Wandering through the realms of the cosmos, pondering its huge vastness

Astronomical Events

May 10, 2013 Annular Solar Eclipse

An annular solar eclipse will occur on May 9-10, 2013 (depending on your location). During an annular eclipse, the Moon is near its farthest distance from Earth (i.e., near its apogee) so it appears slightly smaller than the Sun’s disk. Since the Moon doesn’t cover the Sun completely, this leaves a bright ring of sunlight surrounding the Moon’s disk, often called the “Ring of Fire” effect. About 95% of the solar disk will be eclipsed by the Moon.

Screenshot from the live webcast from SLOOH Space Camera during the May 20, 2012 annular eclipse.

Screenshot from the live webcast from SLOOH Space Camera during the May 20, 2012 annular eclipse. (via Universe Today)

Visibility

The path of annularity of the eclipse passes through parts of North Australia, SE Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, provided the weather cooperates. Partial eclipse will be seen in a much broader path, which includes other parts of Australia, Eastern Indonesia, Oceania and Southern Philippines.

Overview_map_of_the_annular_solar_eclipse_of_10_May_2013

Global visibility of the eclipse courtesy of Michael Zeiler of Eclipse-Maps.com

Time table Worldwide

Eclipse circumstances                               UTC             Philippine Time
First location to see partial eclipse begin 9 May, 21:25   10 May, 05:25
First location to see full Eclipse begin 9 May, 22:31   10 May, 06:31
Maximum Eclipse 10 May, 00:23   10 May, 08:23
Last location to see full Eclipse end 10 May, 02:20   10 May, 10:20
Last location to see partial Eclipse end 10 May, 03:25   10 May, 11:25

The eclipse can be observed from 6:08 am until 7:34 am in the Philippines. For local observers, please check the gallery below to give you and idea on how the eclipse would look like for selected localities. Other locations nearby will also see similar views.

Partial eclipse as seen from various locations in the Philippines at maximum eclipse, 6:41 a.m. local time. Simulated in Stellarium. Hover your mouse over an image to view the location.

PAGASA indicated the areas where the eclipse can be observed, including Sorsogon, Masbate, Roxas City, Puerto Princesa City, Cebu, Tacloban, Dumaguete, Surigao, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Zamboanga, Hinatuan, Cotabato, Jolo, Davao, and General Santos. It also created a table of local times for viewing the eclipse for the above-mentioned locations.

Note that the eclipse is not visible in Luzon except in the southern tip.

Eclipse circumstances for selected locations in the southern part of the Philippines courtesy of PAGASA.

Eclipse circumstances for selected locations in the southern part of the Philippines courtesy of PAGASA.

Viewing the Eclipse SAFELY

For observers along the path of the eclipse, astronomers recommend using either a professionally manufactured solar filter in front of a telescope or camera, or eclipse-viewing glasses that sufficiently reduce the sun’s brightness and filter out damaging ultraviolet and infrared radiation. NEVER attempt to observe the partial or annular phases of any eclipse with the naked eye. Failure to use appropriate filtration may result in permanent eye damage or blindness!

A view of the crescent sun during eclipse maximum of the May 21, 2012 solar eclipse in the Philippines. Image taken using a hand-held Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH2 digital camera on a 2-inch refractor telescope with a Baader 5.0 ND solar filter.

Crescent sun during eclipse maximum of the May 21, 2012 partial solar eclipse in the Philippines. Image taken using a hand-held Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH2 digital camera on a 2-inch refractor telescope with a Baader 5.0 ND solar filter.

To view the eclipse safely, Fred Espenak (www.mreclipse.com) compiled here a  list of the acceptable and non-recommended filters for visual observation.

Acceptable filters for unaided visual observations: aluminized polyester specifically designed for solar viewing, shade 12 and 14 welding filters, black polymer filters (Thousand Oaks Solar Shield 2000 and Rainbow Symphony Polymer), and two layers of fully exposed and developed silver-bearing black and white film negative. For photographic and visual use, particularly with binoculars or telescopes, acceptable filters include: aluminized polyester specifically designed for the purpose, and Questar and Thousand Oaks T1 and T2 glass filters. The Thousand Oaks T3 filter should be used with extreme care for photographic use only.

Not recommended: metal-coated polyester that is not specifically intended for solar observation, smoked glass, floppy disk media, black color transparency (slide) film, floppy disk media, and compact disks (because of the inconsistent quality of the metal coating).”

For those who won’t be able to observe the eclipse from their location, you may still watch via live webstreaming of the event.

Clear skies and happy viewing!


Full Harvest Moon 2012

The weather condition has not been at all favorable for observing this year’s Full Harvest Moon, the full moon that comes closest to the autumnal equinox. The Moon last night can be hardly seen because it’s always obscured by clouds. Fortunately, short cloud breaks allowed me to take a few images, but the hazy sky made it difficult to get a correct focus on the moon.

The Harvest Moon has a special place in the agricultural history. Through most of the year, the moon rises each day about 50 minutes later than the day before. However, when the autumnal equinox approaches, the difference in rise times drops to about 25 to 30 minutes and even farther north, the difference is 10 to 15 minutes. As the Harvest Moon rises after sunset, this provides extra minutes of light each evening for farmers to work longer hours to harvest their crops. This is how it got its name.

Below were the images I took last September 30, 2012 using my Canon Powershot SX40 HS camera.

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Skywatching Highlights: August 2012

This month, weather conditions permitting, skywatchers will be treated to the Perseid meteor shower, several planet conjunctions, a “blue moon” and a relatively rare lunar occultation of Jupiter (visible for some parts of the globe).

August 7-14: Spica, Saturn and Mars at Dusk 

The planets Saturn and Mars and the star Spica are close together in the first half of the month, low above the western horizon at dusk. They will form a triangle on the 7th an hour after sunset. Saturn will be the top of the triangle, while Mars will be on the lower right corner. Each side of the triangle is about 5 degrees. On the 14th, they will form an almost straight line: Saturn topmost with Mars lying between Saturn and Spica.

View of the western horizon at dusk on August 7 and 14, 2012 as seen from Manila Philippines. Images were screenshots from Stellarium.

August 12: Occultation of Jupiter by the Moon

For Philippine observers,  the waning crescent Moon will pass in front of Jupiter and its moons during a relatively rare event called occultation on the morning of August 12. In astronomy, an occultation occurs when one object is hidden by another larger object that passes between it and the observer. Prospects and timings for the event vary with location.

The event takes place while Jupiter and the Moon are low in the sky during the wee hours of the morning.

Local circumstances:

2012 Aug 12 02:43 Occultation disappearance of Jupiter (Mag -2.2)
2012 Aug 12 03:16 Occultation reappearance of Io (Mag 5.5)
2012 Aug 12 03:17 Occultation reappearance of Jupiter (Mag -2.2)
2012 Aug 12 03:18 Occultation reappearance of Europa (Mag 5.7)
2012 Aug 12 03:20 Occultation reappearance of Callisto (Mag 6.1)
2012 Aug 12 03:32 Occultation reappearance of Ganymede (Mag 5.0)

source: Pyxis Astronomy Educational Services

Jupiter and its largest satellites passing behind Earth’s moon.Image: Stellarium 

August 11, 12: Perseid Meteor Shower

The Perseids is one of the best annual meteor showers.

The best time to watch for Perseids is between midnight and dawn. This is when the shower’s radiant located between the constellations Cassiopeia and Perseus, lies highest in the northeast sky.

By the 12th, the moon will only be 25% illuminated and not nearly as intense as when near its full phase. This will allow fainter meteors to be seen as long as the moon lies outside your field of view.

Tip: Find a safe dark location with clear skies in the early morning hours in order to see the shower. This year, the shower peaks on a weekend so it’s more convenient to stay up late.

August 14: A line of planets along with a thin, waning, crescent Moon before dawn

Before dawn on the morning of the 14th August the planets Mercury, Venus and Jupiter and the Moon will line up in the eastern sky.  Look for A very thin crescent Moon to the upper right of Mercury an hour before sunrise in the northeast. Venus is to the upper right of the Moon, and a few degrees above them is Jupiter.

August 22: Waxing Crescent Moon joins Saturn, Mars and Spica

On the evening of the 22nd, a waxing crescent Moon, Mars, and Saturn will all lie within a circle just 6° in diameter.

August 31: Blue Moon (second full moon of August)

On the 31st, we will be able to witness a Blue Moon, the term given to the second full Moon in a calendar month.  But don’t expect it to be blue — the term has nothing to do with the color of the moon. [Origin of the term blue moon]

A composite image showing a lunar corona appearing around the full moon last last August 2, 2012

Clear skies!

 


Crescent Moon, Venus and Jupiter at Predawn on July 15th

Eastern sky at 4:00 am local time. Manila, Philippines. Image: Stellarium

Philippine sky observers will have a great chance to see all of the three  brightest objects of the night sky in close proximity to each other this weekend (weather permitting). On the morning of July 15th, the waning crescent moon will join the very bright “stars” Jupiter (upper) and Venus (lower) to form a nice celestial grouping, along with two prominent open star clusters — the Pleiades and the V-shaped Hyades —  in the constellation Taurus.

Venus has reached its greatest illuminated extent in Earth’s sky last July 12. Thus, it appears so dazzling now as a “morning star”  in our predawn sky, near Jupiter.

Meanwhile, in other parts of the globe, this celestial grouping event will be viewed as an occultation of Jupiter by the moon. An occultation is an event in which a celestial body covers another, farther away object, such as when the moon covers a star or a planet or when a planet or an asteroid covers a far away star. For this event, the moon will cover Jupiter for about an hour (the exact time and durtaion of the occultation is  dependent on the observer’s location). View the visibility map and timings of this event from IOTA.

Seeing Jupiter’s occultation is possible with the naked eye, but the look through a telescope, even using a small magnification, is marvelous. At first, two of Jupiter’s large moons (Io and Europa) will disappear behind the moon, then Jupiter will disappear and then the other two moons (Ganymede and Callisto).

Places close to the southeast will witness a ‘grazing occulation’ when Jupiter and its moons will skim the edge of the Moon. This will be well worth seeing through a telescope and Jupiter’s moons may be seen blinking in and out of view as they pass behind the lunar mountains. Further north and west a very close conjunction will be seen.

Don’t worry because even though we won’t be seeing this event in the Philippines this weekend, we are still lucky enough to see a very rare version of such an event next month, during the morning of August 12, 2012. That will be surely worth getting up to see!

jupiter-occultation-jul-201

Moon occulting Jupiter with its moons. Image: Stellarium

Observing occultations can also contribute to science. During the 80’s, Uranus occulated a distant star. Photos of the events showed that just before and after the occultation the star blinked several times. The theory then was developed that Uranus has a set of rings (like Saturn). When Voyager 2 reached Uranus it detected and photographed the predicted rings.

Don’t miss this event. Clear skies!

Related link: List of Notable Celestial Events in 2012


Venus Transit Observation in the Philippines

Viewing the Sun’s mole: People across the globe witnessed a very rare spectacular event that won’t be repeated until 2117.

I observed the whole duration of the  final  Transit of Venus of our lifetime at the College of Science Amphitheater in UP Diliman in a public viewing event  called ‘Rekindling Venus’ organized by members of various school-based astronomy organizations in the Philippines a last June 6, 2012.

There were lectures, talks, astro-images exhibit, free planetarium shows and telescope viewing, and more during the event, which have been attended by a lot of astronomy-enthusiasts coming from different places.

The sky was about 40-50% cloudy that day but it didn’t rain despite the weather forecast.

Observers set up their telescopes and pointed at the sun to view the transit.

Me and my own simple set up featuring my trusty Galileoscope equipped with a Baader 5.0 ND solar filter.

A lecture by Dr. Perry Esguerra of the National Institute of Physics explaining the phenomenon.

All smiles: Members of the UP Astrosoc, UPLB Astrosoc, and RTU Astrosoc posed for a group photo after the event . Image credit: Norman Marigza

Local newsgroups were present during the event and I was unfortunately spotted for a short interview. Haha!

This event was surely a memorable one.

Kudos to all the organizers and thank you to everyone who joined us in this event!


Art and Astronomy: Transit of Venus by Norman Marigza

Transit of Venus (medium: acrylic)

Only a few days left to the last transit of Venus of our lifetimes! Miss it and you won’t be able to witness it until the year 2117.

Amateur and professional astronomers from all over the globe were already gearing up for this big event. There were talks, lectures, public observations, videos, and other several projects and activities initiated by various local groups to promote this event among the public.

But one of  our astro-friends here has another cool way of sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm for this upcoming event, and that is through painting.

Shown above is an artistic depiction of the upcoming Transit of Venus created by Norman Marigza, a young Filipino artist who is also in the field of Physics and Astronomy. According to him, his two greatest passions in life are Art and Astronomy, hence he can do both. He’s surely a gifted person, isn’t he?

To see his other astro-artworks, please visit his website http://blogstargazers.blogspot.com/2010/01/astroart-by-norman.html

During the transit of Venus, we will be able to see the Venus as a small dot gliding slowly across the face of the sun. It happens when Venus passes directly between Earth and the Sun.

Historically, this rare alignment is how we measured the size of our solar system.


Rekindling Venus: Experience A Rare Celestial Event

Next month we will be the last people living today to witness one of the rarest astronomical events. On June 6, a special celestial event called the transit of Venus will take place, and it won’t be repeated in your lifetime.

During the transit, Venus will pass directly in front of the sun from Earth’s perspective, appearing as a small moving black dot.

The entire transit can be witnessed from eastern Asia, eastern Australia, New Zealand and the western Pacific, as well as Alaska, northern Canada and almost all of Greenland.

How rare is this astronomical event?

Transits of Venus occur in a pattern that repeats every 243 years with pairs of transits eight years apart separated by gaps of 121½ years and 105½ years. Only six of these transit have been recorded by civilization: 1639, 1761, 1769, 1874, 1882, and 2004. This June’s transit, the end of the 2004-2012 pair, won’t be repeated until the December 2117. This is the last chance for anyone alive today to see the rare celestial sight. Fortunately, the event is widely visible.

Unlike a total eclipse of the sun, which is visible only within a long narrow track traced by the moon’s shadow, during the 2012 transit of Venus the entire hemisphere of Earth facing the sun will get to see at least part of the planet’s solar crossing.

Importance

Astronomers during the 18th Century travelled thousands of miles and risked their lives to witness this precious sight.

They did so because they believed Venus held the key to the most pressing astronomical quest of the age: the size of the solar system.

In 1716, astronomer Edmund Halley realized that by timing the transits of 1761 and 1769 from widely-spaced locations on Earth it should be possible to triangulate the distance to Venus using the principles of parallax and give the distance between Earth and the Sun.

For astronomers today, the Transit of Venus offers a chance to gain insights into the planet’s notoriously thick, cloudy atmosphere, and use the refraction of sunlight to finetune techniques for hunting planets orbiting distant stars.

One of the most useful exercises will be to compare observations of the transit made by Earth-based telescopes, orbital telescopes and robot probes.

The Transit of Venus (TOV) is among the rarest astronomical phenomena and won’t happen again until the year 2117. So prepare now, and don’t miss out on this extremely special event!

Observing the TOV from the Philippines

Filipinos are lucky because the entire Philippines is well positioned to witness the transit of Venus on Wednesday 6th June 2012.

To those who are planning to observe this rare event, you might just be interested in joining us in this free public viewing.

Rekindling Venus
June 06 2012, 6am – 1pm
College of Science Amphitheater, University of the Philippines Diliman

This event was launched through the collaboration of the Australian Embassy, UP Astronomical Society, UP- Los Banos Astronomical Society, RTU Astronomical Society, DOST-PAGASA and D’Great Rovers.

This event is for FREE and is open to everyone. Even those who would be coming from other parts of the globe are invited.

For more details, please visit its Facebook event page:

https://www.facebook.com/events/159096590888136/

Contact Times

Local transit times for Quezon City, Philippines. source: http://transitofvenus.nl/wp/where-when/local-transit-times/

The general transit circumstances can be found here.

Safe Viewing

Warning: NEVER look at the sun with your naked eye, binoculars or a telescope. Serious and permanent eye damage, including blindness, can result.

The Black Drop Effect

The black drop effect occurs when Venus appears to “connect” to the edge of the Sun before actually reaching the edge. You can model the black drop effect by slowly pinching your index finger and thumb together. Your fingers seem to meet even before they touch. This optical phenomenon was originally thought to provide proof of Venus having an atmosphere. For an explanation of the black drop effect, check out the following links:

http://www.transitofvenus.org/history/black-drop
http://www.transitofvenus.nl/blackdrop.html

A YouTube video of modeling the black drop effect with your fingers:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gm_kZd_wGkE

An online simulation of the black drop effect:
http://home.comcast.net/~erniew/astro/bd.html

Other resources if you are looking for more information on the Transit of Venus:


Crescent Sun at Sunrise

This morning, a wonderful view of a golden crescent sun was successfully observed  by a lot of skyviewers using appropriate filters for visual observing and photography. The partial solar eclipse began at sunrise at 5:27 am local time and ended at 7:06 am. Fortunately,  the weather cooperated this time despite bad weather forecasts and continuous rains during the past few days.

In some places like China, Japan, and United States, the event was seen as an annular eclipse which looked like a fiery ring in the sky.

I observed this event along with an Astrosoc orgmate in their house at Marikina City. Their location is great for observing events which can be viewed along the eastern sky. Moreover, it is also high enough to give a very good vantage point.

Only a few minutes after sunrise, a big yellowish grin in the east just above a layer of clouds greeted us earthlings who patiently waited even without sleep. Yay!

Below is a composite image that I created using Adobe Photoshop to illustrate how the the sun looked like when it was rising from behind the Sierra Madre mountain range.

Many Filipinos anticipated the event as solar eclipses are not frequently visible in the Philippines. The last one occurred last January 15, 2010, while the next won’t take place until March 9, 2016.

For avid amateur astronomers like me, this event was extra special as it provides a good opportunity for me to practice solar observation in preparation for the upcoming transit of Venus, a very rare phenomenon that won’t be repeated until 2117. I have never done any solar observation before using my own Galileoscope for fear of getting it damaged (its lens and body tube were both made up of plastic which are not great for viewing the sun using solar projection method). Moreover, the danger of having an eye injury also worried me. Hence, I decided not to pursue solar observation unless I get a decent filter that I could safely attach and use with my equipment — be it a camera or my scope.

Months before this event, I was very anxious that I might not be able to observe it having only a cheap plastic scope and a camera. But I was really determined that I’ve read a lot about solar observing and saved some money for it just in case there’d be a need to buy some materials. When the event came nearer, however, financial constraints became a problem, so I just forego the idea of buying a costly filter and chose to buy a #10 welding glass instead. It might not produce nice images but it’s a good and safe alternative.

Nonetheless, God must have heard my thoughts that he made a miracle. Haha! A few days before the solar eclipse, a nice surprise came in when a generous UP AstroSoc orgmate offered me an extra piece of Baader solar filter — for free! Wee!:)

Below were some of the images I took using a hand-held Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH2 digital camera on a 2-inch refractor (Galileoscope) with a Baader 5.0 ND solar filter.

By the way, these photos have been featured several times today in local news programs. They also got featured in front page of spaceweather.com and  in an article by Earthsky.org.

A screencap showing my image in GMA’s 24 Oras. Thanks to my sister who posted this!

I will upload the other photos soon, including a complete observation report. For the meantime, I’d better get some sleep first because I still need to attend some other important conventions outside the city. 🙂

To the stars!

* * *
Update:

I created two composite images which show the progression of the partial solar eclipse as we observed the event.

The image above was featured in Amateur Astronomy Picture of the Day (AAPOD) last June 24, 2012.  It was my fifth AAPOD image. 🙂

To God be the glory!

Clear skies to all.


May 2012 Solar Eclipse

The first solar eclipse in 2012 will be an annular solar eclipse on May 20–21. The term came from the Latin word “annulus,” meaning “little ring”, because the moon will not completely cover the sun during the totality (unlike in a total solar eclipse), but will leave a fiery ring around its circumference.

A telescopic picture of the Sun taken during the annular eclipse of January 15, 2010 from the city of Kanyakumari at the southern tip of India. Image Credit & Copyright: Mikael Svalgaard

Warning: NEVER look directly at the sun through binoculars, a telescope or with your unaided eye.

At its peak, the moon will block roughly 94 percent of the sun’s light.

This potentially spectacular solar eclipse  will be visible from much of Asia, the Pacific region and North America, provided the weather cooperates.

Time table worldwide

The eclipse starts in one location and ends in another, the times below are for visibility for any location on earth.

Event UTC Time Time in Manila
First location to see partial eclipse begins 20 May, 20:56 21 May, 04:56
First location to see full Eclipse begins 20 May, 22:06 21 May, 06:06
Maximum Eclipse 20 May, 23:54 21 May, 07:54
Last location to see full Eclipse ends 21 May, 01:39 21 May, 09:39
Last location to see partial Eclipse ends 21 May, 02:49 21 May, 10:49

Note to Philippine observers: The fiery ring would not be visible in the Philippines. Instead, a partial solar eclipse beginning at sunrise on May 21 will be visible.

Local circumstances of the partial solar eclipse on Monday (May 21) in the Philippines courtesy of UPLB Astronomical Society. Screenshots were taken using Stellarium.

Remember that this spectacular sight can only be safely observed with approved solar filters or by projecting an image of the eclipsed Sun onto a flat white surface.  Look for pinhole effects on the ground (shadows of trees or bushes) or use some another projection viewing method to safely view the eclipsed sun.

The Sun can be viewed safely with the naked eye ONLY during the few brief seconds or minutes of a total solar eclipse.  Even at maximum, the annular eclipse will not cover the brightest parts of the sun. Partial eclipses, annular eclipses, and the partial phases of total eclipses are never safe to watch without taking special precautions. Do not attempt to observe the partial or annular phases of any eclipse with the naked eye. Failure to use appropriate filtration may result in permanent eye damage or blindness!

Tips on how to view the Sun safely

“Filters for visual and photographic use

Acceptable filters for unaided visual observations include: aluminized polyester specifically designed for solar viewing, shade 12 and 14 welding filters, black polymer filters (Thousand Oaks Solar Shield 2000 and Rainbow Symphony Polymer), and two layers of fully exposed and developed silver-bearing black and white film negative. For photographic and visual use, particularly with binoculars or telescopes, acceptable filters include: aluminized polyester specifically designed for the purpose, and Questar and Thousand Oaks T1 and T2 glass filters. The Thousand Oaks T3 filter should be used with extreme care for photographic use only. Not recommended are: metal-coated polyester that is not specifically intended for solar observation, smoked glass, floppy disk media, black colour transparency (slide) film, floppy disk media, and compact disks (because of the inconsistent quality of the metal coating).”

I reiterate that you must protect your eyes at all times with proper solar filters when looking at the sun. However, do not let the requisite warnings scare you away from witnessing this wonderful phenomenon. 🙂 Clear skies!
Recommended links for further information

For those who won’t be able to observe the eclipse from their location, you may still watch via live webstreaming of the event.


Transit of Venus Map in Many Languages

On 6 June, an event that takes place only four times every two centuries will enthral the world’s astronomers, as it has ever since the 1600s – but now it can provide priceless data in the hunt for habitable planets in deep space and in re-measuring the distance of the sun from Earth.

Venus will appear as a tiny speck on one side of the Sun in a few weeks and will slowly traverse the solar disc for a few hours. The movement of that little black dot may seem insignificant. But it is one of the rarest sights in astronomy, an event known as a transit of Venus. Miss this one and you will have to wait until 2117 for the next.

Image credit: NASA/LMSAL

As seen from Earth, only transits of Mercury and Venus are possible. On average, there are 13 transits of Mercury each century. In contrast, transits of Venus occur in pairs with more than a century separating each pair.

For Northern Hemisphere locations above latitude ~67° north (including the Philippines) all of the transit is visible regardless of the longitude.

A lot of astronomy-enthusiasts globally are preparing for this rare event. Some are even planning to travel in places where the transit will be fully visible.

As part of this preparation, visibility maps of the transit were created by volunteer groups to guide local observers. One of the efforts is called the Transit of Venus Project which is part of the Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) program. AWB is a global collaboration in astronomy.

Aside from providing useful information to the public about this event, the TOV Project also aims to form a collection of translated maps of the 2012 transit of Venus for different languages so that the transit of Venus will be enjoyed by more people around the world. Of course,  some people would appreciate a map in their own native language.

Michael Zeiler of  Eclipse-maps.com (and also one of the curators of the TOV Project website) sent me a message via Twitter asking for help with translating a summary map of the transit of Venus (June 5-6, 2012) into Filipino.

Here is a copy of the map:

These are the phrases to translate: World visibility of the transit of Venus on June 5 & 6, 2012 Venus overhead at transit maximum Entire transit visible Transit not visible Transit starts before sunset and ends after following sunrise Transit starts before sunrise and ends after sunset Transit visible from sunrise until end Transit visible from start until sunset Venus touches Sun’s disk at sunrise Venus within Sun’s disk at sunrise Venus within Sun’s disk at sunset Venus touches Sun’s disk at sunset

I made a draft of the translation in Filipino and consulted some professors from the Filipino Department of UP Diliman. Upon deciding that it the translated words were good enough, I emailed everything to Mr. Zeiler and he produced this map containing the translated phrases.

6 June 2012 Transit of Venus Visibility Map in our local language, Filipino. Credit: (map) Michael Zeiler/(translation) Raven Yu

Please take note that some of the phrases were not translated into its direct meaning but more of its contextual meaning so as not to confuse the map users.

Check out this link to view the translated maps of the 2012 transit of Venus for different languages.

If your language is not provided, you can help add a new map by following the simple instructions at this page.

You can also find local contact times of the transit at http://transitofvenus.nl/wp/where-when/local-transit-times/.

Remember that it is not safe to view the sun directly because it might damage your eyes. Read here for tips on how to safely view and photograph the transit using the right equipment and proper eye protection.

Don’t miss this rare spectacle! 🙂 Clear skies!


Venus, the Pleiades and Hyades

Image

Tonight, the planet Venus shining bright in the western sky appeared close to the dipper-shaped open star cluster, Pleiades.

Just above them was the V-shaped Hyades, another noticeable cluster. In mythology, the Hyades are the half sisters to the Pleiades, the daughters of Atlas.

Image taken with Nikon D60 DSLR camera (24 mm, f/5.6, 20 sec. exp. at ISO 1250).

More photos below:

(From bottom to top) Jupiter, Venus, the Pleiades, and the Hyades.

The streak of light was an airplane which happen to pass in between Venus and the Pleiades while the shot was being taken


March Equinox 2012

It’s equinox time again, and this year’s March equinox took place today at precisely 5:14 a.m. GMT, or Universal Time (13:14 in Manila). The March equinox was also known as the “spring equinox” in the northern hemisphere and “autumnal (fall) equinox” in the southern hemisphere as this event  marks the change of seasons — the beginning of spring in the northern part of the globe and autumn in the south.

During equinox, night and day are nearly exactly the same length – 12 hours – all over the world. This is the reason it’s called an “equinox”, derived from Latin, meaning “equal night”.

However, even if this is widely accepted, it isn’t entirely true. In reality equinoxes don’t have exactly 12 hours of daylight. A good website for looking at sunrise and sunset times in Manila can be found here. The best one for checking the bearing (direction) of sunrise or sunset anywhere in the world is the US Naval Observatory.

A more appropriate way to define equinox is given by astronomers. According to its astronomical definition, an equinox is the moment when the sun arrives at one of two intersection points of the ecliptic, the sun’s path across the sky, and the celestial equator, earth’s equator projected onto the sky.

Image credit: Chris de Villiers (www.skywatch.co.za)

My plans today were to head on the top of a high place and catch the sun setting due west. Sadly, the weather was not very good and the visibility was terrible.

Had I been able to see the sun it would have set due west.

Everyone always says that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, but if we were really aware of our surroundings and more attuned to the sky we would realize that this is not true. In fact this is only true for two days out of the entire year and those are during equinoxes.

By studying the sun’s position in the sky over the course of a year from the same location, one can notice that its rising and setting positions are changing by more at a particular time of year than at any other time.

The amount of change in the location of the rising and setting of the sun  throughout the year depends upon where your viewpoint is. However, irrespective of where you are on the globe, the Sun will always rise exactly east and set exactly west during equinoxes (on March 20/21 and September 20/21)

On the other hand, near the solstices the sunrise position slows its change to close to a ‘standstill’  (the name ‘solstice’ being derived from the Latin for ‘sun standing still’).

Path of the Sun in the sky at different times of the year. Image copyright: Addison-Wesley

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Seasons Without Borders: Equinox March 2012

swb_equinox_march2012

Wherever you are on 20 March, 2012, celebrate your season in the cycle of life with Astronomers Without Borders.  Enjoy your own unique Equinox this year—and why not tell others about the experience?  Being mindfully aware of your place on this moving Earth may bring out the storyteller and poet in you.  AWB invites you to share your event reports and poems at the AWB Members’ Blog and AWB Astropoetry Blog. Send your poems to: astropoetry@astronomerswithoutborders.org.


AWB’s Venus-Jupiter Conjunction Image Collection

Enjoy the beautiful views of the Venus-Jupiter conjunction as seen from various parts of the globe through Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) image collection.

Last March 13-15, a lot of amateur astronomers participated in AWB’s event, “Beauty Without Borders: Conjunction of Glory” which highlighted the closest encounter of Jupiter and Venus — the two brightest planets in the night sky.

Images were submitted to AWB by uploading the them in Twitter and using the hashtag #VenusJupiter. Two of my images got included in this collection as well. Thank you, AWB!

Under the motto “One People, One Sky”, AWB brings people together from around the world through our common interest in astronomy .

True enough, “the boundaries we place between us vanish when we look skyward.” 🙂


Closest Encounter of Venus and Jupiter in 2012

If you’ve been looking west after sunset recently you can’t have failed to see Venus blazing there so bright, outshining everything else in the sky. To Venus’ upper left is another bright” star”, which is actually another planet, Jupiter.

Jupiter and Venus - 8 degrees apart. Image captured 5 March 2012 at 6:45 pm.

These two bright planets visible in the night sky have been putting on quite a show this past month as they have been slowly getting closer together in the western sky just after sunset.

Next week, Venus and Jupiter will be MUCH closer than they are now. 🙂

On March 15, an impressive celestial show at twilight will surprise sky observers as these two planets reach what astronomers call conjunction – the closest they can appear in the sky together.

Getting closer - 5 degrees apart. Image taken 9 March 2012 at 6:24 pm.

The pair of planets will appear to be only 3 degrees apart in the western sky. That is equal to the width of your three middle fingers at arms’ length. Their proximity in the sky is an illusion, of course, as Venus is 180 million km away from Earth and Jupiter is more than 600 million km farther away.

After their mid March close encounter, the two planets will quickly go pass each other – Jupiter dropping down towards the horizon, getting closer to the Sun, while Venus moves higher up in the sky, moving away from the Sun, and brightening as it does so.

The next Venus-Jupiter conjunction after this one falls on May 28, 2013.

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Beauty Without Borders: Conjunction of Glory

13 – 15 March 2012

The Jupiter-Venus conjunction on March 15 will be quite a spectacle, as both planets are very bright. This will be a fantastic visual and photographic opportunity, as it’s not often that you get the brightest planets in our Solar System so close together.

In line with this, Astronomers Without Borders (AWB), in collaboration with Amateur Astronomers Association of Kurdistan & Opportunity Astronomical Observatory (Iraq), presents “Beauty without Borders: Conjunction of Glory”.

All the amateur/professional groups out there are invited to participate and enjoy the beautiful views.

Participate by hold an observing night with your local astronomy group or do a backyard astronomy session with your family and friend. Take your scope to the street for a “guerilla-astronomy” session.

Connect:
Join the conversation on Twitter @awb_org using #VenusJupiter with other groups around the world. Post your images on our Flickr or Facebook page.

Chat by NASA on 25 March 2012

Join and share with your friends!

Clear skies!

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Here is a video from Newsy.com to help you know more about this event: http://www.newsy.com/videos/venus-and-jupiter-set-for-cosmic-meetup/


AWB March 2012 Events

Global Astronomy Month 2012 (www.gam-awb.org) is merely a month away. Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) has organized three exciting events in March to do the warm-ups!

Spread the word and join in.

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“Hello Red Planet”

3-5 March 2012

Mars will come into Opposition on March 3, 2012 in the constellation Leo with its face fully illuminated by the Sun and two days later, on March 5, 2012, the planet will have its closest approach to Earth during this apparition: 100.78 million km (0.6737 AU)—the best time to say “Hello” to the Red Planet.

Read more…

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“Conjunction of Glory”

13 – 15 March 2012

Venus and Jupiter, the two brightest planets in the sky, will be within 3 degrees of each other in the evening sky of 15 March 2012 at 10:37:46 UTC.  This will be quite a spectacle, as both planets are very bright—and this will be a fantastic visual and photographic opportunity, as it’s not often that you get the brightest planets in our Solar System so close together. 

The next Venus-Jupiter conjunction after this one falls on May 28, 2013. 

Read more…

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“March Equinox 2012”

20 March 2012

The March equinox occurs at 05:14 UTC, Tuesday 20 March.  The Sun will shine directly down on the Earth’s equator and there will be nearly equal amounts of day and night throughout the world.  This is also the first day of spring (Vernal Equinox) in the northern hemisphere and the first day of fall (Autumnal Equinox) in the southern hemisphere.

Wherever you are on 20 March, 2012, celebrate your season in the cycle of life with Astronomers Without Borders.  Enjoy your own unique Equinox this year—and why not tell others about the experience?

Read more…

To the stars! 🙂

More about GAM 2012:


Mars at Opposition – March 2012

Mars will reach opposition (when it is directly opposite the Sun in the sky and brightest for this apparition) on the night of March 3rd 2012, positioned 5º.4 SSW of the star Coxa ( Leo or Theta Leonis, mag. +3.9) and 4º.5 West of Leonis. Mars is now brighter and closer than it’s been for two years – and brighter and closer than it will be again until 2014.

However, Mars’ perigee (closest point  to the Earth) will take place two days later – on March 5th – when it is 0.6737 AU (100.7 million kms or 62.6 million miles) from the Earth. This is due to the eccentricity of the orbit of Mars.

The motion of an outer planet, as seen from a "fixed" Earth. | image from cseligman.com

It’ll be hard to miss Mars because it’s the fourth-brightest star-like object to light up the night at this time, after the planets Venus and Jupiter, and the star Sirius.

You can find Mars in the eastern sky at nightfall and early evening, in front of the constellation Leo the Lion. Leo’s brightest star, Regulus, is to the upper right of Mars when they are in the east in the evening hours.

Looking for Mars | image: Stellarium

On opposition day this 2012, Mars will shine at magnitude -1.2 and will have an apparent disk diameter of 13″.9. This is not as bright nor as large (when seen through a telescope) as it was at its previous opposition in January 2010, when the planet reached magnitude -1.3 and had an apparent diameter of 14″.1.

Trivia: At opposition,  the Earth passes in between the sun and Mars, so that the sun, Earth and Mars lie along a line in space. During this event a superior planet like Mars rises around sunset, is visible throughout the night and sets around sunrise. Its highest point in the sky is reached when it crosses the observer’s meridian at local midnight (due South at midnight in the Northern hemisphere and due North at midnight in the Southern hemisphere).

Say “Hello” to the Red Planet

Through the Beauty without Borders program, Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) will bring together groups around the world to enjoy the event through observing, webcasts, activities, photography and poetry.

Beauty without Borders: Hello Red Planet

Mars will come into Opposition on March 3, 2012 in the constellation Leo with its face fully illuminated by the Sun and two days later, on March 5, 2012, the planet will have its closest approach to Earth during this apparition: 100.78 million km (0.6737 AU)—the best time to say “Hello” to the Red Planet.

For more info visit http://www.astronomerswithoutborders.org/projects/observing-activities/beauty-without-borders/1045.html

Join this event and share it with your friends!

Clear skies!

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Useful links:


Triangular Spectacle: Moon, Venus and Jupiter

Last February 26, 2012, the crescent Moon joined the other two brightest objects in the night sky – Jupiter and Venus – to form a spectacular celestial grouping during and after twilight! They’re just a few degrees apart at the time of twilight in the west.

This sky show dazzled a lot of  skywatchers around the world during the weekend.

I have always been fascinated with celestial conjunctions. Hence, I immediately headed to SM Mall of Asia (near the Manila Bay area) after my on-the-job training in Makati City to take pictures of this event.

Traveling around the city—especially during the busiest evening rush hour period is one hell of a headache. Nonetheless, all the effort was worth it. 🙂

When we came, big dark clouds threatened our view.  As the brightest objects in the night sky, Venus, Jupiter and the Moon can shine through urban lights, fog, and even some clouds. During that time, however they were hardly visible behind the clouds.

Fortunately, the skies cleared up just in time and we saw the awesome celestial trio. Thank God! 

Once the moon retreats from view, Jupiter and Venus will continue growing closer. The gap will narrow to 10 degrees by the end of February until they pass each other in mid-March.  On March 13 and 14, Jupiter and Venus reach their closest distance to each other. They will lie only three degrees apart. That’s just about the width of a finger and a half at arms length.

March 26, 2012: Venus, Jupiter and the Moon align | Image : Stellarium

By March 26, a crescent moon will join them once again, producing another brilliant sky display visible at twilight.

Don’t miss it!


UP AstroSoc’s Public Observation of the Celestial Grouping on February 26, 2012

In celebration of the National Astronomy Week (NAW) 2012, the University of the Philippines Astronomical Society (UP AstroSoc) in partnership with the Philippine Society of Youth Science Clubs (PSYSC) invites everyone to a public observation of the celestial grouping of the Moon, Venus and Jupiter on February 26, 2012.

The said event will be at the Sun Deck of the PAGASA Astronomical Observatory in UP Diliman.

Define closeness; see the thin lunar crescent pass close to Venus and Jupiter on the eve of February 26. Observation starts at around 6PM or later. 🙂

Messier marathon begins at 9 PM. Messier objects were discovered in the 18th century. These were listed so that observers using small telescopes would not confuse these with comets

SEE YOU THERE!

To join the event, please visit its Facebook event page : https://www.facebook.com/events/148142481972887/

Clear skies! 🙂

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Related link:


Moon, Mars and Leo – Feb. 8, 2012

Mars in the eastern sky at 9:51 pm | Quezon City, Philippines

We were sitting on one of those weird benches surrounding the trees in the open-air space of UP-Ayala Technohub after having a rewarding dinner when I noticed a red-orange star in the eastern sky infront of us. My brain told me that, based on its brightness and location it had to be Mars.  It was hardly recognizable at first because the waxing gibbous moon was shining close to it. Moreover, we were situated in a very light-polluted area that my eyes were struggling to see those faint celestial objects near the horizon.

The red planet is back in the eastern sky at nightfall on these evenings. It is now in fact, one of the brightest “stars” (around -0.9 mag) in the night sky. It is growing even brighter and more prominent, especially towards the end of the month as it comes close to opposition to the Sun and its nearest pass to Earth.

Moon, Leo and Mars

Mars started to retrograde (move westward) toward the star Regulus in the constellation Leo last January 24. That happens whenever Earth is about to pass between the sun and Mars, which will happen on March 3, 2012. Mars has been brightening ever since retrograde motion began.

By the end of February, Mars will rise only 20 minutes after the Sun sets, so it will be easily seen by the time the sky darkens and will shine all-night long. By then Mars will have brightened to magnitude -1.2, nearly as bright as Sirius.


Notable Celestial Events in 2012

This year comes with its share of many remarkable skywatching events that we can participate in.  The most important is the rare transit of Venus across the face of the Sun in  June 2012. The next time this will occur again is in 2117. We have the unique opportunity to observe this. (A note to Philippine observers: We are in a good location for this event!)  Moreover, there’s also the Mercury elongation in February, Jupiter-Venus conjunction on March 13-15, the solar eclipses on May 21 and November 14 and  our favorite annual meteor showers.

The list below also contains some tips for Philippine observers.

Clear skies and happy observing! 🙂

February 20 – March 12 :  Best Chance to see Mercury

The planet Mercury will be far enough from the Sun’s glare to be visible shortly after sunset. Mercury will reach greatest elongation from the Sun on March 5, reaching a relatively bright magnitude of about -1. This will be your best chance to see the planet this year.

February 26 : Moon, Jupiter and Venus at Dusk

Look westward after sunset to see the moon and the dazzling planets Jupiter and Venus lighting up the western sky.

Moon, Venus and Jupiter | 6 pm | Manila

March 3 : Mars at Opposition

The red planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. This is the best time to view and photograph this planet. Mars will be an imposing naked-eye sight, shining at magnitude -1.2, just a bit dimmer than Sirius, the brightest star, and will be visible in the sky all night long.

March 14 : Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter

The two brightest planets in the sky will be within 3 degrees of each other in the evening sky. On March 25 and 25, the crescent Moon will be near the two planets, creating a dazzling evening spectacle.

March 26 : Crescent Moon, Jupiter and Venus line up at Dusk

Watch for the young waxing crescent moon and the planets Jupiter and Venus near each other in the west after sunset. The moon, Venus and Jupiter rank as the brightest, second- and third-brightest heavenly bodies of nighttime respectively. This will be last chance in 2012 that you will see them all-together at dusk.

moon, venus, jupiter - march 2012

March 27: Venus at Greatest Eastern Elongation

Venus reaches its greatest eastern elongation and will be separated from the Sun by 46°, its greatest apparent distance from the sun on our sky’s dome. Venus will set about three hours after sunset during this event. At this superb evening elongation for the Northern Hemisphere, Venus will stand above the setting sun. This is a good time to look out for the Schroter Effect, which predicts that dichotomy the 50% lit phase occurs a few days early for evening elongation.

April 3: Venus near the Pleiades

Venus will appear to the left of the Pleiades star cluster.  Especially with binoculars or a small telescope, this bright plant should appear swimming in a sea of stars.

April 15 : Saturn at Opposition

The ringed planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. This is the best time to view and photograph Saturn and its moons.

April 21, 22 : Lyrid Meteor Shower

The Lyrids are an average shower, usually producing about 20 meteors per hour at their peak. These meteors can produce bright dust trails that last for several seconds. The shower usually peaks on April 21 & 22, although some meteors can be visible from April 16 – 25. With no moon to get in the way this year, this really should be a good show. Look for meteors radiating from the constellation of Lyra after midnight.

*April 2012 is Global Astronomy Month!

May 21 : [Annular] Solar Eclipse

The path of annularity will begin in southern China and move east through Japan, the northern Pacific Ocean, and into the western United States. A partial eclipse will be visible throughout parts of eastern Asia and most of North America. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information) (Note: In the Philippines, we will be able to see a crescent sun at dawn.)

Partial Solar Eclipse | 6am | Manila

June 4 : Partial Lunar Eclipse

The eclipse will be visible throughout most of Asia, including the Philippines  Australia, the Pacific Ocean, and the Americas. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information) In the Philippines, we can observe this event as an eclipse at dusk, meaning we will be able to see an eclipsed moon rising.

eclipse magnitude:  37.6%
moonrise: 6:17 pm PHT
greatest eclipse: 7:03 pm PHT
partial eclipse ends: 8:07 pm PHT
penumbral eclipse ends: 9:19 pm PHT

(source: PAGASA)

June 4 Partial Lunar Eclipse | 7 pm | Manila

Go to http://shadowandsubstance.com/ to see an animation of the eclipse.

June 6 : Transit of Venus Across the Sun

This extremely rare event will be entirely visible throughout most of eastern Asia, eastern Australia, and Alaska. A partial transit can be seen in progress at sunrise throughout Europe, western Asia, and eastern Africa. A partial transit can be seen in progress at sunset throughout most of North America, Central America, and western South America. The next transit will not take place until the year 2117. (NASA Transit Information | NASA Transit Map)

Local circumstances for Philippine viewers

Venus transit of the Sun in June, 2004. Photo by Anthony Ayiomamitis.

July 15 : Moon, Venus and Jupiter near the Hyades and the Pleiades Star Cluster

See the three brightest objects in the night sky next to the Pleiades and the Hyades open star cluster in Taurus before dawn on July 15th.

Moon, Venus, the Hyades and Pleiades | 6 am | Manila

August 12, 2012: Occultation of Jupiter by the Moon

For Philippine observers, the morning of 12 August sees the waning crescent Moon pass in front of Jupiter and its moons in a so-called occultation. Occultations are comparatively rare events, which offer good photo opportunities for amateur astronomers. Prospects and timings for the event vary with location.

The event takes place while Jupiter and the Moon are low in the sky during the wee hours of the morning.

Local circumstances:

2012 Aug 12 02:43 Occultation disappearance of Jupiter (Mag -2.2)
2012 Aug 12 03:16 Occultation reappearance of Io (Mag 5.5)
2012 Aug 12 03:17 Occultation reappearance of Jupiter (Mag -2.2)
2012 Aug 12 03:18 Occultation reappearance of Europa (Mag 5.7)
2012 Aug 12 03:20 Occultation reappearance of Callisto (Mag 6.1)
2012 Aug 12 03:32 Occultation reappearance of Ganymede (Mag 5.0)
source: Pyxis Astronomy Educational Services

August 11, 12 : Perseids Meteor Shower

The Perseids is one of the best meteor showers to observe, producing up to 60 meteors per hour at their peak. The shower’s peak usually occurs on August 11 & 12, but you may be able to see some meteors any time from July 23 – August 24. The radiant point for this shower will be in the constellation Perseus. The near last quarter moon will be hanging around for the show, but shouldn’t be too much of a problem for a shower with up to 60 meteors per hour. Find a location far from city lights and look to the northeast after midnight.

October 5 : Moon-Jupiter Conjunction

The King of the Planets and the crescent moon will reunite for a close celestial pairing. Check the eastern sky around midnight to spot these two objects that are less than one degree apart!

Moon and Jupiter at 11 pm | Manila

October 21, 22: Orionid Meteor Shower

The Orionid Meteor Shower usually reaches its peak around October 21, having an average of 20 meteors per hour. The Orionids are fast meteors and also have fireballs. These meteors radiate near the boundaries between the Great Hunter Orion and Gemini. The cometary debris left behind by Comet Halley — bits of ice, dust and rubble — create the Orionid meteor shower. It last visited Earth in 1986.

A good show could be experienced on any morning from October 20 – 24, but some meteors may be seen any time from October 17 – 25. The first quarter moon will set by midnight, leaving a dark sky for what should be a good show.

The best time to view these meteors is usually in the wee hours before dawn. That time holds true no matter what time zone you’re in.

The red lines illustrate the position of the radiant for the Orionid Meteor Shower. The radiant is the point in the sky from which the meteors appear to originate from.

November 13 : Total Solar Eclipse

The path of totality will only be visible in parts of extreme northern Australia and the southern Pacific Ocean. A partial eclipse will be visible in most parts of eastern Australia and New Zealand. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information (Note: This event is not visible in the Philippines.)

November 17, 18 : Leonids Meteor Shower

The Leonids is one of the better meteor showers to observe, producing an average of 40 meteors per hour at their peak. The shower itself has a cyclic peak year every 33 years where hundreds of meteors can be seen each hour. The last of these occurred in 2001. The shower usually peaks on November 17 & 18, but you may see some meteors from November 13 – 20. The crescent moon will set early in the evening leaving dark skies for what should be an excellent show. Look for the shower radiating from the constellation Leo after midnight, and be sure to find a dark location for viewing.

November 27 : Conjunction of Venus and Saturn

These two bright planets will be within 1 degree of each other in the morning sky. Look to the east around sunrise.

December 3 : Jupiter at Opposition

The giant planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. This is the best time to view and photograph Jupiter and its moons.

December 11 : Saturn, Venus, Mercury and the Crescent Moon at Predawn

Check the eastern sky about an hour before dawn to see this magnificent celestial display of the three planets and the thin lunar crescent.

Eastern sky at around 5 am | Manila

December 13, 14 : Geminid Meteor Shower

Considered by many to be the best meteor shower in the heavens, the Geminids are known for producing up to 60 multicolored meteors per hour at their peak. The peak of the shower usually occurs around December 13 & 14, although some meteors should be visible from December 6 – 19. The radiant point for this shower will be in the constellation Gemini. This year the new moon will guarantee a dark sky for what should be an awesome show. Best viewing is usually to the east after midnight from a dark location.

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References:

  • Stellarium Planetarium Software

King and Queen of the Night Sky

Jupiter (upper right) and Venus (left) Feb. 10, 2012 6:50 PM

Jupiter and Venus, the two great and famous luminaries of heaven  are now 30° apart in the western sky during early evening and are moving closer to each other by  roughly one degree each day.

Jupiter, king of planets, has been our constant evening companion for the last six months.  Only Venus outshines Jupiter among the planets and stars. Venus and Jupiter are so bright you might think you’ve witnessed a double supernova beaming through the evening twilight. But, no, it’s just the two brightest planets in our own solar system.

Over the next couple weeks, Venus and Jupiter will continuously reign the evening sky; only the moon will be brighter. The planets will continue to get closer and closer to one another until March.

On the evenings of February 24, 25 and 26, the thin lunar crescent will pass close to Venus and Jupiter.

By March 14 and 15, these two bright objects will be on a spectacular conjunction — the closest in 2012. The next Venus-Jupiter conjunction after this one falls on May 28, 2013.

At the moment of closest approach, Venus will be at mag -4.9, and Jupiter at mag -2.1, both in the constellation Aries. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

After this event, Venus and Jupiter will remain close throughout the month of March 2012. They are like twin beacons – two very bright planets – near each other in the west as soon as the sun goes down.


Venus and the Moon at Dusk – January 26, 2012

I was about to go home when I caught a glimpse of Venus and the thin Moon hanging close together in the western sky at dusk last January 26.

I didn’t have a camera with me then. Fortunately,  a friend of mine had his camera and let me use it to take a few images of this stunning sight.

A view of the U.P. Carillon Tower

Venus is now shining brilliantly in the west-southwest after sunset at magnitude -4.0. It will be climbing higher in our sky over the next three months as it comes closer to us in its orbit. Over that time the planet will brighten but its phase will shrink as the Sun shifts to the other side of Venus from us.

By February 2012, Venus will climb up higher into the evening sky and will stay out even longer after dark. It’ll be at its highest above the sunset in March 2012, when Jupiter and Venus will stage an amazing conjunction in the western twilight sky. These two bright planets will lie about three degrees apart in the West in the constellation Aries. Venus will beam at magnitude -4.3, and Jupiter is a worthy companion at magnitude -2.1. The pairing will make for a lovely photo op. 🙂

On March 25, Venus, Jupiter and the thin crescent Moon will form a straight line in the western sky.

image: Stellarium

Clear skies! 🙂


Mercury, Venus and the Young Moon at Dusk

Triple celestial display at dusk – Mercury, Venus and the Young Moon

Last October 28, 2011 I immediately headed to the SM Mall of Asia after our 2-day sem planning in Makati to take an image of this nice celestial grouping shortly after sunset. Sleeplessness failed to hinder me 😛

It features the thin Young Moon and the two inner planets, Venus and Mercury hanging near each other in the western sky at dusk.

I was really fortunate to have been able to catch this sky display just before darkness came. *Traffic in the city really sucks.*

Anyway, I hope the skies will always be this clear. 🙂

To the stars!


Moon and Mars above the Cityscape

As I prepared to observe the Orionid Meteor Shower last October 22, a nice celestial pairing of the waning crescent Moon (22% full) and the tiny planet Mars greeted my view. These two were roughly 8 degrees apart during this conjunction and were located  just slightly above “the Sickle” in Leo.  Unfortunately, the glow from the light-polluted city  made the 1.2 magnitude Mars (on the upper left of the image) difficult to notice with the naked eye.

Mars appears to be like a plain bright red star right now that rises in the east during the wee hours after midnight. In the months ahead, Mars will brighten and will also rise earlier at night. By December 2011, this planet will climb over the eastern horizon before midnight. In January 2012, it’ll be up by mid-evening, and even sooner on February 2012 evenings.

Mars will come closest to Earth in March 2012. It will be out from dusk till dawn, shining about nine times more brightly than it does at present. Even so, Mars won’t be nearly as bright as the planets Venus or Jupiter.