January 17, 2009

Local Photo Outings: Not much going on astronomy wise right now, its been cloudy here lately, and I have not done any observing this past week. Took a Drive to Blair, Nebraska for sun dogs, or moon dogs, and didnt get either, but Here is a photo I took while waiting for the moon to rise.


That is the Missouri River, and a couple of bridges (highway 30 from NE to IA) The River had Ice chunks floating in it, the temperature was about 10 below zero. You can see Orion over the bridges The Bright area in the river was caused by my headlights shining in the water, I thought it was a pretty cool affect.

Comet Lulin: Observing in the morning will be difficult until the moon reaches new phase. So starting on the 24th the Comet will be in better conditions to observe. The peak magnitude won't be reached until mid to late February. Skymap

More on this in about a week. The comet is still visually tough to spot.

Future of Tonight's Sky: In about 1-2 weeks time Tonight's Sky will be undergoing a big change. I will be creating a website, and the site will no longer be hosting with blogger, It will be expanded a lot, so I can create many pages for photograph accounts. The site may expirence a breif period of down time while changing over (possibly 1-2 days). Thanks for your patience. Send me an Email if you have any suggestions/comments or what not. Tyleroaxs@gmail.com

January 10, 2009

Comet Lulin Recent Observations: Many people have now made their first observations of the comet. Jeremy Perez of Flagstaff, Arizona mentioned "it was definitely brighter than 8th magnitude M107--I'd estimate by at least 1.5 if not 2 magnitudes." in his observation report (click to view his full report) Jeremy roughly estimates the comets' magnitude to be of the 6th degree. I would agree considering recent images of the comet.

Another observer, Jim Saueressig (Burlington, Kansas) captured a similar scene with his Canon Digital SLR camera and prime 50mm lens. Easily seen circled in this photograph is the star 47 Libra (Magnitude 6 star) next to it Comet Lulin passes. The comet appears more dim in the photograph than the star partially due to atmospheric distinction, and according to Perez a coma of 6 arc minutes.


Venus Close to Greatest Elongation: Venus will reach its greatest eastern enlongation on the 14th of this month. This means Venus will reach its highest point in the evening sky, and the best time for telescopic viewing (less atmospheric extinction) venus isnt a huge joy to observe, but non the less it is interesting, you can determine the phase of the planet through your eye piece. Good Luck, and clear skies

Feedback: Feedback is very appreciated at Tonight's Sky, I encourage you to send an email to me regarding any questions you have about the site, or anything else. Be sure to submit your reports of visual observation as well as photographical! Thanks as always.


January 07, 2009

Comet N3 Lulin: This comet is predicted to become a naked eye object by early February. I keep checking each clear sky morning with my scope, thus far have not spotted it, due the comet not being high enough in the sky before twilight. It will for sure become more easily visible in the coming days, because the sun is rising eariler and the comet will be traveling very fast away from the sun. You can view the comet in the morning in the constellation Taurus. Check out the sky map I made of the Track of Lulin over the next 2 months.

Here is an image of the Comet taken 3 days ago, image credit: Babak Tafreshi of Iran. (that green meteor is a Quadrantid)


The comet will make a very close pass to saturn which will produce not only an incredible view through the eye peice of your telescope, but many will take incredible images of the pass.

More later tonight.

January 04, 2009

2009 Observing Highlights: A naked eye comet? many astronomers think so. Comet N3 Lulin is currently a Magnitude 7.4 and is rising in the morning sky. The prediction is that by the end of the month Lulin will be at a Magnitude 5.8 (naked eye in very dark skies) Then in mid February will peak between the mags of 3 and 4.5 - More on this as more information comes in.

Other Highlights include another planet trio in Mid to late February (Jupiter, Mercury, Mars) From August 10 through September 4, Saturn will appear to have no rings also Saturn and Mercury will pass within a degree on October 8th.

Perhaps the most exciting event will be the '09 Leonid Meteor shower on November 17-18. Astronomers are predicting half storm conditions of up to 500 meteors per hour! but could we hit a large debris Field? The 1966 Leonid Extreme storm that produced a peak of 144,000 meteors per hour was not predicted to be that high, hopefully we will get lucky this year.

Tonight's Observing Session: I finally busted out the scope tonight, we had a pretty clear night so I thought I might try dusting off the little 4.5" reflector. I started with Sirius, and as a small patch of clouds passed, I could briefly see a corona! on Sirius! I have never seen this before, I was at 1000mm. I then moved on and Checked out the Orion Nebula, which was a beautiful sight, I have never seen it during the middle of winter, I mainly observed it during the early spring.

I Brought up stellarium on the laptop to see what my LM (limiting Magnitude) was at Naked Eye, 25x7mm Binoculars, and my small 4.5" reflecting telescope, My results were...Naked eye: 3 to 3.5 - Binoculars: 6 to 7 - Telescope: 8-10