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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday November 22 to Thursday November 29

The Full Moon is Friday, November 23.  Mercury is lost in the twilight. Saturn and Mars are visible low in the evening skies. Venus is bright in the morning sky. Comet 46P visible in binoculars.

The Full Moon is Friday, November 23.   The Moon is at perigee, when it is closest to Earth, on the 26th.

Morning twilight sky on Saturday, November 34 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 4:54 ACDST (60 minutes before sunrise). Venus and the bright that Spica  are close together above the horizon. The inset shows the telescopic view of Venus at this time.

Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (60 minutes before sunrise)



Evening sky on Saturday, November 24 as seen looking west from Adelaide at 21:49 ACDST (90 minutes after sunset). Saturn is just on the horizon with  Mars above. The inset shows the telescopic view of Mars at this time..

Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen).






Evening sky on Saturday, November 24 as seen looking east from Adelaide at 21:49 ACDST (90 minutes after sunset).  The location of comet 46P is shown. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (and most of the Southern Hemisphere 90 minutes after sunset)). Click to embiggen.


Comet 46P is rapidly brightening and is roughly magnitude 6.0 now, readily seen as a fuzzy blob in binoculars. It may become bright enough to (just) see with the unaided eye in December. More details on how to see it, along with charts suitable for printing, are here.

Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm AEST, Western sky at 10 pm AEST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.


 Venus has returned to the morning skies and is close to the bright star Spica.

Mercury  is lost in the twilight by mid week.

Jupiter  is lost in the twilight and will return to the morning sky next month.

Mars is in Capricornius and is readily seen in the evening. Mars is now rapidly dimming and shrinking. When sirius rises it is no longer the brightest object in the night sky aside from the Moon. In a telescope you may see a few features but viewing will be difficult.

Saturn is low in the north-western evening sky in the early evening and is setting around 10:45 pm. Its closeness to the horizon means it is no longer a good telescopic target.

Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm AEST, Western sky at 10 pm AEST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.

Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.

Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds (day and night) http://satview.bom.gov.au/

 

Seeing comet 46P Wirtanen from Australia

Location of Comet 46 P Wirtanen as seen from Adelaide at 21:42 ACDST on Tuesday the 20th of November (90 minutes after sunset). Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset). Click to embiggen.

46P is a short period comet which ahas an orbital peiod of 5.4 years. This year is a particularly favourable year and the comet may become as bright as magnitude 3 (about as bright as gamma Crucis, the fifth brightest star in the Southern Cross)

The comet will pass at 0.0781 AU (~30 LD) from Earth, on 16 December 2018 making this the brightest close approach for the next 20 years.The comets magnitude might peak as bright as magnitude 3 near its December 16, 2018 closest approach.

However, although potentially bright, its fussy, diffuse nature means it will be difficult to spot with the unaided eye under suburban conditions. Even under dark sky conditions it will be a faint fuzzy dot.  

Simulated binocular view as seen from Adelaide at 21:42 ACDST on Tuesday the 20th of November (90 minutes after sunset). The view is of the area around stars nu (ν) Fornacis and mu (μ) Fornaci (see below). Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset). Click to embiggen.

The comet is currently around magnitude 6, and a reasonably easy target for binoculars, unfortunately the waxing moon will make it harder to spot for the next week or so.

Also unfortunately it is in an area pretty much devoid of useful guide stars.

Black and white printable spotters chart for locating comet 46P over the coming month as seen from Adelaide at 21:42 ACDST  (90 minutes after sunset, basically a black and white version of the chart at the top). Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset). Click to embiggen and print.

At the moment the best way to find it is draw an imaginary line between Rigel and Achernar, then draw a line perpendicular to this and continue on until you reach the boxy shape that is the constellation of Cetus. then around halfway
between the box and the imaginary line between Rigel and Achernar is the comet, not far from upsilon Ceti.

Black and white printable binocular chart for locating comet 46P over the coming month as seen from Adelaide at 21:42 ACDST  (90 minutes after sunset, basically a black and white version of the chart at the top). The circle is the approximate field of view of 10x50 binoculars.

Within a binocular distance of Upsion Ceti are the two dimmer stars nu (ν) Fornacis and mu (μ) Fornaci. The comet will form a shallow triangle with them becoming a steeper triangle over the following days. 

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Sunday, November 18, 2018

 

Leonid Meteor Shower, November 18-19, 2018

Morning sky looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 4:38 am local daylight saving time on Sunday November 18 and Monday November 19 (90 minutes before sunrise) showing Leo, with the Leonid Meteor shower radiant indicated with a starburst. 

Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (90 minutes before sunrise). Click to embiggen.


 
The starburst indicates the radiant, the apparent point of origin of the meteors (they can actually first appear much further away from the radiant).

The Leonids are an iconic meteor shower due to spectacular displays in 1833, 1966, 2001 and 2002. They are due to dusty debris from Comet Tempel-Tuttle slamming into Earth's atmosphere. While occasional Leonid meteors can be seen most of November, the rate rises to a peak in mid-November. However, the spectacular rates of the storm years are long gone and will not reoccur for some time, For the foreseeable future only the occasional meteor will be seen, even at the peak.

This year the peak is on Sunday, November 18, with estimates of between 10-15 ZHR (Zenithal Hourly Rate - the number of meteors you could expect to see if the radiant was at the Zenith under dark skies). However, the radiant never gets very high in Australia, and although the peak occurs 3:30 am in Australia, we expect to see far fewer meteors than the ZHR. Somewhere in the range of one meteor every 30 minutes is likely even under dark skies. The last quarter Moon sets a3:00p ACDST and 3:45 pm ACDST on the 18th and 19th, and so will interfere with early viewing.

While we can expect to see very few meteors, the morning will be a beautiful sight anyway.Orion the Hunter is stretched out overhead, and the Pleiades nearby. You might even see a satellite or two (but not the ISS or iridium flares). To check the weather forecast, go to the Meterology Departments forecast site, or alternately the Weather Channel.

When to look: The best time is between 3:00 am to 5:00 am daylight saving time (2-4 am standard time) on the mornings of the 18th to 19th.

Where to look: Face north-east. A hand span to the right brings you to the bright white star Alpha Leonis, Regulus (the point of a triangle made by the obvious bright stars Procyon and Pollux to the north). Following down and to the left from Regulus you will see a number of fainter stars which form a sickle shape, the head of the lion. The radiant of the Leonid shower will be roughly in the center of the curve of the sickle, about one finger width up (see image above). However, the meteors can turn up almost anywhere in the eastern half of the sky, so make sure you have a spot with a fairly clear field of view, without any bright street-lights in the way. Use common sense in choosing a viewing site. Lone persons should not choose dark parks in the seedy part of town to watch the Leonids, as a mugging can ruin your entire day.

What do you need: For meteor watching, very little is needed. Basically, all you need is you. If you want to try and count the meteors, you will need a couple of sheets of paper, a pencil and a good watch. Bundle up against the pre-dawn cold, warns shoes, thick socks, sensible pants and a good jumper and possibly a blanket to wrap yourself in (I really mean this, last time I had a jumper and a windproof and I was seriously cold). Bring a reclining chair if you have one, or just a picnic chair or a good picnic blanket, and find a dark site with a wide-open view of the sky. Then just lie back, relax, and look up at the stars. Optional extras are a torch with red cellophane over the business end (otherwise you ruin your night vision every time you turn it on), and a thermos of something warm to drink. Mosquito repellent is also a very good idea.

Give it some time: Many people wander out, look around for five minutes, see nothing and wander back in. It will take about five minutes for your eyes to become accustomed to the dark. Also, meteors tend to come in bursts, and if you wander out in a lull, you may miss lots. As well, our time perception sucks. You may think you have been watching for 10 minutes, but in reality only about 2 minutes has passed. Give it time, watch the stars, and enjoy.

IMO Leonids Live! IMO observing the Leonids.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

 

Two years without Jack

Mum was devastated when Jack died. She would carry a photo of him around with her in her purse "so he wouldn't get lonely". Later, in the nursing home, as her body failed her, that same picture of Jack would watch over her as she slept through the long marches of the night. When mum died, one of Jack's childhood drawings accompanied mum on her last journey.

Two years on from that terrible day so much has changed and so little. SmallestOne's birthday is now bracketed by two sad event's, the loss of his gran and his brother. He may not fully understand why we didn't want to buy him Call of Duty, Black Ops on the 100th anniversary of the end of the War to End all Wars, with the memory of his decorated gran's poppy service still fresh. Now he is swinging with Spider Man instead.

Two years on and we are no closer to knowing why Jack died. SmallestOne has been given a clean bill of health, but they want to do more tests on me to check for some rare possibilities.

Two years on we follow his friends progress through their lives. There has been ups and down, but they are progressing well, becoming confident young men in a larger world.

Peta and I cry less at random bitter sweet reminders of his life, but I still can't listen to Paul Kelly's "Making Gravy" without tears. I have no idea why this song reminds me of Jack so much or fill me with such loss.

Two years on and SmallestOne progressively faces the challenges of being on the Spectrum, he can ride a bike now, a feat he could not achieve before. This has changed him measurably and he faces the world with more confidence.

Tonight, on the second anniversary of Jack's death, MiddleOne plays in the final concert of his first year at Uni as a Sonic Arts student. The next year without Jack will start with Avant Gard sounds and new hope for the future.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday November 15 to Thursday November 22

The First Quarter Quarter Moon is Friday, November 16.  This is the last week to see four bright unaided eye planets in the early evening sky. Mercury climbs higher and is close to the star Antares all this week. Saturn and Mars are visible in the evening skies. Venus returns to the morning sky. Leonid meteor shower peaks Sunday 18th. Comet 46P visible in binoculars.

The First Quarter Quarter Moon is Friday, November 16.  The Moon is at apogee, when it is furthest to Earth, on the 15th.

Morning twilight sky on Thursday, November 15 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:34 ACDST (30 minutes before sunrise). Venus and the bright that Spica  are close together above the horizon. The inset shows the telescopic view of Venus at this time.

Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (30 minutes before sunrise)




Evening twilight sky on Thursday, November 15 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 20:28 ACDST (30 minutes after sunset). Jupiter is just above the horizon. Mercury and  the bright star Antares are close together.

Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (60 minutes after sunset)
 






Evening sky on Friday, November 16 as seen looking west from Adelaide at 21:38 ACDST (90 minutes after sunset). Mercury is just on the horizon with Saturn above and Mars is close to the first quarter Moon.

Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen).






Evening sky on Friday, November 16 as seen looking east from Adelaide at 21:38 ACDST (90 minutes after sunset).  The location of comet 46 is show with a cross. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (and most of the Southern Hemisphere 90 minutes after sunset)). Click to embiggen.


Comet 46P is rapidly brightening and is roughly magnitude 6.5 now, readily seen as a fuzzy blob in binoculars. I may become bright enough to (just) see with the unaided eye in December.





Morning sky looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 4:38 am local daylight saving time on Sunday November 18 and Monday November 19 (90 minutes before sunrise) showing Leo, with the Leonid Meteor shower radiant indicated with a starburst. 

Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (90 minutes before sunrise). Click to embiggen.
 
On the morning of Sunday November 18 the Leonid Meteor shower peaks (from the point of view of Australians, that's 17 November UT), with the best time being between 3-4 am.
Despite the peaks, very few meteors will be visible (maybe one every 5-10 minutes).

Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm AEST, Western sky at 10 pm AEST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.



 Venus is has returned to the morning skies and is close to the bright star Spica low above the eastern horizon on the 15th.

Mercury is high in the early evening skies and is above the bright star Antares.

Jupiter  is low above the western horizon in the early twilight. By the end of the week it will no longer be visible.

Mars is in Capricornius and is readily seen in the evening. Mars is now rapidly dimming and shrinking. In a telescope you can see a few features as the huge dust storm has abated, the polar cap is obvious in even small telescopes. It is close to the First Quarter Moon on the 16th

Saturn is in the north-western evening sky in the early evening and is setting around 11 pm. It is still within binocular range of the Trifid and Lagoon nebulae but is slowly moving towards the globular cluster M22. However, its closeness to the hrrizon may wash these clusters and nebula out.

Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm AEST, Western sky at 10 pm AEST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.

Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.

Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds (day and night) http://satview.bom.gov.au/

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Sunday, November 11, 2018

 

Vale Monica Margaret Musgrave, 1922-2018

My mother, Monica Margaret Musgrave (nee Palmer), passed away peacefully in her sleep on the morning of 28 October at 96 years old. This post is based on a personal reflection I gave at her funeral.

No person is a single thing in the course of their life, there are many threads that weave through and today we have heard some of the important strands that made up mum’s life. No one word can sum up a rich life of so many years, but in this personal reflection of my mum I think the word “service”
provides the warp to the weft of mums life.

The most vivid memory I have of mum, I was never there for. Mum and dad wanted us boys to have a good education, and to have opportunities that they never had. So mum lined up outside the gates of Brisbane State High School at 4 am so that myself and Ben could be enrolled in the free intake. We have no idea how she got there (did dad take her?) and mum never really spoke of it, but it was typical of the kinds of lengths mum would go to for us kids.

So many things mum did, from teaching us to climb trees with the poinsettia in the front yard, to sewing us “Dutch Girl” costumes for some scout play (afterwards she would tell us that it was okay to wear a dress occasionally but “we shouldn’t make a habit of it”). Mum was well known for knitting and crocheting, and would crochet everything to within an inch of its life.

No greater love has a young man for his mother than accepting crocheted clothes hangers and hanging them in his cupboard. When I designed a logo for the Queensland Institute of Technology Bushwalking club (euphoniously named QUIT BWUCK) mum laboriously converted it to a knitting pattern and knitted a tasteful black and yellow jumper for me … thanks mum.

On the holidays at Coolum mum would play endless games of Zookeeper with us (I always tried to collect Pachyderms and Reptiles, Ben favoured Big cats), Mum and Ben would team up to tickle me mercilessly. On family picnics, mum’s wicker picnic basket made every picnic a special event. Well-ordered Plates, Knives, forks, and billy tea made over an open fire.

When we were attending QIT mum would wait up for us to come home, not necessarily what a young lad wants when coming back late, although I was mostly studying late at the library, some of the late nights putting the student Newspaper together were not mums idea of what I should be doing. Ben can tell you his stories in person. Mum would always have dinner waiting for me when I got home however late.

Mums cooking skills were legendary, my brother Ben commented she could burn water, but at that hour dehydrated meat and anonymous mashed vegetables were ambrosia. When writing up my final year project with my lab partner Joy Brush mum stayed up far too late converting my horrible writing into neat typing.

If mum was notorious for her cooking her cups of tea were renowned. Visitors to mums place were always greeted with a cup of tea (or later, more sophisticated Nescafe 43). I have very warm memories of my friends crammed around the tiny table in our tiny kitchen quaffing mums tea. My tall friend Rob Walpole would stride up and down the kitchen expounding on some topic or other while tiny mum chased after him with his cuppa.

From 1944 to 1946 Mum served in the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service as a tele-typiste. During her two years with WRANS her service to her country was acknowledged when Mum was awarded the war medal. Her service was acknowledged further at the funeral by her casket bearing the white ensign and the WRANS performing a poppy service.

Mum was also devoted to the Bowls club, she and dad were foundation members, and later mum would be made a life member and have a green named after her. 

But over the years the cuppas remained constant. In the later years when I visited, we would sit companionably side by side with a cuppa each watching TV (turned up to a volume that shook the windows). When looking at the photos in preparing for this I know that there are more people who enriched her life and in turn who enriched hers, than I have had a chance to acknowledge, her beloved sisters, nieces and nephews, grandchildren and great grandchildren, friends and neighbours.


Many could sadly not be at the funeral, as the threads of their lives unravelled by time, but many family and friends made the sometimes-difficult journey to celebrate the weave of mum's life, and were important threads in that weave.

I will leave you with this last image, mum curled up asleep in her chair in the flickering light of the TV, watched over by pictures of Frank, my son Jack, and all the other family and friends from Bowls and WRANS, at peace and safe in their regard.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday October 25 to Thursday November 1

The Last Quarter Moon is Thursday, November 1.  Four bright unaided eye planets are seen in the early evening sky. Mercury climbs higher and is close to Jupiter all this week. Saturn and Mars are visible in the evening skies.

The Last Quarter Moon is Thursday, November 1. The Moon is at perigee, when it is closest to Earth, on the 1st.

Evening twilight sky on Saturday, October 27 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 20:39 ACDST (60 minutes after sunset). Mercury and  Jupiter are close together above the horizon.

Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (60 minutes after sunset)


Evening sky on Saturday, October 27 as seen looking northwest from Adelaide at 21:12 ACDST (90 minutes after sunset). All  4 bright planets are clearly visible.

Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen).







 Venus is lost to view and will return to the morning skies later in November.

Mercury climbs higher in the evening skies and is close to Jupiter form the 27th to the 1st of November.

Jupiter  is in the early evening sky above the western horizon just above Mercury. It is setting around 30 minutes after astronomical twilight when the sky is fully dark.

Mars is in Capricornius and is readily seen in the evening. Mars is now rapidly dimming and shrinking. In a telescope you can see a few features as the huge dust storm has abated, the polar cap is obvious in even small telescopes.

Saturn is in the north-western evening sky in the early evening and is a good telescopic object in the early-evening sky, setting around mif=dnight. It is still within binocular range of the Trifid and Lagoon nebulae but is slowly moving towards the globular cluster M22.

Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm AEST, Western sky at 10 pm AEST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.

Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.

Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds (day and night) http://satview.bom.gov.au/

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Thursday, October 18, 2018

 

Orionid Meteor Shower, Morning 21-23 October 2018

Morning sky as seen from Adelaide facing north-east at 2:00 am ACDST on 22 October, the Orionid radiant is indicated with a starburst. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at an equivalent local time. Click to embiggen.

The Orionids are a worthwhile shower that somewhat favours the Southern Hemisphere,best seen between 2-5 am, the radiant, the point where meteors appear to originate from, being just under Betelgeuse, the bright red star in Orion.

If you draw an imaginary line between Procyon and Aldebaran, then drop another imaginary line from Betelgeuse to the horizon, the radiant is just next to the intersection of those two lines.

The Orionids are the debris from Halley's comet. The Orionids maximum is on October 21 UT (October 22 Australian time).

This year the nearly full Moon interferes with the shower, but is far enough away that you can block its light out for reasonable viewing.

The best viewing is the morning of the 22nd, when between 3-5 am under dark skies you should see about a meteor every 3-4 minutes, although reasonable rates will be seen the mornings before and after (see table below).

You can find out the predicted rates for your location using the NASA meteor flux estimator (use 8 Orionids and make sure you set the dates to 21-22 October 2018).
 
Unfortunately, both Chrome and Firefox have changed their security settings to prevent plugins from running, and the flux estimator only runs under Internet Explorer now.
You can follow the progress of the shower at the IMO Orionids live page.

If you decide to get up, allow at least 5 minutes for your eyes to adjust, and be patient, it may be several minutes before you are rewarded with you first meteor, then a couple will come along in quick succession.

Choose a viewing spot where you can see a large swathe of sky without trees or buildings getting in the way, or with street-lights getting in your eyes. The darker the spot the better (but do be sensible, don't choose a spot in an unsalubrious park for example). Look to the north-east, and the distinctive red star Betelgeuse below the saucepan will be easy to spot. The meteors should originate just below here. However, let your eyes roam a bit to pick up meteors that begin their "burn" a fair distance from the radiant.

A lawn chair or something similar will make your observing comfortable (or a picnic rug spread on the ground and a nice pillow), and having a Thermos of hot coffee, tea or chocolate to swig while watching will increase your comfort. (Here's some hints on dark adaption of your eyes so you can see meteors better).

The following table show the predicted peak rates at around 5 am local time on the mornings of the 21st, 22nd and 23rd of October for a number of cities under dark sky conditions (rates under suburban or city light conditions will be lower). Rates will be similar at the same latitude as these cities, and rates will be intermediate at spots between these cities.

TownMorning October 21Morning October 22Morning October 23
Adelaide10 meteors/hr14 meteors/hr11 meteors/hr
Brisbane12 meteors/hr16 meteors/hr15 meteors/hr
Darwin15 meteors/hr19 meteors/hr19 meteors/hr
Perth11 meteors/hr15 meteors/hr12 meteors/hr
Melbourne10 meteors/hr13 meteors/hr10 meteors/hr

Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds http://satview.bom.gov.au/
Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.   

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