Monday , October 25 2021

Sky Watch: As the nights become longer, star gazing becomes much better


Observing the stars at this time of year is much easier because the nights are now much longer than days. Secondly, with the end of weekend summer time, it's dark enough to watch the stars before 18:00!
After all, the best photos this week are in the early morning two to three hours before sunrise. Who wants to sleep early and set the alarm on 3 or 4 in the morning? You will want this week to be a great show in the early morning skies, i.e. if the clouds do not bomb the sky. Repair yourself with a large cup of coffee, pack, take a garden chair and blankets, and get ready for blinding. The show is even better in a dark area, but even if you have to compete with the lights of the city, it's worth stumbling over.
Mike LynchWhen you get off for the first time, sit back in a garden chair or lean against the car and let the eyes take advantage of the darkness. You can not help wondering during a wonderful stellar show taking place early in the morning in the southern sky. Fantastic winter constellations overwhelm this part of the sky. It is here that "Orion and his gang" are staying. Orion Hunter and the cluster of constellations surrounding him – Bull Taurus, Gemini Gemini, and others – are gradually shifting from the south to the southwestern sky, approaching the morning dusk. I will never get tired of seeing these wonderful blue figures. Although it is not winter, Orion and his team are considered winter constellations, because in January, when the Earth will revolve around the Sun, these bright shimmers will be visible in the early evening sky, so consider watching them this week as the announcement of a great evening promising for the star.
To get to know these constellations, download the good January map of the stars. You can find a good one on and set it up for an early evening in January. Make sure you use the red filter flashlight to view the map so that you do not ruin the night vision device. Of course, there are many great applications for watching stars for smartphones. My favorite is the Sky Guide. In this application you can set the phone's screen in red to maintain night vision.
While in the early morning hours you take in the beauty of all bright stars, you'll also see a few stars shooting through the heavenly dome. In fact, they are not stars, but the meteors blend in with our atmosphere. You'll see more meteors than usual this week, especially this weekend. This is because the annual Leonid meteor shower will reach its peak. Leonids are not the best rain of meteorites of the year, but I would place them on a higher level. What makes them attractive this year is the fact that there is no moonlight in the early morning, which makes it possible to catch these "falling stars" against the darkness.
Annual meteor showers, such as the Leonids, occur when Earth in its orbit around the Sun plows the debris left by the comet. Comets are more or less "dirty snowballs" of rocks and ice that revolve around the Sun on high elliptical elongated orbits. When their orbits approach the Sun, they melt partially, leaving a trace of garbage consisting of tiny particles from the size of grains of dust to small pebbles of small marble size.
The comet that drives the Leonids meteor shower is called Temple Tuttle, the last one from this part of the Solar System in 1998 and will not return by 2031. Earth on its solar orbit is circling on this route from Temple Tuttle at 66,000 mph. and at the same time these individual particles or comet shells are launched into orbit at a speed of thousands of kilometers per hour. This means that debris can break down in our atmosphere at speeds above 150,000 mph!
At this speed individual particles burn quickly due to the enormous friction of the air, but the light we see is not caused by combustion. You can not see this because these small particles are burning anywhere from 50 to 150 miles. This streak we see is a shining column of air that is chemically excited by a particle that tears it apart. Sometimes these streaks appear to be in different colors, which indicates the kind of atmospheric gas that is temporarily stimulated.
The meteor showers are best visible after midnight, because then you are on the side of the whirling Earth, which plowing down into the remains of the comet. It's a bit like driving around the county on a warm summer night. You get more bugs destroyed on the windshield than on the back window. After midnight, we stand in front of the "windshield" of the traveling Earth.
The meteorite rain of the Leonids was not named in honor of Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev. They are called Leonids because meteors seem to emanate from the sky, where Leon Leo's constellation is ready. After midnight, Leo hangs in the eastern sky and looks like a backward question mark. This does not mean that you should limit the meteor hunting only to this area of ​​the heavens. If you do this, you will lose a lot of them, because meteors can appear anywhere in the sky.
The best way to view the Leonids or other meteor shower is to lie on a chair with blankets after midnight, preferably after 2 or 3 in the morning, roll your eyes over the night sky and observe how many meteors you see in a given hour. It's a fun group or family business.
This weekend in the early evening, a new crescent moon will be spending time on the bright planet Venus in the low southwest sky. This week the first quarter's moon will be really close to the planet Mars in the evening southern sky. On Thursday, the moon will be at the bottom right of Mars, and on Friday Mars will be parked in the upper left corner of the red planet.
6: 30-8: 30 pm Thursday, November 15; Princeton Middle School in Princeton, Minnesota; 763-389-4789 or
7-9 pm Friday, November 16; Albany, Minn., 320-845-2171 or

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