May 2018

• May 4th, 2018

Welcome to Observing With Webb, where a high school astronomy teacher tells you what you’re looking at, why it’s so cool, and what you should check out later this month…at night.  Don’t forget to check out my Podbean page, YouTube Channel, and Twitter feed, or get my podcast feed on Stitcher, or iTunes.

May will be a month for 4 out of the 5 naked eye planets, with Venus and Jupiter visible early each night and Mars and Saturn visible in the mornings, along with close encounters between each of these and the Moon.

 

Naked-eye PLANETS...

  • Around Sunset – Venus (W)
  • Throughout the night – Jupiter (EàW)
  • Morning – Saturn (E) , Mars (E), Jupiter (W)

Mercury

  • Not visible this month

Venus

  • Venus is looking fantastic this month! Look West and find the brightest source of light in that direction, about two fist-widths above the horizon.

Mars

  • Rises between 12am and 1am. Look SSE around sunrise and find the red object near Saturn, in Capricorn.

Saturn

  • Rises around 1am at the beginning of the month and 11pm at the end. Look about 20˚ above the SSE horizon, up and to the right of Mars and at the top of Sagittarius.

Jupiter

  • Up in the SE around sunset and moves across the sky throughout the night, hanging out in Libra, setting right around sunrise.


EVENTS...

 4th - 7th  – Close EncounterMoon, Saturn, Mars – After 2am, the Moon lines up just 6˚ to the right of Saturn on the 4th, with Mars 15˚ to the left of Saturn on the 4th. On the 5th, the Moon is almost perfectly in between Mars and Saturn, and then travels to within 2˚ of Mars on the morning of the 6th.  The next morning, find the Last Quarter Moon VERY low on the horizon, with Mars and Saturn lining up to the right.

Last Quarter Moon – 7th (Visible from midnight into the morning)

Jupiter reaches opposition – 8th (Visible from midnight into the morning)

New Moon – 15th (darkest skies) 

17th - Close EncounterMoon, Venus – A wonderful pair this month. Look West after sunset for bright Venus with a very thin crescent Moon just 5˚ to the left.

19th – 20th - Rocket Launch – NASA will be sending another cargo resupply to the International Space Station on an Antares rocket from Wallops Island in VA

First Quarter Moon – 21st (Visible until midnight)

27th Close EncounterMoon, Jupiter – Find the Moon after sunset and you’ll also find Jupiter about 5˚ down and to the right, both within Libra.

Full Moon – 29th (Visible all night)

31st Close EncounterMoon, Saturn – Find the Moon after 11pm and you’ll also find Saturn about 2˚ down and to the right, both within Sagittarius.

 

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

After Sunset (sunset is between 8:00pm and 8:30pm) – Ursa Major’s legs, Leo, Leo Minor

Midnight – Bootes – find the Big Dipper’s handle, and starting from the inside of the handle, follow the arc that those four stars make past the last star in the handle about 30˚ or three fist-widths to the next very bright star you find which is Arcturus, the base of the constellation Boötes.  Hence astronomers use the phrase “Follow the Arc to Arcturus”

Early Morning – Hercules, Lyra, Cygnus – These are the Summer constellations, and since they are starting to rise in the morning now, that means that summer is on its way.

 

GENERAL CONSTELLATION FINDING TIPS: 

 

Spring constellations:  Bootes, Virgo, Leo, Corona Borealis, Hercules.

First find the Big Dipper in the North (a North Circumpolar Asterism that never sets) and look at the handle.  Starting at the star closest to the “cup” part, follow the rest of the stars in the handle and follow the arc to Arcturus.  Arcturus is the brightest star in Bootes the Shepherd.  Some say he looks more like a kite, others say more like an ice cream cone.

Then, following the same “arc”, speed on to Spica.  Spica is the brightest star in Virgo.  Virgo’s a dimmer constellation, so you’ll be rewarded when you find her.

To the left of Bootes is Corona Borealis.  This is a small collection of stars that make a crown, cup, or U shape in the sky.

To the left of Corona Borealis is the great constellation of Hercules.  Hercules is the Hero of the sky and has a central “keystone” asterism, in which lies M13, the Hercules Cluster.

Lastly, Leo is a constellation consisting of a backward question mark (or sickle) and a right triangle to the left.  Use the two Big Dipper “cup” stars that are in the middle of the Big Dipper and follow the line they make to the bright star Regulus, the brightest star in Leo.

 

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

 

00:0000:00

Share | Download(Loading)

April 2018

• April 4th, 2018

WATCH this on YouTube
LISTEN as a podcast on Podbean, Stitcher, or iTunes

 

         Welcome to Observing With Webb, where a high school astronomy teacher tells you what you’re looking at, why it’s so cool, and what you should check out later this month…at night.  Don’t forget to check out my Podbean page, YouTube Channel, and Twitter feed, or get my podcast feed on Stitcher, or iTunes.

April brings us plenty of Jupiter time, a close encounter between Mars and Saturn, and a potentially decent Lyrid meteor shower. And MAYBE some better weather.

Naked-eye PLANETS...

  • Around Sunset – Venus (W)
  • Throughout the night – Jupiter (EàW)
  • Morning – Satur (E) , Mars (E), Jupiter (W)

Mercury

  • Not really worth looking for. In between us and the Sun most of the month.

Venus

  • Venus makes significant progress up the sky this month, getting to about 25˚ by month’s end at sunset. Look West and find the brightest source of light in that direction, about two fist-widths above the horizon.

Mars

  • Rises between 2am and 3am. Look SSE around sunrise and find the red object near Saturn, in Sagittarius.

Saturn

  • Rises around 3am at the beginning of the month and 1am at the end. Look about 20˚ above the SSE horizon, to the left and down from Mars and at the top of Sagittarius.

Jupiter

  • Rises around 11pm in early April, 9pm in late April, in the ESE. Moves across the sky throughout the night, hanging out right in the middle of Libra.

 

EVENTS...

2nd Close EncounterMars & Saturn – Find the teapot of Sagittarius and also find bright caramel-colored Saturn and ruddy red Mars less than 1˚ apart, with Mars below Saturn.

7th Close EncounterMoon, Mars, Saturn – Find the Moon after 2:30am and you’ll also find Saturn 2˚ below and to the left, and Mars 2˚ below and to the left of that.

Last Quarter Moon – 8th (Visible from midnight into the morning)

New Moon – 15th (darkest skies) 

17th - Close EncounterMoon, Venus – Look West after sunset for bright Venus with a very thin crescent Moon just 5˚ to the left.

22nd LYRID METEOR SHOWER – Not the strongest shower, at only 10-20 meteors per hour, but the Moon will be a First Quarter, so look North in general after midnight and into the morning. 

Some advice for watching:

Find a dark location and lie down in a reclining chair or something that insulates you from the ground.

Check the weather to see if the skies will be clear

Adapt your eyes to the dark by staying away from light sources or using a red light if you need to look at a star chart or not trip over something. 

If you’re feeling extra nerdy, do a scientific meteor count (S&T and IMO)

Or find out if your local astronomy club or museum is holding a viewing party.

First Quarter Moon – 22nd (Visible until midnight)

Full Moon – 29th (Visible all night)

30th Close EncounterMoon, Jupiter – Find the Moon after 9:30pm and you’ll also find Jupiter about 5˚ to the right, both within Libra.

 

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 7:30-8:00pm) – Cancer, Leo, Lynx, Ursa Major’s legs - Extra Challenge! Find M44 in the middle of Cancer – an open cluster of stars also known as the Beehive Cluster.  You may be able to see it as a small fuzzy patch with your naked eye if you have very dark skies.  However, with a pair of binoculars or a telescope on low power, it will look like a hive of bees in the distance, hence its nickname.

Between Sunset and Midnight – Leo, Leo Minor, Ursa Major’s legs

Midnight – Canes Venatici, Coma Berenices are closer to the Zenith (the point straight above you), but Ursa Major, Leo, and Bootes make a nice but bigger triangle around it.

Early Morning – Hercules, Lyra, Cygnus – These are the Summer constellations, and since they are starting to rise in the morning now, that means that summer is on its way.

GENERAL CONSTELLATION FINDING TIPS: 

Winter constellations:  LAST CHANCE FOR THE WINTER CONSTELLATIONS! Orion is still easy to spot as he is directly in the SW after sunset.  You can use Orion to find many other winter constellations, for the last time until the fall.

Using Orion:  Find Orion by looking for the three stars in a row that make up Orion’s belt in the Southwest.  If you draw a line from the left star to the right 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 Aldebaran in Taurus (the V).  Follow that line a little more (about another fist) and you’ll find the Pleiades.

If you start at his belt again, but instead go the opposite way and draw a line from the right star in Orion’s belt to the left 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.

 

00:0000:00
Share | Download(Loading)


« Older episodes · Newer episodes »