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.
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.
Show me more…
Viewed from Earth, the crescent of Venus narrows each day as it orbits the Sun. On 25 March 2017, it will be aligned almost directly between Earth and the Sun. In the weeks following, Venus will appear as a morning object and a thin crescent. Go here to see a 3D tool showing the orbital positions of the inner planets today. Notice the Date and Date Slider controls where you can change the date and see the planets move.
Venus 15 February 2017
Date Time Digitized: Feb 15, 2017, 6:05:33 PM CST
Exposure Time: 1/500 s
Photographic Sensitivity (ISO): 100
One of these images is of the Moon on 2 Feb 2017. The other image is of Venus on 3 Feb. Can you tell which is which? What is your reasoning?
I offer this peaceful view of the morning sky. The crescent Moon at lower left aligned with Jupiter and the star Spica in a slender triangle at 6:25 am. Jupiter is at the upper right. Spica is almost directly below Jupiter and equidistant from the Moon. Spica is difficult to see because of the twilight. Click for a larger view.
The waning Moon always offers a nice view first thing in the morning from my front window.
Much has been written about this morning’s Supermoon. If you missed it, there is another December 13. The moon doesn’t orbit the earth in a perfect circle. It is a bit eccentric making it closer and farther from earth than average by a few % during each orbit. Today, just before sunrise, it was at its closest at nearly the same time as when it was full. Both events combined to make this the largest full moon since 1948 by a slight amount. I went out before 6 am to document it. A parking lot nearby gave an unobstructed view to the west where the moon was close to the horizon. It was also aligned with a radio tower to provide an interesting reference frame.
There were a few high thin clouds passing by to make photographing a bit more of a challenge. The parking lot allowed me to move around and compose different views like this one.
Show me more…
Five days ago I received a notice that the space station would transit across the face of the Sun for my location. I wrote about a recent transit on 18 August 2016. I must be living right. The sky was clear again this time.
First view is in real time. Don’t blink. Duration of the transit is 0.94s. Second view is slowed to 10% of real time. For both, I suggest full screen. You might not see it on a phone or tablet.
What’s up for the rest of the month? This JPL video will tell you of some highlights.
The Moon is in the midst of a series of 49 monthly occultations of the star Aldebaran, the eye of Taurus the Bull to the upper right of Orion the Hunter. The alignment of the axis of the lunar orbit with the location of Aldebaran is giving monthly occultations from January 2015. Most don’t occur many times in any one location for Earthling viewers. About half of them are daytime events. (I’ve seen them…very cool.) The last occultation of this series will occur September 2018. The next series is from 2033 to 2037.
As midnight approached on the evening of the 18th, I was thrilled to see clear skies overhead. With camera on the tripod, I set them on the front porch for this pairing at 11:15 pm CDT. All images can be embiggened for more detail.
11:15 pm CDT | Yellow line traces expected path of Aldebaran
Show me more…