October 21, 2017

Astro-Event: The Red Planet Meets the “Anti-Mars.”

All hail the “Anti-Mars!”

No less than two astro-events mark the passage of Astronomy Day on October 20th, a day so cool, we repeat it twice! The other Astronomy Day on the calendar for 2012 was on April 28th. (Hey, the sky changes, y’know?)

First up, the planet Mars meets the bright star Antares (a.k.a. Alpha Scorpii), passing just over 3° degrees to its north on the 20th. Mars has added an appreciably different look to the constellation since passing into Scorpius and sliding by Delta Scorpii on October 10th. Coincidentally, now is a good time to compare Mars and its astronomical antithesis. [Read more...]

14.04.11: Antares: A Deep Sea Neutrino Detector.

Depiction of Antares along with a photo closeup of one of the optical detectors. 

(Credit: F.Montanet, CNRS/IN2P3 and UJF for Antares)

   A unique astrophysical observatory has taken shape on the ocean floor of the Mediterranean. ANTARES, or the Astronomy with a Neutrino Telescope and Abyss environmental RESearch project, has been fully operational since May 2008 and is in the business of detecting Cherenkov radiation flashes caused by interactions of high energy muon neutrinos with the water in the deep Mediterranean Sea. [Read more...]

AstroEvent: A Close Binary Occultation.

Occultation as seen from Albany, New York at about 3 AM Local. (Created in Starry Night).

Occultation as seen from Albany, New York at about 3 AM Local. (Created in Starry Night).


 Astronomical occultations are always fun to catch. Unlike other astronomical events that often happen over glacial time scales, occultations happen with abrupt swiftness. And besides just being plain cool, occultations can produce real scientific value, data that you can contribute to from your own backyard… and there’s no bigger occulting body in the night sky than our own Moon. This week, I’d like to bring to your attention a fairly bright and interesting star that is currently undergoing a series of lunar occultations this year; Sigma Scorpii. This star shines at magnitude +2.9 in the heart of the constellation Scorpius and is itself a close binary difficult to separate with a telescope. This star is also known as Al Niyat, or Arabic for the “Shield of the Heart,” possibly referring to its visual proximity to brilliant Antares. Sigma Sco is itself a complex system, with a 9th magnitude companion about 20” distant. [Read more...]

Event of the Week: A New England Occultation.

Can you see the star? An occultation of Antares as seen last summer from Astroguyz HQ! (Photo by Author).

Can you see the star? An occultation of Antares as seen last summer from Astroguyz HQ! (Photo by Author).

 Lunar occultations are always cool events; now you see a star or planet, now you don’t. The way they “wink in” and “wink out” with an improbable abruptness reminds us of the colossal velocity of the Moon about our planet. But beyond being just plain cool, they also still have scientific value; close double stars have been discovered this way, as they “wink out” in a step wise fashion. If enough observers are placed along the graze line, an accurate profile of the limb of the Moon can even be ascertained. [Read more...]

14.9.9:U Scorpii:A Nova in Waiting?

(Image credit & copyright courtesy of Mark A. Garlick; used by permission.

Please do not use this image in any way whatsoever without first contacting the artist).

Recurrent novae are among the rarest of beasts. While one-off galactic nova come and go throughout the year, recurrent novae are among those very few stars that have been known to exhibit nova-like flares multiple times. This week, I turn your attention towards U Scorpii, a known recurrent nova in the head of the constellation Scorpius. As the bright Moon is currently out of the evening sky, now and next month is the time to peek at this unique star before it slides behind the Sun. First discovered in 1863 by English astronomer N.R. Pogson during an outburst, U Scorpii stands as one of the fastest recurrent nova known, [Read more...]

Antares Occultation; a Semi-Success.

Just a quick mention that we were successful in viewing the Antares occultation by the Moon from Astroguyz’ HQ here in Hudson, Florida. Alas, no sighting of a greenish tinged Antares B (or the planet Krypton…) was recorded. However, the ingress made for a cool video…

Astro-Event of the Week; 02.06.09: An Antares Occultation.

An occultation of a bright star is well placed for observers in the Americas this weekend. The waning gibbous Moon will occult (i.e. pass in front of) the bright star Antares, also known as Alpha Scorpii. The action begins around 10:00 PM EDT and the Moon will cover up Antares for up to an hour and a half, depending on your latitude. Although the Moon will only be 16 hours away from Full, Antares at about magnitude +1 will be an easy naked eye target, and the skies will be completely dark along East Coast longitudes.

[Read more...]

When You Wish Upon a Star: the Truth About Star Naming.

    We have a pet peeve here at Astroguyz. Every great once in a while, most astronomers get asked by a well meaning member of the public to locate a particular star. This is not a problem, even without the benefit of a “Goto” mount; right ascension, declination, and maybe a crude star map is all that is required. [Read more...]