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About CentaurZ

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  1. CentaurZ

    Lunar X - 2018 JUN 20

    The Lunar X may be seen by telescopic observers in Europe and the Americas during Wednesday 2018 JUN 20 for an approximately four-hour period centered on 15:28 CDT (20:28 UT). This will be an evening event in Europe and an afternoon event in the Americas. The X should appear as the Sun rises on the clustered rims of the craters Blanchinus, La Caille and Purbach, while a waxing Half Moon graces the sky. This is something to check-off from your astronomical “to-do” list. Photos and descriptions of the Lunar X would be welcome additions to this thread.
  2. CentaurZ

    Extra bright Mars

    Indeed, during its late July opposition this year, Mars will be nearly as close and bright as in 2003. These perihelic oppositions occur in intervals of 15 or 17 years. They present the few occurrences in which Mars can briefly appear slightly brighter than Jupiter. I agree that this would have far more to do with its apparent brightness than a dust storm.
  3. Elusive Mercury has commenced its apparition in the early evening western sky following its superior conjunction behind the Sun on 2018 JUN 05. The day-old Moon will appear to the left of Mercury after sunset this evening, June 14, while both are well to the lower right of Venus. Photos and descriptions of Mercury during this apparition would be welcome additions to this thread.
  4. Decimal coordinates are posted to ease interpolation, since few observations are likely to be made at precisely 00:00:00 UT. Highly accurate Solex osculating elements have been utilized.
  5. CentaurZ

    Tour of Yerkes Observatory

    I've been in contact with the head of the local community's Yerkes Future Foundation. Ditto for the chairman of the physics department at Northern Illinois University which is not far from Yerkes Observatory. They are now in contact with each other. While an institution of higher learning is needed to maintain and operate the facility, a homebuilder is needed to develop the surrounding 77 acres near Geneva Lake. Below is a link to an article regarding the Yerkes Future Foundation. Its proposal is essentially a place holder as it seeks prospects with deeper pockets. https://www.chicagomaroon.com/article/2018/5/11/new-group-submits-proposal-keep-yerkes-open/
  6. CentaurZ

    June New Moon Spotting

    It’s a challenge every month to spot the New Moon after sunset by naked eye (or eyeglasses) as early as possible. I use the term New Moon in its classical sense of one’s first sighting of the Moon after its monthly solar conjunction (Dark Moon). The Dark Moon (which some call New Moon) will be in geocentric longitudinal conjunction with the Sun on 2018 JUN 13 at 19:43 UT (14:43 CDT). During the half year prior to the Summer Solstice, sighting a very young Moon is usually easiest. Many observers on either side of the Atlantic with clear skies should be able to spot the crescent Moon after sunset when aged a day or more on Thursday, June 14. It will be seen to the left of Mercury and well to the lower right of Venus. Photos and descriptions of this month’s young crescent Moon would be welcome additions to this thread. Below is a photo I took from Arlington Heights, Illinois on 2011 JUL 02 at 20:58 CDT when the Moon was aged 1.7 days. Further down is a depiction of how the Moon will appear in the Chicagoland western sky after sunset on 2018 JUN 14.
  7. CentaurZ

    Planets disappearing??

    My three relevant charts can be viewed near the end of the following pinned thread at the top of this same forum: https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/287169-altitude-of-the-planets-for-the-next-few-years/?page=2
  8. CentaurZ

    Why are the planets so low in the sky?

    My three relevant charts can be viewed near the end of the following thread in the forum here for planetary observing: https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/287169-altitude-of-the-planets-for-the-next-few-years/?page=2
  9. CentaurZ

    Tour of Yerkes Observatory

    On June 2 my brothers and I visited the Yerkes Observatory, which is owned and operated by the University of Chicago. It’s located in Williams Bay, Wisconsin on Geneva Lake not far from Chicago. Yerkes was built in 1897 and originally housed the telescope with the world’s widest aperture, a 40-inch refractor. It’s still there. It had a long history of significant astronomical discoveries by prominent astronomers. Hour-long $10 tours are conducted every day but Sunday. You learn about the unique architecture of the building, then sit near the large telescope for a lecture about it. During scheduled evenings you can observe through the large telescope for $100. The tour and accompanying lectures are marvelous. The reason for the fees is that the U of C will divest itself from association with the observatory on 2018 OCT 01. Local residents who perform docent duties including lecturing are in the process of raising funds so that they can keep the observatory running and continue providing tours. If you are living in or visiting Northern Illinois or Southern Wisconsin, I highly recommend touring Yerkes. Here’s a link to its website: http://astro.uchicago.edu/yerkes
  10. Ringed Saturn currently rises during the evening as it approaches its opposition from the Sun during the night of 2018 JUN 26-27, when it will be out all night. The ring tilt reached a maximum last year, but it isn't much less this year. Saturn's brilliance will peak around the time of opposition at magnitude +0.0. That will be enhanced by the oppositional flash, which is especially pronounced for Saturn due to shadows of ring particles being hidden from view. Photos and descriptions of Saturn and its rings would be welcome additions to this thread.
  11. CentaurZ

    Interesting ratios of The Planets

    As always, seemingly precise ratios can be found simply by sifting though any collection of data points. My friend Jean Meeus in his book Mathematical Astronomy Morsels wrote a chapter titled On "remarkable" relations of the mean motions of the planets. He began by noting that in 1876 Daniel Kirkwood (discoverer of the Kirkwood Gaps among asteroid orbits) found what seemed to be a remarkable polynomial relationship when the orbital periods of all eight of the major planets are considered collectively. It's rather detailed; you can go to the book to see it. Later some others found even more precise polynomial relationships among all eight orbital periods. Eventually in 1988 mathematician Herman Salle proved that with any random collection of eight numbers (such as orbital periods), one is certain to be able to find extremely precise polynomial relationships. Hence this particular "remarkable" planetary relationship that Kirkwood found appears to have no physical meaning, even though his asteroid belt gaps do.

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