Supermoon With a Super Eclipse

The Astro Babes were together watching the mosquito-filled eclipse Sunday night. We watched the Moon darkening over the bay of Green Bay, which added a whole new dimension to the eclipse. The moonlight was very bright and sparkly on the water when we first arrived at the beach, but the reflection also faded with the Moon until it also disappeared.

Although we originally had planned to complete the requirements for the Astronomical League’s Lunar II observing program, we had been promised a solid wall of clouds all night so weren’t prepared when the skies cleared and the eclipse was in full swing. Thanks, weather guys.

Yesterday we heard from our fellow club member Rodrigo. Once again, he compiled a great montage from Sunday’s total lunar eclipse over Wisconsin. Thanks for sharing, Rodrigo!!

Moon Eclipse 9-27-2015 low

Here’s what Rodrigo had to say about his amazing picture:

This one is a composition of different times (20 min intervals) from 8:00 pm to 10:50 pm. The pictures are exposed to match what I saw naked eye. So some of the faces are actually HDR of the moon shoot so the bright portion is not overexposed (moon #4 and #8). I used my Orion 80mm and tracked with my small Meade LXD 75 and Canon no mod Xsi. The first portion was between 1/400s and 0.3″,  ISO 200 and Totality was 8s ISO 200, and then I used ISO 400 and cut the exposure to 4″ due to the wind.

Annual Picnic at Parmentiers

Small crowd at the annual astronomy club picnic Tuesday night. P9026915Maybe 20 this year, compared to 40 or 50 last year when the sun was shining. We’re betting it was the weather.

The picnic started at 6:30, and we were lucky enough to dodge the rain that had been predicted for picnic time and into the night. It was muggy, sticky and just generally unpleasant out there today.

However, despite the humidity hovering in the mid 90’s, we still had a great time.

Wayne cooked up all the burgers and dogs, and everyone bought a treat to share.
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Amy and I left around 8:30, when Dick was setting up to show some amazing weather videos that Tony took at the Nebraska star party.

We already saw them when we were at the Minnesota star party. Plus, it was getting late on a work night, and we’re pretty whimpy. Yawn!

Lynn

 

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Jupiter Triple – Check!

Here's a bad selfie of me with the three shadows on  Jupiter.
Here’s a bad selfie of me with the three shadows on Jupiter.

Ok – so a clear night and a telescope would have made this a bit more satisfying, but hey, we can’t have everything!

On the night of the triple shadow transit we were, of course, clouded out. We weren’t alone this time, practically the entire U.S. was under a blanket of clouds. So that’s where we went – to the cloud! If we can’t watch a live transit, we would settle for a live webcast of one.

Yay Griffith Observatory! They came through with a promise of a clear sky and a live broadcast. I tuned in, made sure Lynn was online too, and made myself comfy on the sofa. There were over 1400 people online, and the comments were streaming so fast that I could feel the excitement! Plus, I was sharing this experience with people from all over the world!

Then Jupiter came into view. Well, the hazy blob appeared on screen. It seems that high altitude winds were making the view unstable. Fortunately Lynn was quicker than I was when someone posted an URL for another live webcast from Brazil. She texted me the new site and we both switched to Brazil.

Jupiter was setting there, and the sky was clear! Perfect! By now I had moved to the recliner, and had hooked up my TV to act as a monitor, thanks to Lynn for the idea. Why can’t all observing sessions be this comfy?

As the shadows crawled across the face of Jupiter, I was transfixed by the image. Checking this rare event off of my ‘must see’ observing list completed a very hectic week for me. Sure it would have been nice to be peeking at this through the eyepiece, but sometimes we have to take what we can get.

So here’s your lesson for the day, when a rare astronomical event is clouded out, somebody somewhere will be showing it on the net. You gotta love technology.

Amy

Happy New Year!

What a year it’s been! Amy found Uranus with 2015-logoher binoculars (no small feat!!) and we both learned how to use setting circles. We gave one of our Lynn & Amy Shows at the Neville Public Museum to a captivated crowd, and together attended our very first star party in Minnesota. We went to the annual club Perseids picnic last summer, and uploaded our 100th blog to this website.

November and December were especially busy as our jobs bogged us down. Then the shopping and baking season kicked in and we prepared for family time and Christmas and the company that it brings. I baked a zillion Christmas cookies, and got to spend a whole week with my first grandson who is quickly figuring out how to pull himself up and stand on his own. It was magical.

However, along with the joys of Christmas comes the crappy skies of Wisconsin. As the atmosphere above us grows colder each winter, the condensation and cloudiness spread out horizontally and results in mostly overcast days and nights. The clouds pretty much roll in here late in November and stay until the Messier Marathon. Then, when it does warm up a little, we are stuck with ground and air temperatures that are almost the same, which brings fog and condensation. Oh, and living a few miles away from a Great Lake doesn’t help much either.

And if that’s not bad enough, the cold temperatures discourage all except the heartiest from going outside for more than a few minutes – even on the clearest nights. Right now, the wind chill is double digits below zero, and last night the actual temperature was -7°F. If I heard right, the wind chill could dip below -30°F tonight. Sigh.

However, despite all the current weather gloom, there is a lot to look forward to in the coming year, starting off with the NPMAS Christmas Party this Wednesday (the White Elephant Gift Exchange is always a hoot!). Then there is some winter camping at Camp U-Na-Li-Ya in a few weeks, lots of blogs to write, and a calendar full of meetings and pizza at Happy Joe’s. There will be warmer nights of observing at Parmentier’s, public observing events, meteor showers, a couple of total lunar eclipses, the New Horizons spacecraft arriving at Pluto, and hopefully another great trip to the Minnesota Star Party.

The year 2015 promises to be a great year for the Astro Babes, and we hope it is a great year for you, too. Happy New Year!

– Lynn

One Small Step……..

apollo 11
Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Apollo 11 Astronauts

This past weekend we celebrated the historic moon walk, and success of Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins. It was one of those moments in time that remain engraved in ones memory, as clear as the day it happened.

I was a 10 year old kid on a family vacation. My brave parents bundled up six kids in a station wagon, attached a pop-up camper and headed westward. Our goal was the same as many Midwest families: Yellowstone. But the timing of this particular vacation overlapped a significant historic event, the moon landing!

Not to worry! My parents had the good sense to plan ahead and find a campground with a working TV.

Being only 10, I wasn’t really sure what was happening, but I could tell it was big. All the campers headed to the building, filling the tiny room. When I realized what I was about to witness I was stunned. My world just got a whole lot bigger.

I stared at the TV so hard I thought I’d get sucked up into it.  I remember it all; those historic first words, that little hop they had to do to get to the surface, everything. The whole world watched as Neil Armstrong took that first step. We actually managed to unite the planet, even if only for a few short moments. I will always be grateful to my parents for making sure we witnessed this historic event.

Neil Armstrong's First Step on Moon

The moon changed forever for me that night. It was no longer just a beautiful addition to our night sky. It had become a place that people had visited. It had become a place that someone had actually reached out and touched. That fact still takes my breath away.

I still am stunned at the beauty of space, what we’ve seen and discovered since then. From planet hunting, visiting asteroids, looking back at Earth from Saturn and roving around Mars, we’ve done some pretty amazing things!

So – where were you on July 20, 1969?

Amy

Asteroid Observing?

One of my favorite observing nights was a journey Vesta out to Cedar Drive Observatory, owned by fellow club member Tony Kroes. Lynn and I went out there to see an NEA, or Near Earth Asteroid that was tumbling by at a distance closer to us than the moon. I’ll give you a minute to wrap your brain around that one.

This was something that allegedly we’d be able to see through our binoculars, so ever optimistic, we arrive with a small star chart with the approximate path of the asteroid printed on it. It became clear that we just wouldn’t be able to find this thing ourselves so leave it to Tony to find this moving target.

I’m sure I actually dropped my jaw the first time I saw this piece of space rock roll on through the field of view. This is one of the reasons that I became interested in NASA’s Dawn mission. The Dawn spacecraft’s mission is to visit not one, but two asteroid belt objects, the two largest asteroids, Ceres and Vesta. These two asteroids can, at times, be viewed through binoculars!

What’s cool about these asteroids is that they represent the beginning of our solar system. They hold secrets to how our solar system formed, and why there’s an asteroid belt at all! What’s also cool is that this year they can be seen in the same field of view!

So – here’s your challenge – go to www.heavens-above.com and click on the ‘Asteroid’ link then – you guessed it, find Vesta and Ceres! Make sure you observe them more than one night to see the movement. They’re getting dimmer so your better get out there soon!

Amy

Cosmos Finale Was a Big Hit

Hope everyone enjoyed the Cosmoscosmos2 finale as much as the Astro Babes did this past Sunday. We began the series with a party at Amy’s house and ended it with a party at Lynn’s house. There were plenty of munchies (including Ships of the Imagination, meteoroids, spiral galaxies, planets, stars, and shuttle tiles). We even had a celebrity appearance by one of the Astro Babes’ guest bloggers,  Barbara Millicent Roberts (aka Mars Barbie).

There’s been a lot of speculation in the media about the possibility of a second season of Cosmos, especially after Fox began referring to current episodes as “Season 1.” Ratings have been up and down, but the show consistently brought in more than 3 million viewers each week. The second-to-last episode beat out NBC and CBS in the

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Cosmos munchies included meteoroids, spiral galaxies, planets and stars. Yumm! Luckily our spouses were there to help us with the celebration.

coveted 18-49 demographic with 1.3 million viewers, and the finale reached 3.52 million viewers in that same demographic with some stiff competition from the other networks and cable channels.

If Cosmos returns, it might not be the same show we’ve grown to love because Fox might be shopping for another host. In mid-March, Neil deGrasse Tyson said in an interview with Space.com that he currently has no plans to host another season because it took a lot of time and kept him away from his family. He could change his mind though.

In the meantime, we’ll just keep our fingers crossed and watch for the official announcement from Fox.

Lynn

Cosmos Remake Didn’t Let Us Down

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Cosmos party at Amy’s house.

I’m guessing that if you’re reading this blog, you’re the type that thoroughly enjoyed the first episode of Cosmos last night. (If you missed it, watch it here). It had an estimated 5.8 million viewers. How cool is that??!?

The show opened with Neil deGrasse Tyson taking us on a tour of the solar system in an updated version of the Ship of the Imagination (much cooler than the 1980 version). The show also included the story of Giordano Bruno, the first man to see a vision of a limitless universe. The Cosmic Calendar followed, which started with the big bang and put the timeline of our universe into perspective.

Needless to say, Amy and I really enjoyed the show. To commemorate the event, we threw a Cosmos Party that included our respective spouses. Chocolate wine, strawberries, cheese, homemade cookies, chips – all on a table that usually holds our star charts and binoculars. Who says astronomy is boring??

It turned out that Cosmos wasn’t the only spacey thing going on last night, either. As soon as Cosmos ended, the local PBS station aired Apollo 17: The Untold Story of the Last Men on the Moon.

We also peeked in on a live web cast from Slooh.com, who was tracking asteroid 2014 CU13 from the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands. This asteroid, approximately 623 feet wide, whizzed by us today about 1.9 million miles (a mere eight times the distance between the Earth and the moon). Slooh hoped to draw attention to the asteroid so amateur astronomers will help efforts to pinpoint its orbit.

A good time was had by all, and it was nice to do some indoor astronomy for a change. Hope you got all of Amy’s tweet’s during the show!

Lynn

Countdown to Cosmos

Promo for Cosmos
Promo for Cosmos

Every Tuesday for the past few years the Astro Babes have gotten together for a ‘meeting’.  We picked Tuesday because a local pizza place had $2 margarita’s. What better reason to get together than that?  These meetings started as a way for the two of us to go have margarita’s and pizza and talk about whatever needed to be discussed at the time.  Sometimes it was astronomy related sometimes not, but each week we had an agenda, took notes and planned the next meeting.

It was during these meetings that we planned our club talks and dreamed up some of our now famous adventures.  Sadly, the pizza place is no longer there, but Tuesday nights are still dedicated to our meetings. This past Tuesday we set aside our valuable Astro Babe meeting time to watch a live Q & A with the makers of the new Cosmos series.

This live webcast was watched by nearly 75,000 people – which could explain why neither of my tweets made it through! The webcast gave us a look at the new host, Neil deGrasse Tyson.  I have to say that I’m a big fan of his. He comes across as enthusiastic and extremely knowledgeable in all things astronomical. I’m looking forward to the premier even more now!

We plan on doing some tweeting during the premier so if  you’re not already following us please do!

https://twitter.com/astro_babes

Have a great Cosmos party!

Amy

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