TO AN ANGLE OF 13.1 DEGREES.
     

    SEE MORE ON THIS ON MY SATURN PAGES AT LEFT MENU.

     

    THE LAST OPPOSITION AND CLOSEST APPROACH OF SATURN TO THE EARTH WAS
    ON 20112 APRIL 3rd  - 810.53 MILLION MILES - ALMOST 10 MILLION MILES
    FARTHER THAN IN 2011. SATURN WAS 19.1 ARC SECONDS IN APPARENT DIAMETER.

    BEFORE THE 2011  OPPOSITION ONE OCCURRED ON 2010 MARCH 21 at 8:37 PM EDT - 790.480 MILL MILES
    CLOSEST  TO EARTH  ON  2010 MARCH 21 AT  6:11 PM EDT - 790.4794 MILLION MILES


    SATURN WAS AT 810.53 MILLION MILES AT THE 2012 APRIL 15th OPPOSITION -
    ANOTHER 10 MILLION MILES FURTHER AS THE OPPOSITIONS ARE OCCURRING CLOSER TO
    SATURN'S APHELION WHICH OCCURS ON 2018 APRIL 16 - 935.66 MILLION MILES FROM THE SUN.
    THE OPPOSITION ON 2018 JUNE 27 IS AT A DISTANT 841.14 MILLION MILES.

    IN CONTRAST THE OPPOSITION OF 2003 DECEMBER 31st WAS ONLY 748.3 MILLION MILES FROM EARTH.

    THE NEXT CLOSEST APPROACH OF SATURN TO THE EARTH OCCURS ON 2032 DECEMBER 24 - 746.58 MILLION MILES.
     

       SATURN'S RINGS BECAME  EDGEWISE TO THE SUN ON  2009 AUG 10-11 AND
    TO THE EARTH ON 2009 SEPTEMBER 4

      THE RING ANGLE REACHED A MINIMUM IN 2010 OF ONLY 1.67 DEGREES
     ON MAY 26th.  THEY  OPENED UP TO 10.1 DEGREES AT THE BEGINNING OF 2011
    AND WILL REACH 14.8 DEGREES BY THE END OF 2011.

     SEE MY SATURN AND SATURN RINGS PAGES AT LEFT MENU

     

                 

      

       MORE DIAGRAMS AND DATA ON SATURN PAGES at Left Menu
          
                    

    Saturn on Nov. 22, 2008
    Saturn's rings were tilted just 1.5° from edge-on when Christopher Go took this image on November 22, 2008. Note their very prominent shadow on Saturn's globe. South is up.
     
     
     

     



                                                 
     
     
     

     

     
     
      


     

     

     



      

     

     

     
     

     

     

     

     


     

     

     

     


     



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    ASTRONOMY PICTURE OF THE DAY FOR 2009 March 4 

    See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.

    Saturn on 2009 Feb 28
    Credit & Copyright: Jean-Luc Dauvergne, Francois Colas, OMP

    Explanation: Very good telescopic views of Saturn can be expected in the coming days as the ringed planet nears opposition on March 8th, its closest approach to Earth in 2009. Of course, opposition means opposite the Sun in planet Earth's sky - an arrangement that occurs almost yearly for Saturn. But while Saturn itself grows larger in telescopic images, Saturn's rings seem to be vanishing as their tilt to our line-of-sight decreases. In fact, the rings will be nearly invisible, edge-on from our perspective, by September 4. Recorded on February 28, this sharp image was made with the 1 meter telescope at Pic Du Midi, a mountain top observatory in the French Pyrenees. The rings are seen to be tilted nearly edge-on, but remarkable details are visible in the gas giant's cloud bands at a ring angle of 2.3 degrees to the earth. The icy moon Tethys appears just beyond the rings at the lower left.


     











    ASTEROID FLYBY: "At midnight on 2008 Oct. 23rd, I began my lonely vigil," says Dennis Simmons of Brisbane, Australia. "I was hunting for 2008 TT26, a 70-meter asteroid scheduled to pass less than a million miles from our home planet Earth. What I hadn't anticipated was the frantic pace set by the little space rock as it zoomed through my field of view!" He captured this movie using a 9-inch Celestron telescope and an SBIG ST7e CCD camera


    Click on the image for photo details

    Although on the scale of asteroids 2008 TT26 is small, it is still a dangerous object, about twice as wide as the mystery-rock that caused the Tunguska event of 1908. Fortunately, 2008 TT26 was beyond the orbit of the Moon when it made its closest approach on Oct. 23rd.

    "Later that morning," says Simmons, "having seen the animation, my wife humoured my efforts, thanking me for keeping watch on the fast approaching lump of rock while she had slept soundly, glad that somewhat was looking out for planet Earth!"

    more images: from Leonid Elenin of Mayhill, New Mexico

    FROM  www.Spaceweather.com




        















                




















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