Solar System Ambassador
me at the email address at the bottom of this page to discuss
star parties and presentations for schools, scout groups, and
being said, opinions expressed on this website are my own and not
that of NASA or JPL
Schedule Monday - Friday
air times (ET)
Stations of Interlochen Public Radio
88.7 FM Interlochen
FM Traverse City
88.5 FM Mackinaw City
91.5, FM Traverse City
89.7 FM Manistee
90.1 FM Harbor Springs, Petoskey
Weather in Northwestern Lower Michigan
MI Weather Radar.
based Infrared Satellite
shows best in the Eastern Canada view)
- Sector Views: Great Lakes - GeoColor
On this site
– articles of interest for this month
of the Night
of the Night II
the Irish Constellation
Dog Nights of Winter
Bullish on Winter
Very Important Nebulae
in learning more? If you live in northwestern lower Michigan
check out the Grand
Traverse Astronomical Society.
information on visible planetary and other events are available
Moler's Ephemeris Blog
day of the event. The blog contains Monday-Friday
program transcripts, most with illustrations and
Links: I dug through the IPR web archives and found these:
interviewed about all things astronomical prior to the August 21,
2017 eclipse. Photo, text, and audio.
My report on the Great American Eclipse.
GIF of the sky at the totally eclipsed Sun, watching the shadow
Date Local Event
Feb 1 Fr Venus: 45.1° W
1 Fr 7:48 pm Moon South Dec.: 21.5° S
2 Sa 2:18 am Moon-Saturn: 0.7° S
3 Su 1:35 am Moon Descending Node
4 Mo 4:04 pm New Moon
5 Tu 4:26 am Moon Apogee: 406600 km
12 Tu 5:26 pm First Quarter
13 We 10:29 pm Moon-Aldebaran: 1.7° S
16 Sa 4:56 am Moon North Dec.: 21.6° N
17 Su 4:42 am Moon Ascending Node
17 Su 10:05 pm Moon-Beehive: 0.6° N
18 Mo 9:16 am Venus-Saturn: 1.1° N
19 Tu 4:06 am Moon Perigee: 356800 km
19 Tu 8:08 am Moon-Regulus: 2.4° S
19 Tu 10:53 am Full Moon
26 Tu 6:28 am Last Quarter
26 Tu 7:59 pm Mercury Greatest Eastern Elongation: 18.1°
27 We 9:17 am Moon-Jupiter: 2.5° S
Mar 1 Fr Venus: 40.8° W
NASA - SKYCAL - Sky
Events Calendar by Fred Espenak and Sumit Dutta (NASA's GSFC)
occasional annotations and
Days of Our Seasons
Days of our Seasons
day coming this month got me to thinking about the seasons and
those special seasonal days, like solstices, equinoxes and
cross-quarter days. February 2nd is a cross-quarter
day, supposedly when winter is half over. Below is a table I
created of the seasons for one year starting with last
December’s winter solstice.
I took the date
and times from
Tables of the Sun, Moon and Planets,
Third edition by Jean Meeus. TD
is Dynamical Time, used to calculate the positions of bodies in
the solar system, is currently about 68 seconds fast compared to
Universal Time (UT), which is tied to the Earth’s
rotation. The difference is slowly changing at less than a
second a year and doesn’t enter into the calculations.
The Julian Date is a consecutive date starting on January 1,
4713 BC at noon UT. It’s used by astronomers to calculate
date differences. like the length column in the table above
without worrying how many days months have or how many leap
years are in the interval. If you want to convert a calendar
date to a julian date or a julian date to calendar date go to
the Naval Observatory web page here:
that the seasons are of different lengths. This is because the
Earth’s orbit is slightly elliptical. It reached
perihelion, its closest to the Sun, this year on January 3rd,
and it will reach aphelion, its farthest, on July 4th.
The Earth or any planet moves fastest when near perihelion.
And with perihelion 14 days into winter, makes winter the
shortest season. Autumn is the second shortest season 90 days
compared to winter’s 89 days. Summer at nearly 94 day’s
length is 4.7 days longer than winter. However we’re too
far north to really notice it. Spring is second with nearly a
93 day length.
rest of this article is based quite
a bit on the web
Holidays in Relation to Equinoxes, Solstices & Cross-Quarter
Days – https://www.naic.edu/~gibson/cal/.
a cool list. Naic.edu
is the website of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.
it was someone’s (Gibson’s) personal post.
equinoxes and solstices are quarter days, for the four seasonal
quarters of the year. The table above has Mid-Season and Date
for the half way point in the season. The Cross-Quarter Days
column are the dates which are more or less celebrated down
cross-quarter day is
Groundhog Day Which the famous weather prognosticating rodent in
Punxsutawney, PA forecasts the length of winter based on if he
sees his shadow. Supposedly,
if he sees his shadow winter will last for six more weeks, if he
doesn’t then spring is just around the corner. Actually
from February second to the vernal equinox is six and a half
weeks. If we had a winter like last year with a snowy April,
winter lasted until the second cross-quarter day. The
actual first cross-quarter day this year is February 4th.
40 days after Christmas, is also celebrated as Candlemas Day,
when candles are blessed for the year, and the Feasts of the
Purification of the Virgin Mary and The Presentation of the
Child Jesus by the Catholic and
some other Christian churches.
first quarter day is the vernal equinox, which occurs in our
time zone on March 20th.
The Ides of March, the
is pretty close to the vernal equinox and was the start of the
year for a time with the Romans. It was the date in 44 BC that
Julius Caesar was assassinated. March, named after the god Mars
was also for a long time the first month of the year. They, for
a time had 10 months, and consigned the winter months to ?.
Later they added two months in front of March, which is why our
months are named September (7), October (8), November (9) and
second cross-quarter day to be celebrated is May 1st,
May Day. The actual 2nd
cross-quarter day this year is May 6th.
second quarter day, the summer solstice is on June 21st.
It’s near midsummer day, the 24th,
the feast of St. John the Baptist. It’s
a big deal in Europe. If you had a midsummer’s night
dream it would be on the night of June 23-24. Of course if that
date was really midsummer, summer would have to start in early
third cross-quarter day is August 1st,
Lughnasadh. This is
Celtic. It was the wedding day of Lugh, their sun god with the
goddess of the Earth. This causes the crops to ripen in time to
harvest in the fall. The actual date this year is August 7th.
third quarter day is the autumnal equinox. This year it’s
on September 23rd.
fourth cross-quarter day is celebrated
on October 31st,
Halloween. It is the
day before All Saints Day, and Day of the Dead in Mexico. The
actual cross-quarter day this year is November 7th.
fourth quarter day is the winter solstice, December 21st.
This is in the midst of
festivals ancient and modern around the time the Sun starts
heading north again. Festivals of light, like Saturnalia, Yule,
you have the days of our seasons.
you have the days of our seasons.
Active Planetary Space Missions
have a new location for information on planetary space missions.
It's here at the Planetary
Society. The chart is created by Olaf Frohn, and is updated
is a fabulous
planetarium program with a very realistic sky and simple
added some features in the latest version (0.18.2)
and a new rendering engine that may not be compatible with
computers more than a year or two old without
using command line options. See the Stellarium User Guide (pdf)
under Command Line Options for options to try. My older laptop
also a web based version of Stellarium. It’s pretty much
bare bones, but works much like the computer version. It’s
located here: https://stellarium-web.org.
Charts) is a great telescope companion. It
a great tool for reference at the telescope or desk.
a great 3D simulator of solar system objects and beyond.
an interesting planetarium program. It seems
as polished as Stellarium, but has some cool features. I
use it when planning star parties
as a quick way to see what would be visible because
it loads quickly