November 18, 2017

Wandering Through the Medina

The alleyways of Assilah, Morocco.

This week, we’d like to talk about the importance of not having a plan.

Sure, we’ve talked about the virtues of careful planning during any impeding trek in the past, and how it can make or break a trip. What we want to address this week might be better termed as built in flexibility. [Read more...]

Astro-Event: A Difficult Occultation.

Looking west from Tampa, Fl at about 5:40PM EST. (Created in Starry Night). 

   This week, interesting planetary goings-on are afoot low in the western dusk skies, if you have the patience to observe them. On the evening of Monday, December 6th, visual athletes will want to try and spot an extremely thin crescent Moon occult a fading planet Mars. [Read more...]

02.10.09: A Small Observatory Helps with a Big Discovery.

When it comes to cutting edge astronomy, many think of lofty mountaintop behemoths, such as Keck, or the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. But how many of us think of… Gainesville, Florida? This article caught my eye this morning because its literally right in our backyard here at Astroguyz HQ in Hudson, Florida. As any would-be Floridian astronomer knows, the Sunshine State is not an optimal environment for astronomy, as humid, damp, East Coast conditions predominate. But that didn’t stop astronomers at the University of Florida in Gainesville from using the Rosemary Hill Observatory in nearby Bronson to help with observations of a transiting exoplanet; HD 80606b. 200 light-years distant, this hot-Jupiter is in an extremely eccentric orbit and was only recently realized to be a transiter, i.e. to occasionally pass in front of its host star as seen from Earth. Astronomers, however, were faced with a problem; the next transit was due occur June 4th of this year, when HD 80606b would be low in the twilight sky. This meant that observations of the eclipse could only occur over a short span from any given longitude. Enter U of F astronomers Ford, Reyes and Colon, who realized that Rosemary Hill might just be positioned to catch such an event. Located, as is most of Florida, at a scant 140 feet above sea level, Rosemary Hill may just qualify as the “lowest” observatory in the world. It sports 30” and 18” reflecting telescope(s), which are primarily used for education and training, as the U of F astronomers tend to travel to the “big guns” in the Canary Islands for “serious” research. The night of the 4th, however, Rosemary Hill showed its stuff; as a participating observatory in Massachusetts was clouded out, leaving the Gainesville astronomers as key to gathering data at their respective longitude. Colon noted that the experience of actually guiding the telescope and monitoring the star during transit was “definitely unique” and different from the remote observing now prevalent at larger observatories… the data gathered will go far towards understanding this bizarre exoplanet and its 111 day orbit. And the moral of the story is…every telescope can contribute, even your home town observatory!

24.9.9; “Anti”Crepuscular Rays!

Sometimes near-sky astronomy happens during the strangest of moments. Over the past week, we’ve been treated along the Florida Gulf Coast to some fine displays of crepuscular rays during sunrise and sunset. Generally these shining rays can be seen streaking through the crags and valleys of mountain ranges and ridges when the Sun is at a low angle. In the “flatland” of Florida, however, these occur for a different reason; scattering of sunlight through the edges of large, fluffy cumulus clouds. Humidity, dust and sun angle can all make for a swiftly evolving scene. This mornings’ display from Astrogyuz HQ in Hudson, Florida was one of the best I’ve seen, and even included what’s loosely termed “anti”- crepuscular rays, or rays streaming opposite to the direction of sunrise and seeming to converge towards an imaginary vantage point in the west. This is a fine example of an optical illusion; our minds tend to project the sky as a big, upside down bowl above us, and hence especially long or bright striped rays can actually appear to converge opposite to the Sun!

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…

2009: The Year of Astronomy.

This is a shout out to the world; 2009 is the International Year of Astronomy. Check with your local astronomy club, observatory or planetarium to find out what events are near you; if they aren’t planning anything, ask them why not!

[Read more...]

Harvest Moon; an Update.

Note: you can see the resulting image mentioned at the SpaceWeather link at the end of the article.

This morning in Seminole Florida dawned mostly clear, and I decided to have a go at some early morning Astrophotography.

[Read more...]