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Minas Tirith Forums » The Prancing Pony » upcoming astronomical events (Page 5)
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Roll of Honor pi
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Did anyone notice the huge moon?
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No -- but I heard a passing neighbor comment on it as I was climbing out of my hot tub last night. []
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I was driving last evening when this incredibly large orange ball came into view on the horizon as I reached a bend in the road. 'Twas Ithil - like this!
 -

[ 10-10-2009, 03:55 PM: Message edited by: pi ]

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October 2009 source
Venus, Saturn, and Mercury grab the attention in the dawn sky for much of the month, congregating low in the east. Venus, the "morning star," is the brightest of the three. Saturn passes Mercury early in the month, and Venus later on. The Moon joins them on the 16th. Mars is climbing higher and growing a little brighter as we head through the first full month of autumn. And some of the familiar constellations of autumn climb into good view, including W-shaped Cassiopeia in the northeast and V-shaped Taurus in the east.
5 Venus, Mercury, and Saturn line up from top right to lower left low in the east at first light. Venus is the "morning star." Mercury is farthest from the Sun for its current morning appearance.

8 Saturn passes Mercury in the dawn sky. They are low in the east at first light, below brilliant Venus.

12 The Moon, Mars, and the twin stars of Gemini line up high in the southeast at dawn. Orange Mars is to the upper right of the Moon, with Pollux and Castor above the planet.

13 Venus and Saturn stand side by side in the east at first light. Saturn is to the left of brilliant Venus.

14 Regulus, the brightest star of Leo, is close to the upper right of the Moon in the pre-dawn hours. Mars is above them, with Venus and Saturn below.

16 Venus lines up to the left of the Moon at dawn, with Saturn a little farther to the Moon's upper left.

21 Antares is just to the right of the Moon, quite low in the south- west shortly after sunset. Binoculars will help you find the star.

26 Dazzling Jupiter is close to the left of the Moon at nightfall. The Moon moves closer to the planet before they set around 1 or 2 a.m.

[ 10-10-2009, 04:55 PM: Message edited by: pi ]

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Oh well, it looks like NASA's planned spacecraft crash landing into a lunar crater near the south pole kind of fizzled. Their photos and video showed only a little fuzzy white flash.
We shall see, however, perhaps something more important: chemical signatures from scanning the light waves generated in the plume. Stay tuned.

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Heads up!

Orionids, 21 October morning, near the new moon.

Enjoy.

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LEONIDS
Predicted Maximum: November 17, ~21:00 UT (=Nov. 17, 1:00pm PST; Nov. 17, 4:00pm EST)
Moon: New Moon (no interference)
(radiant map from IMO)

WHEN TO WATCH: The predicted outburst, perhaps with rates of 100-500 Leonids per hour, strongly favors Asian observers, who should watch on the morning of November 18. North American observers should especially try to cover the morning of Tuesday, November 17 in case of unusual activity leading up to this peak. The Moon will be completely out of the picture and will not cause any problems. Just keep radiant elevation in mind wherever you're observing from. The radiant rises between 10pm and midnight for the bulk of the Northern Hemisphere. Leonid activity will be nonexistent before this time, and relatively very low for a couple of hours thereafter. Morning hours tend to produce the best rates, although the few earthgrazing Leonids seen around radiant-rise can be very impressive.

The Leonids are very fast meteors. The shower is active at a low "background" level for about a week from November 14-21. Quite a few sporadic and minor-shower meteors join the cast, especially in the predawn hours.

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Have you noticed recently how brightly Venus shines in the evening sky?
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Try to look to the west/southwest on the 16th in the evening and see Venus, then a bit south Mars, then a bit more south Saturn, and finally the crescent moon just to the southwest of Saturn along the ecliptic. Venus as you starting point is impossible to miss, as long as the sun has set a bit.
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I hit up the Goldendale, WA observatory a few weeks back, unfortunately the moon sabotaged any chance of seeing any nebulae or star clusters but I did get a glimpse of Venus, mars and Saturn. Saturn was cool to see the rings and Titan off to the side. Strange thing was they seemed so far away, I remember as a kid being able to distinctly count the moons and rings around Jupiter from their smaller scope behind the observatory itself. The astronomer just laughed at me then and said I wouldn't be able to see the rings, maybe he was right... but they sure as hell looked like rings to me.
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Roll of Honor pi
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I could never see the divisions between Saturn's rings with my 4.5 inch Newtonian, but the bands of Jupiter, sure, and the Galilean moons of course. I also like seeing the Orion Nebula and the crescent Venus as it changes positions relative to the sun and us earthlings while do our solar system dance around the sun. []
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You know it's a good night when a beautiful alignment of planets is the second best thing that's going to happen.
Thursday, August 12th, is such a night.
The show begins at sundown when Venus, Saturn, Mars and the crescent Moon pop out of the western twilight in tight conjunction. All four heavenly objects will fit within a circle about 10 degrees in diameter, beaming together through the dusky colors of sunset. No telescope is required to enjoy this naked-eye event.
The planets will hang together in the western sky until 10 pm or so. When they leave, following the sun below the horizon, you should stay, because that is when the Perseid meteor shower begins. From 10 pm until dawn, meteors will flit across the starry sky in a display that's even more exciting than a planetary get-together.
The Perseid meteor shower is caused by debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle. Every 133 years the huge comet swings through the inner solar system and leaves behind a trail of dust and gravel. When Earth passes through the debris, specks of comet-stuff hit the atmosphere at 140,000 mph and disintegrate in flashes of light. These meteors are called Perseids because they fly out of the constellation Perseus.
Swift-Tuttle's debris zone is so wide, Earth spends weeks inside it. Indeed, we are in the outskirts now, and sky watchers are already reporting a trickle of late-night Perseids. The trickle could turn into a torrent between August 11th and 13th when Earth passes through the heart of the debris trail.
2010 is a good year for Perseids because the Moon won't be up during the midnight-to-dawn hours of greatest activity. Lunar glare can wipe out a good meteor shower, but that won't be the case this time.
As Perseus rises and the night deepens, meteor rates will increase. For sheer numbers, the best time to look is during the darkest hours before dawn on Friday morning, Aug. 13th, when most observers will see dozens of Perseids per hour.

From http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2010/05aug_perseids/

[ 08-11-2010, 11:08 PM: Message edited by: pi ]

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Kepler, the mission searching for habitable planets, has found over 700 planet candidates.
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Gotta love those smart phone apps that give you a view of the night sky! []

Anyone notice Venus lately in the southeast pre-dawn sky? Beauty!

edit: btw, Geminids meteor showers on the night of December 13.

[ 12-09-2010, 04:26 PM: Message edited by: pi ]

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quote:
Seeing as you seem to like Astronomy, Pi
What ever gave you that idea? []
quote:
I have a little conundrum for you! Would it be possible to have a planet that was really big. And I mean really big. So big that it's circumference is that of the orbit and I mean the orbit of Jupiter? I know we haven't spotted anything of that sort in the Galaxy yet, but would it be theoretically possible?
I did a little research to be sure of some of my numbers and get some visuals.

The largest planet would be a very low density planet, known as a puffy planet. There is one, TrES-4, that is about 1.7 times the size of Jupiter. Therefore, the answer to a planet the size of Jupiter’s orbit, as far as current science has discovered or science can explain, is no. Jupiter’s average distance from the sun is about 483,780,000 miles or 778,570,000 kilometers - more than five times that of Earth's distance, so you’re talking mighty big.

You might consider brown dwarfs, which basically are between stars and giant planets. In a sense, Jupiter could be considered a very, very small brown dwarf. They aren’t large enough or hot enough to sustain the fusion process that powers all stars. Those brown dwarfs that we know of (so far) are much larger than Jupiter - about 15 to 80 times the mass, but not nearly the size you ask of.

Here is the largest known star, VY Canis Majoris. If placed in our solar system, it is calculated that the surface would extend out past the orbit of Saturn. Others disagree and think that it might be smaller, "merely" the size of the orbit of Mars. You can barely see our sun in the image, which is of a rather medium size, as far as stars go.
 -

So what brought on your interest? Are you considering writing a LOTR meets Star Wars fanfic?


edit: I just thought of this. Consider a Dyson's Sphere

[ 12-11-2010, 12:31 AM: Message edited by: pi ]

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Hamfast Gamgee
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Well, I'm always writing at the moment! But I was speculating that if it is true that one cannot travel faster than the speed of light, cheats like warp-drive nonewithstanding, It might be quite hard to conceive of space travel through the stars in the future to write about.

On the other hand it has occured to me that our own Sun is relatively isolated. Things like Star clusters, if they had their own livable planets, might be able to have long distance space travel between planets relatively close together without travelling light speed.

Our there is my own little bit of speculation as a way of blending Sci-fi with Fantasy in that if one had a planet which was so much bigger than the Earth, one might have different communities there which have had no contact with each other and are in different stages of development so one could have exploring style tales. The reason no-one on Earth yet has discovered these worlds is that they are rare, too distant and behind bright objects. Possibly!

[ 12-11-2010, 08:44 AM: Message edited by: Hamfast Gamgee ]

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Science won't allow for a much bigger planet. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are wrong because they are gas giants and there would be no where to stand, but you could shrink the size of these sentient beings and/or limit their ability to roam their planet by having smaller pockets of water, as compared to our water world. This theoretical lack of interconnected waterways, whether fresh or salt water, would severely limit a species ability to travel about it's world, especially if said species had no wings.

Consider our world with no oceans, just lakes, rivers, maybe two ice polar caps, and that's all. That could do it for you!

Write away, and don't forget to put me on your acknowledgements page. []

edit: also, impassably high mountain ranges could separate your peeps!

[ 12-11-2010, 12:29 PM: Message edited by: pi ]

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Solar storms will disrupt our lives like no other event. Here is a NASA article, but there are many out there. It is not a question of if it will occur, but when.
Severe Space Weather--Social and Economic Impacts

This is another reason to have many energy sources designed to provide this energy in a distributed source network.

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The White Hand
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Plasma or "solar" storms cause havoc, due to the millions of miles of "antennae" in the wire-grids of our power, phone, cable-TV and other utility-lines; this is the same thing that created the "electromagnectic pulse" effect of nuclear weapons-tests, which blew out streent-lights and caused other power-surges: i.e. contrary to sci-fi fiction bulls-hit, the radio-wave energy didn't affect the lights and things directliy, but the EM was small in itself over any one area;it was the the millions of miles of wire in he power-grid, that acted like a million-mile antennna and channeled it all via the path of least electrical resistance-- as with any radio-antenna to a radio.

The predicted 2012 solar-ejecta are expected to strike with less than 30 minutes of warning-time. Power-companies will then respond by opening the breakers, to produce 50-foot gaps in the lines.

However even if the breakers are open, the gigavoltages are so high as to arc through these 50-foot gaps like lightning, since the plasma-surges will prduce similar voltages.

The best solution, is to simply [/i]ground[/i] the breakers for when they're in the "open" position;" currently this isn't done, since lighting doesn't affect them since the towers ar grounded while the breakers are closed, and are otherwise insulated rrom the powerlines.

Therefore grounding the breakers while in the open-position, would shunt the excess voltages into the ground.
But that would make too much sense; and we see what happened on 9/11 when common sense failed, as we saw the collapse of two buildings which were guaranteed safe against plane-impacts-- turns out they didn't count on the planes having fuel in them (Ray Nagin wasn't alone when it came to disaster-preparedness, or lack thereof.

So expect the same-- Murphy was an optimist when it comes to government; so it's been nice knowing you.

[ 12-13-2010, 01:27 AM: Message edited by: The White Hand ]

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A Solstice Lunar Eclipse will be happening on the 21st. First time since 1638!
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An extra cool yule! Happy Solstice!
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The moon will appear to take a bite out of the sun tomorrow during the first of four partial solar eclipses slated to happen in 2011. Sky-watchers across most of continental Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia will be able to see the celestial event.
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Don't miss the big ol' moon, the closest perigee in 18 years.
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Yes, the junk-scientists have even blamed the Tsunami on the "supermoon."
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Clouds & rain prevented us from seeing the cool close moon here.
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