Calling all amateur astronomers

After travelling almost three billion kilometres at 26.9km per second, Juno will arrive at Jupiter on July 4.

NASA is asking all amateur astronomers to upload their images of Jupiter at missionjuno.swri.edu/junocam. You can even vote for the best location in Jupiter’s atmosphere for the JunoCam to capture.

Summer begins with planets Saturn and Mars hugging the horizon in the southern sky shortly after evening twilight. Near the planetary duo, you can see a group of eight stars forming a pattern in the sky or asterism known as the Summer Tea Pot.

A band of stars from the Milky Way stretching across the sky looks like steam coming off its spout. Among the stars of the Milky Way close to the Tea Pot you can see the Lagoon and Trifid Nebulae. Thousands of light years away, these star forming gas clouds are impressive even though binoculars.

If you look overhead, you can see a group of bright stars forming the Summer Triangle. Vega is directly overhead or in the zenith in the constellation Lyra, Altair in the southeast in the constellation Aquila and Deneb is in northeast in the constellation Cygnus.

Planet watching

Here are July stargazer events. Most are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar.

Venus reappears from behind the sun in the middle of the month. It shines brightly low in the evening sky. Mars sets after midnight. Jupiter is low in the western sky setting near midnight. Uranus and Neptune rise late evening.

July 4: The Earth is furthest from the Sun for 2016 at 152 million km.

July 8: The Moon is close and below Jupiter in the evening sky.

July 14: The Moon is above Mars in the evening sky.

July 15: The Moon is close and above Saturn in the evening sky.

July 16: Mercury is very close to Venus low in the west after sun set.

July 19: Full Moon.

July 28: Southern Delta Aquarid meteor shower peaks.

July 29: The Moon is extremely close to star Aldebaran in the morning sky.

For more information, see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website or call 905-627-4323. The club offers a basic astronomy course for members.

Mario Carr, the author of this report, is the club’s director of publicity and can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca or on Twitter (@MarioCCarr).

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June’s rare summer solstice full moon

By Mario Carr

This year, you can see a rare full moon during the shortest night of the year on June 20 when the summer solstice occurs.

The last time this happened was back in 1986 and if you want to see it again you have to wait another 46 years until 2062. Technically, the Full Moon occurs at 7:02 a.m 11 hours before the Solstice at 6:34 p.m.

For most of the month, Saturn steals the celestial spotlight. The planet’s northern hemisphere will be tipping towards Earth by 26 degrees so its rings will appear open and wide as possible. A great view any telescope.

Saturn will be at it’s brightest on June 3 when it will be at opposition or at its closet point to the Earth. It can be seen all night rising at sunset and setting at sunrise. Through a telescope, right beside the famed ringed planet, you can see bright moons Dione, Tethys, Rhea and Titan.

Planet watching

Here are June stargazer events. Most are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar.

Mercury can be seen in the south eastern morning sky. Venus is too close to the Sun to see. On June 6, the planet will be behind the Sun or at Superior Conjunction. Mars can be seen most of the night. Jupiter can be seen in the western evening sky setting after midnight. Uranus can be hard to see low in the eastern predawn sky. Neptune rises after midnight.

June 5 – Mercury will be at its greatest distant from the Sun but very low in the morning sky.

June 10 – Hamilton Amateur Astronomers meeting 7:30-9:30 p.m, Spectator Building, 44 Frid St., Hamilton. Free admission, door prizes and everybody is welcome. An optional food bank donation of non-perishable goods will be collected and appreciated.

June 11 – The Moon is near Jupiter in the evening sky.

June 12 – First-quarter Moon

June 16 — The Moon is above Mars in the evening sky.

June 18 – The Moon is above Saturn in the evening sky.

June 26 – Neptune is close to the Moon.

June 27 – Last-quarter Moon

For more information, see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323. The club offers a basic astronomy course for members.
Mario Carr is the club’s director of publicity and can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca. Twitter: @MarioCCarr

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Extreme April tides & Mercury at its best for 2016

By Mario Carr

Mercury can be one of the hardest planets to see except for a week before and after April 18 when it will be at its best for 2016.

On that date, Mercury will be obvious, since it will be at its highest and brightest point after sunset in the south western sky. Normally, Mercury hugs the horizon making it difficult to see except early Spring. That’s because the imaginary plane of the Sun and other planets, called the ecliptic, is higher in the sky.

The next best time to see the planet is early Fall when the ecliptic is higher in the morning sky. On April 8 it will be close to a thin crescent Moon. If you look at Mercury on April 25 with a telescope, it will look like a small crescent Moon.

This month, the Full Moon called the Pink Moon will also appear smaller and less bright than usual on April 21. However, on April 7, the new Moon will be closer than usual. Combined with the fact that the gravitational pull of the Moon with the Sun are also greatest during Spring, we will see extreme 18.6 year tides along seacoasts on April 9.

Planet watching

Here are April stargazer events. Most are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar.

Venus is still bright but moving lower in the morning sky. Mars rises late evening and can be seen all night. Jupiter can be seen in the evening sky. Saturn rises late evening and Neptune can be seen in the eastern dawn sky.

April 13 – First-quarter Moon.

April 15 – Hamilton Amateur Astronomers meeting 7:30-9:30 p.m, Spectator Building, 44 Frid St., Hamilton. Free admission, door prizes and everybody is welcome. An optional food bank donation of non-perishable goods will be collected and appreciated.

April 17 – The Moon is close and two degrees below Jupiter in the evening sky.

April 23 – Hamilton Amateur Astronomers Open House/Scope Clinic and solar observing weather permitting, 1-4 p.m., Spectator Building, 44 Frid St., Hamilton.

April 24 – There will be a wide grouping of the Moon, Mars, Saturn and Antares after midnight.

For more information, see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at http://www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323. The club offers a basic astronomy course for members.

Mario Carr is the club’s director of publicity and can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca. Twitter: @MarioCCarr

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Jupiter at its best for 2016

By Mario Carr

The next two months are prime times to see Jupiter this year.

Earth will be closets to the planet or at opposition on March 8. On this date, Earth will be between the Sun and Jupiter and you’ll see Jupiter all night rising in the east and by midnight it will be in the southern sky.

If you look at it through a telescope, it will be at its biggest and brightest point for all of 2016 and a good time to see details on the gas giant. If you aim a telescope towards it on March 7 from 7:28 p.m. – 8:58 p.m., you’ll see a double shadow transit. Moons Io and Europa will cast their shadows at the same time on the cloud tops of Jupiter. It also occurs March 14 late evening and March 22 early morning.

Planet watching

Mercury can be seen in the morning sky until March 14. Venus shines brightly in the dawn sky. Mars and Saturn rise in the east around midnight. Uranus vanishes in the evening twilight sky the middle of March.

Here are March stargazer events. Most are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar.

March 1 – The last quarter Moon is between Mars and Saturn in the morning sky.

March 2 – The Moon is above Saturn in the morning sky.

March 7 – The thin crescent Moon is above Venus low in the dawn sky.

March 11 – Hamilton Amateur Astronomers meeting 7:30-9:30 p.m, Spectator Building, 44 Frid St., Hamilton. Free admission, door prizes and everybody is welcome. An optional food bank donation of non-perishable goods will be collected and appreciated.

March 20 – Spring finally arrives with the Vernal Equinox at 12:30 a.m.

March 21 – The Moon is below Jupiter in the evening sky.

March 23 – This month’s Full Moon is called the Worm Moon.

March 25 – From a dark location for the next two weeks, you can see light reflecting off dust particles in the solar system known as Zodiacal light in the western evening sky.

March 28 – The Moon is above Mars in the morning sky.

March 29 – The Moon is above Saturn in the morning sky.

For more information, see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at http://www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323. The club offers a basic astronomy course for members.

Mario Carr is the club’s director of publicity and can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca. Twitter: @MarioCCarr

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Usher in the New Year with Comet Catalina

By Mario Carr

If you’ve received a pair of binoculars for Christmas, you could see Comet Catalina just before dawn in the south eastern morning sky.

Catalina will appear higher in the sky each night and will be above the handle of the Big Dipper passing near galaxy M101 on January 16. The next night, on January 17, Catalina will make its closets approach to the Earth at 108 million kilometres. After that date, the comet will fade rapidly each night.

The comet is thought to be a first time visitor around the Sun arriving form the distant Ort cloud beyond the realm of Pluto. After its brief encounter near the Sun, it will be flung out of our solar system never to return again.

Also known as C/2013 US10, the comet was discovered on Halloween night in 2013 at the Catalina Observatory near Tucson, while searching for asteroids.

Here are January stargazer events. Most are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar, which is currently on sale.

Planet watching

Mercury can be seen in the evening western twilight sky January 1-9. Starting January 20, it can be seen in the eastern twilight morning sky. Venus is bright in the eastern morning sky. Mars and Jupiter rise late evening in the eastern sky.

Saturn can be seen in the eastern dawn sky. Uranus can be seen in the western evening sky setting late evening. Neptune can be seen low in the western evening sky.

January 2 – The Earth is closer to the Sun than at any other time of the year at 147,100,176 km.

January 3 – Mars is close to the Moon in the evening sky.

January 4 – The Quadrantid meteor shower peaks.

January 6 – Venus is close to the Moon in the eastern morning sky.

January 9 – Venus and Saturn are extremely close in the eastern morning sky.

January 15 – Hamilton Amateur Astronomers meeting 7:30-9:30 p.m., Spectator Building, 44 Frid St., Hamilton. Free admission, door prizes and everybody is welcome. An optional food bank donation of non-perishable goods will be collected and appreciated.

January 27 – Jupiter is close to the Moon in the evening sky.

For more information, see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at http://www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323. The club offers a basic astronomy course for members.

Mario Carr is the club’s director of publicity and can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca. Twitter: @MarioCCarr

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A comet, meteor shower and a daytime disappearing act by Venus in December

By Mario Carr

Who says astronomical events only happen at night?

This month, Venus will disappear behind the crescent Moon in the southern sky during the day at 12:32 p.m. on December 7. However, you’ll probably need a telescope or binoculars to see it since sunlight will dim out these two objects. Venus will reappear from behind the pale Moon into the blue sky at 1:36 p.m.

Earlier in the day just before dawn, the Moon was close to Venus and Comet Catalina. The comet should be bright enough to see with binoculars. This should be one of the best astronomical sites of the year and a good photo opportunity.

The comet should continue to put on a good show for the rest of the month as it rises higher and earlier in the south eastern dawn sky. However, comets can be unpredictable. Here are December stargazer events. Most are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar, which is currently on sale.

Planet watching

Mercury can be seen in the western evening sky from December 7. Venus shines brightly along with Mars in the eastern dawn sky. Jupiter rises in the east late evening. Saturn reappears low in the eastern dawn twilight sky later in the month. Uranus is in the evening sky setting after midnight. Neptune is in the western evening sky setting late evening.

December 6 – The crescent Moon is between Mars and Spica in the morning sky.

December 11 – Hamilton Amateur Astronomers meeting 7:30-9:30 p.m., Spectator Building, 44 Frid St., Hamilton. Free admission, door prizes and everybody is welcome. An optional food bank donation of non-perishable goods will be collected and appreciated.

December 13 & 14 – The Geminids Meteor shower peaks under ideal conditions since the Moon sets early in the evening. It’s considered to be the best shower of the year and best seen lying on a lounge chair away from city light in a dark location. Watching the Geminids could be a rewarding experience because of the meteor’s slow speeds and long duration.

Christmas – Full Moon

December 30 – Jupiter is close to the Moon after midnight.

For more information, see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at http://www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323. The club offers a basic astronomy course for members.

Mario Carr is the club’s director of publicity and can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca. Twitter: @MarioCCarr

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November’s dawn dance of planets and Leonid meteor shower

By Mario Carr

October’s grouping of Mars, Venus and Jupiter in the eastern dawn sky continues in early November.

Mars and Venus meet on November 2 and 3. Mars then climbs higher while Venus drops towards the Sun. On November 6, the crescent Moon is close to Jupiter by only 2 degrees.

On November 7, Mars and Venus group for a grand finale in the morning sky. The Moon will only be 2.5 degrees below Venus and 3.5 degrees below Mars. All these events should look spectacular through binoculars.

Here are November stargazer events. Most are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar.

Planet watching

Mercury appears in the morning sky for a few days at the beginning of the month. Venus is bright in the dawn sky. Jupiter rises in the east after midnight and Mars rises around 3 a.m. Saturn disappears into the evening twilight sky mid-month moving behind the Sun on November 30. Uranus can be seen in the evening sky. Neptune can be seen in the early evening sky setting near midnight.

November 1 – Don’t forget to turn your clocks back by an hour since standard time begins.

November 13 – Hamilton Amateur Astronomers General meeting 7:30-9:30 p.m., Spectator Building, 44 Frid St., Hamilton. Guest speaker will be retired McMaster University professor Peter Sutherland, who will discuss Testing Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity (Gravity). Free admission, door prizes and everybody is welcome. An optional food bank donation of non-perishable goods will be collected and appreciated.

November 17 – The Leonid Meteor shower peaks as Leo rises around midnight. It’s best seen from a dark location and you could see 10-20 meters per hour. This year, it occurs under ideal conditions without the glare of moonlight. The Moon sets at 10:30 p.m.

November 20 – Want to buy a telescope for yourself or as a Christmas gift? Come to the Fall Scope Clinic, 7:30-9:30 p.m. Spectator Building 44 Frid St, Hamilton. Free admission and everyone is welcome. This is your opportunity to talk with amateur astronomer to learn about this hobby.

November 25 – This month’s Full Moon is called the Beaver Moon.

For more information, see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at http://www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323. The club offers a basic astronomy course for members.

Mario Carr is the club’s director of publicity and can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca. Twitter: @MarioCCarr

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