Bert Rhebergen, the local sunspot expert, called me tonight with a heads-up about a possible sunspot (or sunspot group) just about to come into view on the solar disk. Tonight about 8:00 pm, he spotted a complex group of faculae on the limb of the sun. Bert explains that faculae (which appear as lighter patches on the sun's surface when viewed through a white-light solar filter) often accompany sunspots. The patch swinging into view may be associated with a new sunspot. So I would encourage anyone with a proper solar filter or a PST to dust them off and watch the sun over the next few days.
Of course, any note about solar observing has to contain a warning to only observe the sun through a proper, safe solar filter.
Stay tuned for further developments...
One space station, one space shuttle, one camera and one chance at a photo, but the impressive number tonight is thirteen. That's how many people are on that point of light streaking across the sky, and it includes two Canadians.
The International Space Station, accompanied by the space shuttle Endeavor, is currently making a series of favourable passes over Hamilton. I got this photo earlier this evening as the ISS passed through the Big Dipper. By checking the web site 'Heavens-Above' you can get predicted times when you can see the space station/shuttle as well. Here's the link: http://www.heavens-above.com/?Lat=43.1&Lng=-79.8&Alt=197&Loc=Binbrook+Conservation+Area&TZ=EST
In this case, knowing that the ISS would pass through a particularly photogenic part of the sky, I set up well ahead of time and made several test exposures to make sure I had the right balance for the station, the stars and the light pollution! When it appears you only get one chance at your photo; moving at 25,000 km/h the station doesn't stay around long! The massive station/shuttle complex appeared about as bright as Venus, easily outshining anything else in the night sky.
Today, July 20th, is the 40th anniversary of the first manned moon landing, Apollo 11. Think about that as you go out to see the ISS for yourself, and feel free to share your exeriences here on the HAA blog.
The International Space Station, the space shuttle Endeavor and 13 astronauts pass through Ursa Major, and over Hamilton.
On July 7, the Full Moon was upon us once again. With that, a couple of us ventured out to pay homage and witness the Full Moon break into the evening horizon. Each month we gather at the ridge on Scenic Drive to observe, and perhaps photograph, this wonderous sight. We have yet to be disappointed.
Last night Moonrise was at 21:30 to the SE. Upon arrival we target the Moonrise location along the opposite side on the escarpment. There is always the excitement of anticipation as the time grows close at hand. All eyes are fixed on the horizon waiting for that first hint of orange glow to break through. A loud yell and a pointing arm signal the Moon's arrival. The Full Moon rises ever so quickly so the time for talk is over. With cameras and scopes set, we are honed in on our equipment to capture the moment. Then for a short while the only sound is the flurry of cameras clicking. With a sigh of satisfaction the Moonrise has been captured for another month. Then discussion turns to sharing photos and good natured bragging rights for the "Shot of the Night".
Watching the moonrise is an activity the whole family can take part in...and its free. No equipment is needed. Sometimes around us, all along the ridge, couples sit on cars or fence rails drinking coffee in the solitude, leisurely talking and waiting. For family fun, you can gather and see who will be first to spot the Moon on the horizon. You can linger longer to view the city, the harbour, even talk about the Moon as it makes it's ascent into the night sky. Each month, and as the seasons change, you can pick a different lookout point in the area. In these times of “Staycations” why not give it a try.
Tonight July 8, Moonrise is at 21:59 and the Moon is 99.8% full, still well worth venturing out to see.
Future Moonrise times can be accessed through “Stargazing” by the CSC. Then, below the weather, you click near the bottom where you see the phases of the Moon for the upcoming months.
The next Full Moon is on August 5 at 20:55....hope to see you on the ridge.
Well, it's been a while since I did any late night astro photos. I still haven't gotten back into using any dedicated astro gear - just my camera, standard lenses, and standard (non-tracking) camera tripod. The following moon shot was taken with a 100-300mm lens at 300mm (single shot) and the Cygnus wide field was taken with a 24-70mm lens at around 50mm f2.8 (63 x 4seconds at ISO 3200)
If conditions are clear Saturday (July 4) evening, a few of us are going to set up our telescopes to do some summer observing at McQueston Park here in Hamilton. The parking lot and paved pathways in the park are illuminated by lights, but that won't stop us from seeing the moon, Saturn, some interesting stars, star clusters and brighter deep sky objects.
McQueston Park is on Upper Wentworth Street, just south of the Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway. There is lots of parking. If it's clear, I will probably arrive about 9:00 pm for setup.
Hope to see you there!
It is looking for tonight I will be there to help out.
Report on McQueston Park Sidewalk Astronomy:
Our first Sidewalk Astronomy event at McQueston Park was a huge success! As expected, the park was full of families out for an evening stroll, watching a soccer game or bike riding and everyone was thrilled to look through our telescopes at the Moon and Saturn. Many people even went home to return with the rest of their families to look through the telescopes! I estimate that there were at least 100 "Galileo Moments" tonight.
There were 7 HAA members in attendance and we were all kept busy from the moment we set up our telescopes and binoculars until after 11:30. Many members of the public were reluctant to leave and we were asked many times when we would be returning to the park. Considering how appreciative our audience was and how well we were received, I am certain we will be returning soon.
Many thanks to Jim, John, Ed, Don, Joe and Alexandra for volunteering to help me with my first foray into Sidewalk Astronomy. What an awesome night!
I awoke this morning a little before 5am and decided to step outside to have a look at the day. Sure enough, the clouds had broken up a little and there was Jupiter, shining brightly in the south. Turning to the left, there in the glow if the eastern dawn was Venus, brilliant in the lightening sky. After a moment I realized that it had company, and that I could see Mars just above it. The two were separated by no more than two finger-widths, and made a lovely pair. Most striking was the colour contrast of white for Venus and red for Mars, and I thought there could be no better way to start my Canada Day than with this perfect colour combination on display in the sky. The two will be paired for some time, so as Saturn lowers itself into the western evening sky, remember that there are still plenty of planets in the morning sky for you to enjoy.
Canada's colours on display in the morning sky
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