HOLIDAY TIME COMING UP. TRY OUT SOME OF THESE FUN THINGS TO DO.
Some new Fun things for you to try out. thay are in .pdf form so you can download them and print them off, I am sure they will be great fun, there is even something to Bake and Eat! Enjoy. Click on the Links below for some good fun.
Try making this Cloud-Mobile or a Pop-Rocket, Star Cookies or even better Edible Asteroids and to finish off a model of Saturn and it's Rings.
Try making this Model SOHO Spacecraft model
( Please note that all External Links are out of our Control and we accept no Responsibility for Content , Damaged Links or Problems that may arise by using them. We do check them before posting them on the Website to ensure their authenticity. )
NOW, YOU CAN CHECK THE CURRENT STATE OF THE MOON IN REAL TIME.
What to See with Your New Telescope
Every January millions resolve to do something, anything, different or better in the coming year. So why not try to do more skygazing during 2015?
As soon as the Sun sets, you'll see a dazzlingly bright “star” parked just above the southwestern horizon. That's actually the planet Venus, our closest planetary neighbor. Venus is wrapping up a long, wonderful showing in the evening sky.
Turn around, and you'll see Jupiter shining brightly above the northeastern horizon. It’s called the king of planets for a reason — it's big, it's bright, and it’ll dominate the evening sky for the next several months.
Another obvious asterism is the five-star zigzag of Cassiopeia. It looks like a flattened M in winter. Step outside, face north, and look almost straight up. It's a little wider than your fist at arm's length. In spring and summer, Cassiopeia lurks low. In autumn and winter, it’s Cassiopeia’s turn to shine high over the evening world.
Take a look at the Moon this week
The Moon is one celestial object that never fails to impress when seen in a telescope. It’s our nearest neighbor in space — big, bright, beautifully bleak, and just a quarter million miles away. That’s fewer miles than you may have ridden in cars, and 100 times closer than our next nearest major astronomical neighbor (Venus) ever gets.
This makes the Moon a wonderful target for even the most humble astronomical instrument. You can spot and name at least a dozen of its surface features with the unaided eye. Binoculars show scores more, and a telescope can keep you busy on the Moon forever.
Of course, just looking and not knowing what you’re seeing will grow old pretty fast. As in all of astronomy, the rewards come from recognizing and understanding what you find, and from planning neat things to seek out. Let’s get started.
The Moon's Changing Phase
Each month as the Moon circles the Earth, we see it go through its cycle of phases. Starting from “new Moon,” when it is nearly in our line of sight to the Sun, the Moon grows, or waxes, to a crescent, then to first quarter (half lit), gibbous (somewhat football-shaped), and full. Then the Moon wanes back through gibbous, last-quarter, and crescent phases to new again. When waxing, the Moon is visible mostly in the evening. When waning, it’s best seen in the early morning hours.
In every phase except full Moon, the lunar globe is divided by the terminator, the line separating the Moon’s day and night portions. Along the terminator, the Sun is rising during the Moon ’s waxing phases, and setting when the Moon is on the wane.
Near the terminator, the lunar landscape stands out in stark relief. Mountains, craters and valleys here look especially steep and rugged,because the low Sun makes every low hill cast a long, dramatic shadow. As you look away from the terminator onto the Moon’s day side the surface appears smoother, because it’s lit by a higher Sun that casts few shadows.
Seas of Lava
The Moon’s biggest and most obvious features — visible even to the naked eye — are its large, flat, gray patches calledmaria (MAH-ree-a). This is the Latin plural of mare (MAH-ray), which means “sea.” Early telescope users thought these markings might be similar to Earth’s bodies of water. In 1651 the Italian astronomer Giambattista Riccioli gave them fanciful names such as Mare Tranquillitatis (“Sea of Tranquillity”) and Oceanus Procellarum (“Ocean of Storms”), generally for the imagined astrological influences of the Moon’s phases on the weather. Astronomers soon realized, however, that the Moon has no water — but the names stuck. In fact, the “seas” are ancient lava flows that flooded most of the Moon’s lowlands between 3.8 and 3.1 billion years ago.
The Moon map here identifies the major maria. These are the Moon’s most important geographical features, and even the smallest binoculars are enough for learning them. Make a point of memorizing a couple more of their names each night, and soon the geography of this new world will become as familiar as the continents of Earth.
This is especially easy to do because the Moon always shows us the same face. It does so because, long ago, the Moon’s rotation period became locked to its orbital period around Earth. (Earth’s gravity got hold of the Moon’s most massive hemisphere and keeps it facing us all the time.) This “spin-orbit locking” is common among moons through-out the solar system.
The downside of this situation is that we never get to see the Moon’s far side, unless we send spacecraft around back to look.
One of the most spectacular crater chains stretches south from Ptolemaeus, near the center of the Moon. The Straight Wall is the Moon's most prominent fault.
The Moon’s most famous landforms, of course, are its craters. Practically all of these are the scars of titanic impacts by asteroids or comet heads. Most occurred more than 3.9 billion years ago during the “era of heavy bombardment” early in the solar system’s history. Earth was bombarded just as heavily, but Earth’s wind, water, and geologic activity have erased almost all trace of its early craters. The Moon, on the other hand, is geologically dead. We see on the Moon a record of what happened in the extremely ancient past, right there in stark view. The era of lava flooding that created the maria came later, so the maria bear fewer craters — only those caused by straggler asteroids and comets.
In fact, your telescope will show many places around the edges of the maria where the lava partially flooded preexisting craters. Sometimes the flooding was so nearly complete that only a “ghost crater” remains.
The Moon’s large bright areas — the lunar highlands — are the oldest terrain, as you can see from the thick cratering still preserved here. Craters come in every possible size, from dozens or even hundreds of miles wide, down to tiny craterlets as small as your telescope can show, typically a mile or two across. You can often tell the sequence in which several craters formed by how they overlap.
A large crater often shows a central peak — a mountainous pile created when the surface rebounded after a giant impact. Other big craters, sometimes called walled plains, have very flat bottoms because they became flooded with lava, like small maria.
The youngest craters are surrounded by bright rays that extend far across the surrounding landscape. These are great splashes of rock ejected by the impacts. Unlike most lunar features, rays are best seen when they are illuminated by a high Sun far from the terminator. At full Moon, bright rays from the large, young crater Tycho (only about 110 million years old) can be seen extending far around the Moon’s face.
Among the Moon’s other features are mountain ranges and individual peaks. Canyon like cracks, or rilles, are sometimes visible, especially around mare edges. Look carefully near the terminator and you’ll see low wrinkle ridges winding across the maria.
How to Use a Moon Map
Every one of these features takes on its own individuality and meaning if you know its name. To do that, you'll need a Moon map and a flashlight to read it by. Many astronomy books include Moon maps, but you’ll need to know a trick or two to compare the map with what you see in the eyepiece — so read on.
Most maps show the Moon oriented more or less how you’ll see it with the unaided eye or binoculars: with its north side up. But here’s the tricky part. Many telescopes give an upside-down view, and many give a mirror-image view. Some telescopes do both. These two effects are entirely separate from each other, and you need to deal with them separately.
If you have a reflector telescope, or a refractor that you’re viewing “straight through” (in a straight line from end to end), you’ll see an ordinary, non-mirror image: a correct image. If you’re using a telescope where the eyepiece fits into a right-angle attachment (a star diagonal), a mirror image is probably what you’ll see.
To check, aim the telescope at a billboard or street sign during the daytime. Twist your head around so the sign appears more or less right-side up, and you’ll see right away whether you’re looking at correct writing or mirror writing.
If you have a correct image, simply turn the Moon map around until its mare patterns match the patterns you see. (Never mind if the printing is upside down or at some weird angle.) You can now compare the map directly to the view in the telescope.
If you have a mirror image, you’ll have to mentally flip the Moon in your eyepiece right-for-left to match the Moon on paper. Alternatively, you can buy a mirror-image Moon map. Small maps like these identify only a few of the thousands of lunar features revealed in an amateur telescope. The next step up is Antonín Rükl’s larger Field Map of the Moon or — for true lunar enthusiasts — our highly detailed and beautiful moon globe, a three-dimensional representation of the moon built with 15,000 actual images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
This link www.astronomyforbeginners.com
will take you to a Great Site developed by
Gavin Vincent. Find all you need to know about starting your Astronomy Adventure.
Dont forget to come back afterwards though.
( here is a tip for you- if you "right click" on the link with your mouse, you can select "open in new tab". That way you can have our site open as well to come back to.)
If you want anything added to this page please use the form on the contact page or email us using the email link at the top of the page. Thank you and "Clear Skies"
A Quick Refresher for Newbies
If you’re new to stargazing, things can get confusing when we start talking about comets, asteroids, meteoroids, meteors, meteorites … ugh! For simplicity’s sake let’s say that comets are chunks of ice that glow spectacularly near the Sun as the ice melts into gas and dust, which reflect starlight. Asteroids are more like baby planets, made mostly of rock and metal. Meteoroids are the pieces broken off from comets or asteroids, and many find their way into Earth’s atmosphere. If they burn up, they’re meteors – what we think of as shooting stars – from the Greek word meaning “high in the air”. If meteoroids make it through the atmosphere and land on Earth, it’s a meteorite. The most likely source of the Delta Aquariids is Comet 96P/Machholz which was discovered by an amateur astronomer.
Viewing the Moon
The Moon is one celestial object that never fails to impress when seen in a telescope. It’s our nearest neighbour in space — big, bright, beautifully bleak, and just a quarter million miles away. This makes the Moon a wonderful target for even the most humble astronomical instrument. An amateur telescope can keep you busy on the Moon forever.
Use your telescope to explore the thousands of impact craters and the dark lunar "seas," vast lava plains that formed billions of years ago. The craters will appear in sharpest relief along the line dividing lunar day and night, called the terminator. Here the sunlight comes in at a low slant and shadows stand out starkly.
Moon Map Copyright 2004: Pablo Lonnie Pacheco Railey
ISS (international Space Station)
A typical flyover begins with the ISS rising in the western sky and traveling eastward, fading out as it encounters Earth's shadow or disappearing below the eastern horizon about five minutes later.
Because the ISS is so much larger than any other satellite up there — about as long a professional U.S. football field, including end zones — it reflects a great deal of light, easily surpassing Jupiter in brightness. Color-wise, what you see depends on your viewing angle. When the gold-colored, inactive sides of the massive solar arrays are facing you, the ISS appears pale yellow. Otherwise, it looks like a brilliant white star on the move.
We see the ISS in dark or twilight skies due to what I call the "mountaintop effect." In exactly the same way you can see sunlight reflecting from a tall peak when the valley below is steeped in shadow, the space station reflects sunlight when Earth is dark because it's so much higher, typically 250 miles (402 km) above us. At the same time you're looking up, the astronauts aboard can look out the cupola windows and see the bright sun.
Sunsets and sunrises linger on Earth, but they happen quickly for those on the space station. Ground dwellers get one sunset per day, but looping around Earth at 17,150 mph (27,600 km/hr), ISS residents see 16!
Most of us won't become astronauts, at least not until space travel gets a whole lot cheaper, but we can still indirectly experience sunset on the space station right here on terra firma. Remember that not all ISS passes are complete — many end abruptly when the spacecraft enters Earth's shadow. That turns out to be a good thing for observers because it allows us to track it from daylight through orbital sunset and even a short ways into night. The only equipment you'll need to get on board is a pair of 50-mm binoculars.
You can wait to see a sunset by chance or you can make it easy on yourself by stopping by Heavens Above, one of the internet's best satellite tracking sites. Select your location (upper right), return to the home page, and click the ISS link under the satellite heading. You'll be shown a list of dates, times, elevations, etc. Click on the appropriate date for a handy map of the ISS track across the sky. If the ISS arc suddenly ends, that means it's passing into shadow. Note the time and be ready with your binoculars.
The change in color from brilliant pale yellow to sunset red is amazing, especially if the pass is a relatively high one — that's when the space station is closest to the observer and brightest. I've even tracked it into the shadow, presumably during orbital twilight, where it looks like a ghost of its former self.
There's more. As the ISS passes by, keep an eye out for flares. These occur when sunlight strikes a shiny part of the vehicle and reflects it straight back to your eyes. Veteran space station watchers will also see the occasional “water dump” when the astronauts jettison unneeded waste water overboard. It quickly crystallizes into a cloud of ice particles that resembles a comet tail.
Finally, if you've never looked at the space station at low magnification through a telescope, you're in for a pleasant surprise. You can actually see the shape at 50x (maybe less) provided you can anticipate its direction. I place the crosshairs of my finderscope just ahead of its present position and then look through the eyepiece. It can take a couple tries, but once you've "hooked" it, you can follow the spacecraft long enough to see the solar panels and more.
See the ISS below.
According to NASA officials, only about 5% of the images, spectra, and other observations made by the New Horizons spacecraft have reached the mission's scientists. More findings, especially results involving the solar wind and its interaction with Pluto, will be radioed to Earth in the weeks and months ahead.
But if what mission scientists already have in hand is any indication of what the remaining 95% is like, it will be, as team member Bonnie Buratti says, "like opening up a birthday present every day from now until the end of the next year.”
WHY WE CAN SEE IN THE DARK
In search of a pitch black night? Don't expect to find it on Earth. Thanks to starlight, zodiacal light, and especially airglow, true darkness doesn't exist.
Starlight and starlit dust in the plane of the galaxy contribute to nighttime illumination.
Pitch black nights don't exist. Not on Earth, the Moon, Mercury, Mars, or anywhere else in the solar system where you can gaze up into the night sky. Find the darkest place on Earth, hold your splayed hand up against the sky and you'll see it in silhouette. Chances are, once your eyes have become properly dark adapted, you'll be able to carefully pick your way across the landscape without a light.
What makes your hand visible, anyway? Ignoring human-made light pollution and focusing only on natural sources, there are several contributors to nighttime illumination. The stars, of course, including the unresolved ones plus starlight reflecting off interstellar dust in the plane of the Milky Way. This amounts to at most one-third of nature's night light, making it more feeble than one might suppose.
Sunlight reflecting from dust in the plane of the solar system — the zodiacal light — is a significant source of what makes the night bright even from rural skies. It's most visible in mid-northern latitudes in the western sky on spring evenings and eastern sky on fall mornings.
Another major player is the zodiacal light, sunlight reflecting off comet and asteroid dust concentrated in the solar system plane. Zodiacal light emissions vary over time depending on your latitude, seasonal variation of the ecliptic's angle to the horizon, and solar activity.
But the most widespread contributor to night sky brightness comes from airglow. Look at any nighttime photo taken from the International Space Station and you'll see the arc of Earth encapsulated in a thin green shell of glowing air. Unlike the aurora, which concentrates in ovals centered on Earth's geomagnetic poles, airglow pervades mid-latitudes, equator regions and polar skies alike.
Airglow from oxygen emission visible as a "bubble shell" surrounding the Earth. It appears brighter along the outer edge because we're looking through the greatest thickness of glowing air.
If the green color reminds you of the aurora borealis, it's because similar processes are at work. Both involve the excitation of atoms and molecules — in particular oxygen — at altitudes of around 60-65 miles (100 km). But different mechanisms get them jazzed.
In auroras, electrons and protons from the Sun physically crash into oxygen and nitrogen atoms and molecules at high speed, energizing electrons within the atoms to higher energy levels. When the atoms return to their rest states, they emit photons of green and red light. With gazillions of atoms and molecules at play, the amount of light released can create staggering auroral displays.
Green light from excited oxygen atoms dominates the light of airglow. The atoms are 56-62 miles high in the thermosphere. The weaker red light is from oxygen atoms further up. Sodium atoms, hydroxyl radicals (OH), and molecular oxygen add their own complement.
Airglow, which is present both day and night, arises from the Sun's ultraviolet light. UV light is powerful stuff as anyone who's experienced a nasty sunburn can attest. Solar UV galvanizes several different processes in the upper atmosphere that lead to airglow emission. These include excitation, where an energized atom returns to its ground state either by itself or by smacking into a nearby atom, and photo-ionizaton, where UV radiation knocks the electron right out of an atom. When it recaptures another, the satisfied atom releases a photon of light.
In still another reaction, UV cleaves oxygen molecules apart into separate atoms that are then free to combine with nitrogen to form NO (nitrous oxide), a process that also emits photons.The brightest emission, the one that typically shows in ISS and ground-based photos, originates from excited oxygen atoms beaming light at 557.7 nanometers, or yellow-green.
A mixture of red and green emissions from airglow on July 18–19, 2015. This view faces east with the Andromeda Galaxy above center. Green derives from oxygen emission at around 60 miles in altitude; red from oxygen higher up. To see airglow, find a place well away from city light and allow your eyes to become fully dark adapted (about 45 minutes).
With today's digital cameras working at high ISOs, airglow frequently shows up in time-exposure photos taken from dark sky sites. Years ago, I'd notice streaks of pale light across the darkest of skies when no clouds were about. Back then I couldn't figure it out. Now, thanks to my camera, it's clear I was seeing airglow. When in doubt, I'll make a 30-second exposure at ISO to 3200 with the lens wide open then check the LCD screen for telltale green streaks. I use the camera both to confirm what I see and to hunt for patches and plumes I may have overlooked.
Multiple layers of airglow cut perpendicular to the Milky Way band in the north-northeastern sky possibly caused by gravity waves.
Airglow is visible across the seasons and best visible about 10–20° high along a line of sight through the thicker atmosphere. If you look lower, its feeble light is absorbed by denser air and dust. Looking higher, the light spreads out over a greater area and appears dimmer. That said, on certain nights, I've seen the green sheen up to 50°. Too dim to register color, it takes the form of streaks, featureless smears, and plumes.
Large amounts of the northern sky (Big Dipper at lower left) were bathed in airglow emission July 18–19, 2015 seen from Duluth, Minnesota. Much of this was faintly visible to the naked eye as patches of very thin cloud.
Auroras put in appearances from my latitude of 47° North but they assume different forms, move around, and are generally much brighter. Airglow is visible whether or not aurora is present and appears all over the sky — north, south, east and west. Airglow varies with solar activity and season, becoming more pronounced during solar maximum. Once identified, you'll see it nearly every moonless night from dark skies. Allowing your eyes to fully dark adapt is key to seeing the phenomenon.
Based on my own viewing experience, airglow is more obvious and widespread in the spring and summer and less so in the winter. It also varies in shape, extent, and brightness during the night. Patches can disappear or multiply, and faint streaks may brighten up and then slowly fade. What will you find?
Excited oxygen at higher altitude creates a layer of faint red airglow. Sodium excitation forms the yellow layer at 57 miles up. Airglow is brightest during daylight hours but invisible against the sunlight sky.
Airglow comes in multiple colors depending on whose doing the emitting or recombining:
* Green — The most common emission occurs when UV light breaks molecular oxygen or O2 into individual atoms about 60 miles (95 km) overhead. Rife with excess energy, they radiate green photons to return to their rest states.
Airglow is brightest in the daytime, but the glare of daylight masks its presence. The nighttime variety is a thousand times fainter in comparison. Good thing or we'd never know a dark sky!