October 23, 2017

AstroEvent: Mercury puts on its Evening Best for 2012.

Path of Mercury through Mid-March.

(Created by the Author in Starry Night).

Enjoying the “Planetary Bonanza” that is Spring of 2012? While you’re watching bright Jupiter and Venus head towards a spectacular close conjunction next week and Mars rising in the east, don’t forget to hunt for the tiny inner-most world of Mercury low in the dusk. [Read more...]

Astro-Event:The Vernal Equinox.

Clouds & Sky 110

Watch for that rising/setting equinox Sun! (Credit: Art Explosion).

     Batten down the hatches; spring is here in a most astronomical way. The vernal equinox occurs this Saturday, March 20th at 17:32 Universal Time; expect uniform amounts of sunshine and darkness worldwide as well as a Sun rising directly due east and setting due west. The spring equinox is also used in the reckoning of Easter; this year’s Paschal or Easter Full Moon falls on March 29th and the proceeding Sunday and Easter falls on April 4th. This year, Eastern Orthodox Easter also falls on the same date; The Orthodox church uses the older Julian calendar and hence the two don’t always coincide. In fact, this year’s date is the earliest that an Eastern Orthodox Easter can fall. [Read more...]

31.10.09:Daylight Saving Time: Is it Really Worth it?

Tomorrow, at 2AM, astronomers throughout North America can rejoice; daylight saving time (DST) ends for most areas that observe it in Canada and the U.S. as we revert back to ye ole’ standard time. This means observers will no longer have to undergo the long nightly process of sleep deprivation to await dark skies. Indeed, from northern tier states, it can be well past 10pm in mid-summer before its considerably dark! Ah….bring on the darkness. But this also brings up the following is issue….do we REALLY need daylight savings time at all? Allow us to approach the virtual soapbox, if you will. Daylight saving was first famously proposed by Benjamin Franklin and established in the US after World War I. Benefits sited at the time were energy conservation, as well as optimizing daylight hours to coincide with peak productivity periods. These days, public safety is also noted. In 2005, the Energy Policy Act was signed into law by president George W. Bush, rolling daylight saving back even further, currently spanning from the 2nd Sunday in March to the 1st Sunday in November. Granted, this may be way down some people’s lists of enduring offenses committed by the Bush administration, but the damage has been done. This year’s shift represents the earliest that we can potentially “fall back,” as November 1st is a Sunday. In agrarian times, this curious system might have made sense; each local hamlet set its own time, and primary reliance was on sunlight for human activities. But in a global, 24 hour civilization, is this idiosyncrasy for the past really required? Claims of energy savings are dubious; how about smarter night-time lighting policies? Some states, such as Arizona and parts of Indiana have done away with DST all together, and the Apocalypse has yet to rain down on them. In northern areas such as our native Maine and Alaska, DST is sort of a moot point, as the gathering winter darkness always ultimately wins. Let’s say “Down with DST,” in an effort to bring back sanity and our dark skies. Let’s step forward into the 21st century! Anyway, that’s our 2 cents…we here at Astroguyz would do away with all time-zones as well, but that’s another post…see you in Standard Time-land!