June 9th: Night of the “Micromoon”

The “supermoon” — a full moon that occurs when the moon is nearest the earth — seems to garner a lot of media attention. Very little scrutiny is paid to the occurrences of “micromoon” — an appellation bestowed when the full moon occurs at the furthest reaches of its orbit. Just Google “supermoon” and you’ll get 10-million results vs. a paltry 45,000 for “micromoon”. But the micromoon offers an interesting contrast to the supermoon. Continue reading “June 9th: Night of the “Micromoon””

Jupiter Opposition: April 7, 2017

Jupiter with 2x Powermate™
Full-size image includes Io and Callisto.
©Russell Croman

Tonight Jupiter is closest to the earth and rises as the sun sets — the planet is in opposition. This will place it in the sky all night long. As the nights warm up into the spring, you’ll enjoy great views of this gas giant planet. Some of the best planetary images are made at opportunities like this. Continue reading “Jupiter Opposition: April 7, 2017”

2017 WSP with Prototype Image Intensifier!

Tim and Spencer Vent with Al Nagler.

What a pleasure to have long-time customers come over to our booth to say “hello” to “Uncle Al”. Tim and Spencer Vent came to WSP from Helena, AR. A special thanks to my friend Mal Speer who helps me set-up and demonstrate our products. Kermitis was parked on Tim Peters’ (DiscMount) van to greet visitors looking through our scopes.
Continue reading “2017 WSP with Prototype Image Intensifier!”

Tele Vue NP101is to Test Einstein’s General Relativity

NP127fli
Tele Vue NP127fli astrograph with FLI ProLine Camera on Paramount MyT with SkyX mount.

The Tele Vue NP-101is was selected for an historic project by Dr. Don Bruns: to repeat the 1919 experiment of measuring star deflections during a solar eclipse that confirmed Einstein’s theory of Relativity.

The experiment will take place for the August 2017 solar eclipse, with Don using the NP-101is and FLI Microline 8051 CCD camera mounted on a Software Bisque MyT Paramount and field tripod.
Continue reading “Tele Vue NP101is to Test Einstein’s General Relativity”

Comet 2P/Encke’s Blaze of Glory

After being photographed at the end of February, showing off 3 green tails, comet 2P/Encke prepares for the final act of this apparition: a week-long plunge through the stars of Pisces toward the western horizon and perihelion. At the end of February the comet had brightened to almost 8th magnitude. Encke’s orbit this week takes it between the earth and sun — which will cause it to reach peak brightness and then disappear from sight . Use the horizon diagrams here to help you spot it. Continue reading “Comet 2P/Encke’s Blaze of Glory”

Comet 2P/Encke in the Evening Sky

This February, Comet 2P/Encke sweeps by the Circlet of Pisces asterism as the comet nears the sun along the western horizon. It’s easy to find in mid-February, as it appears inside a 5° circle centered on magnitude 4 Omega Piscium. It will be brightest late this month into the first part of March.  Continue reading “Comet 2P/Encke in the Evening Sky”

Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova in the Morning Sky

 

Crop of NP101is image of Comet 45P/H-M-P. © 2011 Björn Gludau.

Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova exits the glare of the sun and is visible in the morning sky.  It will be only 0.09 AU from Earth on February 11, so it’ll be pretty bright — but also very fast! If you saw it in January, when it moved a whole 5° in two-weeks, you’re in for a chase across the sky as it starts the month moving 5° a day!  Continue reading “Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova in the Morning Sky”

Countdown: Annular Solar Eclipse Feb. 26, 2017

TV-76 image of March 20, 2015 Solar Eclipse from Norway. J.M.Pasachoff.

After the penumbral eclipse of the new moon on February 11th, we have an Annular Solar Eclipse just a half-lunar-cycle later. Unlike the lunar eclipse, this one will need proper filtering to observe naked eye or through scopes. The eclipse is annular because only the central part of the sun is obscured, leaving a thin ring (annulus) of light around the edge. This happens because the moon’s orbit brings it closer and further from the earth — so its angular size from earth can vary from 29.4-arc-minutes to 33.5-arc-minutes. The size of the sun hardly varies from 32-arc-minutes due to the small eccentricity of the earth’s orbit. Thus, the moon can appear to be bigger or smaller than the sun according to the circumstances. Continue reading “Countdown: Annular Solar Eclipse Feb. 26, 2017”

Penumbral Lunar Eclipse – Feb. 11, 2017

Some phase of this lunar eclipse is visible from most of the planet. All phases are visible in the region from the eastern parts of North and South America to Europe, Africa, and western Asia. The eclipse is “penumbral” because the moon misses the deepest part of the Earth’s shadows — the “umbra”. This also means it’s easy to miss the initial and later stages as the darkening is not as dramatic and it will lack the color-cast of an eclipse that includes passage through the umbra.

Eclipse map courtesy of Fred Espenak, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, from eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov.

Continue reading “Penumbral Lunar Eclipse – Feb. 11, 2017”