Charlotte space and sky watcher highlights for the next week.

Thank you to NASA ambassador Tony Rice for providing the weekly Astronomical highlights for Charlotte.

You can connect with Tony right here2015-02-06_10-27-43

Highlights

  • Jupiter is at opposition tonight (Feb 6), it is opposite the sun in our sky. It will rise with the setting sun and set at sunrise tomorrow. Jupiter’s 4 largest moons are easily observable with a small telescope or decent binoculars. For help identify the moons, the @jupitermoonpos twitter account tweets a chart every 2 hours.
  • On Thursday Feb 12, the moon and Saturn rise around 3am, about 5º from each other, and will be visible until sunrise.
  • Feb 12 Curtiss Cross, an X-shaped illumination effect located between the craters Parry and Gambart
  • Wed Feb 11 22:49:51: last quarter moon
  • Wed Feb 18 18:47:15: new moon

Planet visibility

body (phase) rise transit (alt) set constellation
Mercury (23%) 06:15:17 11:17:14 (33°) 16:18:51 Capricornus
Venus (90%) 08:36:11 14:16:13 (43°) 19:57:05 Aquarius
Moon (74%) 22:27:40 04:17:23 (42°) 10:01:05 Virgo
Mars 08:46:53 14:36:26 (46°) 20:26:32 Aquarius
Saturn 02:20:35 07:15:06 (31°) 12:09:36 Scorpius
Jupiter 17:21:43 00:26:47 (66°) 07:27:19 Cancer

Sample rise/set times for 02/09/15

Satellite passes

International Space Station (ISS)

  • poor pass begins Mon 2015-02-09 18:56:14 from the W (277°) reaches 25°, lasts 5 minutes
  • below trees pass begins Tue 2015-02-17 19:58:45 from the NW (324°) reaches 29°, lasts 1 minute
  • poor pass begins Wed 2015-02-18 19:06:05 from the NNW (331°) reaches 20°, lasts 3 minutes
  • fair pass begins Thu 2015-02-19 19:49:10 from the NW (313°) reaches 58°, lasts 2 minutes
  • fair pass begins Fri 2015-02-20 18:56:22 from the NW (322°) reaches 33°, lasts 5 minutes
  • good pass begins Sat 2015-02-21 19:39:39 from the WNW (300°) reaches 58°, lasts 4 minutes
  • outstanding pass begins Sun 2015-02-22 18:46:37 from the NW (311°) reaches 69°, lasts 6 minutes

Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

no visible HST passes predicted during this period

See Heavens Above for the latest pass predictions. Satellite pass gradings are based on altitude reached and duration of pass. Higher altitude passes are closers to the observer and generally brighter as a result. Satellites other than ISS are much more difficult to spot.

Moon Phases

date phase
Wed 2015-02-11 22:49:51 last quarter
Wed 2015-02-18 18:47:15 new
Wed 2015-02-25 12:14:00 first quarter
Thu 2015-03-05 13:05:23 full

Sun

Sunrise/set

Date Rise Solar noon (alt) Set sunlight
Mon 2015-02-09 07:24 12:37 (35.02°) 17:50 10 hrs 26 min
Tue 2015-02-10 07:22 12:37 (35.34°) 17:52 10 hrs 29 min
Wed 2015-02-11 07:21 12:37 (35.67°) 17:53 10 hrs 31 min
Thu 2015-02-12 07:20 12:37 (36.00°) 17:54 10 hrs 34 min
Fri 2015-02-13 07:19 12:37 (36.34°) 17:55 10 hrs 36 min
Sat 2015-02-14 07:17 12:37 (36.68°) 17:56 10 hrs 38 min
Sun 2015-02-15 07:16 12:37 (37.02°) 17:58 10 hrs 41 min
Mon 2015-02-16 07:15 12:37 (37.37°) 17:59 10 hrs 43 min
Tue 2015-02-17 07:14 12:37 (37.72°) 18:00 10 hrs 46 min
Wed 2015-02-18 07:12 12:36 (38.07°) 18:01 10 hrs 48 min
  • gained 0:22:02 (hh:mm:ss) of daylight over this period
  • daylight (HH:MM): 10:37
  • mean: sunrise 07:19 sunset 17:56
  • max: sun angle 38.07°

Twilight

date rise set
Mon 2015-02-09 05:49 19:23
Tue 2015-02-10 05:48 19:25
Wed 2015-02-11 05:47 19:26
Thu 2015-02-12 05:46 19:27
Fri 2015-02-13 05:45 19:28
Sat 2015-02-14 05:44 19:29
Sun 2015-02-15 05:43 19:30
Mon 2015-02-16 05:42 19:31
Tue 2015-02-17 05:41 19:32
Wed 2015-02-18 05:39 19:33

Astronomical Seasons

  • vernal equinox: Fri 2015-03-20 18:45
  • summer solstice: Sun 2015-06-21 12:38

Meteor Showers

Meteor Showers Peaking this period

name rating start peak end zhr* speed (mi/s) quality moon at peak parent body
Theta Centaurids minor Jan 23 Tue Feb 10 Mar 12 3 66 ↑ Wed 12:07 AM 02/11/15
55% full
↓Wed 11:08 AM

Meteor Showers Underway this period

name rating start peak end zhr* speed (mi/s) quality moon at peak parent body
Daytime Capri.-Sagitt. minor Jan 13 Mon Feb 02 Mar 01 7 29 ↑ Tue 5:46 PM 02/03/15
99% full
↓Tue 6:42 AM
Theta Centaurids minor Jan 23 Tue Feb 10 Mar 12 3 66 ↑ Wed 12:07 AM 02/11/15
55% full
↓Wed 11:08 AM
Alpha Centaurids minor Jan 28 Sun Feb 08 Feb 21 6 56 bright ↑ Sun 10:16 PM 02/08/15
74% full
↓Mon 9:57 AM

Next Major Meteor Showers

name rating start peak end zhr* speed (mi/s) quality moon at peak parent body
Perseids major Jul 17 Wed Aug 12 Aug 24 100 59 bright ↑ Thu 5:37 AM 08/13/15
0% full
↓Thu 7:24 PM
109P/Swift-Tuttle
Geminids major Dec 07 Sun Dec 13 Dec 17 120 35 medium ↑ Mon 9:39 AM 12/14/15
7% full
↓Sun 7:29 PM
C/1964 N1 (Ikeya)

see: International Meteor Organization calendar for details. ZHR is a rough prediction and represents optimal viewing conditions (clear dark sky, radiant directly overhead). Green rows are the best viewing

Aerospace Calendar

Launches

Wed 2015-02-11 08:00: A Vega will launch IXV from Kourou, French Guiana, pad ZLV, the launch window closes 103 minutes later at 09:43. Tue 2015-02-17 06:00: A Soyuz will launch Progress 58P from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.

History

  • Feb 09 Apollo 14 returned to Earth, after the third successful Moon landing, to enter quarantine, the last Moon crew to have to do so. 44 years ago
  • Feb 09 Bernard A. Harris Jr. became the first African-American to walk in space 20 years ago
  • Feb 09 The U.S. Weather Bureau was established. 145 years ago
  • Feb 10 Pioneer 10, the first spacecraft to visit Jupiter, crossed the orbit of Saturn, at the time the most distant human-made artifact. Contact with Pioneer 10 would be maintained until April 27, 2002, more than 30 years after its 1972 launch! 39 years ago
  • Feb 11 First Space Shuttle landing (Challenger, STS-41B) at Kennedy Space Center (as opposed to Edwards AFB). 31 years ago
  • Feb 11 Launch of STS-82 Space Shuttle Discovery on the second Shuttle mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. 18 years ago
  • Feb 11 Launch of the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. A joint NASA and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) mission, LDCM is the eighth satellite in the Landsat series and adds to the longest continuous data record of Earth’s surface as viewed from space. 2 years ago
  • Feb 14 Spacecraft Voyager 1 took its famous ‘family portrait’ of the planets of the Solar System. 25 years ago
  • Feb 15 A ‘tiny’ asteroid from the asteroid belt impacts Chelyabinsk, Russia at 9:20 AM local time. The meteor was approximately 17 meters in diameter, weighed 10,000 metric tons, and entered the atmosphere at a speed of 18km per second (40,300 miles per hour). The meteor lasted over 30 seconds before breaking up and producing a nearly 500 kiloton air burst 15-25km (12-15 miles) above the city. The impact is the largest recorded event since the Tunguska explosion in 1908. About 80 tons of meteoric material impacts the Earth every day. 2 years ago
  • Feb 15 On this day Asteroid 2012 DA14 passed inside Earth’s geosynchronous satellite ring at about 17,200 miles (27,700km) above the equator, becoming the closest ever predicted Earth flyby. The 45 meter and 130,000 metric ton asteroid was discovered by the La Sagra Sky Survey operated by the Astronomical Observatory of Mallorca in Spain on Feb. 23, 2012. 2 years ago
  • Feb 16 Unsuccessful launch of Discoverer 20. The ‘Discoverer’ satellites were really the cover for the Corona spy satellite program. 54 years ago
  • Feb 17 Italian scientist Giordano Bruno is burned at the stake for heresy in part for teaching Copernicus’ heliocentric solar system and theorizing our Sun is one of innumerable stars orbited by life-inhabited planets in an infinite universe. 415 years ago
  • Feb 17 Launch of Ranger 8, a lunar hard lander that successfully returned images prior to crashing into the Sea of Tranquility on 20-Feb 50 years ago
  • Feb 17 Launch of the Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission, which flew by asteroid 253 Mathilde en route to first orbiting, then actually landing on, asteroid 433 Eros. 19 years ago
  • Feb 17 Launch of the Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS-A) set of five satellites, designed to study magnetospheric disturbances. [Not to be confused with the THEMIS infrared scanner carried on the Mars Odyssey spacecraft now orbiting Mars.] 8 years ago

Covers Mon 2015-02-09 01:00 through Thu 2015-02-19 01:00 . Calculations are for Charlotte, NC (40.3690,-80.6330) at an elevation of 215 m and are expressed in local (US/Eastern) time and a 24 hour clock.

  • Brian DiBartolo

    Brad, this is wonderful. Please, if you have time and can remember, can you tag me next week? I am planning a neighborhood star-party in during the wekeend of the New Moon and would love to have some of this information to plan with. Thank you very much. @bdibar – Brian Di

    • wxbrad

      Sure thing Brian!