Monday, December 24, 2018

Comet Wirtanen II

Sandra and I observed Comet Wirtanen last night from our back yard in Hato. There was a about a 15 minute period of clear dark skies after sunset and before the moon rise. The comet was very close to the bright star Capella. As seen from Bonaire, the comet was a teeny bit to the lower right of Capella last night. When I had Capella centered in my 10x50 binoculars, the comet was half way to the edge of the field of view. 

Capella is super helpful in knowing where to look for the comet right now. The comet should be a bit to the lower left of Capella tonight. It looks like a pretty large dim fuzzy spot in the sky. If the sky is dark and clear enough that you can see M38, M36 and M37, also located in the constellation Auriga you'll be able to spot Comet Wirtanen. The surface brightness of the comet was more like that of M38 than the slightly brighter M36, and it covers a much larger area than these Messier objects.

Here is a screen shot from the free software, Stellarium. The red X shows where the comet will be tonight. The red dot shows where it was last night.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Sun set Moon rise

The Sun set at 6:14 and the Moon rose at 6:24, Saturday evening.

I was hoping for some cool sunset/moonrise action, but there were clouds along both horizons.

Here is the sun about to drop behind the clouds.

Morning Planets

Venus is up quite high in the East in the morning now. Jupiter and Mercury are low in the East, where Venus used to be, not too long ago.

In this picture Mercury is on the left and will be getting lower and lower each morning, relative to Jupiter.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Mars and Neptune

We saw Neptune and Mars in my 10x50 binoculars on Wednesday evening and checked out where Mars would move to on Thursday and Friday evenings.  Thursday got cloudy, but Friday was clear, whoo whoo!

It was clear last night so we observed Mars and Neptune in my telescope. Neptune had a pale robin egg blue tint, compared to the stars. Here's a photo. Mars is at the middle left. Neptune is at the lower right. A star, 81 Aquarius, is near the top.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Spot the planet Neptune this week.

There is a golden opportunity to see Neptune on Thursday or Friday evening.

Mars is zooming East, relative to the stars, at the moment.

As seen from Bonaire, Mars is a tiny bit west of Neptune on the evening of Dec. 6 and moves to a tiny bit east of Neptune on Dec. 7.

My experience has been that Neptune is visible in binoculars, (at least in my 10x50s) if you know where to look.

So having Mars point the way to Neptune is really cool. The two planets are close enough on these nights that I should be able to see them both at one time in a telescope. If it is clear here on Bonaire, I'll be sure to check it out.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Comet Wirtanen

Comet Wirtanen is visible (with binoculars) in the evening sky. It will be passing through some well known winter constellations this month and may brighten quite a bit. Moonlight will be an issue at that time however.

The skies are dark right now, and it instantly popped into view when I swung my binoculars to the Eridanus/Cetis border. It looked like a big pale fuzz in my 10x50 binoculars. Because it passing close by and appears large, the light is spread out a bit and it doesn't necessarily look as bright at the numbers might lead one to believe. 

There is a great finder chart here: 

I was out by Lagoon last night and could see pretty much all the stars on this chart. The green blob in my picture is comet Wirtanen. It has a small tail, but you can't see it in this picture, and I couldn't see it in my binoculars either.

Moon, Venus and Spica Part 2

The Moon, Venus and Spica made a nice diagonal line in the morning sky today. (from lower left to upper right) 

One can use the Moon to try to spot Venus, even after the Sun is up.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Moon Venus Spica Monday AM

The Moon, Venus and Spica made an equilateral triangle early Monday morning. Venus is bottom right and Spica is top right. If it is still dark our when you read this, take a look to the East.

If you are further to the west than Bonaire, the Moon will gradually become lower in the sky compared to Venus and Spica. So the shape of the triangle will change. 

On Tuesday morning, they will make a straight line with the Moon on the bottom left, then Venus and then Spica at the top right.