Deep Sky observing and looking at dim objects is best from 10.20 pm to 4 am before the weekend. Due to the First Quarter Moon on Saturday, it will be best to observe from midnight onwards. The Milky Way is best observed after midnight around 1 am in the mornings.
The majority of the planets are rather close to the Sun at the moment. The planet Mercury is hardly visible. Try with a bigger telescope after Sunset and before 9 pm. Venus is bright and only visible early morning at Sunrise just before 6 am in the morning. Then red planet Mars is best seen in the constellation Cancer in the early morning from 4 am to about Sunrise. Jupiter is not visible. The planet with the rings, Saturn is best seen from 9 pm to about 11 pm in the in constellation Libra. The planet Uranus is visible from 11.30 pm to 4 am in the morning. Use a small telescope or binocular to observe.
Sun rise is at 5.54 am in the East North East and sets in the West North West at 8.27 pm. The Sun rises 12 minutes later in the mornings and sets 14 minutes earlier in the evenings after a week.
Wednesday 19 August
Today it is the 55th anniversary of the Sputnik 5 launch. Sputnik 5 carried in 1960 the dogs Belka and Strelka and as well 40 mice, 2 rats and a variety of plants. On 12 April 1961 the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space.
Mars crosses the Beehive Cluster M44. View this in the early morning when Mars is visible. ISS (international Space Station) appears at 9.03 pm in the West. Culmination at 9.07 pm in the South West at 11° and disappears at 9.11 pm in the South South East.
At 10.25 pm a bright flare appears in the North at 9° in the constellation Lynx. Another bright flare is at 11.46 pm in the West North West at 8° in the constellation Bootes. And one more at 11.52 pm in the West North West at 8° in the constellation Bootes. And once more a flare at midnight at 00.01 am in the West North West at 6° in the constellation Bootes. Last but not least, a very bright flare visible at 0.13 am in the South West at 34° in the constellation Ophiuchus.
Thursday 20 August
Today it is the 40th anniversary of the Viking 1 Launch. The Mars Lander and Orbiter was launched in 1975.
At 8.14 pm the International Space Station or ISS crosses the disk of the Moon. The transit duration is only 1.11s. The ground speed of ISS is 4.7506 miles per second or 7.601 km/s. Look in the South West at altitude 16°. It will be rather difficult as the Sun is still above the horizon. The distance of ISS and the Moon at the transit is 67° in the sky. Look a bit later, at 9 pm for the Earthshine on the Moon.
A bright flare is visible at 11.06 pm in the North North East at 18° in the constellation Auriga.
Friday 21 August
Today in 1993 the contact was lost with the Mars Observer spacecraft, following the pressurization of the rocket thruster fuel tanks, three days before it was to begin orbiting the Red Planet. The Mars Observer was to be the first US spacecraft to study Mars since the Viking missions 18 years earlier.
Once more, the Earthshine on the Moon is visible at about 9 pm. The Moon sets at 10.59 pm.
At 6.28 am a daytime flare could be seen in the South South East at altitude 65° in the constellation Taurus. The altitude of Sun is still 4° in the West. A nice try!
Saturday 22 August
It is First Quarter Moon today at 8.31 pm. Look for the Earthshine at 9 pm. On top of this, the planet Saturn is close to the Moon. The limb separation is less than 2° or about 3 lunar diameters. The altitude of the Moon is 14°. At 9.25 pm the Moon is close to the star Zuben Elakrab in the constellation Libra. The limb separation is 4° or 8 lunar diameters. The altitude is 14° and the Moon phase is 51%.
At midnight at 0.04 am a bright flare appears in the West South West at 31° in the constellation Ophiuchus. At about 1 am you might be able to see the Gegenschein. This is a faint glowing patch of the sky, 25° above the Southern horizon and in the constellation Aquarius. Look for this phenomenon for the next two mornings as well.
Sunday 23 August
Today in 1966 the Lunar Orbiter 1 took the first photograph of the Earth from the Moon.
At 9.41 pm a bright flare in the North at 20° in the constellation Lynx. Another flare at 10.58 pm in the North East at 24° in the constellation Perseus. And a last one at 4.39 am in the West South West at 60° in the constellation Andromeda.
Monday 24 August
At 9.47 pm the Moon is in maximum libration. A flare is visible at 10.52 pm in the North East at 24° in the constellation Perseus. A second brighter flare at midnight at 0.01 am in the West South West at 27° in the constellation Ophiuchus.
The Moon is in maximum declination South at 4 am. This is the lowest Southernmost Moon position of the last 10 years, the 3rd lowest of the next 10 years, and the 3rd lowest of the decade. Former lower Southern Southernmost Moon position was on 31 March 1997. The next lower Southern Southernmost Moon position is at 21 September 2015. Although day time, at 8.13 am the Moon is in maximum libration South. The South Pole is tipped into the Earth's view.
Tuesday 25 August
Today in 2012 Neil Armstrong died at the age of 82. Neil was born 5 August 1930. He was an American astronaut who was the first man to walk on the Moon on 20 July 1969 with the Apollo 11 mission.
Wednesday 26 August
Today in 1959 the popular Mini car was introduced by the British Motor Corporation. The Mini car is still successful over five decades later.
At 9.15 pm the Moon is close to the star Rho1 in the constellation Sagitarius. The limb separation is 3° or 6 lunar diameters. Altitude of the Moon is 18° and the Moon phase is 88%. Be aware that the Sun is not long set and is at -9°.
At 11.02 pm the planet Jupiter is in conjunction with the Sun. This is not visible. Jupiter furthest distance is at 1.13 am. The distance to the Earth is 6.399 AU. One Astronomical Unit (AU) is the distance Sun to the Earth.
At 11.58 pm a flare can be seen in the West South West at 23° in the constellation Ophiuchus. After midnight, at 1.13 am the planet Jupiter is at its farest distance. The distance to the Earth is 6.399 AU.
Get in touch with me via www.patrickpoitevin.weebly.com if you need more information.
Ashbourne SKY WATCH Special 19 August – Mars to be as big as the Moon?
What do we know about the red planet Mars. A posting which was circulated on social media last few weeks prompted me to write about Mars.
What was posted (see attached some pics):
12:30 on 27 August you will see two moons in the sky, but only one will be the moon. The other will be Mars. It won't happen again until 2287. No one alive today has ever witnessed this happening.
What is true = no one alive today has ever witnessed this happening. But ... no one ever will see the planet Mars as big as our Moon in our skies on Earth! Please do not believe everything what is written in social media or (sometimes) on the internet in general.
The angular diameter or apparent size is an angular measurement describing how large a sphere or circle appears from a given point of view. In the vision sciences it is called the visual angle. The angular diameter can alternately be thought of as the angle an eye or camera must rotate to look from one side of an apparent circle to the opposite side. The apparent diameter or the size of Mars and our Moon in our skies are respectively between 29′20″ and 34′6″ for our Moon and between 3.50″ and 25.08″ for Mars. Depending of their position towards the Sun and to our Earth. So even when Mars is at its biggest (25.08″ or 0.418') and the Moon at its smallest (29′20″ or 29.33'), the Moon is still 70 times bigger than the planet Mars in the sky.
Note that sizes are expressed in degrees, therefore, are subdivided as follows:
• 360 degrees (°) in a full circle
• 60 arc-minutes (′) in one degree
• 60 arc-seconds (″) in one arc-minute
To put this in perspective, the Full Moon viewed from Earth is about 1⁄2 degree (°), or 30 arc minutes (') or 1800 arc seconds ("). The Moon's motion across the sky can be measured in angular size: approximately 15 degrees every hour, or 15 arc seconds (") per second. A one mile long line painted on the face of the Moon would appear to us to be about one arc second (") in length. On 27 August, what the social media posting is about, the diameter of Mars is ... only 3.7".
Besides the size comparison Moon - Mars as above, Mars is not even the closest to the Earth on 27 August. On 27 August, the distance is 2.524 AU. The perihelion is the point in the orbit of a planet, asteroid, comet or other star orbiting body where it is nearest to its star. It is the opposite of aphelion, which is the point in the orbit where the object is farthest from its star. Mars is the closest or in perihelion and the distance is 1.3814 AU or 206.7 million km. The next perihelion is 29 October 2016. The last was 12 December 2014.
On 27 August Mars is magnitude 1.8 magnitude, not even that bright. Mars is that day best seen from 4 am to 5.30 am in the early morning. Mars is in the constellation Cancer. The elongation or angle distance to the Sun is 22°.
And ... the Moon is not even near Mars on 27 August at 12.30 or even if there is a mistake in time writing at 0.30 am ...
The minimum distance of Mars to the Earth is 56 Mio kilometers or 35 Mio miles. The next closest approach is on 30 May 2016 at 10.34 p when m Mars is 0.503 AU (46.8 Mio miles) distance to the Earth. The brightness is then -2.0 magnitude and the apparent diameter is 18.60". On 11 July 2015 at 1.33 pm Mars was the farthest from the Earth. The distance to the Earth was 2.587 AU (240.6 Mio miles), brightness 1.6 mag, and the apparent diameter 3.62". The maximum distance from Mars to the Earth is 400 Mio kilometer or 250 Mio miles. One AU (Astronomical Unit) is 149 597 871 kilometers (approx. 150 Mio kilometers or approx. 93 Mio miles).
Where does it come from then? Well ...on 27 August 2003 Mars made its closest approach to the Earth in nearly 60000 years. The next time it will be that close again will be in 2287. But again, the size will not be as big as the Moon … far from!!!
So be careful what you see and read in social media!!! Check or have it checked properly!!!
Mars is the 4th planet from the Sun. Named after the Roman god of war, and often described as the “Red Planet” due to its reddish appearance. Mars is a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere composed primarily of carbon dioxide.
Mars profile: Mass is 641 693 000 000 000 billion kg or 0.107 times the Earth; Equatorial diameter is 6805; Polar diameter is 6755; Equatorial circumference is 21297 km; Known Moons is 2 which are Phobos and Deimos; Orbit distance is 227 943 824 km or 1.38 AU; Orbit period is 686.98 Earth days or 1.88 Earth years; Surface temperature is -87 to -5 °C; First record of observation is 2nd millennium BC by Egyptian astronomers.
Mars and Earth have approximately the same landmass. Even though Mars has only 15% of the Earth’s volume and just over 10% of the Earth’s mass, around two thirds of the Earth’s surface is covered in water. Martian surface gravity is only 37% of the Earth’s. This means you could leap nearly three times higher on Mars.
Mars is home to the tallest mountain in the solar system. Olympus Mons, a shield volcano, is 13 miles or 21 km high and 375 miles or 600 km in diameter. Despite having formed over billions of years, evidence from volcanic lava flows is so recent many scientists believe it could still be active.
About 18 missions to Mars have been successful so far. As of end last year there have been 40 missions to Mars, including orbiters, landers and rovers but not counting flybys. The most recent arrivals include the Mars Curiosity mission in 2012, the MAVEN mission, which arrived on 22 September 2014, followed by the Indian Space Research Organization’s MOM Mangalyaan orbiter, which arrived on 24 September 2014. The next missions to arrive will be the European Space Agency’s ExoMars mission, comprising an orbiter, lander, and a rover, followed by NASA’s InSight robotic lander mission, slated for launch in March 2016 and a planned arrival in September 2016.
Mars has the largest dust storms in the solar system. They can last for months and cover the entire planet. The seasons are extreme because its elliptical or oval-shaped orbital path around the Sun is more elongated than most other planets in the solar system.
On Mars the Sun appears about half the size as it does on Earth. At the closest point to the Sun, the Martian southern hemisphere leans towards the Sun, causing a short, intensely hot summer, while the northern hemisphere endures a brief, cold winter. At its farthest point from the Sun, the Martian northern hemisphere leans towards the Sun, causing a long, mild summer, while the southern hemisphere endures a lengthy, cold winter.
Pieces of Mars have fallen to Earth. Scientists have found tiny traces of Martian atmosphere within meteorites violently ejected from Mars, then orbiting the solar system amongst galactic debris for millions of years, before crash landing on Earth. This allowed scientists to begin studying Mars prior to launching space missions.
Mars takes its name from the Roman god of war. The ancient Greeks called the planet Ares, after their god of war. The Romans then did likewise, associating the planet’s blood-red colour with Mars, their own god of war. Also other ancient cultures focused on the colour of the planet. China’s astronomers called it ‘the fire star’, whilst Egyptian priests called on ‘Her Desher’, or ‘the red one’. The red color Mars is known for is due to the rock and dust covering its surface being rich in iron.
Mars doesn’t have a protective layer of atmosphere like Earth, so it cannot store heat from the sun. Mars has seasons like the Earth too. These seasons are much longer than Earth seasons because Mars is so much farther from the Sun. The average high during a Martian summer day is 23 degrees F or -5 degrees C. A typical Derbyshire winter ....
Mars and Earth are similar in so many ways that it is almost hard to believe we have not found anything alive there. But, don’t forget that there are many differences too. Without these differences, Mars wouldn’t be such an interesting planet to study.
A lot of planets are bigger than the Earth. For example 318 Earths could fit inside of Jupiter. Mars is not quite so big. In fact, Mars is one of only two planets in the solar system to be significantly smaller than Earth. If you looked at the two planets side by side, the Earth would be a basketball while Mars is a softball.
Valles Marineris is the largest canyon in the solar system, stretching 2500 miles or 4000 kilometers across the planet’s surface. If you look at a picture of Mars taken from a telescope, you will see the giant gash that is Valles Marineris.
Mars is covered by craters from objects like asteroids and meteorites hitting the planet. So far 43000 such craters have been found and that only includes the large ones!
Fact or myths ...
• The month of March is named after Mars
• The symbol for Mars looks like a shield and a spear from the war god Mars/Ares. It is also the symbol for the male sex
• The ancient Greeks thought that the Earth was the center of the universe and that Mars was one of the five traveling stars that revolved around it
• Egyptians called Mars the “the backward traveler” because Mars appeared to move backwards through the zodiac every 25.7 months
• If you were driving 60 mph in a car, it would take 271 years and 221 days to get to Mars from our Earth
• During the Renaissance, Mars played a central role in one of the most important and fiercest intellectual battles in the history of Western civilization: whether Earth is the center of the universe. Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543) coherently explained that Mars seems to move backwards across the sky because Earth overtakes Mars in its orbit around the Sun
• During a Mars winter almost 20% of the air freezes
• Mars’ moon Phobos (“fear”) rises in the West and sets in the East twice a day. The other Moon Deimos (“panic”) takes 2.7 days to rise in the East and set in the West. The moons are named after the twin gods who accompanied Ares (or Mars) into battle
• Phobos orbits very close to Mars and is gradually sinking into the Red Planet. In about 50 million years it will either crash into Mars or break up and form a small ring around the planet
• The US spacecraft Mariner 4 made the first successful flyby of Mars in 1965. It took 228 days to reach Mars and it did sent 22 images to the Earth. Many scientists were extremely disappointed that the images showed no signs of oceans or vegetation that they thought it would find. In 2008 scientists believe they found significant evidence of carbonates in certain regions on Mars, which suggests that liquid water and perhaps even life once existed there.
• 20 July 1976 was historic because the US spacecraft Viking 1 was the first to land intact and operational on the surface of Mars. Viking 2 followed and landed successfully on 3 September 1976. The Viking Landers relayed the first color pictures of the planet. When the second Viking had its last moments of contact in 1978, project manager George Gianopoulos said “It’s like losing an old friend; how do you express it?”
• Galileo Galilee was the first person to observe Mars through a telescope in 1609
• In 1877 the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli discovered a strange network of lines on Mars and called them canali which is Italian for “channels” but which was mistranslated as “canals.” American astronomer Percival Lowell wrongly guessed that the canals were used to move water from the Martian ice caps to the desert. His work sparked great public fascination with Mars.
• In 1898 H.G. Wells’ novel “The War of the Worlds” portrayed Martians as technologically advanced invaders who destroy thousands of lives in their attempt to take over the world. Its 1938 public radio broadcast by actor Orson Wells incited mass panic across the States
• The American NASA and European ESA (European Space Agency) hope to collaborate on future missions to Mars, including sample-return missions as well as eventually landing humans on Mars by 2035. You better line up for a one-way trip …