December 2016

• November 30th, 2016

To see a video of this information, go to my YouTube Channel

 

         Welcome to Observing With Webb, where the armchair astronomer figures out what they’re looking at, why it’s so cool, and what they should check out next.  Don’t forget to check out my Podbean page, YouTube Channel, and Twitter feed.

This year, December brings us good views of Venus, Mars, and Jupiter, maybe some Geminid Meteors, a good Lunar occultation of Aldebaran, and hopefully good news for the Pequea Valley Planetarium.

Regarding the Planetarium grant competition…as of this recording, we still haven’t heard results.  If you recall, the 6 proposals that get the most votes will each get $100,000.  We got rankings at both 2 weeks and 3 weeks into the month-long voting, and we were in 3rd place out of 15 both times!  That makes me fairly confident that you, the astronomy community made this happen, but I do NOT have official word yet.  It sounds like they are going to do the job of notification a la Publisher’s Clearinghouse, so you’ll know when I know.

 

PLANETS...well, the ones visible with your naked eye

Planets you can see around Sunset – Venus (SW), Mars (S), Mercury? (SW)

Planets you can see throughout the night – None

Planets you can see in the Morning – Jupiter (E)

 

Mercury – VERY low – 10˚above the horizon at sunset for about the first two weeks of December

Venus – Look SW after sunset, and Venus will be about 20˚ above the horizon, very bright, and will set by 8:00pm. If you have a telescope, check out how it changes from a gibbous phase to a larger half Venus.

Mars – Look SSW after sunset and bring a sky map of Capricornus.  Mars will be the ruddy red object moving away from the Capricornus triangle and into Aquarius.  Visible until about 9:00pm, when it sets in the SW.

Saturn – Not visible this month

Jupiter – Catch Jupiter in the eastern sky in the morning after 3:30am in the beginning of the month, and 2am by the end of the month.  Just look for the very bright object in that direction in the morning.  You should notice it easily and watch it get higher and higher each morning.

 

EVENTS...

2nd–3rdClose Encounter – Moon, Venus – Look to the SW between 5pm and 7pm and you can catch a thin crescent Moon only 8˚ to the right of bright Venus on the 2nd, a brilliant pair!  On the 3rd, the Moon moves to about 7˚ ABOVE Venus, again a brilliant pair.

4th–5thClose Encounter – Moon, Mars – Look SW once the sky is starting to get dark, and find a nice crescent Moon.  On the 4th, Mars will be about 6˚ to the left of the Moon.  The following night, the Moon will have moved to be about 7˚ up and to the left of Mars.

First Quarter Moon – 7th (Visible until midnight)

Lunar Occultation – night of the 12th – The Moon will pass in front of the bright red star Aldebaran. Times vary by location, but D.C. will witness disappearance at 11:07pm and reappearance at 12:21am.  See https://is.gd/occndec2016 for more info.

Full Moon – 13th (Visible all night)

13th, 14thGeminid Meteor Shower – It’s NOT a good year for the Geminids, given the Full Moon on that night, but you should still see some of the best and brightest meteors. Keep a wide eye and try to take in the whole sky, but don’t stare at the Moon.

Last Quarter Moon – 20th (Visible from midnight into the morning)

21stWinter Solstice - The longest night and shortest day of the year for the Northern Hemisphere. More info here: http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/december-solstice.html

22ndClose Encounter – Moon, Jupiter – Look SE after 2:00am and before sunrise (7:24am).  Look for a thin crescent Moon rising up from the horizon, with Jupiter just 4˚ down and to the left.

New Moon – 29th (darkest skies)

 

CONSTELLATIONS... (see sky map link at the bottom for a Star Map for this month – or ask Mr. Webb)    Look straight up and you'll see...

After Sunset (sunset is around 5:00pm) – Pegasus, Andromeda - Extra Challenge!  Using your naked eye (dark-adapted and in a dark area) or binoculars under normal conditions and a star chart, try finding our neighboring Andromeda Galaxy.  It’ll be a faint, but bigger, fuzzy in the constellation Andromeda.

Between Sunset and Midnight – Perseus, Andromeda, Cassiopeia

Midnight – Auriga, Taurus, Gemini

Early Morning – Ursa Major’s legs, Leo Minor

GENERAL CONSTELLATION FINDING TIPS: 

Fall Constellations: Andromeda, Pegasus

If you can find the Summer Triangle and Delphinus in the West, about 40˚ to the East (leftish – pretty much straight above you) will be the Great Square of the fall constellation Pegasus.  Perhaps you’ll even see the two curves of Andromeda off of one side, with the Andromeda Galaxy as a small, faint fuzzy nearby (you’ll need dark skies to see it).  A sky map will help you tremendously in finding these. 

Winter constellations:  Orion is easy to spot as he is rising in the East around 7:30pm.  You can use Orion to find many other winter constellations.

Using Orion:  Find Orion by looking for the three stars in a row that make up Orion’s belt in the East around 7:30pm.  If you draw a line from the left (bottom) star to the right (top) star and keep going right about 20 degrees (about 2 fists at arm’s length) until you reach another very bright star, you will have reached the star Aldebaron in Taurus (the V).  Follow that line a little more (about another fist) and you’ll find the Pleiades.

Draw a line from the right (top) star in Orion’s belt to the left (bottom) star, and keep going left about 20 degrees (2 fists again), you’ll come to the brightest star in the sky – Sirius – part of Canis Major.

Above these three constellations are Gemini and Auriga.  The brightest stars in each of these constellations form a circle in the sky.  Going clockwise - Aldebaron (Taurus) – Rigel (Orion – bottom right foot) – Sirius (Canis Major) – Procyon (Canis Minor) – Castor & Pollux (Gemini) – Capella (Auriga).  It makes for great stargazing in the winter sky.

Use a sky map from www.skymaps.com to help you out.

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November 2016

• November 2nd, 2016

To see a video of this information, go to my YouTube Channel

         Welcome to Observing With Webb, where the arm chair astronomer figures out what they’re looking at, why it’s so cool, and what they should check out next.  Don’t forget to check out my Podbean page, YouTube Channel, and Twitter feed, all with the username “mrwebbpv”

This year, November brings us good views of Venus, Mars, Jupiter, maybe some Leonid Meteors, and hopefully good news for the Pequea Valley Planetarium.

Regarding the Planetarium grant competition…thank you all so much for all of your support.  If you recall, the 6 proposals that get the most votes will each get $100,000. We got rankings at both 2 weeks and 3 weeks into the month long voting,and we were in 3rd place out of 15 both times!  That makes me fairly confident that you, the astronomy community made this happen, but I do NOT have official word yet.  It sounds like they are going to do the job of notification a la Publisher’s Clearinghouse, so you’ll know when I know.


PLANETS...well,the ones visible with your naked eye

Planets you can see around Sunset – Venus (SW), Saturn (SW), Mars (S)

Planets you can see throughout the night – None

Planets you can see in the Morning – Jupiter(E)

Mercury – Lost in the glare of the Sun

 

Venus – Look SW after sunset, and Venus will be between10˚and 20˚ above the horizon, very bright, and will set around 7:00pm.

Mars – Look SSW after sunset and bring a sky map of Capricornus.  Mars will be the ruddy red object moving into the Capricornus triangle from the right day by day.  Visible until about 9:30pm, when it sets in the SW.

Saturn – Look SW after sunset and find the brightest object Venus.  Saturn will be to the right and below Venus, getting farther away each day of November.  Saturn will set at 6:30pm in the beginning of the month and around 4:40 with the Sun at the end of the month, making it harder to find as the month passes.

Jupiter – Catch Jupiter in the eastern sky in the morning after 4:30am in the beginning of the month, and 3am by the end of the month.  Just look for the very bright object in that direction in the morning.  You should notice it easily through your car window and see it get higher and higher each morning.

 

EVENTS...

2ndClose Encounter – Moon, Venus, Saturn – Look to the SW in the hour and a half after sunset (6:00) and you can catch a thin crescent Moon only 2˚ above Saturn and 7˚ up and to the right of bright Venus.

6th – 7thClose Encounter – Moon, Mars – Look S once the sky is starting to get dark, and find a nice crescent Moon.  On the 6th, The Moon will be about6˚ to the right of Mars.  The following night, the Moon will have moved to be about 7˚ to the left of Mars, and a bit higher.

First Quarter Moon – 7th(Visible until midnight)

Full Moon – 14th (Visible all night)

17th – Leonid Meteor Shower – You might just catch a couple meteors coming from Leo, if you get out early in the morning and look at the whole sky in general, like other meteor showers.  However, the waning gibbous Moon will overpower most of the meteors with its light pollution.

Last Quarter Moon – 21st(Visible from midnight into the morning)

25thClose Encounter – Moon, Jupiter – Look SE after 3:30am and before sunrise (7:00am).  Look for a thin crescent Moon rising up from the horizon, with Jupiter just 4˚ up and to the right. 

New Moon – 29th (darkest skies)

 

CONSTELLATIONS... (see sky map link at the bottom for a Star Map for this month – or ask Mr. Webb)    Look straight up and you'll see...

After Sunset (sunset is around 5:00pm after Nov. 2nd) – Lacerta, Pegasus (the Great Square)

Between Sunset and Midnight – Pegasus, Andromeda - Extra Challenge!  Using your naked eye (dark-adapted and in a dark area) or binoculars under normal conditions and a star chart, try finding our neighboring Andromeda Galaxy.  It’ll be a faint, but bigger, fuzzy in the constellation Andromeda.

Midnight – Perseus,Taurus

Early Morning – Lynx,Cancer, Gemini - Extra Challenge!  Using binoculars,find the bright and open cluster M35. Find Gemini, look at the rightmost leg, go down to the foot, and move2-3 degrees to the right (W).  

GENERAL CONSTELLATION FINDING TIPS: 

Summer Constellations:Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila, Delphinus

Look to the West after sunset until about 9pm and you’ll still be able to see Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila,(and Delphinus.)  These three constellations have the three brightest stars of the summer constellations (Vega, Deneb, Altair – respectively.) Those bright stars create the summer triangle. Being summer constellations and it being fall right now, they are setting and are visible for a shorter period of time.  If you’re under dark skies (away from city lights) you may just catch a glimpse of the Milky Way passing through Cygnus and Aquila.

Fall Constellations: Andromeda,Pegasus

If you can find the Summer Triangle and Delphinus, about 40˚ to the East (leftish) will be the Great Square of the fall constellation Pegasus. Perhaps you’ll even see the two curves of Andromeda off of one side,with the Andromeda Galaxy as a small, faint fuzzy nearby (you’ll need dark skies to see it).  A sky map will help you tremendously in finding these. You’ll see these in the East after sunset, straight above you around midnight, and in the West in the morning.

Use a sky mapfrom www.skymaps.com to help you out.

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