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This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2021 May 15 – May 22

This week stargazers have an opportunity to do an ISS marathon. The International Space Station orbits the earth at an altitude of about 400 km, and at this height it completes an orbit in approximately 90 minutes. The ISS has large solar panels that reflect sunlight earthward which make it bright enough to rival Jupiter and Venus at times. We can usually catch it once or twice in morning twilight for a period of about ten days, then in the evening twilight for the same stretch, and then it is unseen for a while as the overhead passes are in daylight or shadow. For a few weeks either side of the summer solstice, when we have long periods of twilight, the ISS can be seen four or five times from evening through to morning. If you see it in each pass throughout the night you have completed the ISS marathon.

To determine when and where to look I use the website Heavens-Above, but there are other apps such as Satellite Safari that give the same information and may even give you an alert when a pass is about to occur. Heavens-Above defaults to zero degrees latitude and longitude so be sure to enter your location. Information includes the date and time, brightness, and altitude and azimuth of when it is first visible (usually ten degrees above the horizon), at its highest, and when it disappears into earth’s shadow or below ten degrees. Brightness is given in stellar magnitude, where the lower the number the brighter is the object, and the ISS is usually bright enough to be a negative number (magnitude -3 is about 2.5 times brighter than -2). With the Heavens-Above website, clicking on the date brings up a sky map showing the path of the ISS through the constellations. Since earth rotates under the satellite, the path through the constellations will differ with each pass but it is always approximately west to east.

This Week in the Solar System

Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 5:46 am and sunset will occur at 8:45 pm, giving 14 hours, 59 minutes of daylight (5:54 am and 8:47 pm in Saint John).  Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 5:36 am and set at 8:53 pm, giving 15 hours, 14 minutes of daylight (5:46 am and 8:55 pm in Saint John).

The Moon is near Mars this Saturday to toast International Astronomy Day, and after sunset on Tuesday use a telescope to view the Lunar X just inside the shadow line below the Moon’s equator. On Wednesday the Moon is at the first quarter phase. Mercury is at its greatest elongation from the Sun on Monday, after which it begins a ten day trip toward a rendezvous with Venus between the horn tips of Taurus the Bull. Jupiter rises around 2:30 am midweek, 45 minutes after Saturn.

With astronomy meetings and outreach activities on hold you can watch the local Sunday Night Astronomy Show at 8 pm, and view archived shows, on YouTube at:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAEHfOWyL-kNH7dBVHK8spg

Questions? Contact Curt Nason at nasonc@nbnet.nb.ca.

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2021 May 8 – May 15

With the pandemic restricting many activities, astronomy has become a popular alternative hobby. Regardless of what equipment you have your initial enthusiasm will likely start to wane, and there are dozens of excuses for passing up a clear sky. A cure for that is to set observing goals, one or several that are attainable but challenging. I have three goals that are ongoing: to observe every day I can, even if just for a few minutes; to spot the planet Mercury with binoculars at least once in each of its three morning and evening annual appearances or apparitions; and to observe any comet within reach of my equipment without having to travel a great distance, if at all.

A useful goal for those starting out and which requires no equipment is to learn and pick out the constellations. Theoretically, we can see all or parts of 66 of the 88 constellations from New Brunswick. An initial goal of 50 is doable over a year, and challenging if you live in a light polluted area. Meteors require no equipment and a few appear every hour in a dark sky. Try for 25 or 50 in a year, knowing you can pad your total during several annual meteor showers, especially in mid-August and mid-December. It helps to maintain a record of your observations, including dates, times, locations, what you observed and any other details you want. My logbooks go back 21 years.

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) has observing lists for various levels of experience, accessible through their website (rasc.ca) under the Observing tab. There are three programs for beginners, including two for exploring features of the Moon using binoculars or a small telescope. The other is the Explore the Universe Program, which includes 110 objects in five categories: Constellations and Bright Stars, the Moon, Solar System, Deep Sky Objects, and Double Stars. By recording your observations for half the objects in each category of this program you can apply for a certificate and pin. You can download the lists for the other programs but the certificates and pins are for members only.

This Week in the Solar System

Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 5:55 am and sunset will occur at 8:36 pm, giving 14 hours, 41 minutes of daylight (6:02 am and 8:39 pm in Saint John).  Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 5:46 am and set at 8:45 pm, giving 14 hours, 59 minutes of daylight (5:54 am and 8:47 pm in Saint John).

The Moon is new and at apogee on Tuesday, making it the most distant Moon we won’t see for the year. The slim crescent will pass to the left of Venus on Wednesday evening and of Mercury on Thursday, and then it visits Mars next Saturday to celebrate International Astronomy Day. Venus shares a binocular view with the Pleiades star cluster during the first few days of the week. Around 5 am this week Jupiter and Saturn are about 20 degrees above the southeast horizon and 16 degrees apart.

With astronomy meetings and outreach activities on hold you can watch the local Sunday Night Astronomy Show at 8 pm, and view archived shows, on YouTube at:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAEHfOWyL-kNH7dBVHK8spg

Questions? Contact Curt Nason at nasonc@nbnet.nb.ca.

(My apologies to Curt, and everyone, for not getting this out sooner – I have not been well the last few days.  I should be back on track this week.  Trevor)

 

 

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Jupiter Moons Challenge

Curt Nason has tabulated this list of Jupiter moon events. You may use this as a guide for the challenge of observing the various moon events for each of the four Galilean moons (transits, occultations, eclipses, etc).

According to Curt, “this year Jupiter’s equator is aligned our way so Callisto’s events can be seen, and the document includes events when Jupiter is up for us and the Sun is down.”

Image Credit: Emile Cormier

Jupiter_Moons_Challenge_2021

Download as PDF.

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Photos of the Month – Year 2020

Click on any image to view a larger version. While viewing the larger version, click on the image to show/hide the description. You may also click on the left/right arrows to go to the previous/next image.

All images are copyright of their respective authors. You may not use or redistribute these images without their permission.

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

 

 


Links to contributors’ photo galleries:

If you’ve a RASC NB member and would like us to publish a link to your astrophoto gallery, please contact the webmaster.

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RASC NB and COVID-19

(Posted on April 6th, 2020)

Hi Everyone,

As you all know Covid-19 has disrupted everyone’s life.

We had cancelled the March meeting due to this issue. Now until further notice, and until the the State of Emergency is lifted by the N.B. government, there will be no face-to-face meetings of the RASC N.B… No one knows how long this situation will last, but it will continue into the summer months most probably.

The RASC N.B. council is discussing the feasibility of holding meetings for presentations/talks by some other means. Once a decision has been made all members will be notified by e-mail. RASC N.B. business, when required, will be conducted by e-mail. Any new information will be communicated to the members by e-mail as well.

Star Party weekends for this year are also on hold, until the public gathering ban is cancelled. Once again, members will be notified of any change in plans.

Please follow good hygienic practices – hand washing as prescribed by Public Health, do not touch your face, follow the 6 foot physical distance rule & stay home unless it is absolutely essential you go out. This will pass, but only when people keep their distance from others, thus stopping the spread of the disease.

Stay healthy, stay safe and keep looking up. You don’t need to be in a crowd to enjoy the night sky and wonder at it’s beauty and mystery.

June MacDonald, President, RASC New Brunswick

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Photos of the Month – Year 2019

[Featured image above by François Thériault]

Click on any image to view a larger version. While viewing the larger version, click on the image to show/hide the description. You may also click on the left/right arrows to go to the previous/next image.

All images are copyright of their respective authors. You may not use or redistribute these images without their permission.

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

 

November

December


 

 


Links to contributors’ photo galleries:

If you are a RASC-NB member, and have not received instructions via email about how to submit your photos, please contact the webmaster here (choose Concerning: Website).

If you contributed photos and would like us to publish a link to your photo gallery, please contact the webmaster.

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