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30 April 2013
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27 April 2013
|Typical Telescope View of Saturn|
For the city dweller, Saturn is an easy object to find, outshining most of the stars in the sky except nearby Arcturus, and its rival planet Jupiter (which is slowly fading into the west earlier each night). Saturn glows a yellow-white hue, in contrast to another nearby bright star, Spica. To find Saturn, it rises right after sunset this evening and for the foreseeable future, and glides from the south-east to the southern sky, and then across to the south-west after midnight.
If you have a telescope, now is the time to put it to work, as the view of Saturn will be at its finest. Wait a little while after sunset until Saturn is higher in the sky, less susceptible to atmospheric effects. The ring system is tilted 18 degrees toward Earth, so the view is quite good, and as anyone who has seen Saturn in a telescope will attest, the rings are amazing to see with your own eyes.
Here are two good resources for learning more about Saturn at opposition: Sky and Telescope's fine article, and EarthSky's tips how to find Saturn using the Big Dipper, Arcturus and Spica.
Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons
18 April 2013
Tonight will be a fine time to peer at the Moon with anything you have at your disposal. It's the easiest target to find with a telescope or binoculars, and it's always visible even in the worst city lights. And it's a treat to see something unusual yet familiar, the sight of sunrise on another world.
09 April 2013
|Mountain Theater Lecture|
The Friends of Mt. Tam (formerly the Mt. Tam Interpretive Association) have been sponsoring astronomy nights on Mt. Tam for 25 years, and this year will be another excellent one with monthly lectures from professional astronomers on topics such as Dark Energy, Asteroids, Mars Exploration and Climate Change. Following each lecture, I give a short tour of the night sky, and the San Francisco Amateur Astronomers host a star party with powerful telescopes to peer into the dark sky visible high above the fog on Mt. Tam.
The nights on Mt. Tam are a terrific astronomy experience and the price is free, so there's no excuse for not taking part. Families are welcome, and guests bring food and drink as well as cushions and warm blankets to really enjoy the evening there. The first event kicks off this Saturday April 13th at 8:30 pm, featuring Dr. Robert A. Rhode of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature. His lecture is entitled “Understanding the Climate Change of the Last 250 Years”. Click here for details.
I hope to see you Above the Fog on Mt. Tam sometime this season.
Image courtesy of Weekend Sherpa.