May 28, 2017

Astro-Vid Of the Week: Adventures in Eclipse Webcasting

Totality! The April 15th 2014 Total Lunar Eclipse.

(Photo by Author).

Backyard astro-tech has certainly gotten much more sophisticated since we hand-sketched our first lunar eclipse as a kid back in the 1980’s. During this week’s total lunar eclipse, we thought we’d try our hand at live streaming the event. We’ve been a voracious consumer and promoter of eclipse webcasts over the past few years, and we thought this week it was high time to give back. [Read more...]

A Partial Eclipse of the Strawberry Moon: An Update.

T’was an uncharacteristically clear morning here at Astroguyz HQ as we awoke to photograph the Moon’s only transit of the Earth’s umbra for 2012 this AM. As always, the partial lunar eclipse did not disappoint, and the celestial mechanics of the heavens clicked over right on time. [Read more...]

Astro-Event: R Geminorum Rising.

Mira, a prototype variable similar to R Gem as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope.

(Credit: NASA/ESA).

Tired of observing M31 for the nth time and ready to do some backyard astrophysics? Eventually, we all go there; you may have even read a recent “how-to” post of our not-so-secret addiction: variable star observing. [Read more...]

June 2011: Life in the Astro-Blogosphere.

Awaiting darkness… (Photo by Author).

June is “hump month” here at Astroguyz HQ, as we approach the solstice, hurricane and thunderstorm season begins, and we slowly begin to start taking back the darkness. Now’s the time to overhaul that scope, align those mirrors, and await the return of dark skies. Here’s a brief look what’s up and coming from ye ole’ Astroguyz; [Read more...]

AstroEvent: A Solstice Eclipse!

  

Luna entering the Earth’s shadow during the Total Eclipse of May 15th, 2003 (Photo by Author).

   One of the final astronomical events of the year for 2010 is also one of the biggest. On the night of December 20th-21st, the Moon will undergo a total lunar eclipse. This eclipse will be visible in its entirety for North American observers and at sunrise for European South American observers and sunset for observers in Australia and the Far East. First Umbral contact will begin at 06:32 UTC, and totality will last 73 minutes from 7:40 to 8:53 UTC with greatest eclipse at 8:18 UTC. [Read more...]

AstroEvent of the Week: A Solstice/Lunar Eclipse Tie-In.

Hudson-henge! (Photo by Author).

Hudson-henge! (Photo by Author).

 

   Astronomers and lovers of the dark rejoice; Monday we take begin to take back the night! The summer solstice occurs June 21st at 11:28UT; this is the point that the Sun is at its highest apparent northerly declination and begins its long march southward. If you’re down under, of course, it’s the beginning of winter and the reverse is true. You probably won’t notice the slow creep of darkness and ever shortening days until around September, but it’s the thought that counts. The higher northerly latitude you are, the greater the variation. And to top things off, a partial lunar eclipse occurs on Saturday, June 26th. This will be visible from the Far East at moonrise eastward across the Pacific in its entirety to North America at moonset. Only the northeastern US gets left out. This will be the first lunar eclipse over the contiguous US since February 2008, and at its maximum the Moon will be 54% eclipsed. First contact with the umbra occurs at 10:16UT and the Moon departs the umbra at 12:59 UT. This eclipse is part of saros series 120, and sets the stage for the Tahitian total solar eclipse next month. This is also a good primer for December’s total lunar eclipse, which will occur in its entirety over the US on the winter solstice!  

The Astroword for this week is Gnomon. Ever wonder what that protractor-looking arm is called on a sundial? Of course you have, and now you can tell people with authority that this is known as a gnomon, complete with the silent “g”. Gnomon is Greek for “indicator” or “one who discerns”, although the phrase “she was the gnomon for all which was a failure in my life,” might be stretching it a bit. For a sundial to work function properly, the gnomon must be set parallel to the Earth’s axis, which is a fancy way to say to the north in the northern hemisphere and south…well, you get the idea. Hopefully, this knowledge won’t spark a lawsuit against the Ancient Greeks by any manufacturer of polar aligned telescopes. Now during the summer solstice is a good time to check that garden sundial against your local standard solar transit time or measure the sun fast as evinced by our friend, the equation of time… gnomon also makes a good “gn” Scrabble word, right along with “gnarled” and “Gnostic,” a sure fire way to get folks scrambling for the dictionary!

Spot the Lunar High- & Low-lands with the Naked Eye!

The dynamic face of the lunar nearside. (Photo by Author).

The dynamic face of the lunar nearside. (Photo by Author).

Did you happen to notice that the Moon was fat and nearly full Halloween night? The technical full Moon for November falls today, Monday the 2nd, at 2:14 PM EST (yes we’re back on standard time now; did you get to work an hour early this morning?) Of course, the full Moon, like all phases, only occurs at an instant in time. That instant is the time that the Moon is exactly 180 degrees, or 12 hours of right ascension opposite to the Sun. [Read more...]

March 2008: Upcoming Astronews and Notes.

Shuttle.

Endeavor posed for Launch (Credit: NASA).

Folks in the northern hemisphere, mark your calendars: spring in the form of the vernal equinox begins at 01:48am EST March 24th. That signals the end of what’s been a long, snowy season for North America, although I bet we’ll see at least one more snow storm here in northern Maine past this date!  [Read more...]

Determine Your Longitude: the Lunar Eclipse Method Part I

We’re back now with a new look! Hopefully, it’s less of an eyestrain for our loyal legion of readers… and just in time for this months’ Lunar Eclipse!

Getting an accurate fix on your position has long been a bane of the world traveler. Long before Global Positioning Systems, a way was sought for navigators to calculate their location using the stars. Latitude was easy enough; in the Northern Hemisphere, you simply have to measure the angle of Polaris, also known as the North Star, above the horizon. [Read more...]