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Re: a view

Post by dean on Fri Dec 30, 2016 10:29 pm

Baja Night Sky # 96, Dec. 30, 2016 — 1) Sunset is around 5:42pm. The bright evening “star” in the west is Venus. By 6:30pm, Mars is visible to the upper left of Venus. 2) At midnight New Year’s Eve, look directly south. Half way to the zenith is Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. Below it, just above the horizon, is the second brightest star, Canopus. 3)The famous constellation Orion, the Warrior in Greek mythology, is at the upper right of Sirius. For the Pericue Indians of Baja Sur, the three stars forming Orion’s belt were the stepping stones the god Niparaja used to descend from the sky onto Cero El Puerto, the highest peak west of La Ventana & El Sargento. 4) Sunrise is around 7:02am. For early risers between 5 and 6am, the bright planet very high in the south is Jupiter . 5) 5:30am is the best time to spot the famous Southern Cross. It sits a fist above the horizon directly to the south. Two bright stars at the lower left point to its top. Orbiting the brighter and visible only thru powerful telescopes is the star Proxima Centauri, closest star to our Sun, with an Earth-size planet orbiting around it. Tom at BajaNightSky@gmail.com (Tom, nice to see you back! PonyHeadBlueBackground (2) (2))

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Re: a view

Post by dean on Wed Feb 03, 2016 10:38 pm

lpg wrote:Baja Night Sky #86 -- Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016: Iridium Flare, Crescent Moon joins Mercury,M25 Star Cluster, Scorpio: 1) Tonight at 6:41:50pm,one of the brightest Iridium flares for the year will burst over La Ventana/ElSargento for 3-5 seconds in the south about 4 fists above the horizon.Look for the satellite coming from the north 30 seconds earlier. 2) Youcan still catch 5 planets in the morning sky From 5:45-6:15am. Mercury will be easy to spot on Saturday morningin the SE just below a beautiful thin crescent Moon. Venus, Saturn, andMars lie along the arc from Mercury to a bright Jupiter high in thewest. 3) On Friday morning, thecrescent Moon will be above Venus. Sitting below and "touching" theMoon is M25, an open cluster of 600 or so stars born during the reign of dinosaurs. You can see about three dozen of these stars with binoculars. Theycover an area the size of the moon and are more than 2000 light years fromEarth. 4) Myfavorite constellation, Scorpio, hangs in the morning sky like a giant fishhook just west of Saturn. The red star Antares marks the heart of thescorpion. The black hole at the center of the Milky Way isjust to the left of the two stars in the tail of Scorpio. Search this area withbinoculars for several famous open star clusters. Tom at

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Re: a view

Post by dean on Sun Jan 24, 2016 8:17 am

BajaNight Sky # 84, Week of Jan. 24, 2016 -- 1) Two weeksago, the Southern Cross was standing upright just above the southern horizon at5:30 am. Stars rise 4 minutes earlier each night so this week you will haveto be up by 4:30am to see the S.C. upright exactly in the south. It will still be above the horizon at 5:30am,but lower and leaning to the west. 2) Aline from the bottom star of the Cross through the left crossbar star continued 4-5 times thedistance between them ends at a fuzzy patch of light the size of the moon, thegiant globular cluster Omega Centauri, a ball of 10 million stars. Use binoculars to make it easier to find. 3) Around 5:50 amto 6:15am is the best time to see all five visible planets in the sky together, a rare event. Find verybright Venus low in the SE sky. Mercury is less than half way to the horizon from Venus atthe 7-8 o'clock position. I finally found it at 6:15am Saturday. It will be higher and easier to locateJanuary 30 - February 6. Above Venus at the 1 o'clock position is Saturn with red Antares to its right. Aline from Venus through Saturn extended upwards in an arc takes you to Marsfarther to the SE. Its reddish hue distinguishes it from the star Spica just toits right. Continue along the arc to bright Jupiter high in the WSW (closer to west than SW). Withbinoculars see if you can spot up to 4 of Jupiter's brightest moons very closeto the planet and in line with the arc you followed from Venus. If you are notsure you are looking at a planet or a star, slowly cover it with your thumb. Aplanet will fade slowly, a star instantly. Stars twinkle, usually planets donot. On February 4-5, a crescent moon will join the planets near Venus. Tomat BajaNightSky

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Re: a view

Post by dean on Mon Apr 13, 2015 7:57 am

Baja Night Sky#81 -- Monday, April 13, 2015:   Clearmoonless skies are returning to the Cape Region this week so if you find yourselfwondering what to do, step outside and look at the night sky.   1) By 8pm, Arcturusand Spica are rising low in the east, the 4th and 15th brightest stars respectivelyin the night sky.  They are easy to findusing the Big Dipper, which is standing on its handle in the NE. As the saying goes, "Follow the arc of the BigDipper's handle to Arcturus and speed/spike/slide on to Spica."  Arcturus is in the kite-shaped constellationBootes. Can you spot the kite? Spica is in Virgo the Virgin at the lower right of its diamond asterism. Just to Spica's right is the slightly squished diamond shapeof Corvus the Crow. Leo the Lion is climbing the sky above Spica. Look for thebright star Regulus at the bottom of the backward question mark making up Leo'smane.    2) Now look for Venus, Aldebaran, and the Pleiadeslow in the west. You can't miss Venus glowing more than 10 times brighter than Sirius far to the upper left of Venus. The Pleiades or Seven Sisters are less than afist width to the lower right of Venus. Aldebaran in Taurus is about twice asfar from Venus at its upper left. 3) Finally, look low to the south. Do you seethe four stars forming a cross on its side? No, it's not the Southern Cross;It's the False Cross asterism in Vela the Sail. It could also pass as a kiter'sfoil! When the Southern Cross is in the South it stands upright. You can  spot it there between 11:30pm & 1:30am. It's worth staying up for this week. The brightest of the two stars tothe left of the Cross' base is Alpha Centauri, also known as Rigil Kentaurus.It is our closest neighboring star at 4.3 light years. If you have binoculars,use the bottom and left cross-bar star of the Cross as pointers. Follow them  three times their distance to Omega Centauri,the biggest and brightest Globular Cluster orbiting the Milky Way. You can seeits glow without binoculars, but it is easier to find with them. You arelooking at a ball of 5 million stars more than 17 million light years awayoutside of our Milky Way Galaxy.    4) I was intrigued by the recent announcement inthe Ventana View of  the publication of The Warming, a novel by a recent arrivalin El Sargento, Lorin R. Robinson.  Idownloaded the book from Amazon onto my tablet and spent the night readingit.  While some people discount the possibilityof human activity causing global warming, the Pentagon is planning how theywill meet the threat of rising sea level, mass migrations, terrorism, war, foodshortages, and increased disease that global warming could bring.  I am not looking forward to spending summerback in Sacramento where severe drought and higher-than-normal summer temperaturesare already making living there less attractive. The Warming, which is set in mid twenty-first century, looks at howthese threats might play out around the world. I found thechapters about a family in Bangladesh, an eco-activist in China, anda doctor in South Sudan especially gripping. Woven through these adventures is the story of a Woods HoleOceanographic Institute professor who becomes disillusioned with the slownessof academia, industry, and government to come up with workable solutions to The Warming.Professor Jon Carver steps out on his own adventure to find the best way tomeet these challenges. Along the way he makes some startling discoveries abouthis past life, and, of course, discovers romance. I was only disappointed thatthe author did not have his protagonistassure me that I will still be able to see enough stars in 2050 to have something to write about in the BNS.  5) Recent issues of the BNS are posted at www.ranchosotol.com.  Tom at 

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Re: a view

Post by dean on Thu Feb 19, 2015 10:17 am

BAJA NIGHT SKY #75 -- February 19, 2015: 1) On Friday, February 20, Venus and Mars will be less than half a degree apart in the west. Their conjunction will include a two-day-old thin crescent moon. Around 7pm should be a good time to view this triple gathering. 2) The other three visible planets, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mercury are also easy to find. Jupiter is the brightest object above the eastern horizon during the early evening. Binoculars should enable you see at least 3 of its 63 (so far) moons. Jupiter is also well-placed to guide you to the famous Praesepe or Beehive open star cluster also referred to as M44 (the 44th entry in Charles Messier's catalogue of hazy objects that are not comets). In dark skies it appears to the naked eye as a small cloud or hazy patch. It was known to the ancient Chinese, Greeks and other observers. But it was not until Galileo pointed his newly invented telescope at this patch in 1609 that is was shown to be a collection of at least 50 stars. Binoculars will show over 100, and a telescope several hundred. This open cluster likely formed from the same giant cloud of gas that the Hyades cluster in Toro the Bull came from. They are both about 600 million years old and at a distance of about 600 light years from Earth. To find M44, first locate Jupiter again in the eastern sky. Slightly less bright Sirius is off to the southeast. Now measure 10 degrees above Jupiter, one fist at arm's length, and scan just below that mark to find a hazy patch. To resolve the patch into individual stars, scan with binoculars. If you find it, you just found your first Messier object. Amateur astronomers try to find all 110 in a long evening of viewing. 3) To find Saturn and Mercury, you will have to be up between 5 and 6am, a beautiful time of the morning. Saturn is high in the southeast, just to the left of the scorpion's head in the large J-shaped constellation of Scorpio. It is the brightest "star" in the group. 4) Look for Mercury shining in the southeast, not more than a fist above the horizon. 5) And directly south, low on the horizon, is Alpha Centauri (also known as Rigel Kentaurus), closest star to Earth at 4.3 light years, and 3rd brightest star in the night sky. 6) If you actually got up before 5:30am, there are some other stars you can spot that normally you have to wait until a summer evening to see. The Summer Triangle made up of Vega (5th brightest star in the sky), Deneb and Altair is midway to the zenith in the east. Next, find the Big Dipper in the northwest and follow the arc of its handle south across the sky to Arcturus, 4th brightest star in the sky. Speed on past Arcturus to Spica. By the way, that bright "star" just setting in the west is Jupiter again. If you missed it rising last night, catch it now. Tom in El Sargento at BajaNightSky(@)

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Re: a view

Post by dean on Mon Feb 09, 2015 8:28 am

BAJA NIGHT SKY #74 -- Week of February 8/9 2015: 1) Keep an eye on Venus, the evening star for the next several months. Red Mars is less that a fist above Venus now, but Venus, the 2nd planet from the sun, is on a much faster track than Mars, the 4th planet. During the next two weeks, Venus will catch up and pass Mars as it climbs higher in the sky after sunset. It will double in brightness twice before reaching its greatest elongation from the sun this summer, about 45 degrees, when it will set 3 hours after sunset.
2) On Friday, February 20, Venus and Mars will close to less than half a degree apart, and their conjunction will include a two-day-old sliver of a crescent moon. Around 7pm should be a good time to view this triple gathering. 3) With the moon rising around 10pm or later for the next two weeks, dark skies should prevail. There is no need to know a thing about the night sky to enjoy it. Just sit outside and let your eyes roam the sky. And imagine what you might think if you were a Native American residing here 5000 years ago. If that does not stir a sense of wonder inside you, spend more time alone under the stars.
4) Between 9:30 and 10pm this week, the two brightest stars in the night sky are almost directly in the south. Find Sirius, the brightest star, high in the south beneath Orion. Can you pick out the stars that give it the shape of a dog --Canis Major -- standing on its hind legs? About 4 fists below it, low in the south, Canopus, the second brightest star, sparkles in changing colors as its lights passes through different layers of atmosphere. Every couple hundred thousand years, Sirius and Canopus trade places as the brightest star in the sky. As our galaxy makes a complete rotation around its massive black-hole center, the stars it carries along move at different rates, and now and then Canopus moves closer to our Sun and becomes brighter. By the way, while you are looking at Sirius, turn your back to it and look at the opposite horizon. You are looking in the direction we are moving as our Milky Way galaxy makes one complete rotation every 240,000 or so years. We have come a long way since Canopus was the brightest star in the night sky for our early ancestors. Tom in El Sargento at

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Re: a view

Post by dean on Sun Feb 01, 2015 1:27 pm

bpe
BAJA NIGHT SKY #73 for week of February 1, 2015 -- With weather services finally forecasting clear Baja Night Skies, here are highlights to watch for. 1) On Tuesday evening, Feb. 3, this month's Full Moon will rise about 6:11pm. A few minutes later, the solar system's largest planet, Jupiter, will rise just to the moon's left. Rising opposite the sun, Jupiter is at its brightest this month. At 2.5 times as massive as all the other planets combined, Jupiter acts as Earth's guardian. The giant planet's stronger gravity captures many asteroids that might otherwise crash into planet Earth. By 10pm, the Big Dipper will be standing vertically on Alkaid, the star at the end of its handle, in the NE (over Cerralvo in LV/ES). The star Regulus in Leo will sparkle in the east just below Jupiter, and to Regulus' left is the double star Algieba (use binoculars). The Winter Circle made up of 6 of the sky's brightest stars floats overhead, and in the south, Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, hangs high in the sky over Canopus, second brightest star. 2) Also Tuesday, from 6:50 to 6:56pm, the International Space Station (ISS) will make its first bright evening pass this year over Baja Sur. The ISS represents one of the greatest international scientific efforts to date. The first one included a team of French, Spanish and Mexican astronomers who journeyed to Santa Ana, Baja Sur, in 1769 to record the transit of Venus across the face of the sun; the results were used to determine the best estimate then of Baja's longitude and the distance to the sun. Look for the ISS to rise in the SW soon after 6:50pm. Around 6:52pm it will pass just to the SE of Venus and Mars, then pass almost overhead before grazing the star Mirach, in Andromeda, about 6:53pm. It will disappear in the NNE near the star Merak in the bowl of the rising Big Dipper. 3) Ten Million Stars You May Have Never Seen: For a few weeks from 4:30-5:30am (earlier thereafter), a spectacular globular cluster of 5-10 million stars sits 20 degrees above the southern horizon. Look from a location shielded from street and house lights. Measure two fists at arm's length to find a point 20 degrees above the due-south horizon. Use binoculars to scan for a hazy glow about the size of the moon in the region you located. A small telescope will show individual stars around the outside of a compact ball of millions of stars, some of the oldest in the universe. Before the invention of the telescope, this patch of light was thought to be a large, dim star so it was given a star's name, Omega Centauri. Now astronomers know that there is a halo of some 180 globular clusters orbiting around the Milky Way Galaxy. Omega Centauri is the largest and most luminous one. If you spot this luminous patch in the pre-dawn sky, you are seeing an object that is more than 15,000 light years away. For something closer to home, find the two bright stars just above the due-south horizon. The brighter one, Alpha Centauri, is the closest visible star to our Sun at 4.37 light years. At the ISS's velocity of 17,100 mph it would take about 170,000 years to get there. 4) If you are up between 4 and 6am these mornings, J-shaped Scorpious in the SSE is worth exploring with or without binoculars. That bright "star" next to the scorpion's head is Saturn. 5) Last year we visited Rancho La Duna for the first time and I think I saw 1000 stars I had never seen before. The dark sky, along with beautiful setting and hospitality of our gracious host Gabriela, made the visit an unforgettable experience. See the information below to participate in stargazing there this year. Tom in El Sargento at BajaNightSky

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Re: a view

Post by dean on Sat Jan 10, 2015 8:18 am

BAJA NIGHT SKY #69 for January 11/12, 2015 -- Venus-Mercury Conjunction. (1) Sunday & Monday, January 11 & 12, around 6:30pm, are good times to look for Venus & Mercury, which are about half a degree apart; they set soon after 7pm. Mercury is below and very close to brilliant Venus. Venus represents the goddess of love and seductive persuasion, and Mercury the god of financial success and eloquence. For any Venus celebrating a birthday today, this spectacular pairing of planets is for you. (2) This week may be the best time to look for comet 2014Lovejoy. It will be moving more or less northwest past Taurus the Bull and the Pleiades. The three belt stars of Orion point west to Aldebaran in Taurus. The V-shaped head of the bull points to the path of the comet. Scan with binoculars to find it. (3) At 5:30am this week, Crux, the Southern Cross, stands exactly on the south point of the horizon. If you have never seen it, this is your best chance. It disappears from view not too far north of the Cape Region, and is famous for guiding mariners in the Southern Hemisphere. With binoculars, look for the colorful open cluster of 100+ very young stars known as the Jewel Box just below Mimosa, the left cross-bar star. From Mimosa it is at the 4 o'clock position. Below the Jewel Box, scan for the Coalsack, a dark cloud of gas 70 light years in diameter that blocks out light from the Milky Way. This is a region where new stars are being born. (4) Around 5:30am on Friday, Jan. 16, Saturn and a crescent moon will be side by side in the eastern pre-dawn sky. The bright star beneath this pair is Antares, the heart of the scorpion constellation. There is a globular cluster of some 100,000 stars that can be spotted with binoculars very close to Antares at the one o'clock position. With Antares in the lower left field of view of binoculars, look for a fuzzy ball of light in the upper right. Tom at BajaNightSky@g

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Re: a view

Post by dean on Fri Jan 02, 2015 6:34 am

BAJA NIGHT SKY #68 for January 4/5, 2015. (1) A Full Moon (99.6%) will riseabout 5:42pm Sunday. Monday, at 98.7% full, the moon will rise around 6:34pm.(2) The Roman Gods, Mercury, Venus, and Mars, sparkle in the western skyafter sunset during January evenings this year. Look forthem around 6:30pm (Venus & Mercury set by 7pm). Most city dwellers havenever seen Mercury, closest planet to the Sun; the next few weeks offer thebest chance this year. Mercury is below brilliant Venus. They will move evencloser during the week. Two fists above them is the red planet Mars. (3) After9:30-10pm, look for Jupiter rising in the east, and Sirius low in the southeastbeneath Orion, and the Winter Circle of bright stars. Can you find them all by moving clockwise from Sirius (Procyon, Pollux/Castor, Capella, Aldebaran, Rigel)? The Big Dipper is risingin the northeast. (4) For brave souls upby 5:30-6am, Saturn is rising above redAntares, brightest star in Scorpius in the southeast. Other bright stars in the pre-dawn eastern sky are Vega, Arcturus, and Spica. (5) A reader reported a bright "liquidfireball" falling from the sky last month over Campamento, a great description ofa larger-than-normal Gemini meteor burning itself out in the upper atmosphere. On December 30, a group in Cerritos watched a comet-like object move eastward across the southern sky for 30 minutes beginning at 7:30pm. Did anyone else spot these objects? Tom

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Re: a view

Post by dean on Sun Dec 14, 2014 2:19 pm

Baja Night Sky -- December 14/15, 2014: 1) Watch for Mars around 6:45pm above the SW horizon. You will have to stay up until at least 11pm to see bright Jupiter rising above the star Regulus in the Sickle, a backward question-mark asterism in the constellation Leo. Early Friday morning, December 19, between 5:45am and 6:10am, watch for Saturn rising in the east just below a waning crescent moon. 2) Here are a few things to think about to increase your wonder and appreciation of the universe the next time you are out naked-eye stargazing. All of the distinct, individual stars you see are part of our Milky Way galaxy. And you can't see more than 2500 of them in the entire night sky at any one time even though there are at least 200 billion more. You can't see any stars outside our galaxy. But if you know where to look, you can see the hazy glow of another 400 billion stars in the Andromeda Galaxy 2.5 million light years away. The 2500 stars you can see are all bigger than the Sun. And they are all 2nd or 3rd generation stars. First generation stars were 100 times more massive than the Sun. They formed from hydrogen and helium 100 to 250 million years after the Big Bang. During their short lives, they manufactured the elements we are made of before exploding as supernovae. Their remains seeded second and third generation stars like our Sun. You carry around some of the star dust they manufactured. Less than 50 of the stars you can see at any one time have proper names like Antares, Betelgeuse or Rigel. The rest are just named by numbers or Greek letters. Can you name ten? On average, a star in our galaxy explodes as a supernova every 50 to 100 years. The supernova spotted in Cassiopeia by Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, November 1572, was the last one seen in the Milky Way galaxy. It goes by the name 3C 10 and was brighter than Venus. It disappeared from view in 1574. We are long overdue. The three leading supernovae candidates are the ones named above. Take a long look at the night sky the next time you have a chance. And keep an eye on Antares, Betelgeuse and Rigel.

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Re: a view

Post by dean on Mon Dec 08, 2014 4:59 am

Tom missed this one...

http://www.gizmag.com/orion-splashdown/35077/?utm_source=Gizmag+Subscribers&utm_campaign=3563cd17ca-UA-2235360-4&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-3563cd17ca-90245106

Another chapter in the history of spaceflight was written today at 8:29am PST, as the EFT-1 mission ended with the splashdown of the Orion capsule in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California. Though designed to carry astronauts into deep space, the Orion was unmanned for the flight, which was planned to certify the spacecraft and test critical flight systems.

The Orion was launched earlier today at 7:05am EST from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy booster on a four-and-a-half-hour flight. The launch was delayed from its scheduled Thursday liftoff due to a sudden rise in local winds that exceeded safety parameters, followed by a pair of valve malfunctions.

The capsule and its dummy service module flew on a two-orbit trajectory that took it farther than any man-rated craft since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. At its highest altitude, Orion traveled 3,600 mi (5,800 km) away from our planet. When it returned to Earth, it was moving at a speed of 20,000 mph (32,000 km/h) and generated temperatures reaching 4,000⁰ F (2,200⁰ C).

Splashing down in the Pacific 270 mi (435 km) off the coast of Baja, it is awaiting recovery by specially-trained US Navy divers in Zodiacs from the USS Anchorage assisted by the salvage ship USNS Salvor. Once the craft is determined to be safe, it will be brought aboard Anchorage before being taken ashore and transported by road to the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Over the next few weeks, scientists and engineers will assess data from its telemetry and flight recorders.

NASA says that the next flight of the Orion will take place no later than 2018, when it will be launched using the agency's Space Launch System (SLS).

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Post by dean on Thu Dec 04, 2014 8:25 am

BAJA NIGHT SKY -- December 2014: 1) That Old Devil Moon rises as the Full Moon about 6:06pm Saturday evening, December 6, 99.4% illuminated--pretty close to 100% full. However, when the moon rises Friday evening, December 5 at 5:15pm, it will be even brighter--99.7%. How can Friday's Moon be brighter than Saturday's Full Moon? Well, Friday's Moon is 14 minutes closer to Astronomical Full Moon, which only lasts an instant at 5:25:56am Saturday morning when the moon will be exactly opposite the sun. So Saturday's Moon gets the Full Moon title though it's not as full as Friday's. Of the two close-to-full Moons, Friday's will be the most interesting. It will be caught between the horns of Taurus the Bull, with the Bull's red eye, the giant star Aldebaran, close to its edge at the 4 o'clock position. This should make great viewing with binoculars. 2) Sun-wise people know that the shortest day of the year is the winter solstice, around December 21, when the sun rises, transits, and sets furthest south in the Northern Hemisphere. Nevertheless, it is not the day of the latest sunrise or earliest sunset. For reasons related to Earth's tilt, elliptical orbit, and increasing speed as it orbits closer to the sun than average during our winter, the earliest sunsets occur early December, and the latest sunrises occur early January. The winter solstice is the day to check noontime shadows. The sun's low path across the sky casts the longest shadows of the year. Use them to position your kitchen garden or other sun-loving plants. 3) The Geminids Meteor Shower begins Saturday evening, December 13 and continues until morning. Most meteor showers are caused by tiny debris from comets. The Geminids come from a rocky asteroid with a comet-like orbit. As the asteroid passes close to the sun every 1.46 years, thermal fracturing sheds rocky chunks into the asteroid's orbit. When Earth crosses this orbit, chunks entering our atmosphere burn as bright fireballs. They tend to come in groups, so be patient if you go out to watch for them. 4) Orion returns in December, another sign of approaching winter. Look for the hunter climbing the SE sky around 10pm, 9pm mid month, and 8pm by month's end. The group's brightest stars, Betelgeuse and Rigel, are at opposite corners. Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, shines just below Orion. Tom at

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Re: a view

Post by dean on Sun Nov 02, 2014 8:47 am

BAJA NIGHT SKY for November, 2014. 1. If you wake up early, the eastern sky is worth exploring between 5:30 and 5:45am while it is still dark before sunrise around 6:30am. Look slightly north of east for the Big Dipper standing vertically on its handle. Follow the arc of the handle down and to the south to the bright Star Arcturus. Only 37 light years away, and with a diameter 26 times greater than the sun's, Arcturus is the nearest giant star to our solar system, the brightest north of the celestial equator, and 4th brightest in the entire night sky. Just to the right of Arcturus, look for Mercury. Over the next few days you can detect its motion by matching its position relative to the star Spica. Mercury is just above and to the left of Spica now, will be opposite it on the 5th, and below it on Saturday, the 8th at the 8 o'clock position. It's moving towards the sun fast and will soon be lost in its glare. The faint group of 4 stars forming a diamond on Spica's right is the constellation Corvus the Crow. 2. About an hour after sunset, try to spot Mars just above the teakettle-shaped constellation Sagittarius low in the southwest. Sagittarius is tipped to the right as if pouring water where the sun set. The summer triangle is still visible in the western sky with the bright start Vega marking its lower right corner. Altair is at the left corner, and Deneb the top vertex. 3. The only other planet visible now is Jupiter, which rises soon after midnight in the northeast. Currently it is the brightest object in the night sky after the moon. 4. November's Full moon rises about 5:46pm on Thursday, about 15 degrees north of due east. 5. One of the best meteor showers of the year, the Leonids, hits earth's atmosphere late Monday evening, November 17, through early Tuesday morning. It should produced 15 to 30 bright trails across the sky per hour. It often surprises with many more.
Tom, still in light-polluted Sacramento

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Re: a view

Post by dean on Mon Feb 24, 2014 8:04 am

Baja Night Sky. Monday, Feb.24: (1) A stunning crescent moon will cozy up to a dazzling Venus in the SE sky on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings until about 6:15am--better than reality TV! (2) Antares, Saturn, and Mars, from S to SW, are still hanging out along the ecliptic until around 6:00am. Notice the stars on either side of Saturn. They used to be the claws of Scorpio. The upper one to the east is Zubeneschamali, Arabic for northern claw. The lower one to the west is Zubenelgenubi. What does that mean? Binoculars will reveal it to be a double star. Today they are the pans of the balance scale in the constellation Libra. (3) Also in the early morning sky: the summer triangle made up of Vega (top), Deneb (top of Northern Cross), and Altair in the east, the Big Dipper in the NW, and Arcturus overhead. (4) Wednesday evening the ISS passes overhead. It appears near Cassiopeia in the NW around 7:16pm, passes Capella in Auriga at 7:18pm, Castor and Pollux in Gemini around 7:18:30pm, and Procyon in Canis Minor at 7:19pm before disappearing at 7:20pm. (5) I'm always surprised by the views of the night sky through binoculars. Their wide field of view gives a more pleasing look to open star clusters, such as the Pleiades, than the narrow one through a powerful telescope. The moon however, can be so bright it almost blinds you. Try looking at the moon when it is up during the daytime. Look for dark seas of lava, craters and their rays of ejected rock, and mountains. Tom S.

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Re: a view

Post by dean on Thu Jan 30, 2014 9:01 am

Baja Night Sky: Bird Watchers go to the ends of the Earth to add another species to their life list. Star Gazers go to the ends of the Universe to add to theirs. This week, you can add a day-old crescent Moon, a Moon-Mercury conjunction, two unusual stars, and several constellations you won't see from latitudes farther north. New Moon and Mercury. Friday evening, Jan. 31, the day-old crescent moon is in conjunction with Mercury just to its upper left after sunset. Look between 6:15 and 6:45pm (about 45 minutes after sunset in La Ventana). Saturday, the moon's larger waxing crescent will be above Mercury and easier to spot. Achernar can't be seen north of latitude 30. It is the 9th brightest star, and is spinning so fast it is the most oblate star found so far in our galaxy. Look for it just above the S/SW horizon between 7-8pm. Don't confuse it with bright star Canopus far to its left. Achernar means The River's End. Can you spot the constellation Eridanus, the string of some 40 faint stars that begins at Rigel, the right foot of Orion, and meanders back and forth to the river's end at Archner? Crux, the Southern Cross, is over the S horizon at 4am, and Scorpius, whose heads now points at Saturn, is high in the SE at 5:30am. Antares, the brightest star in Scorpius, is a red supergiant with a radius 400 times that of our sun. Like other red supergiants such as Betelgeuse in Orion, it will explode into a supernova sometime in the next 40 million years or so. The ISS makes a dozen passes this week, but only three bright ones. The first is Friday morning, rising about 5:54am in the NE above the bowl of the Big Dipper, and setting in the SW about 5:57am between Venus and Mars. Sunday, Feb2 the ISS appears about 7:15pm very low in the S/SW near Achernar. The ISS will continue towards the NE and pass near Sirius, below Orion, about 7:17:45pm. Tuesday evening the ISS rises in the SW heading NE about 7:15pm. It passes near the moon at 7:16: 30, Andromeda at 7:17:30, and Cassiopeia at 7:18pm. Supernova SN J2014: You will need dark skies and a telescope to spot the supernova above the bowl of the Big Dipper. A diagonal line through bowl stars Phecda and Dubhe (the last one in the bowl), extended upward its own length, lands near the galaxy M82 where the supernova is located.

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Re: a view

Post by dean on Sun Jan 19, 2014 8:57 pm

Baja Night Sky--Monday, January 20, 2014. Participate in the GlobeAtNight.org light pollution survey. All week,
beginning Monday evening between 8-10pm, you can help fight light pollution by
simply counting the stars you see in the constellation Orion and entering the
result at the above web site. Enter your longitude and latitude (use the site map
or app), click on your sky condition, click
on the star map that is closest to your count, and hit SEND. That's it. Get out
there!
Venuswas
the brightest object in the southwest just after sunset only two weeks ago. It's now the brightest object in the southeast before sunrise. How
did that happen so quick? It rises abut
5am, but is easier to find between 6 and 6:30am. It is still a beautiful
crescent through telescope and binoculars. I found it Sunday morning at 6:30
just above the clouds and haze on the horizon. I still have not found Mercury, low in the southwest about
half an hour after sunset. See if you
can do better.
The Southern Crossis still over the south point of the horizon around 5am. And there are
many other interesting things to see in the Southeast sky at this time.
Scorpius, with the red star Antares at its heart, is also low in the southeast.
Its tail just dips into the Milky Way not far from the black hole at the center
of our galaxy. German astronomers
recently discovered a giant cloud of gas and dust headed for this object. It
will be the first time we get to watch what happens when something is swallowed
by the gravitational gulp of a black hole. Above the Cross and Scorpius try to
identify Mars, Spica, Saturn, and further east, Arcturus. The Big Dipper now hangs low in the north at
5am.
John Dobson, inventor or the Dobsonian Telescope and founder of Sidewalk Astronomers died this week at the age of 98. If astronomy and telescopes interest you, Google his name for an interesting story.

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Re: a view

Post by dean on Mon Dec 30, 2013 8:27 am



The Baja Night Sky -- December 31- Jan. 3. The ISS will pass overhead on Tuesday, December 31. It will rise in the NW at 6 pm and pass near the bright star Vega about 6:02:30 pm and continue across the sky towards the SE for 5-6 minutes more; times are the same in Los Barriles. Check out Vega when the ISS passes nearby. Its brightness is the standard for visible stars. Assigned a magnitude of zero, Vega is about 100 times as bright as a star with magnitude 5, probably the faintest star most of us can see in a Baja dark sky. This week Vega is about the same altitude as Venus, but in the NW sky opposite Venus in the SW. At magnitude -5, Venus is about 100 times as bright as Vega.
The Dark or new moon occurs at 4:14am on January 1 when it is between the Earth and Sun . In some religious traditions, the month begins when the young crescent moon is first seen by at least three people. Dusk on Wednesday provides an opportunity to re-enact this ancient tradition when the new moon is only 13+ hours old. You will be 1 in 100,000 if you spot it. Go outside about 5:15 pm, or soon after sunset Wednesday evening. Start watching above the sunset point. Binoculars will help. Two other things should help. The crescent moon is about 8 degrees (less than a fist) below and slightly to the right of Venus. In addition, it is at perigee, its closest approach to earth, which will make the crescent larger than normal. If you don't see it on January 1, try again on the 2nd, but just above Venus. Either evening it should be a spectacular sight.
Flare. Wednesday evening an Iridium satellite will flare briefly at 6:13:07 pm in the SSW about 30 degrees above the horizon. Quadrantid meteor shower. Several people reported seeing 5-6 meteors per minute during December's early-morning Gemini shower. The Quadrantids average about 1 every few minutes. It peaks Friday morning, January 3, between 4 and 5:30 am. Watch the entire sky, but especially the northeast where the radiant is located; this meteor stream sometimes peaks a day early, so if you rise by 5:30 am Thursday, check then also. Venus is only visible for another week before it disappears into the sun's glare. Its crescent is getting thinner and longer making a beautiful view in binoculars or telescope.

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Re: a view

Post by dean on Thu Dec 26, 2013 4:39 am



Baja Night Sky -- Thursday, Dec. 26 thru Monday, Dec. 30 -- Venus is the
bright planet in the west just after sunset. It sets soon after 7pm. Although it
looks like a bright disk to the unaided eye, through binoculars or telescope it
appears like a thin crescent moon as it nears conjunction with the sun. In a
few weeks it will be invisible in the sun's glare, then reappear a few weeks later
as the morning star. An hour or so after Venus sets, Jupiter should be high enough in the east to view. It is to the
north of Sirius and much brighter. Binoculars will reveal as many as 4 of its
larger moons; currently on the same side of the sun as Earth, Jupiter is at its
closest and brightest approach for the year. If you are up between 4:30am and
5:30am, Saturn, the crescent moon,
Spica, and Mars are all lined up along the ecliptic, the sun's annual path
through the stars. Friday morning, Saturn is low in the SE, the Moon is just
below Spica which is below Mars. By Sunday morning, the Moon has moved below
Saturn. The bright star to the left of Spica is Arcturus.The ISS makes a bright pass across the northern sky Saturday
evening from NW to NE. It should be visible low in the NW by 6:50pm. It passes
near the North Star about 6:51:30pm, then fades out of sight about 6:53pm near
the bright star Capella, one corner of the Winter Hexagon. Monday evening there
will be a bright Iridium flare lasting about 6 seconds at 6:37:57pm. Look high
in the Northwest sky (altitude 66 degrees and 20 degrees west of true north).
Flare times are 10 to 15 seconds earlier in the Los Barriles and Cabo San Lucas areas.

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Re: a view

Post by dean on Mon Dec 09, 2013 7:53 am

Baja Night Sky December 9-13. We may have clear skies this week; if so, here is what to expect. For the rest of the month, Venus will continue to be the bright evening "star" in the west before sunset. But catch it soon. It's headed back towards the sun. Presently Venus sets in the SW around 8pm just as Jupiter rises in the NE (over Cerralvo in LV/ES). By 10pm Jupiter dominates the eastern sky. Look for Orion, slightly higher in the sky to the south, and the brightest star of all night skies--Sirius--just below Orion.  Can you find the bright stars of the Winter Hexagon/Circle? Start at Sirius and travel clockwise around the stars Procyon,  the twins Castor & Pollux,  Capella,  Aldebaran (red eye of Taurus the bull), Rigel (a foot of Orion), and back to Sirius. Get to know them. They will be with us all winter and spring. If you are awake before 6am, see if you can find Saturn low in the SE and Mars much higher in the sky above it. The top of the Southern Cross is just peeking over the southern horizon by 6am. You will need sharp eyes to spot it.
Monday night, Dec. 9. The International Space Station (ISS) will take you on a tour of the sky if you just step outside. It will rise around 5:53pm just to the west of Venus. Around 5:56pm it should pass near the star Altair in Aquila, then reach maximum height just east of the bright star Vega around 5:57pm. It passes the North Star around 5:58pm before fading out around 6:01pm. It should be visible for almost 6 minutes.  By chance,  a NORAD satellite will rise in the south around 5:53pm also.  The paths of the two satellites will cross near Polaris. You may need binoculars to spot the NORAD satellite so early Monday evening. The ISS should be bright and easy to spot.

Friday night, December 13, will provide a bright Iridium Flare at 7:39:38pm in LV/ES (10 to 20 seconds later in LB/CSL and not as bright). Look low in the SSE (a fist or so to the left of due south). Remember, these flares only last about 5-10 seconds. The Geminids Meteor Shower, often one of the best, occurs Friday evening through early Saturday morning. There are usually a couple dozen meteors per hour. While they radiate from the area of  the constellation Gemini, you are most likely to spot one in the darkest part of the sky for the time you are observing.

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Re: a view

Post by dean on Sat Nov 23, 2013 2:50 pm

Baja Sky Tonight--Comet/Planet Update: There are three comets in the early morning sky that are possible to find using binoculars under the right conditions. Unfortunately, a bright moon in the west, and low clouds on the eastern horizon have made comet viewing difficult. I finally saw Comet Ison Friday morning between 5:35 and 5:45am using 8x35 binoculars.  Sunday and Monday, November 24-25, between 5:35 and 5:45am with be the last chance to catch Ison before it skims the Sun's surface on Thursday. If it survives this close encounter, we could have a good view of the comet during most of December. Sunday about 5:35am look for bright Mercury low in the Southeast. If there are no clouds on the horizon, Saturn will be just below Mercury by a couple finger widths. Between 5:40 and 5:50am look for Comet Enke to the right and slightly below Saturn, and just to Enke's right Comet Ison. Comet Ison has the longer tail. On Monday Mercury and Saturn will be just a degree or so apart, and by Tuesday morning they will have switched places as Mercury heads back towards the sun while Saturn climbs higher in the sky. Mars is also in the eastern sky about 60 degrees above Mercury and Saturn, and 30 degrees above the star Spica. The bright star just to the north of due east (over the end of Cerralvo In LV/ES) is Arcturus. Comet Lovejoy,  much dimmer but possible to find with binoculars, is about 5 degrees below the handle of the Big dipper high in the early morning northeast sky.The first bright Iridium Flare in a while will brighten up the SSW sky (23 degrees west of due south) for a few seconds Sunday evening at 5:41:53pm in La Ventana and El Sargento only. It should be easily found even though the sun will have just set. Look for it about 32 degrees above the horizon (3 fists at arm's length). 

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Re: a view

Post by dean on Fri Nov 15, 2013 11:33 am

Baja Night Sky for Sunday/Monday, November 17/18, 2013. Comet Ison is one of 4 comets presently in the night sky. If you don't mind getting up at 5:30am, the comet should be easy to find using binoculars, and possibly without binoculars in a few more days. Look east around 5:30am. The bright star in the east (over end of Cerralvo) is Arcturus. To the right of Arcturus about 30 degrees (over Punta Arena), and slightly lower is another bright star, Spica. On Sunday morning Ison will be just above Spica about 2 degrees (one finger width at arms length). On Monday morning Ison will be just below Spica.

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Re: a view

Post by dean on Mon Nov 04, 2013 11:10 am

 Baja Night Sky for November, 2013:  Venus dominates the SW sky after sunset. The constellation Orion is just rising in the east as Venus sets in the west about 9pm. Jupiter should be visible rising in the east by 11pm,  and will be almost overhead as you face south around 5am, just above Orion to its lower right.  Wed. Nov. 6: Check out Venus soon after sunset when a four-day-old crescent moon passes just above the planet. After the sky darkens,  use binoculars to look between Venus and the crescent moon for two hazy gas clouds, the Lagoon and Trifid nebulae. Saturn and Mercury are presently too close to the sun to be seen. Sunday morning before dawn Nov. 17: The annual Leonids meteor shower peaks early this morning. It will probably disappoint as a bright moon will be up most of the night. Sunday evening Nov. 17,  6pm:Tonight the full moon will rise just before 6pm a few degrees north of due east. Tides will rise higher than normal for a couple of days on either side of full moon. Mon. Nov. 25: Mercury & Saturn  are  moving out of the sun's glare in the east before dawn. This morning you can see them about 1 degree apart low in the eastern sky 30-60 minutes  before sunrise.  With binoculars -- or the unaided eye if we are lucky -- try to spot comet Ison just below the two planets as it heads for the sun. Thurs. Nov. 28: Comet Ison  is on track to loop around the sun today.  If the sun's heat and gravity do not break the comet into pieces as is passes near the surface (600,000 miles), it should put on a spectacular show for us before sunrise during December. 
via the view

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Re: a view

Post by dean on Mon Mar 04, 2013 7:53 am

Baja Night Sky-Week of March 3, 2013: Jupiter is overhead in a moonless sky at 7pm. The other planets are lost in the glare of the sun. If you are up between 4:30am and 5:30am for the next two weeks of dark skies, you can catch the curving tail and stinger, red beating heart, and upper body and head of the constellation Scorpius pointing right at the planet Saturn. Look towards the SE sky. It is one constellation that looks like the thing it represents. Back north of the border won't see this sight. If you still haven't seen an Iridium Flare,there will be one Tuesday evening at 7:59:23pm, and another Wednesday evening at 7:55:18pm. Times are for El Sargento and La Paz. At the latitude of Los Barriles, add 11 seconds, and at Cabo add 22 seconds. Both are about half way to the zenith in the SSE sky--that's half way from SE to S. There are 88 modern constellations recognized by the International Union of Astronomers, including around 48 groupings of stars described by the ancient Greeks. Most of the newer ones can only be seen from the Southern Hemisphere. There are many asterisms, easily recognized patterns of stars, such as the Southern Cross and the Big Dipper, that are a part of one or more constellations. Many asterisms have geometric shapes that probably inspired ideas we all learned in geometry. One of those is the large Winter Triangle with stars from three different constellations.This week, between 8pm and 10pm, when you are facing south, the Winter Triangle is high in the sky, Its bottom star is Sirius, brightest star--not planet--in the sky. It's just below the constellation Orion.To the upper left of Sirius is Procyon, a corner of the Winter Hexagon asterism. To the upper right of Sirius find Betelgeuse, the red star at the right shoulder of Orion (left facing Orion). In your mind's eye, connect straight lines from Sirius to Procyon to Betelgeuse and back to Sirius. That's the Winter Triangle, an almost perfect equilateral triangle. Remember her? Equal sides imply equal angles, and an altitude to any side creates two 30-60 right triangles with hypotenuse twice aslong as shortest side. I'm sorry, I was a teacher. Some other asterisms are kites, sails, teapots, DNA strands, fish hooks, and squares. Go out some night and find yourself an asterism of your own. Tom S.

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Re: a view

Post by dean on Fri Feb 01, 2013 6:07 pm

BAJA NIGHT SKY -- Week of February 3: With the moon rising after midnight, along with Saturn, and the prospect of fewer clouds by midweek, the night sky should be darker, and stars brighter. Have you noticed that the stars of the winter night sky appear brighter than those of the summer night sky? During summer evenings, we are looking out at the bright central core of our galaxy, and through 6 or more of its spiral arms, making the background sky brighter, and by contrast, nearby stars dimmer. Six months later, we have traveled to the outside portion of our orbit with respect to the galaxy core. So on winter evenings we are looking away from the galaxy core, and through only two spiral arms, into deep space.So the background night sky is darker, andnearby winter stars brighter. Orion and the Winter Hexagon (WH) are high in the south between 8 and 10 pm, set between Jupiter above, and Sirius below, the two brightest objects in the evening sky now. Jupiter, just to the right of the WH, is still visible all night. Its four largest moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto are all visible through a small telescope when not hiding in Jupiter's shadow. On January 30th, Jupiter ended its westward retrograde motion among the stars, an illusion due to Earth passing Jupiter on our faster and closer orbit of the sun; Now Jupiter is heading eastward again towards the center of the WH. You can still find The Orion Nebula, and The Andromeda Galaxy using binoculars on dark, moonless nights. Scan the sky under the first star of Orion's belt, along the sword; you should see a greenish cloud where new stars are being formed. The Andromeda Spiral Galaxy is a little more difficult to find.
Between 7 and 8pm, find the 4 stars forming the large Square of Pegasus above the slightly-to-the-north-of-west horizon. From the eastern-most star of the square, two streamers of 3 stars each flow eastward. Scan just above the middle star of the top streamer. The galaxy, 2.3 million light years away, covers an area in the sky several times larger than the moon. It is the closest spiral galaxy visible to the naked eye. The International Space Station makes 10 passes over Baja Sur between the 2nd and 7th of February. The pass most likely to have clear skies is on Thursday evening, rising in the SW around 6:28pm and heading NE. It will pass near Jupiter and Capella before entering Earth's shadow about 6:34pm. On Thursday and Friday, Mercury and Mars will be next to each other low in the SW sky half an hour after sunset. Mercury is the brighter of the two. It is moving away from the sun, Mars towards it. Binoculars will make them a more interesting sight. Can you navigate by the moon or Milky Way? Scientists in South Africa have found that dung beetles there, on clear nights, use the moon or Milky Way to head in a straight line from a dung pile to their nest. The next time you are out at night, would you be able to use one or the other to find your way back home? Tom S.

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Re: a view

Post by dean on Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:34 am

Baja Night Sky, Wednesday, January 23: After Monday's spectacular conjunction with Jupiter, the moon will be near the center of the Winter Hexagon (WH) tonight.. The WH contains 7 of the 20 brightest stars in our night sky, and 3 more are nearby. If you are outside tonight, look for the moon to locate these bright stars. Beginning with the brightest, they are: 1. Sirius below Orion at the 7 o'clock position on the WH, 2. Canopus, low on the SSE horizon during the early evening, 6. Capella, at one o'clock on the WH, 7. Rigel, at 5 o'clock on the WH, Orion's right foot, 8. Procyon, at 8 o'clock on the WH, 9. Achernar, low on the SSW horizon, 10. Betelgeuse, Orion's left arm just under the moon, 14. Aldebaran, at 4 o'clock on the WH under Jupiter, 17. Pollux at 10 o'clock on the WH, and 18. Fomalhaut, low on the SW horizon. Iridium Flare: In La Ventana/El Sargento tonight there will be a very bright Iridium Flare low (3 fists) in the south, just to the left of due south at 7:43:45pm. It will be 8 seconds later in Los Barriles and not as bright.. Three days to a 6pm Full Moon and the afternoon/early evening Art Shows in El Sargento at Lana Lane and adjacent Casa Caracol. Music and. Big telescope viewing of the moon, Jupiter, and Nebula from 7 to 8:30pm. Tom S.

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Re: a view

Post by dean on Mon Jan 14, 2013 6:10 am

BAJA NIGHT SKIES --Week of January 12/13, 2013: New Moon, the moment the moon is invisible between the earth and the sun, occurred Friday around 1pm. For the next few nights, a thin crescent moon will hang low in the southwest after sunset. On Saturday and Sunday evenings between 6 and 7 pm, see if you can spot The Red Planet Mars just below the crescent moon. With the crescent moon setting between 7pm and 11pm for the next 4 or 5 nights, we should have dark skies, and if they are free of clouds and artificial light, excellent star gazing conditions. Connect the "horns" of the crescent moon with an imaginary bow string, load an arrow and shoot. Your arrow is headed directly at the sun which is below the horizon. I wonder if this sight inspired the invention of the bow and arrow? By 7pm this week, the Winter Circle/Hexagonof stars will have risen in the southeast sky. Learning the names and locations of these stars will enable you to "star hop"to nebula, other galaxies, and star clusters using just the naked eye or binoculars. Start with Aldebaran in Taurus, which is just below Jupiter, the brightest star-like object currently in the eastern evening sky. Continue down to Rigel, the right foot/knee of Orion. Nearby, under Orion's belt, try to find the great green Orion Nebula, an active star factory. From Rigel drop down to Sirius, the second brightest object after Jupiter. Just below Sirius is the open star cluster M41, easily seen through binoculars. From Sirius head east to Procyon of science fiction fame. This leg takes you across a spiral arm of our Milky Way Galaxy, rich with stars through binoculars. Sirius, Procyon and Betelgeuse (the red left hand/arm of Orion) form the Winter Triangle. The final three sides go from Procyon northwest to Pollux and Castor in Gemini, then west to Capella in Auriga, and finally back down to Aldebaran. Just to the west of Jupiter is the open star cluster known as The Pleiades or seven sisters. Binoculars reveal many more stars in this cluster. The bright morning "star" Venus is rising later each morning as it heads towards a rendezvous with the sun. Soon it will disappear in the sun's glare, then reappear in the west as the evening star. Tom S.

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Re: a view

Post by dean on Mon Dec 24, 2012 6:24 am

BAJA NIGHT SKIES -- CHRISTMAS 2012: The winter solstice in the northern hemisphere occurred December 21, when the sun "stood still" at its most southerly position on the horizon. The Mayans and other ancient cultures noted this event annually, but it usually took another 4 days, until December 25, to be sure the sun was once again starting its march north hearlding longer days. Many cultures celebrated this event around December 25, and the date for Christmas was chosen to coincide with these ancient celebrations. A Christmas Iridium Flare: If Baja skies are clear Christmas night, an Iridium Flare will briefly flash low in the southern sky (30 degrees elevation, 10 degrees west of due south) at 6:32:10pm (10/20 seconds later in LB/CSL). After the flare, check out Jupiter and the Moon rising in the east. All Christmas night, there will be a spectacular pairing of an almost-full-moon with the planet Jupiter. Like a diamond on a ring, Jupiter will sparkle on the moon's edge at the 11 o'clock position. Thanks go to the person who turned off all electricity to La Ventana/El Sargento for 4 hours the night of the Geminids shower. Unfortunately, clouds hid the shower from view. Remember, when clouds hide night skies, you can see shooting stars in someone's eyes. In other locations the shower was impressive. NASA cameras in Cartersville, Georgia, photographed a Geminids meteor that flared brighter than the moon. A Full Moon will rise soon after 6:20pm on Friday evening, December 28. In La Ventana/El Sargento, look for it to rise a few minutes later from behind the south end of Cerralvo. Tom

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Re: a view

Post by dean on Thu Dec 13, 2012 3:37 am

BAJA NIGHT SKIES Thursday, Dec. 13 -- Geminid meteor shower: The peak hours for this shower should be around 10pm Thursday, December 13, until dawn, December 14. If we have clear skies, observers in dark-sky locations can expect to see up to 100 meteors per hour, especially after midnight . Look for the lingering smoke trails that brighter Geminid meteors often leave in the night sky. To see the top count, find a dark location with a full view of the sky and no nearby lights. There's no moon Thursday evening, but a 60 watt bulb, naked or in a traditional outdoor light fixture, can ruin the night sky for you and neighbors a half mile away, and cause havoc for insomniacs, migrating birds, and turtles. Turn outdoor lights off Thursday evening. Dress warm and fill a thermos with something hot to drink (alcohol interferes with the eye's dark adaptation as well as the visual perception of events, according to Astronomy Magazine). If it is cloudy Thursday night, go outside any dark, clear night. Some of the best meteor showers occur every night of the year. They are called sporadic showers because they do not have an annual peak. Instead of coming from tiny comet particles, sporadic meteoroids are orbiting debris from the creation of the solar system and asteroids crashing into planets and their moons. During the summer and fall, 4 to 8 burn across local skies each night before midnight, and another 8 to 16 after midnight. The numbers during winter and spring drop to half because of earth's tilt and other factors. These meteors come from the Anti Helion, Apex, and Toroidal regions of the sky; but just look at the darkest part of the sky. Sporadic meteors are the ones that sometimes produce the spectacular fireballs and meteorites -- meteors that fall to earth. These can vary in size from rocky pebbles to giant boulders weighing several tons. About 6000 fall on the earth as meteorites each year, but only 30 to 35 are spotted and recovered. Fewer are being spotted each year because of outdoor lighting and more time spent indoors at night by earthlings. Stardust, the vaporized remains of meteors, falls on us all the time. If you were outside today, you probably have some in your eyes. Iridium Flare: Saturday, December 15, between 7:15 and 7:15:45pm (depending on your location), there will be a bright 5-10 second Iridium satellite flare low in the southern sky (two fists above the horizon and one east of due south). Stardust (with apologies to Hoagy Carmichael): Sometimes I wonder why I spend... Dark starry nights dreaming of a song... The melody will haunt my memory of a friend... Until I'm with you where I belong... When our love was new... And each kiss an inspiration... Ah but that was back some while... Now it's the stardust in the memory of your smile... That is my only consolation. Tom S.



METEOR SHOWER UPDATE -- Wednesday afternoon NASA released new calculations and predictions by Russian meteor forecaster Mikhail Maslov. His models predict a new shower from debris left by Comet 46P/Wirtanen, which would bombard earth with meteors between Dec. 10 and 14. If he is correct, it would add about 30 meteors per hour to the 100 from the Geminid shower. Around 9-10pm, Geminid meteors should radiate from Gemini in the east, the new stream from Pisces in the west. Gemini meteors move fast. Maslov is predicting the new ones will move slow. If he is correct, the combination would put on a great show.

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Re: a view

Post by dean on Fri Dec 07, 2012 10:36 am

BAJA NIGHT SKIES December 2012-- International Space
Station: Sunday evening, December 9, the ISS will make a bright six-minute pass over Baja Sur. The space station rises in the SW near Mars around 6:11pm, crosses overhead through the Great Square of Pegasus around 6:14:45pm, passes near the Andromeda Spiral Galaxy about 6:15:20pm, and goes back into the earth's shadow in the NE about 6:17pm.Stars: Several bright stars rise in the SE during the evening: Betelguese and Rigel in the constellation Orion around 7pm north of southeast (NSE), Sirius, brightest star in the night sky, in the SE around 8:30pm, and Canopus SSE around 10pm. Stars are so far away that their image is just a point of light. Atmospheric layers of different temperatures and densities, acting like a prism, bend starlight by refraction into different colors and paths that cause a star to "twinkle." The three bright stars forming the large Summer Triangle in the NW sky around 8pm are Deneb, Altair, and the brightest, Vega. They leave the night sky soon after New Year's. Planets: The planetJupiter rises in the E during early evening and is brighter than Sirius. It is relative close to Earth and appears as a disk in a telescope. Many points of light from its disk are refracted, but tend to cancel each other out, so Jupiter and the other planets do not twinkle as much as stars. Mars is setting in the SW until around 7:15pm. It's worth getting up before 6am to see Mercury, Venus, and Saturn lined up in the eastern sky. Internet talk that this alignment and the completion of a Mayan calendar cycle on December 21 herald the end of the world has no basis in fact. Meteor Shower: The Geminids, one of the best showers of the year, peaks between 9pm Thursday, December 13, and dawn December 14. While other showers are produced by grain-sized particles left my disintegrating comets and never fall to earth as meteorites, Geminid meteors are pieces from an asteroid and can produce fireballs that reach the earth as meteorites. Peak hours after midnight often produce as many as 100 meteors an hour. Tom S.

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Post by dean on Mon Dec 03, 2012 8:21 am

BAJA NIGHT SKIES Monday, December 3 -- The International Space Station (ISS) will pass over Baja Sur Tuesday morning, December 4.At 5:49am look for it rising low in the NW sky near the star Capella. Rivaling Venus in brightness, the giant space station, with its three-man crew, will make a six-minute crossing from the NE to SW. A few seconds after 5:50am, the ISS will pass Castor and Pollux in Gemini, and half a minute later it will pass near the moon high in the southern sky. For the next 4 minutes it will continue SW before going back into Earth's shadow (over Punta Arena from La Ventana). On December 21, three more crew members will blast off to give the Space Station a six-man crew of Americans, Canadians, and Russians. The next bright evening pass will be on Saturday, December 8. More on that pass later. Tom S

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Post by dean on Sat Dec 01, 2012 11:06 am

BAJA NIGHT SKIES Nov. 30 - December 7 -- 1. Morning Planets and Constellations: For early risers, go outside by 5:30am for a dark sky. Look for a very bright Venus rising in the east. With dawn approaching, you will need sharp eyes or binoculars to spot Mercury, just below Venus, and Saturn just above. Look high in the northern sky for the up-side-down Big Dipper with its last two bowl stars pointing down at Polaris, the north star. Jupiter is close to setting in the west; just south of Jupiter, Orion is setting. 2. Evening Planets and Constellations: By 7pm in the evening, Jupiter is the bright planet rising in the east. An hour later the constellation Orion is just rising in the southeast. High overhead to the north is the Great Square of Pegasus. Using binoculars, scan the sky between the NE corner of the square and the M-shaped constellation Cassiopeia, lower in the northern sky, to find the faint spiral of the Andromeda Galaxy. 3. International Space Station (ISS): The International Space Station (ISS) returned to make an early Friday morning pass visible from all of Baja Sur. It will make passes each morning between 5 and 6am thru December 5. For early morning risers in most locations, the brightest and most interesting ISS pass will be on Tuesday morning, December 4. At 5:49am look for it rising low in the NW sky near the star Capella. Rivaling Venus in brightness, the giant space station with its three-man crew will make a six-minute crossing from the NE to SW. A few seconds after 5:50am, the ISS will pass Castor and Pollux in Gemini, and half a minute later it will pass near the moon high in the southern sky. For the next 4 minutes it will continue SW before going back into Earth's shadow (over Punta Arena from La Ventana). On December 21, three more astronauts will blast off to give the Space Station a six-man crew of Americans, Canadians, and Russians. Check back next week for information on the ISS's next bright evening pass on Saturday, December 8, when it will graze the Andromeda spiral galaxy. Tom S.

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Post by dean on Sat Nov 17, 2012 7:58 am

Baja Night Skies, November 2012: 1. Planets. Soon after sunset, Mars can be seen low in the southwest. Around 7:30 pm, the planet Jupiter is just rising in the east. A telescope or powerful binoculars ill usually reveal the four largest of the planet's 67 known moons. Extremely bright Venus, with Saturn not far below it, rises in the east a few hours before sunrise. 2. Meteor showers. Some late "shooting stars" from the Lenoids shower will probably show up between midnight and dawn Sunday morning, November 18. The Geminids, the last major meteor shower of the year, occurs December 13-14. 3. Iridium Flares. There will be Iridium Satellite flares occurring soon after 6pm Saturday-Tuesday evenings high in the northeast skies of ElSargento/LaVentana, Los Barriles, and Cabo San Lucas. Times for ES/LV are Sat: 6:24:36pm; Sun: 6:18:28pm; Mon: 6:12:20pm; Tues: 6:06:13pm. Times are 9 seconds earlier in Los Barriles, and 22 seconds earlier in Cabo San Lucas. Saturday's flare is brightest in ES/LV and Cabo. Tuesday's flare will be extremely bright in Los Barriles. For exact times of many more flares and ISS passes in your area, download the free Android ISS Detector App for your Android phone or tablet. Apple users can download the ISS Spotter App. 4. Constellations/Galaxies/Nebula. Orion rises in the early evening. Using binoculars try and find the green, gaseous nebula below the three belt stars. The great square of Pegasus is high overhead in the northern sky around 8pm. Follow the brightest string of stars from the square's NE corner to the second/middle star. A short distance north towards the M-shaped constellation of Cassiopeia is a faint blur larger than the full moon. Binoculars/Telescopes will show this to be our nearest neighboring spiral galaxy Andromeda containing billions of stars. At 2.5 million light years, this is the most distant object that can be seen with the unaided eye. It is on a collision course 4 billion years from now with our Milky Way galaxy where we reside. Don't worry, that was billion, not million.

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Post by Admin on Sun Nov 11, 2012 9:07 am

BAJA NIGHT SKIES - After six months of seeing only a handful of the brightest stars in Sacramento, California, I was relieved to find a sky full of stars upon arriving in El Sargento this week. Jupiter is the bright planet rising in the east around 7:30 pm near the red star Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus the Bull. By 9 pm, the constellation Orion has risen above the eastern horizon. Venus is the planet rising in the east around 5 in the morning. The bright star Spica is just below Venus but shines at only 1% the brightness of Venus. There are three night-sky events to report on today. 1. Tonight (Sunday, Nov. 11) there will be double Iridium satellite flares each lasting only a few seconds. If skies are clear, they should be visible from Cabo San Lucas at 6:51:55 pm and 6:52:44 pm, from Los Barriles about 10 seconds later, and from La Ventana / El Sargento about 22 seconds after the Cabo time. Look towards the northeast, a little more than half way to the zenith. Both flares will be extremely bright in the Los Barriles area. They cannot be seen from La Paz. 2. New moon falls on Tuesday, November 13. The moon will rise with the sun and travel across the sky during the day, hidden in the solar glare. Check the next few evenings after sunset to see if you can spot the young crescent moon as it moves east from the sun. In Australia, new moon occurs just after sunrise on the 14th and will pass directly in front of the sun to produce a spectacular total solar eclipse. I wish I were there. 3. November's annual Leonids meteor shower lasts three days from Friday, November 16, through Sunday, November 18. The best viewing window will probably be midnight to dawn on Saturday morning. Although most years produce only 15 to 20 meteors an hour, a few years have surprised us with that many per minute. That is not expected this year, but one never knows. Tom Spradley in El Sargento
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