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

Posts tagged “Jupiter

Moon-Jupiter Conjunction Over the UP Sunken Garden

I was walking past  the Diliman Sunken Garden with someone last October 14 when I caught a glimpse of the Waning Gibbous Moon (94.6% full) close to bright Jupiter. Thank God that after several days of continuous rains, the skies have finally cleared that evening 🙂

Moon, Jupiter and a passing airplane

These two objects which both dominate the night sky this month were just less than 15 degrees apart.

I was lucky to have been able to take a few images of this nice celestial conjunction since I always bring the camera with me. It was a bit challenging though, because I didn’t have my sturdy tripod during then to stabilize and elevate the camera.

The streak of light above Jupiter was just a passing airplane which happened to be included in the frame when I was doing the shot.

More photos below…

Special thanks to that someone who kept me company while I was taking photos that evening at the middle of the Sunken Garden. 😉

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Skywatching Highlights: October 2011

As the nights get longer in the northern hemisphere, the skies are filled with good observing opportunities. 

Meteor showers, a comet, and Jupiter at opposition are the highlights for October.

DATE

EVENT

TIME (PHT)

2 Mars in the Beehive Cluster in Cancer
4 First Quarter Moon 11:15 AM
8 Draconid Meteor Shower (Active from Oct 6-10, ZHR up to storm levels)
8 International Observe the Moon Night 2011
12 Full Moon (Hunter’s Moon) 10:05 AM
13 Jupiter and the waxing gibbous moon is about 5 degrees apart
14 Saturn Conjunction
15 Waxing gibbous moon near the Pleiades
16 Comet Elenin’s closest approach to Earth
20 Last Quarter Moon 11:30 AM
20 Mercury-Venus Conjunction dusk
22 Orionid Meteor Shower (Active from Oct 17-25, ZHR=20)
27 New Moon 04:00 AM
28 Mercury-Venus Moon at minimum separation dusk
29 Jupiter Opposition (closest approach to Earth) 08:40 AM



Two meteor showers: Draconids & Orionids 

*DRACONIDS (Giacobinids)
The Draconids peak will this year on the evening of October 8th with a higher than normal meteor count expected. Periodic (6.6 year orbit) comet 21P/Giacobini/Zinner is the source of these meteors, and this year Earth is predicted to cross a dense debris stream from the comet. Meteor specialists have meteor counts for this pass as high as 500 per hour, radiating from the northern constellation Draco, near the Dragon’s head. This is not without precedent as the Draconids stormed briefly to 10,000 meteors per hour in 1933!
*ORIONIDS 

The Orionids will peak this year on the evening of October 21/22 . Periodic (76 year orbit) comet 1P/Halley is the source of these meteors. Meteor specialists have meteor counts for this pass averaging a modest 20 per hour, best visible before dawn under dark skies. These meteor fragments radiate from the top of Orion’s upraised club, near the Gemini border. The waning crescent Moon this year should not interfere much with your observing of these shooting stars.

Comet Elenin
Newly discovered comet Elenin will make its closest approach to the Earth on October 16. The comet was discovered on December 10, 2010 by Russian amateur astronomer Leonid Elenin. It is estimated that the comet will reach 6th magnitude as it makes its closest approach. This will make it just barely visible to the naked eye. With a good pair of binoculars and a little determination, you may be able to get a good look at this new comet during mid October.

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. The giant planet will be a big and bright as it gets in the night sky. A medium-sized telescope should be able to show you some of the details in Jupiter’s cloud bands. A good pair of binoculars should allow you to see Jupiter’s four largest moons, appearing as bright dots on either side of the planet.

Full Hunters Moon
This month’s full moon is called Hunter’s Moon because at this time of year the leaves are falling and the game is fat and ready to hunt. This will also be the smallest full moon of the year because it will be near apogee, its farthest point from the Earth.

Mercury-Venus & Moon at minimum separation
This is a wonderful conjunction of 2 planets, the waxing crescent Moon and the red giant star Antares about 30 minutes after sunset on the nights of October 28 & 29th. You will need an unobstructed view low to the SW. Use binoculars or a small telescope to locate challenging Mercury.

International Observe the Moon Night 2011

Join people from all over the world to celebrate the second annual International Observe the Moon Night on Oct. 8, 2011. InOMN is an annual event celebrated globally to encourage people to go out and observe Earth’s nearest neighbor in space — the Moon.

For more information and resources for planning your own International Observe the Moon Night event, visit: http://observethemoonnight.org/. The website features activities, educational materials, multimedia and much more!

 

Happy skygazing! 🙂

References:


Planets Align for This Year’s Lyrids!

Tonight presents the expected peak of the annual Lyrid meteor shower, from late night Friday (April 22) until dawn Saturday (April 23). Look for meteors radiating from the constellation of Lyra after midnight.

Sky at 5:00 AM, April 23 (21:00 UT April 22) as viewed from Manila, Philippines. The point where the yellow lines converge shows the "radiant" for the Lyrid meteor shower. The radiant is the spot in the sky that the meteors seem to fan out from. | image: Stellarium

Lyrid meteors are usually around magnitude +2, which is bright enough to be visible from most cities, but you’ll see more and enjoy them more if you leave the city for a dark place where the stars shine brighter. They often produce luminous trains of dust that can be observed for several seconds. Some Lyrids will be brighter, though, and the occassional “fireball” can cast shadows for a split second and leave behind glowing, smoky debris trails that last for minutes. Lyrid meteors disintegrate after hitting our atmosphere at a moderate speed of 29.8 miles per second.

In observing these meteors, the hour before dawn is usually best, except that a bright waning gibbous moon will be lighting the sky hiding most of the fainter meteors in its glare. This year, it is more favorable to watch late at night, during the dark hour before moonrise.

Tweet your data!

You can also share your data by Tweeting your postcode, your country (click here to find your country code) and, optionally, the meteor count along with the hashtag; #MeteorWatch (you are welcome to use GAM hastags as well – #GAM2011 #LyridsWatch)

The meteor data will appear in a map at MeteorWatch.org


While the best meteor-watching will be late night through daybreak, it’s well worth staying outside just before sunrise for a beautiful planetary alignment will be joining the Lyrids.

Venus is so bright in the eastern sky you can’t miss it, and below it Mercury, Mars and Jupiter could be found hanging a few degrees away from each other. If you have hazy skies or live in an urban area, you may need binoculars to see Mars and Jupiter.

All four heavenly objects will fit within a circle about 15 degrees in diameter, beaming together through the colors of the predawn sky. 

This planetary grouping is visible from April 23 to May 30.

Enjoy the show! 🙂


Skywatching Highlights: March 2011

March is filled with several exciting conjunctions, lunar occultations, planetary displays and other celestial events which will take place alongside with some big astronomy-related projects geared toward promoting the appreciation of the night sky to many people globally.

March Event Time Notes
5 New Moon 04:45 AM
6 Moon at apogee (farthest distance to Earth) 04:00 PM
7 Final close pairing of Jupiter and the moon for 2011
10 Moon shines near the Pleiades star cluster
11 Moon near star Aldebaran
12 Moon in between Capella and Betelgeuse
12 Juno at Opposition 6:00 PM
13 Moon shines in front of Winter Hexagon
13-18 Close pairing of Mercury and Jupiter dusk These appear low in western horizon
13 First Quarter Moon 07:45 AM
15 Gamma Normids Active from Feb 25 – Mar 22. ZHR 6
16 Minimum separation Mercury Jupiter dusk Mercury 2° to the left of Jupiter
16 Mercury 2° North of the Moon 01:00 AM
17 Lunar occultation of omicron Leonis Start: 6:20 PM End: 07:10 PM
17 Moon and Regulus are less than 10 degrees apart
19 Sun-Earth Day
20 Full Moon 02:10 AM This will also be the largest full moon of the year because it will be near perigee, its closest point to the Earth.
21 Vernal Equinox 07:20 AM
22

6th worldwide GLOBE at Night 2011 campaign

March 22 -April 4 for the Northern Hemisphere

23 Moon near red star Antares before dawn
23 Mercury greatest elongation East(19°) 09:00 AM
26 Last Quarter Moon 08:10 PM
26 Earth Hour 2011 8:30 PM
31 Venus 6° South of the Moon 09:00 PM

Note: Dates and sky displays are based on Philippine settings. Philippine Standard Time (PST) = UT + 8

 

Astronomy Terms:

Occultation – An event that occurs when one object is hidden by another object that passes between it and the observer.

Opposition – When two celestial bodies are on opposite sides of the sky when viewed from a particular place (usually the Earth).

  • it is visible almost all night, rising around sunset, culminating around midnight and setting around sunrise;
  • at this point of its orbit it is roughly[1] closest to the Earth, making it appear bigger and brighter.
  • the half of the planet visible from Earth is then completely illuminated (“full planet”)
  • the opposition effect increases the reflected light from bodies with unobscured rough surfaces
Greatest  (Eastern) Elongation When an inferior planet is visible after sunset, it is near its greatest eastern elongation. A planet’s elongation is the angle between the Sun and the planet, as viewed from Earth
Vernal Equinox The Sun will shine directly on the 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

 

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References:

  1. EarthSky.org
  2. PAGASA Astronomical Diary — March 2011
  3. Philippine Celestial Events for 2011 (by PAS)
  4. SeaSky.org
  5. Wikipedia Encyclopedia

Moon and Jupiter – January 10, 2011

9:26 PM (PHT)

9:10 PM

Jupiter and the waxing crescent Moon, separated by just 10 degrees last January 10, 2011.

Despite the thick cloud cover over our place, I was lucky to get these two shots before both objects set:P

Photos taken using my point-and-shoot Kodak C813 8.0 MP Digital Camera.

 


Celestial Grouping on May 2011

Here is another rare planetary grouping that is hard to miss! 🙂

As soon as I came across this website shared by Daniel Fischer and read about the proximity of Venus and Jupiter to each other  on May 2011, I immediately ran my Stellarium software and simulated planetary positions throughout that month.

I got excited when I saw the nice planetary grouping of Jupiter, Venus, Mars and Mercury (you can add Uranus and Neptune to your count if you have binoculars or a small telescope) with the thin waning crescent Moon during the predawn hours of May 1 and 2.

Uranus could be found a few degrees above Venus but is too faint to see. Image: Stellarium screenshot

All of these celestial objects will lie just within the constellation Pisces, separated by only a few degrees from each other. 😀 This is a good opportunity to spot all these planets close together during one occasion.

In order to observe this, you must have a clear eastern horizon because they will appear very low in the sky. Also, be sure to bring a pair of binoculars to help you see these objects better and wake up early to avoid the glare of the sun.

Venus is, as always, the brightest and most visible of the planets, and it can be your guide to spotting the others. About half way between Venus and the rising sun is Jupiter, the second brightest planet.

Mars will be a tiny speck just above Jupiter, and Mercury another tiny speck about half way between Jupiter and Venus. Uranus is slightly more than one binocular field above and to the right of Venus, and Neptune is much farther to the right, about 40 degrees away in Aquarius.

The planetary grouping is visible from April 23 to May 30.

Checkout the eastern sky during the next mornings. Note: The time is in PST (UT+8)

Astrologers have always been fascinated by planetary alignments, and the doomsayers of 2012 have been prophesying a mystical alignment on Dec. 21, 2012. They view planetary alignments as foretellers of disasters. Modern amateur astronomers look forward to them as nothing more than grand photo ops. In fact, the modern tools of astronomers, such as planetarium softwares, show otherwise: absolutely no alignment at any time in 2012.

Happy observing 😀


October’s ‘Brightest Star’

As soon as the sun goes down and the sky is clear, who wouldn’t notice this bright object aside from the moon that dominates the evening sky?

Jupiter was at opposition last 21st of September, but remains big and bright this month. It is in retrograde motion, so it spent the first half of the month in the constellation Pisces, then moved into Aquarius last October 16.  Everyday it will rise higher and higher in the sky, and by the end of this month it could be found 50 degrees (about two and a half handspans at extended arms length) in the eastern sky a few minutes after sunset.

 

Moon and Jupiter (about 20 degrees apart) Oct. 21, 2010

Jupiter and Uranus are close together and can be seen near each other in a pair of binoculars. Uranus is the brightest object within a binocular field north of Jupiter, and is in fact bright enough to be (just) seen with the unaided eye under dark sky conditions.

 

Jupiter and Uranus in the constellation Pisces (photo details: Canon PowerShot SX20 IS 29mm, F/8, 15 sec. exposure, ISO-1600)

For many weeks to come, Jupiter will still be excellent in binoculars and small telescopes. If you want to view Jupiter’s moons, a pair of binoculars would be suffice to aid you.

However, one thing which really surprised me is that a friend’s camera, something that is in between a point-and-shoot and a Digital SLR, called Canon PowerShot SX20 IS was able to capture this awesome image featuring Jupiter and four of its largest moons, using only its maximum zoom in capacity. Canon PowerShot SX 20 has a 20x wide-angle zoom lens.

 

Would you believe that this was taken without a telescope or binoculars? 😀

Photo details: 100 mm focal length, F/5.7 lens aperture, 1 sec. exposure, ISO-200)

Amazing, isn’t it?

Meanwhile according to this forum, using larger telescopes with bigger aperture could help you see Jupiter’s belts.

I have seen them before through some telescopes, but I still wish to see them again through a personally owned one, hopefully soon. 😀

 

* * * *

images courtesy of U.P. Astronomical Society member, Andre Obidos

100 mm, F/5.7, 1sec exp. time, ISO-200)


Lunar Halo and Jupiter

In hope of observing the Orionids Meteor Shower, I and some UP Astrosoc friends planned to go to the south to avoid the unfavorable weather in Manila. Unfortunately, we were not able to pursue the plan due to the heavy rain. Instead, we went to Naic, Cavite, a town just a few kilometers outside Manila, a day after super typhoon Megi left the country to try our luck.

We arrived at the local beach resort and started setting up our things including our tent at around 11:00 PM. The sky was totally overcast, but the waning gibbous moon and a star, which I know was the planet Jupiter, were visible then.

After a few minutes of observing the two, we noticed a faint but full 22 degree lunar halo circling the moon. Jupiter was just within the circle. We even got more amazed as the halo became clearer when the moon reached the zenith. One of us took a shot of this stunning view using her Canon 400D Digital SLR camera.

Lunar halos are caused by sunlight being refracted by cirro-stratus clouds.  Cirro-stratus clouds are thin clouds, very high in the atmosphere, and are composed of ice crystals. The shape of the ice crystals results in a focusing of the light into a ring. They bend light at a 22 degree angle, which creates a solar halo or lunar halo that is 44 degrees in diameter.

Since the ice crystals typically have the same shape, namely a hexagonal shape, the Moon ring is almost always the same size. Less typical are the halos that may be produced by different angles in the crystals. They can create halos with an angle of 46 degrees.

 

Image courtesy of  Bea Banzuela.  Photo details: 18mm f/10 ISO-800 at 30 sec exposure. Click image to see larger version.

The sky remained overcast during the rest of the evening until twilight and so we were not able to see even a single fireball.

Nevertheless the attempt was worth a try, thanks to that wonderful halo which left us amazed and happy. 😀

 

Image courtesy of UP AstroSoc member Bea Banzuela.Taken using Canon 400D 18mm f/10 ISO-800 at 30 sec exposure 

 


Skygazing from Antipolo and Induction of Batch Zenith

To the newest members of UP AstroSoc (Batch Zenith), congratulations and welcome to the family! 😀

UP AstroSoc's Batch Zenith (photo credit: Ana Geronimo)

I just came home from an overnight event to welcome the newly-inducted members of my organization, UP Astronomical Society, at a private pool resort in Sitio Boso-Boso, Antipolo City (Philippines). The place was quite far away from the city, but the two-hour travel going to the location was all worth-it, thanks to the nice resort which accommodated us and the amazing view of the night sky from there. 🙂

I and my fellow orgmates, had fun identifying stars , planets and constellations which were not fully drowned by the moonlight from the waning gibbous moon.

We saw the mighty Jupiter behind the mountains in the east a few minutes after the crescent Venus set.  As the sky grew darker, we also saw more of my favorite star groups like Taurus the Bull which contains the bright star Aldebaran and the star cluster Pleiades; Auriga the Charioteer, and its alpha star Capella; the winter triangle which is composed of  the three bright stars, Sirius of the constellation Canis Major, Procyon of Canis Minor and Betelgeuse (beetle-juice) of the hunter Orion. The winged-horse Pegasus with Andromeda, the chained-lady were almost directly overhead at 11 PM.

I felt happy to have seen a clear night sky again 🙂

Hopefully, I could also take an escape further away from the city lights to see the Milky Way soon! Haha.

Congratulations again to Batch Zenith! 🙂


Jupiter and Uranus Aligns with the ‘Super Harvest Moon’ on the night of Autumnal Equinox

In the Philippines, this year’s autumnal or fall equinox will occur on September 23, 2010 at 11:oo AM (UTC+8).

Equinox is the time when  the length of night and day across the world is nearly, but not entirely, equal. The real time when there would be exactly 12 hours of sunlight and 12 hours of night usually occurs a few days after an equinox  — this time it will happen on October 1. After this, Philippine nights will be longer as the Sun approaches the celestial equator.

The full moon during the night of the equinox will be extra special because for the first time in almost 20 years, northern autumn is beginning on the night of a full Moon which is called the ‘Super Harvest Moon”.

Usually, the Harvest Moon (the name for the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox) arrives a few days to weeks before or after the beginning of fall. It’s close, but not a perfect match. The Harvest Moon of 2010, however, reaches maximum illumination a mere six hours after the equinox. This has led some astronomers to call it the “Harvestest Moon” or a “Super Harvest Moon.” There hasn’t been a comparable coincidence since Sept 23, 1991, when the difference was about 10 hours, and it won’t happen again until the year 2029.

On the same night, the Harvest Moon can be found soaring high overhead with the bright planet Jupiter and fainter Uranus beside it. These objects in the night sky will be in spectacular conjunction to mark the change in seasons.

You can easily catch them in the eastern sky just a few minutes after sunset. Keep an eye on the Moon as it creeps above the eastern skyline. The golden orb may appear strangely inflated but his is just the lunar illusion at work. For reasons not fully understood by astronomers or psychologists, a low-hanging Moon appears much wider than it really is. A Harvest Moon inflated by the moon illusion is simply gorgeous.

Jupiter (still shining at -2.79 magnitude) will be less than 1 degree from fainter Uranus. You need telescopes or binoculars to see Uranus though. The full moon will be just about 10 degrees apart from these two.

Clear skies and happy viewing! 😀