Analemma On My Wall

A prism of high quality glass sits in a south window above our mantle. It is part of a surplus optical instrument from WW-II. The window crank gives a sense of its 2″x1″x1″ size.

prism

When the Sun is low in the sky during late fall and winter, light through the prism casts a large full spectrum on the wall on the opposite side of the house. This is a closeup of the spectrum. It is always a delight to see the colors move slowly across the wall during the middle part of a sunny day.

viewspectrum

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Viewing Heavenly Bodies | 2017

🔭  Updates an earlier post to include recent changes and information.

As an amateur astronomer, I use desktop planetarium software to plan viewing sessions and keep track of the planets and Moon. There are many products available for all computer platforms and smartphones. A Google search yields links to many sources. I downloaded and use the open source Stellarium on my desktop computer. It can be customized to your location and is free. For Android and Mac phones and tablets, I like SkySafari. It isn’t free.

Online planetarium sites are popular and offer many features. Below are highlights of some I find interesting. Each has multiple features, a unique look and feel, and different levels of detail. They can help satisfy your curiosity about astronomical events.

I limited this post to include only a few select sites and links. Since many are available, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with too much information. I hope these few of top quality will motivate you to investigate the sky and enjoy what it has to offer. I welcome reader questions or reviews about using these tools or others you find helpful.

SaturnRingsTop

NASA

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Viewing Heavenly Bodies

🔭 This post updates one published earlier in order to include recent changes and information.

As an amateur astronomer, I often use desktop planetarium software to plan viewing sessions. There are many products available for all computer platforms and smartphones. A Google search yields links to many sources. I use the open source Stellarium on my desktop computer. For iPad, iPhone, and iPod, I use SkySafari.

Online planetarium sites are popular and offer many features. Below are highlights of some I find interesting. Each has multiple features, a unique look and feel, and different levels of detail. They can help satisfy your curiosity about astronomical events.

SaturnRingsTop

NASA

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Lunar Eclipse | Images | Tetrad Part 4

We left central Illinois well before sunset. It was overcast. The prospects for seeing the lunar eclipse were not very good. As we headed northwest toward our home in eastern Iowa, the skies showed signs of improvement. Minutes before the Sun set, it shined brightly through a big opening in the clouds. That was a good sign.

Driving west on I-80, we could see brightness in the east behind the few remaining clouds indicating that the full Moon had risen. We stopped for a driver change. There was the Moon just entering the shadow of the Earth. I periodically rotated the rearview mirror up to take a peek at the eclipsing Moon behind us. Eclipse in progress.

After we unpacked the car, I put my camera on a tripod on the front porch. This first shot showed the Moon about 50% into the umbra. Notice the curve of the Earth’s shadow. It gives a sense of the relative sizes of the Moon and Earth.

2015_0927Tetrad4_01

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Lunar Eclipse | 27 Sep 2015 | Tetrad Part 4

Previous posts about this tetrad of lunar eclipses can be found by following this link. Visit those links for explanations of the phenomenon if you need them.


Part 4 of this tetrad takes place Sunday evening 27 Sep 2015 for North and South America. First evidence of the partial phase begins at 8:07 pm central daylight time. The total eclipse phase begins about an hour later at 9:11 CDT. Totality lasts a little more than an hour ending at 10:23 CDT.

The timing of this lunar eclipse is very good for viewers in North and South America. It begins when most people are still up. If sky conditions are not overcast, it will put on a show all evening. You do NOT need eye protection.

You don’t have to watch it continuously. Look every 20-30 minutes. You will see the Moon change color and coverage as it transits Earth’s shadow.

8 Oct 2014 | 5:56 am | f/2.8 | ISO 200 | wb daylight | 2 sec | J. Ruebush

 

This is also a supermoon. It will be about 7% larger than normal because it will be closest to Earth in the slightly non-circular orbit. You will not likely notice it unless you have two photographs to compare such as these.

Regular full moon vs supermoon comparison Source: Karen Roe via Flickr.com

Regular full moon vs supermoon comparison
Source: Karen Roe via Flickr.com

 

NASA posted this short video to explain what to watch for and when. May your skies be fair.

Lunar Eclipse | 4 Apr 2015 | Tetrad Part 3

Previous Tetrad Posts:

Tetrad Part 1 Explanation and what to expect

My images of Part 1

Tetrad Part 2 My images of part 2


What To Expect

The third part of the Lunar Eclipse Tetrad takes place just before sunrise on April 4, 2015, low in the western sky for us in the central U.S. For observers in the eastern time zone of the U.S., they will not see the total eclipse phase. The Moon will set before it begins. They will see some of the partial eclipse phase. Those of us in the central time zone will see the total eclipse phase just as the Moon sets in the west. Observers farther to the west will be able to witness more of totality before it sets. The best location is Hawaii except that you need to observe in the middle of the night.

I prepared a video with my desktop planetarium software of the view to the west horizon for my location in Iowa. The time covered is from 5:10 am until a few minutes after 7:00 am. Note that the Moon will set at the same time that the Sun rises. This can only happen during a total lunar eclipse because of their alignment with Earth.

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