Flying along with the lunar shadow during the 2017 eclipse

Seems we are talking alot about solar eclipses lately - as seen from Mars and in four years from now - as seen from the USA. 

In this clever video, we travel across the USA during the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse.  A couple of things to notice - you'll see that the shape of the shadow changes from ellipse to nearly circular - this is due to the changing altitude of the Sun/Moon.  THe lower the altitude, the more elliptical the shape.  An overhead eclipse would produce a circular shadow.

Also it is easy to see that cities along the edge of the shadow experience a shorter eclipse. You want to be on the red centre line to see the longest duration.  

In just over 90 minutes, the lunar shadow will cross the entire continent. 

For more information on this eclipse check out this eclipse site

 

A solar eclipse...as seen from Mars!

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NASA Release - Annular Eclipse of the Sun by Phobos, as Seen by Curiosity 

Date: 17 Aug 2013

This set of three images shows views three seconds apart as the larger of Mars' two moons, Phobos, passed directly in front of the sun as seen by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity. Curiosity photographed this annular, or ring, eclipse with the telephoto-lens camera of the rover's Mast Camera pair (right Mastcam) on 17 Aug. 2013, the 369th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars.

Curiosity paused during its drive that sol for a set of observations that the camera team carefully calculated to record this celestial event. The rover's observations of Phobos help make researchers' knowledge of the moon's orbit even more precise. Because this eclipse occurred near mid-day at Curiosity's location on Mars, Phobos was nearly overhead, closer to the rover than it would have been earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon. This timing made Phobos' silhouette larger against the sun -- as close to a total eclipse of the sun as is possible from Mars.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems/Texas A&M Univ.

 

Total Solar Eclipse due in four short years

Solar Eclipse chasers are a rare breed - many are so fanatic about standing in the Moon's shadow that they will travel anywhere on the planet to witness the event. THey plan their trips years, if not decades in advance.  Last year, it was Australia and the South Pacific. Later this year, they will travel to equatorial Africa.  

But four years today, Canadian eclipse chasers will be able to jump in the car and drive to the eclipse path which spans coast to coast across the United States.  Many eclipse chasers already know where they will be - do you?

Click on the image below to see a short video. 

New Nova excites amateur astronomers

 Image courtesy AstronomyNow

Image courtesy AstronomyNow

 Diagram courtesy NASA

Diagram courtesy NASA

A new nova appeared in the constellation Delphinus on August 14.  If you know where to look and you are away from city lights, you should be able to see it without optical aid. 

This is the brightest nova visible for many years.  Amateur astronomers are observing it every day and estimating its brightness. 

A nova occurs in a two star system like the one in the diagram above. Hydrogen streams from the larger Sun-like star to the smaller White dwarf.  Over time, the material collects until there is an explosion and the white dwarf increases in brightness 100,000 times or more.   

 To find the nova, use the constellations Delphinius or Sagitta as guides.

To find the nova, use the constellations Delphinius or Sagitta as guides.

This process can repeat - over a period of a few years or 100,000 years.

To find the nova, find the bright star Altair - the lower bright star in the Summer Triangle. From Altair, using binoculars from within the city, find the constellations Delphinius and Sagitta. We found the nova very easily using Sagitta as an arrow pointing right at the nova. (Sagitta is actually a constellation depicting an arrow) 

The nova is currently a little brighter than the star marked 5.7 on the diagram.  

Below is an image of  the nova as seen from Mississauga.

 Nova Delphinii 2013 is in the centre of this image, taken by Andrew Opala in Mississauga. 

Nova Delphinii 2013 is in the centre of this image, taken by Andrew Opala in Mississauga. 

Early morning summer moonwalk a distant memory

42 years ago this morning, two astronauts unloaded the first car on the moon. For anyone watching the live TV that Saturday morning, the clearest TV from the moon yet, the scenes were unreal.  The activities of the astronauts could easily be followed as they loaded the lunar rover, with magnificent Mount Hadley partially lit in the background. 

 Astronaut Jim Irwin loads the first lunar rover on the Moon July 31, 1971.

Astronaut Jim Irwin loads the first lunar rover on the Moon July 31, 1971.

For those who consider the Apollo program ancient history, the images must seem surreal.  One can not help but wonder why Earthlings cut short their visits to the Moon.  In just over three years, only six pairs of astronauts explored the lunar surface. Now, some forty-one years after the last explorations took place, we are no closer to planning , let alone returning to the Moon. 

Earthshine planning planetarium fundraising campaign

Members of the Earthshine Astronomy and Space Science Organization are gearing up for a major fundraising campaign next week.  The goal - to raise enough to purchase a small planetarium and run astronomy and space exploration programs in Mississauga. 

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The mandate of the Earthshine Astronomy and Space Science Organization (EASSO) is to fund, build and run a new planetarium in Mississauga.  It has been nearly 18 years since the closure of the McLaughlin Planetarium in downtown Toronto.  There are local planetaria - there is a small planetarium at the Ontario Science Centre and at museums in London and Kitchener-Waterloo.  But the GTA lacks a dedicated facility which serves to offer visitors a real opportunity to explore the universe. 

Across the country, the planetaria in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton WInnipeg and Montreal have all been upgraded in the last few years.  Toronto and its surroundings is the largest metropolitan area in the world to not support a large astronomy facility.   

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In the short term, we are planning to purchase a smaller portable planetarium. Then after a few years, move up to a bigger facility.

How can you help? Visit our web site and sign up on our Get Involved page. 

We invite you to share with us your ideas and thoughts about the possibility of a new facility in our city.  We are also looking for volunteers with skills that can help us to reach our goal. Once you sign up, we will send you newsletters detailing our progress with the planetarium project. 

Meanwhile Earthshine is planning a lot of astronomy activities in Mississauga in collaboration with its partner the RASC.  We hope you can join us.

We will make an announcement next week as the campaign starts.

Thanks!