Friday, July 1, 2016

Astronomical Calendar: 2016 July

Artist concept of Juno.
NASA's Juno space probe will go into polar orbit of Jupiter on the evening of American Independence Day, July 4, with the mission to investigate closer to the planet than any other spacecraft. And, this Summer will also mark the 40th anniversary of Viking 1 & 2, the first U.S. spacecraft to safely land on Mars.
More on Juno: Link >>> https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/juno/main/index.html
More on Viking 1 & 2: Link >>> http://mars.nasa.gov/programmissions/missions/past/viking/
(Artistic Image Sources: NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory / California Institute of Technology)

Astronomical Calendar for 2016 July: 
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium4.tripod.com/astrocalendar/2016.html#jul

Source: Friends of the Zeiss.
              2016 July 1.

                                                               Historic 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.
        2016: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Observatory
     Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/01/astronomical-calendar-2016-january.html

                             Like This Post? - Please Share!

Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >..

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Monday, June 20, 2016

Full Moon Summer Solstice


http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/pix/graphics/solsticeimage008.png
This diagram shows the position of the Earth, in relation to the Sun, at the time of the Summer Solstice, as well as the other solstice and equinoxes of the year. This year, June's Full Moon occurs on the day of the Summer Solstice in the Western Hemisphere.
(Graphic Source: ©1999, Eric G. Canali, former Floor Manager of Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science and Founder of the South Hills Backyard Astronomers amateur astronomy club; permission granted for only non-profit use with credit to author.)
 

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

This year, the beginning of Summer in the Northern Hemisphere is marked with a Full Moon. Both astronomical events occur on the same calendar date in the Western Hemisphere.

For 2016, the season of Summer begins in Earth's Northern Hemisphere (and the season of Winter begins in the Southern Hemisphere) at the moment of the June Solstice: Monday Evening, 2016 June 20 at 6:34 p.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / 22:34 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). The actual time of Full Moon occurs Monday morning at 7:02 a.m. EDT / 11:02 UTC, the time of the posting of this blog post. Although, technically, the Moon will be in the Waning Gibbous Phase at the moment of the Summer Solstice, it will, of course, look quite full.

A honey-hued-color Full Moon (particularly at extreme northern latitudes) in June, particularly around the time of the Summer Solstice, is considered the "Honey-Moon." This honey-hued effect is due to the Full Moon traveling low in the sky, very close to the southern horizon, throughout the night.

This may have led to the traditional term of "Honey-Moon," as weddings were traditionally held in June when the good weather days of Summer would begin. The term "Honey-Moon" can be traced as far back as 1552. At that time, marriage was compared to the phases of the Moon, with a Full Moon analogous to the wedding, the most happy time of a relationship.

Although the Full Moon does not occur on the Summer Solstice every year, the June Full Moon does travel close to the southern horizon, throughout the night, every year. As this is the time when the Sun is the highest in the sky for the entire year, this is also the time when the Moon is the lowest in the sky for the entire year.

On days around the time of the Summer Solstice this year, as the Full Moon sets early in the morning in the southwest, the Sun rises at about the same time in the northeast, on the opposite side of the celestial sphere. Likewise, when the Sun sets in the evening in the northwest, at about the same time the Full Moon will be rising in the southeast, on the opposite side of the celestial sphere. And, the locations of the rising and setting of the June Full Moon this year are approximately the same as the locations of the rising and setting of the Sun around the time of the Winter Solstice (December 20 to 22).

In etymology, the word solstice comes from the Latin terms sol (Sun) and sistere (to stand still). In ancient times, astronomers / astrologers / priests recognized that on one day of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere, near the day we now call June 21), the Sun would appear to reach its highest point in the sky for the year. The motion of the Sun's apparent path in the sky (what is known astronomically, today, as the Sun's declination) would cease on this day, before appearing to reverse direction.

Today, we know that, while the Sun does have motions, it is actually the motion of the Earth tilted on its axis 23.43715 degrees / 23 degrees 26 minutes 13.7 seconds away from the plane of the ecliptic (Earth's orbital plane around the Sun), while revolving around the Sun, that causes the Earth's seasons. Hence, as the Earth arrives at the point in its orbit around the Sun, when the north polar axis is most directly inclined toward the Sun, this marks the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the Winter Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere.

Alternately, the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere occurs when the Earth reaches the point in its orbit when the North Pole is most directly inclined away from the Sun. And, conversely, at this time Summer begins in the planet's Southern Hemisphere.

Although the Summer months in the Northern Hemisphere are known for the year's warmest weather, the Earth is actually at the point in its orbit farthest from the Sun (astronomically known as the point of aphelion) around July 5; the Earth's closest approach to the Sun (perihelion) each year is around January 2. Solar radiation, and hence the heat from the Sun, depends on the length of daylight and the angle of the Sun above the horizon. The tilt of the planet's axis toward the Sun determines the additional and more direct solar radiation received by a planet's Northern or Southern Hemisphere, and hence, the warmer season of the respective hemisphere.

The Vernal Equinox, when the season of Spring begins in the Northern Hemisphere (and the season of Autumn begins in the Southern Hemisphere), occurs between the Winter and Summer Solstices when the Earth reaches the point in its orbit around the Sun when the Earth's axis is inclined neither toward nor away from the Sun. Likewise, when the Earth reaches the point in its orbit around the Sun, between the Summer and Winter Solstices, when the Earth's axis is inclined neither toward nor away from the Sun, this is known as the Autumnal Equinox (beginning of Fall or Autumn) in the Northern Hemisphere; at this time Spring begins in the Southern Hemisphere. And, half-way between the beginning points of each season are Cross-Quarter Days, each related to traditional holidays: Groundhog Day (February 2), May Day (May 1), Lammas Day (traditionally, the first harvest festival of the year on August 1), and Halloween (October 31).

In ancient times, the Summer Solstice was known as Midsummer Day, in early calendars observed around June 24. Such early European celebrations were pre-Christian in origin. Many will associate this ancient holiday with the famous William Shakespeare play, “A Midsummer Night's Dream.” Some speculate that the play was written for the Queen of England, to celebrate the Feast Day of Saint John.

As with the Roman Catholic Church's decision to Christianize the pagan Winter Solstice festivals with the introduction of Christmas Day on December 25, the Church began to associate the Midsummer festivals with the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist on June 24. In the Bible, the Gospel of Saint Luke implies that John was born six months before the birth of Jesus, although no specific birth dates are given.

In addition to the Summer Solstice Full Moon being considered the “Honey-Moon,” to the Algonquin Indians of North America, the June Full Moon was known as the Strawberry Moon. This was due to the relatively short harvest season for strawberries, which always came in June.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the June Full Moon is also known as the Flower Moon and the Corn-Planting Moon. In Europe, the June Full Moon was known as the Rose Moon.

In the Southern Hemisphere, where the season of Winter is about to begin, the June Full Moon is known as the Oak Moon, Cold Moon, and Long-Night's Moon.
 
Links to Additional Information ---

Slooh Community Observatory live web-cast of Full Moon rising on the Summer Solstice - Monday Evening, 2016 June 20, 8:00 to 9:30 p.m. EDT / June 21, 0:00 to 1:30 UTC:
Link >>> http://live.slooh.com/stadium/live/june-solstice-full-moon

More on the Summer Solstice -
Link 1 >>> http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/astronomy/SummerSolstice.html
Link 2 >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summer_solstice

More on the Season of Summer: Link >>>
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summer

More on the history of Midsummer: Link >>>
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midsummer

Summer "Solstice Day" Annual Free-of-Charge Day, 1985 to 1991, at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science (a.k.a. Buhl Science Center):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2015/06/snowballs-on-first-day-of-summer.html

Special Thanks: Eric G. Canali, former Floor Manager of Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science and Founder of the South Hills Backyard Astronomers amateur astronomy club.

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
             2016 June 20.


                                                               Historic 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.
        2016: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Observatory
     Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/01/astronomical-calendar-2016-january.html

                             Like This Post? - Please Share!

Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >..

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Thursday, June 16, 2016

100 Years Ago: Connecticut Observatory Opens w/out Telescope!

Van Vleck Observatory
Van Vleck Observatory of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.
(Image Sources: Wikipedia.org , By Original uploader was Daydrmgirl at zh.wikipedia - Transferred from zh.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Shizhao using CommonsHelper., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12864694 )

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

One hundred years ago today, on 1916 June 16, the Van Vleck Observatory was dedicated on the campus of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, just south of Hartford, the state capital. But, there was one problem. Due to the outbreak of World War I, they did not have a telescope!

They had everything else needed for a respectable 20th century academic observatory: a library, lecture hall, clock room, and two “computer” rooms (rooms where men and women “computers” used pencil, paper, and a mechanical calculator to compile data from observations).

In July of 1914, the famous telescope-maker Alvan Clark Company had ordered a 20-inch objective lens for the observatory's primary telescope, from Schott and Company in Germany. Very shortly after the order was placed, with the beginning of the First World War on 1914 July 28, the German company could not fulfill the order.

After the World War I Armistice of 1918 November 11, the order for the 20-inch objective glass was renewed in 1920, and the glass was delivered later that year. Mr. C.A.R. Lundin of the Alvan Clark Company ground the glass, which was installed in a Warner and Swasey mounting in July of 1922. First Light for this 20-inch refractor telescope (with a focal length of 27.6 feet) came shortly thereafter.

During the War, the Van Vleck Observatory made-do with two older telescopes which had been used by the University during the 19th century: a 12-inch refractor from the Alvan Clark Company (1868) and their first telescope, the 6-inch Fisk refractor from M. Lerebours telescope-maker in Paris (1838).

The Van Vleck Observatory is named after John Monroe Van Vleck, an astronomer and mathematics professor at Wesleyan University during the 19th and early 20th centuries (1853 to 1912). Professor Van Vleck's brother, Joseph Van Vleck, donated $25,000 to start a fund to build a new observatory for Wesleyan University in 1903. With good investing of the fund, along with additional donations from other members of the Van Vleck family, the money for the building and equipment was secured and ground was broken for the Van Vleck Observatory in 1914.

However, Professor Van Vleck passed-away on 1912 November 4. Dr. Frederick Slocum of the famous Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin was hired to finish the observatory project, and he became the Van Vleck Observatory's first Director. Dr. Slocum worked with the architect, Henry Bacon (best known for his design of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.), to create a state-of-the-art facility, well-suited for New England winters.

In addition to university instruction, Dr. Slocum, who continued as Van Vleck Observatory Director until 1944, designed the program to use the 20-inch refractor for measuring the distances to stars by taking star field images for stellar parallax measurements. The 20-inch refractor is now used during weekly observing nights, open to students and the general public. A 24-inch Perkin reflector telescope hosted in a separate observatory dome, donated to the Van Vleck Observatory in 1971, is now the Observatory's primary research instrument.

The Van Vleck Observatory's problem during World War I is somewhat similar to a problem Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science experienced during World War II. Buhl Planetarium's third-floor observatory was finished with the rest of the building in 1939. However, the telescope, a rather unique 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope (which will observe a 75th anniversary on November 19), would not be ready until 1941. But, Buhl Planetarium managers had a plan for the interim two years.

Along with the acquisition of Buhl's Zeiss II Planetarium Projector (on behalf of the Projector's legal owner, the City of Pittsburgh), the Buhl Planetarium also ordered a portable telescope from the Carl Zeiss Optical Works in Jena, Germany in 1939, for use in the Observatory. To the dismay of Buhl officials when opening the package from Germany, they received a 4-inch terrestrial refracting telescope (which uses additional optics to show a right-side-up image); they had ordered an astronomical refractor telescope (which has fewer lenses to degrade the image and shows an upside-down image).

With the commencement of World War II on 1939 September 1, they could not return the telescope to Germany and have an astronomical refractor sent in its place. Hence, they had to make-do with a terrestrial refractor. So, today the City of Pittsburgh owns a good Zeiss telescope (now used at the Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium and Observatory of The Carnegie Science Center) with a very interesting history!

Links to Additional Information ---

More on the history of the Van Vleck Observatory:
Link >>> http://www.wesleyan.edu/astro/van-vleck/history.html

More on Professor John Monroe Van Vleck:
Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Monroe_Van_Vleck

More on World War I: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I

More on the Astronomical Observatory of Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science:
Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2011/11/70th-anniversary-buhl-planetarium.html

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
             2016 June 16.


                                                               Historic 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.
        2016: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Observatory
     Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/01/astronomical-calendar-2016-january.html

                             Like This Post? - Please Share!

Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >..

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

'Blank Sun' June 3 & 4 as Sunspot Minimum Expected 2019-2020

http://spaceweather.com/images2016/04jun16/hmi1898.gif?PHPSESSID=29fouja6md5ue32etj6bpn2164
Photograph of a "blank Sun," with no sunspots on the side of the Sun facing the Earth, from June 4.
(Image Sources: NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, SpaceWeather.com)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

Solar Cycle 24, one of the weakest sunspot cycles on-record, is nearing its minimum, with the first two days with no visible sunspots since 2014 (which was the last year to have one day with a “blank Sun” since 2011). Although two sunspots were visible today (June 14), no sunspots were visible on the side of the Sun visible from the Earth on June 3 and 4.

Sunspots are areas of intense magnetic activity on the photosphere, or visible surface, of the Sun. These areas appear dark, often black (central umbra) surrounded by a gray area (penumbra), because sunspots are much cooler than the rest of the Sun. Temperatures of sunspots measure between +4,892° and +7,592° Fahrenheit / +2,700° and +4,200° Celsius, while the rest of the Sun's visible surface has a temperature of about +9,932° Fahrenheit / +5,500° Celsius.

Sunspots were first observed by the famous Italian Astronomer Galileo Galilei in the early seventeenth century. By 1755, an eleven-year sunspot cycle was recognized and has been extensively observed ever since. With the first numbered sunspot cycle, Solar Cycle 1, beginning in 1755, we are now observing Solar Cycle 24.

Although a “blank Sun” for two days this month does not mean we have reached the absolute low point in the current sunspot cycle, it does mean we can expect the lowest point of the cycle in the coming few years. At this point in time, they predict that the low point in the cycle may come sometime in 2019 or 2020.

Our current sunspot cycle, Solar Cycle 24, has been observed as the weakest sunspot cycle in more than a century. This cycle has had the fewest sunspots since Solar Cycle 14 peaked in February of 1906.

After more than seven years in Solar Cycle 24, scientists have now determined that the peak of the cycle (month with the most sunspots visible) came in April of 2014. This peak slightly surpassed an earlier peak in March of 2012. Often sunspot cycles have two peaks, however this is the first time that scientists recorded the second peak as greater than the first peak. The previous solar minimum phase, which was quite weak, occurred from 2007 to 2009.

As we approach the solar minimum for this cycle, we must note that a smaller number of sunspots does not, necessarily, mean the Earth will experience inactivity. During a solar minimum, the solar magnetic field weakens and the solar wind decreases. This allows galactic cosmic rays to penetrate further into the Solar System and get closer to the Earth. This is a much more dangerous time for astronauts in Earth orbit or beyond, as cosmic rays can damage human DNA.

Further, with fewer sunspots, the Sun's extreme ultraviolet radiation (EUV) declines. This causes the Earth's upper atmosphere to cool and contract. Now, this does reduce aerodynamic drag on satellites in orbit, which reduces the need for satellites, including the International Space Station, to use extra fuel to prevent a premature deorbiting. However, it also means space junk will stay in orbit longer, providing an additional danger to astronauts.

With this new century bringing significantly weaker sunspot cycles, this has brought to the Earth lower-than-normal space-weather / geomagnetic storms. However, while major solar storms are predicted to occur less often in such weak cycles, some major storms can still occur. Indeed, it was during a weak solar cycle (Solar Cycle 10 of 1855 to 1867), in 1859, when Earth experienced the famous “Carrington Event.” During this Solar Storm of 1859, Earth's magnetosphere was hit by a solar coronal mass ejection. In addition to inducing one of the strongest geomagnetic storms on-record, telegraph systems all over the Earth failed, telegraph operators received electric shocks, some telegraph systems sparked causing small fires, and bright aurorae were observed closer to the equator than ever previously recorded.

And, there is some evidence that stronger solar flares and geomagnetic storms are more likely to occur while a solar cycle is waning. So such solar activity could still be possible over the next couple of years.

Prolonged weak solar cycles can have a cooling effect on average Earth temperatures. What scientists and historians now refer to as the “Little Ice Age” occurred during the low solar activity of the “Maunder Minimum,” which occurred from 1645 to 1715, and the “Dalton Minimum,” which ran from 1790 to 1830,

Viewing of sunspot activity on the Sun by the general public was often available, on sunny days in the Astronomical Observatory of Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science. A large image of the Sun would be projected onto a nearby projection screen from Buhl's historic 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope. This rather unique telescope, which also was used to view the Moon, planets, and stars in both the daytime and nighttime skies, will be 75 years old on November 19.

Links to Additional Information ---

More details with graphs:
Link >>> http://www.vencoreweather.com/blog/2016/6/4/300-pm-the-sun-has-gone-completely-blank

Daily Space-Weather Forecasts and Information, including information on sunspots:
Link >>> http://spaceweather.com/

More on sunspots: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunspot

More on the Carrington Event of 1859: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_storm_of_1859

More on Galileo: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_Galilei

More on Buhl Planetarium's historic 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope:
Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/01/astronomical-calendar-2016-january.html

Related Blog Posts ---

"Largest Sunspot in 24 Years Returns for 2nd Month." 2014 Nov. 23.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2014/11/largest-sunspot-in-24-years-returns-for.html

 

"Sunspot Count Max Finally Arrives, But 'Mini-Max.'" 2014 June 10.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2014/06/sunspot-count-max-finally-arrives-but.html


Sources: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss, Meteorologist Paul Dorian of Vencore, Inc.
             2016 June 14.


                                                               Historic 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.
        2016: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Observatory
     Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/01/astronomical-calendar-2016-january.html

                             Like This Post? - Please Share!

Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >..

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Laser Gravitational-Wave Observatory Researchers Receive 2 Awards


Diagram of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) located at two sites: LIGO Livingston Observatory in Livingston, Louisiana and LIGO Hanford Observatory near Richland, Washington. (Image Source: ScienceNews.org )

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

Two prestigious awards in the sciences have been awarded to the designers and researchers of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), which recently directly detected gravitational-waves for the first time. The direct discovery of gravitational-waves “has in a single stroke and for the first time, validated Einstein’s theory of general relativity for very strong fields,” said Mats Carlsson of the Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics in Norway.

The Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics announced on June 2 their awarding of the biennial Kavli Prize in Astrophysics to Rainer Weiss of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and to Kip Thorne and Ronald Drever of the California Institute of Technology. This prize was given to the three scientists for their groundbreaking work on LIGO. They will share the $1 million cash prize.

The Kalvi Prize came just a few days after the three researchers also received the annual Shaw Prize in Astronomy. According to the Shaw Foundation, they received this award “for conceiving and designing the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), whose recent direct detection of gravitational waves opens a new window in astronomy, with the first remarkable discovery being the merger of a pair of stellar mass black holes.” For the Shaw Prize, the three scientists will share a $1.2 million cash award.

                        Links to More Information Regarding This News

Kalvi Prize: Link >>> http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/Scientists-who-proved-Einstein-theory-win-Kavli-7963574.php

Shaw Prize: Link >>> http://news.mit.edu/2016/rainer-weiss-awarded-shaw-prize-astronomy-0601

                                   Links to Additional Information

More about LIGO: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LIGO 

More about the Kalvi Prize: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kavli_Prize 

More about the Shaw Prize: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaw_Prize 

                                          Related Blog Posts

"Laser System Directly Detects Gravity Waves for First Time." 2016 Feb. 11.
Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/02/laser-system-directly-detects-gravity.html

"Centennial: Einstein's General Theory of Relativity." 2015 Nov. 25.
Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2015/11/centennial-einsteins-general-theory-of.html

"Laser Observatory May Directly Detect Gravity Waves." 2015 Oct. 7.
Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2015/10/laser-observatory-may-directly-detect.html

Sources: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
             2016 June 5.


                                                               Historic 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.
        2016: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Observatory
     Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/01/astronomical-calendar-2016-january.html

                             Like This Post? - Please Share!

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gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Astronomical Calendar: 2016 June

View larger. | This image shows our neighbouring planet Mars, as it was observed shortly before opposition in 2016 by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Some prominent features of the planet are clearly visible: the ancient and inactive shield volcano Syrtis Major; the bright and oval Hellas Planitia basin; the heavily eroded Arabia Terra in the centre of the image; the dark features of Sinus Sabaeous and Sinus Meridiani along the equator; and the small southern polar cap. Image via NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team, J. Bell, M. Wolff.
New photograph of the Planet Mars, taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope on 2016 May 12.
During the first week of June, Mars is at its brightest in the evening and early morning sky in a decade! More Information: Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/05/end-of-may-start-of-june-best-view-of.html
[Image Sources: NASA,  ESA, Hubble Heritage Team, J. Bell, M. Wolff]


Astronomical Calendar for 2016 June: 
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium4.tripod.com/astrocalendar/2016.html#jun

Source: Friends of the Zeiss.
              2016 May 31.

                                                               Historic 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.
        2016: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Observatory
     Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/01/astronomical-calendar-2016-january.html

                             Like This Post? - Please Share!

Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >..

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Saturday, May 21, 2016

End of May / Start of June: Best View of Mars in a Decade!


View larger. | This image shows our neighbouring planet Mars, as it was observed shortly before opposition in 2016 by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Some prominent features of the planet are clearly visible: the ancient and inactive shield volcano Syrtis Major; the bright and oval Hellas Planitia basin; the heavily eroded Arabia Terra in the centre of the image; the dark features of Sinus Sabaeous and Sinus Meridiani along the equator; and the small southern polar cap. Image via NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team, J. Bell, M. Wolff.
New photograph of the Planet Mars, taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, on 2016 May 12,
just before the closest approach to Earth on May 30.
[Image Sources: NASA,  ESA, Hubble Heritage Team, J. Bell, M. Wolff]

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

In what should be the best view in a decade during the last weeks of May and the first weeks of June, the Planet Mars will be bright and quite noticeable in the evening and early morning sky! This is the brightest Mars has appeared since the Martian opposition of 2005 November 7.

On Saturday night (May 21) after sunset, Mars will be extremely easy to find as it is passed by the smallest Full Moon of 2016 (and, a “Blue Moon” by one definition!). During the mid-evening after sunset, Mars can be found just to the right of the Full Moon as both planetary bodies are rising in the southeastern sky. While Mars is known as the red planet, a bright reddish-orange star, Antares (in the Constellation Scorpius the Scorpion), can also be seen below Mars. And, to the left of Antares, below the Moon, is another planet: the beautiful ringed-planet, Saturn.

In the early morning sky before sunrise, on Sunday morning (May 22), the configurations will be different. Now, Mars can be found below the Full Moon as both planetary objects are getting ready to set in the southwestern sky. Antares is to the left of Mars, while Saturn is above Antares and to the left of the Full Moon.

After May 22, over the next few weeks Mars will continue to be found rising in the southeast after sunset and setting in the southwest before sunrise.

As with all planets, the best time to view Mars and Saturn with a telescope is when they are highest in the sky—right now, that would be between 1:00 and 2:00 in the morning, local daylight saving time.

Known as the red planet, particularly during the weeks around the time of opposition, Mars does appear in the sky with a bright, easily seen orange-yellow tint. With a modest-size telescope, or even binoculars, the orange color is even more pronounced.

In a telescope, and with good seeing conditions, one might be able to see a few vague lines on the planet, and perhaps even a tiny white polar cap. Although the bright, white ice at the north polar region of Mars is currently shrinking, this polar region is now tilted 12 degrees toward the Earth

Due to Mars further distance from the Sun than the Earth, Mars closely approaches the Earth once every two years. The fourth planet from the Sun, at a distance from the Sun of 141.6 million miles / 227.88 kilometers, it takes Mars 686.971 days (1.88 Earth years) to make one revolution around the Sun. The next close approach of Mars, to Earth, will be in July of 2018.

During some of these close approaches, such as in 2016 and also in 2018, Mars comes closer than usual. Mars will be at its closest to the Earth on May 30 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / 22:00 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), at a distance of 46.78 million miles / 75.28 million kilometers.

This distance can also be expressed as 0.50 Astronomical Units (one Astronomical Unit, abbreviated a.u., is the average distance between the Earth and the Sun) or as 4.2 light-minutes (similar to a light-year, a light-minute is the distance it takes light to travel in one-minute's time). At this distance, the disk of Mars will have a relatively large appearance, measuring 18.4 to 18.6 arc-seconds in diameter.

At the time of closest approach, Mars, astronomically, will have an apparent visual magnitude of -2.1. This is just-about the brightest Mars can appear in Earth's sky, although Mars will appear a little brighter during the Summer of 2018. And, this is almost the same brightness as the bright Planet Jupiter (which now is just a bit brighter at an apparent visual magnitude of -2.2), which can now be seen fairly high in the southwestern sky, during the evening hours.

Although the closest approach is not until May 30, Mars reaches the point in its orbit called “opposition” on Sunday Morning (2016 May 22) at 7:00 a.m. EDT / 11:00 UTC. Opposition, the point in the orbit of an outer planet when the Earth is directly between that particular planet and the Sun, cannot occur for Mercury or Venus, the two planets closer to the Sun than the Earth. At the point of opposition, the planet is brightly visible in the Earth's sky, from approximately local sunset to local sunrise.

At this time, Saturn is also near its brightest, as Saturn will reach its own opposition on June 3 at 3:00 a.m. EDT / 7:00 UTC, when it will be at an apparent visual magnitude of 0.0. The Star Antares shines at an apparent visual magnitude of +0.96. Visual magnitudes of stars do not vary, as such magnitudes vary for planets in our Solar System.

At the moment of posting of this blog post (Saturday Afternoon, 2016 May 21 at 5:14 p.m. EDT / 21:14 UTC) the Moon reaches the Full Moon phase. This is the smallest visible Full Moon of 2016, due to a lunar apogee three days earlier. The lunar apogee for May, the point in the Moon's orbit where it is the farthest from Earth for the month, occurred Wednesday Evening, 2016 May 18 at 6:00 p.m. EDT / 22:00 UTC, at an Earth – Moon distance of 252,235 miles / 405,933 kilometers.

The May Full Moon is primarily known as the Flower Moon to Native Americans. Due to increasing fertility in mid-Spring, along with the end of hard frosts and warmer temperatures better attuned to the bearing of young and the raising of crops, in Earth's Northern Hemisphere the Full Moon of May is also known as the Mother's Moon, and the Corn-Planting Moon or just Planting Moon. And, as the second cross-quarter day of the year on May 1 called Beltaine, or better known as May Day, was the time when farmers in Medieval Europe would move their cows to the better Summer pastures, the Full Moon of May was also known as the Milk Moon.

As the Southern Hemisphere begins to enter their colder months, their Full Moon names for the month of May include Hunter's Moon, Beaver Moon, and Frost Moon.

And, this year, there is one more name for this particular Full Moon. May's Full Moon can also be called a “Blue Moon.” However, this is not the “common” Blue Moon, which in recent years has been defined as the second Full Moon in a calendar month (monthly Blue Moon). And, the Moon will not actually appear with any type of blue tint.

This month's Blue Moon designation uses an older, more traditional, definition: the third of four Full Moons to occur in a single calendar season (seasonal Blue Moon), the present season of Spring. Normally, each calendar season only has three Full Moons.

Following the 2016 May 21 seasonal Blue Moon, the next seasonal Blue Moon will occur on 2019 May 18. The next Blue Moon by the more common definition, monthly Blue Moon, will be on 2018 January 31.

                            Internet Links to Additional Information

More about Mars: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars

News: Cornell University. "Ancient Tsunami Evidence on Mars Reveals Life Potential." 2016 May 19:
Link >>> http://www.rdmag.com/news/2016/05/ancient-tsunami-evidence-mars-reveals-life-potential

More about today's Blue Moon:
Link >>> http://earthsky.org/tonight/blue-moon-from-dusk-until-dawn

More about a Blue Moon: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_moon


More about Saturn: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturn

More about Antares: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antares

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
             2016 May 21.


                                                               Historic 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.
        2016: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Observatory
     Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/01/astronomical-calendar-2016-january.html

                             Like This Post? - Please Share!

Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >..

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >