Blood Moon Rising.

As I said yesterday, April is going to be a busy month.

 

File:Visibility Lunar Eclipse 2014-04-15.png

April 14-15 (depending on where in the world you are Carmen San Diego), a total lunar eclipse will be visible in the Pacific Ocean region, including Australia, as well as North and South America.

Animation april 15 2014 lunar eclipse appearance.gif

It will be the first of two total lunar eclipses in 2014, and the first of a tetrad (four total lunar eclipses in series), the other total eclipses will occur on October 8, April 8, 2015, and September 28, 2015.

Lunar eclipse chart close-2014Apr15.png

Once the Moon is in total eclipse, it looks red.  Hence the name Blood Moon.  However, this is normally how the Moon looks in total eclipse, so it doesn’t have anything to do with the doomsday prophecies running around the Internet.  Unfortunately, April has another doomsday prediction that I will discuss tomorrow.

Astronomy: Roen Kelly

What makes this total eclipse even more event worthy is the fact that Mars will appear right next to the Moon during its eclipse and should be spectacular as Mars is just coming out of its opposition with the Earth.

Time to break out the cameras or cellphone and take some images.  I will try to make some instructions for taking images of the Moon that should help anyone interested.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Why Don’t We Have Rings?

This is almost embarrassing.  Saturn has rings, Jupiter has rings, Uranus, Neptune all have rings…and now even some asteroids have rings.

File:Comparechariklo2.jpg

Scientists have discovered that the asteroid Chariklo, all 258km wide asteroid Chariklo, has a ring system (the graphic above is old, the 258km is correct).

Artist's impression of of Chariklo and rings

In fact Chariklo has at least two ring that were observed when it occulted a star recently.

Image credit Zane B. Stein

Chariklo is about 1AU inside the orbit of Uranus and is estimated to have an orbital half-life of about 10.3 Million years.

Moon

So the question still remains: Why doesn’t the Earth have rings.  Well, some believe that we can blame it on the Moon.  The gravitational interaction between the Earth and Moon would make any ring material unstable and, eventually, all the particles would fall to the surface of one or the other.  Dang you Moon!  I could have had a view that would have been spectacular!

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

The Moon has Shrunk!

Look up in the sky tonight and you might notice something a little odd.

desert moon

The Moon isn’t quite as big as it normally appears.

That is because the Moon is at apogee, or the farthest from the Earth in its orbit.  The Moon will be at its current maximum distance of at 8:52 PM DST.  Normally, the Moon’s apogee varies from 404,000 to 406,700 kilometers, this month it is just shy (164 kilometers) from its maximum apogee.

Although the Moon regularly does this cycle once every 28 days or so, this one is interesting because it is a full Moon.  This is the opposite of the so called super Moons that are “15 times larger than normal.”  Not really, but you wouldn’t believe the number of people that believe this when they see it in the checkout stands.

So take a second to look as something small tonight…the Moon.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Can You See Yourself Waving?

This past Friday, the Cassini spacecraft captured a picture of Earth through Saturn’s rings.

http://www.dailygalaxy.com/.a/6a00d8341bf7f753ef0192ac23f9c6970d-pi

The image is only the third ever taken of Earth from the outer solar system (home to the gas giants and their moons).

It is also the first time that everyone knew the picture was going to be taken in advance.  As I reported earlier, that knowledge prompted a lot of interesting events to celebrate the occasion.

From 898 million miles (1.44 billion kilometers) away, the Earth is a small blue dot.  If you look closely, you can see the moon next to the Earth (naturally).

So did you see me waving?  Leave me a message and let me know how you celebrated this historic first.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Good photo op in tonight’s sky.

If you missed the last conjunction between Jupiter, Mercury and Venus this past month, you’ll get another chance at a good photo tonight.

This time it is the Moon, Venus and Mercury.  If you look to the west-northwest horizon tonight you will see all three.

The show will last for about 45 minutes after sunset (Venus sets right after that).

You should be able to see all three with the naked eye and you might even want to try and take a photograph.  You shouldn’t need anything fancier than your cell phone and a steady hand.  Orion even makes devices for holding your cellphone in place for you.

I am going to try my hand at getting a few images and I will post the results (provided the weather cooperates).  Let me know if you take any images, I would love to see your shots!

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

I got the Sun in the mornin’ and the _____(fill in the blank)

Ok, so next up is our closest planet (begin debate here)…the Moon, or Luna to its closest friends.  I won’t go into all the particulars, but like some one once said:  If it walks like a duck….

Anyway, the important part of this whole thing is that I learned a new skill this weekend!  I was out in the desert and the Moon was beautiful.  I would have loved to have taken a picture.  But alas, the only camera I had with me was my Canon G12.

Not quite a DSLR, but it does have some pretty good control for an advanced point and shoot camera.

Surely, I thought, there must be a way!

So, like any good scientist, I experimented for hours on end with different setting until I alone in all the world possessed the knowledge needed to take perfect Moon shots with my G12!!!!

Just, kidding, I did what anyone would do and I used Google to search for the answer.  However, as can be expected doing experiments this way, the results that other people got with their G12 settings did not actually work for me.

However, it did get me in the well, you know, ballpark.

DISCLAIMER: I neither endorse nor condone the playing, watching or in any form participating in the game of Baseball.  I am totally agnostic toward any teams in either the AL or NL (go Cubs!).

Now on to the good stuff.

Basic game play for imaging the Moon with my Canon G12 Powershot camera:

Rule #1: No hand held shots.

handheld

Rule #2: They lie on the internet (80 ISO at 1/640s my a**).

Blank

Rule #3: Proper composition please.

high_in_sky

Rule #4: Focus, even when you are doing it manually, focus.

unretouched

Rule #5: The camera will play tricks on you, it is, after all, alive and evilly dead set against you obtaining any useful images.

better

Rule #6: Even if it really looks this way, Photoshop is your friend.

desert moon

Rule #7: Take lots of pictures…lots and lots of pictures.  You will be rewarded.

best

Not bad for a non-DSLR image with some optical and digital zoom in under 200 attempts!  Actually, I got quite a few good ones.

Tomorrow: The real planet that is closest to us.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Off to the Eclipse!

I’m leaving on a jet plane…well, actually in an RV for a remote spot in Utah on the center-line of the annular eclipse!!!! <Muppet flail> Yeah!!! </end Muppet flail>.  I hope everything goes well and I will have some great pictures to share with you on my return.  For those of you that have the chance to view the eclipse, please remember that this is NOT a total eclipse and that you will need to protect your eyes.  Only 85% of the sun will be obscured by the Moon, leaving plenty of sunlight left to make you go blind.  Take all precautions, especially with any children that may want to look up and see what is going on.  I’ll be back on Tuesday!

– Ex astris, scientia –

Using the Moon to View the Venus Transit

The astronomers in charge of the Hubble space telescope are going to try and use the sunlight reflected from the Moon to view the transit of Venus in June.  Because the Hubble cannot look directly at the Sun, this would make sense.  But what are they trying to do? Well the good folks over at Hubblesite have the explaination…extra-solar planets.  What?  That’s right, by looking at the atmosphere of Venus in this fashion scientists hope to be able to use this technique on extra-solar planets to determine what they are made of, their atmosphere and other important data.

I, however, am preparing myself to view this months annular eclipse and then use the techniques I learn to photograph the transit in June and the total eclipse in November.  If this is the last year for planet Earth (NOT!), it will be a fun one.

P.S. the Mayan calendar is probably a perpetual calendar so everything just starts over again at the year zero.

Getting Ready for the Eclipse

Dateline, May 20, 2012.  Where: western United States.  ITS COMING! No, not the end of the world or the Mayan calendar, just a great opportunity to view an annular eclipse.  What is an annular eclipse you ask?  Well, according to Wikipedia: An annular solar eclipse occurs when the Moon’s apparent diameter is smaller than the Sun, causing the Sun to look like an annulus (ring), blocking most of the Sun’s light. An annular eclipse appears as a partial eclipse over a region thousands of kilometres wide.  In other words, it looks like the image at the top of the post or this one:

Solar annular eclipse of January 15, 2010 in J...

Solar annular eclipse of January 15, 2010 in Jinan, Republic of China. Français : Éclipse solaire de type annulaire du 15 janvier 2010 à Jinan, République de Chine. Tiếng Việt: Nhật thực hình khuyên diễn ra ngày 15 tháng 1 năm 2010 tại Tể Nam, Cộng hòa Nhân dân Trung Hoa. 中文: 2010年1月15日日環食,中國濟南. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The moon doesn’t completely block the sun, so there is a ring.  I will be traveling to get the best vantage I can for the event and for some astrophotography as well.  The timing of the eclipse just happens to be on a new moon weekend.  Barring any clouds or bad weather, it looks to be spectacular.

This will help me get ready for the total eclipse on November 13 in Australia.  I can’t wait to go back to Australia.  I highly recommend a trip if you haven’t been there before.  The people are great and the country is beautiful.

A word of warning!!! Never look directly at the Sun, it will blind you!  Google eclipse for ways to safely view an eclipse.

– Ex astris, scientia — Ex astris, scientia –

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