Monday, July 24, 2017

Citizen Science: Aug. 21 Great American Solar Eclipse Mega-Movie Project

https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEmono/TSE2017/TSE2017fig/TSE2017-usa.jpg
This map of the continental United States shows the path of totality for the Great American Solar Eclipse on August 21. While a Partial Eclipse of the Sun will be observable over all 48 states, only in the narrow band (approximately 70.8 miles / 114 kilometers in width) will a Total Solar Eclipse be seen. Only in this narrow area can photographs of the two-minute total eclipse phase be included in the Eclipse Mega-Movie. (Map Source: NASA, Courtesy of Fred Espenak MrEclipse.com)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

August 21 will be a special day in the United States, as the Great American Solar Eclipse will cross the entire country, from Oregon to South Carolina. Citizen Scientists (that is, all non-professionals interested in science who wish to assist scientists), who take photographs from inside the Eclipse path of totality, have the opportunity to help scientists learn more about the Solar Corona by submitting their Eclipse photos to the Eclipse Mega-Movie 2017 Project.

This is a unique opportunity for Citizen Scientists to help gather data on a part of the Sun that is rarely seen. The last time a Total Solar Eclipse crossed the United States was 99 years ago—on 1918 June 8. On that date, the Eclipse path of totality moved from Washington State across the country to Florida.

This is also the first time that Solar Eclipse totality has reached the continental United States since 1979 February 26. However, a Total Solar Eclipse did reach Hawaii on 1991 July 11. Most of the continental United States saw a Partial Eclipse of the Sun that day in 1991 (that was the last Solar Eclipse observed by the general public, using the historic 10-inch Siderostat-Type Refractor Telescope, at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science).

The Solar Corona is an aura of plasma, the outer atmosphere, that surrounds the Sun and other stars, and extends millions of miles or kilometers into space from the Sun. During a Total Eclipse of the Sun, or Total Solar Eclipse, such as the Great American Solar Eclipse that will occur on August 21, the Solar Corona can be seen, safely, with the unaided eye—BUT ONLY in the narrow path of totality (with a width on August 21 of approximately 70.8 statute miles / 114 kilometers) and during the very short period of the total phase of the Eclipse (in most cases on August 21, a little over two minutes), when the rest of the Sun is completely blocked by the Moon. At all other times it is extremely dangerous to a person's eye-sight to look at the Sun without proper equipment and proper training to do so safely.

Since it is very difficult to study the Solar Corona, except during a Total Solar Eclipse, scientists want to take full advantage of the long stretch of time the Eclipse will be observed in the United States next month, due to the great length of the Eclipse path of totality across the country. The Eclipse Mega-Movie 2017 Project hopes to gather photographs during the totality stage of the Eclipse from more than a thousand photographers and astronomers, from coast-to-coast.

There will be two sets of volunteers for two separate mega-movies. One set of volunteers will be specially trained for photographing the event. The second set of volunteers will be anyone with a camera or a cellular-telephone camera that chooses to take pictures of the event.

Approximately 1,500 trained, volunteer observers will be photographing the Eclipse, from sites along the path of totality, using digital, single-lens reflex cameras and specially prepared telescopes. The photographs from these observers will provide the high-quality mega-movie, that should be available to be viewed by the public later this year.

A lower-quality mega-movie will be produced by the photographs submitted by people using a regular camera or cell-phone camera. Although not as high-quality, this mega-movie should be available for public release much sooner.

Anyone can use a free-of-charge Eclipse Mega-Movie Mobile App to participate in this 2017 Project. This smart-phone app can be obtained, now, at the Google Play Store (Internet link to this mobile app at the end of this blog-post); an iOS app will soon also be available.

In both cases, all photographs submitted will be stitched together to form a motion picture showing the Eclipse as it traveled across the country from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic Coast. From these two mega-movies, scientists hope to learn more about the Solar Corona, possibly including its relationship with the Sun's Chromosphere, and how it changes over time. When completed, both mega-movies are expected to run approximately 90 minutes.

Remember, the whole idea is to obtain images of the Great American Solar Eclipse during the totality phase. Only photographs taken within the Eclipse path of totality, and during the total phase of the Eclipse (when the Moon completely blocks-out the solar disk), can be submitted for inclusion in the Eclipse Mega-Movie. It would be more dangerous to eye-sight to try to photograph any of the partial phases of this Eclipse, and photographs of the partial Eclipse phases cannot contribute to the Eclipse Mega-Movie 2017 Project!

The Eclipse Mega-Movie 2017 Project is sponsored by Google's Making and Science Initiative and the University of California at Berkeley's Space Science Laboratory, along with several other partners including the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and Lick Observatory. The 2017 Project is led by Scott McIntosh from the National Center for Atmospheric Research's High Altitude Observatory and Hugh Hudson from the University of California at Berkeley.

After 2017, the next major Total Eclipse of the Sun to travel in the continental United States will run from Texas to Maine on 2024 April 8. Plans are already being made for a 2024 Eclipse Mega-Movie Project.

Internet Links to Additional Information ---

Eclipse Mega-Movie Project: Link >>> https://eclipsemega.movie/

Eclipse Mega-Movie Mobile App:
Link >>> https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ideum.com.megamovie

Great American Solar Eclipse of 2017 August 21:
Link 1 >>> https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEgoogle/SEgoogle2001/SE2017Aug21Tgoogle.html
Link 2 >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_eclipse_of_August_21,_2017

Solar Eclipse: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_eclipse

Solar Corona: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corona

Solar Chromosphere: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromosphere

More Citizen Science Projects:
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/FAQ/citizenscience.html 

Historic 10-inch Siderostat-Type Refractor Telescope at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science:
Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/11/75th-anniversary-americas-5th-public.html

Related Blog Post ---

"Strong Solar Flare Seen, Although Approaching Sunspot Minimum." 2017 July 15.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2017/07/strong-solar-flare-seen-although.html


     Safe Public Viewing of the Great American Solar Eclipse
                         Monday, August 21, 2017
     Mt. Lebanon Public Library, South Suburban Pittsburgh
More Info: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/archivenews/releases/poster-flyer/2017SolarEclipse-Flyer.htm


Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
             2017 July 24.

                             Like This Post? - Please Share!

            More Astronomy & Science News - SpaceWatchtower Twitter Feed:
            Link >>> https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower

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                Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your in-box ?
                Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >.

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
& SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Astronomy Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#astrolinks >
Science Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks >
SpaceWatchtower Twitter News Feed: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
LibraryWatchtower Blog: < http://librarywatchtower.blogspot.com >
TransportWatchtower Blog: < http://transportwatchtower.blogspot.com  >
South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin Blog: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, etc.: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Strong Solar Flare Seen, Although Approaching Sunspot Minimum

animation of SDO observations of a sunspot
A major Sunspot (AR2665) turns toward the Earth on July 13, after the Sun was spotless for two days. A powerful Solar Flare is now headed towards Earth, which will cause an atmospheric geomagnetic storm this weekend.
(Image Sources: NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center / NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory Satellite; Producer: Joy Ng)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

After turning towards the Earth in the last few days, large Sunspot AR2665 emitted a large solar flare late on Thursday (July 13). This is despite the fact that the Sun continues getting quieter as it approaches Solar Minimum, the nadir expected around 2019-2020.

This solar blast was observed by ultraviolet telescopes aboard NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite in Earth orbit. The explosion lasted for more than two hours. It resulted in sustained X-Rays and energetic protons, emitted from the Sun, ionizing the upper layers of Earth's atmosphere. Consequently, there were short-wave radio blackouts over the Pacific Ocean, and particularly in the Arctic region. The explosion also produced a bright coronal mass ejection (CME) that appears headed for Earth.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), after evaluating late Thursday evening's (July 13, 10:09 p.m. EDT / July 14, 2:09 UTC) solar flare (M2-class) and CME, has issued a geomagnetic storm watch for July 16 and 17. Storms on both days are expected to be a moderately strong Category G2.

Aurora activity is also expected in the far northern and far southern latitudes, at around the same time. Aurora are natural light displays, visible at night mostly in the Arctic and Antarctic regions, caused when charged particles from the solar wind hit the Earth's magnetosphere.

Sunspots are large magnetic storms on the photosphere of the Sun. As the rotation of the Earth helps to mix the atmosphere causing normal weather storms on Earth, the rotation of the Sun (sidereal rotation rate of 24.47 days for one complete rotation) causes the complex magnetic fields to twist and form large storms we call sunspots.

Sunspots appear as dark spots on the Sun because these storms are cooler than the rest of the Sun's photosphere, but by no means are sunspots cold by our standards. The Sun's photosphere is a thin layer of the Sun's upper atmosphere where hot gases rise and give-off light and heat. The temperature of this photosphere is +10,000 degrees Fahrenheit / +5,700 degrees Celsius. The temperature of a sunspot is +6,400 degrees Fahrenheit / +3,500 degrees Celsius.

A geomagnetic storm is a disturbance in the portions of the Earth's upper atmosphere known as the magnetosphere and the ionosphere caused by a magnified solar wind of charged particles from the Sun. During a geomagnetic storm, energy from the Sun provides additional energy to Earth's magnetosphere, enlarging the magnetosphere. This often provides additional drag on satellites and space junk in low Earth orbit, limiting the amount of time the satellite and / or space junk stays in orbit.

A coronal mass ejection or CME is an unusually large ejection of plasma and magnetic field from the solar corona. The solar corona is an aura of plasma that surrounds the Sun and other stars, and extends millions of miles or kilometers into space from the Sun. During a Total Eclipse of the Sun, or Total Solar Eclipse, such as the Great American Solar Eclipse that will occur on August 21, the solar corona can be seen, safely, with the unaided eye—BUT ONLY in the narrow path of totality and during the very short period of the total phase of the eclipse, when the rest of the Sun is completely blocked by the Moon; at all other times it is extremely dangerous to a person's eye-sight to look at the Sun without proper equipment and proper training to do so safely.

This week's major solar activity is in sharp contrast to the waning days of this particular 11-year Sunspot Cycle, when visible sunspots have been few. Before Sunspot AR2665 rotated into view, the portion of the Sun facing the Earth went for two full days with no sunspots.

The period of relative calm on the Sun is known as the Sunspot Minimum or Solar Minimum portion of the 11-year Sunspot Cycle. NASA scientists now expect the Solar Minimum to occur in the time period around 2019-2020. The peak of the Sunspot Cycle seemed to occur in 2014, although recent Sunspot Cycles have not been as active as cycles in the past.

Although sunspots and other solar activity subside during the Solar Minimum, another solar phenomenon can be observed during this time period. Coronal holes often open-up at this time, allowing the Sun's magnetic field to emit streams of solar particles as a fast solar wind.

During Solar Minimum, Galactic cosmic rays, high energy particles from very distant supernova and other high-energy explosions, increasingly reach Earth's upper atmosphere. With a weakened solar magnetic field, there is less natural shielding from such cosmic rays for the Earth's upper atmosphere, which can adversely affect our astronauts in space.

Internet Links to Additional Information ---

Sunspots: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunspot

Solar Corona: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corona

Coronal Mass Ejection (CME): Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronal_mass_ejection

Geomagnetic Storm: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geomagnetic_storm

Aurora: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurora

NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory Satellite:
Link 1 >>> https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sdo/main/index.html
Link 2 >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_Dynamics_Observatory

Related Blog Posts ---

"'Blank Sun' June 3 & 4 as Sunspot Minimum Expected 2019-2020." 2016 June 14.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/06/blank-sun-june-3-4-as-sunspot-minimum.html

 

"Largest Sunspot in 24 Years Returns for 2nd Month." 2014 Nov. 23.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2014/11/largest-sunspot-in-24-years-returns-for.html

 

"Sunspot Count Max Finally Arrives, But 'Mini-Max'." 2014 June 10.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2014/06/sunspot-count-max-finally-arrives-but.html

 

"Huge Sunspot Group Faces Earth w/ X-Class Flares." 2013 Nov. 9.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.de/2013/11/huge-sunspot-group-faces-earth-w-x.html

 

"Solar Cycle Update: Twin Peaks?" 2013 March 2.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.sg/2013/03/solar-cycle-update-twin-peaks.html

 

"Colossal Sunspot Growing Fast, Solar Storms Possible." 2013 Feb. 21.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/02/colossal-sunspot-growing-fast-solar.html

 

"Sunspot AR1654 Getting Bigger w/ Solar Flare." 2013 Jan. 12.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/01/sunspot-ar1654-getting-bigger-w-solar.html

 

"Enormous Sunspot Could Lead to Solar Flares." 2012 May 9.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.mx/2012/05/enormous-sunspot-could-lead-to-solar.html


     Safe Public Viewing of the Great American Solar Eclipse
                         Monday, August 21, 2017
     Mt. Lebanon Public Library, South Suburban Pittsburgh
More Info: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/archivenews/releases/poster-flyer/2017SolarEclipse-Flyer.htm


Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
             2017 July 15.

                             Like This Post? - Please Share!

            More Astronomy & Science News - SpaceWatchtower Twitter Feed:
            Link >>> https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower

        Astronomy & Science Links: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks

                Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your in-box ?
                Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >.

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
& SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Astronomy Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#astrolinks >
Science Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks >
SpaceWatchtower Twitter News Feed: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
LibraryWatchtower Blog: < http://librarywatchtower.blogspot.com >
TransportWatchtower Blog: < http://transportwatchtower.blogspot.com  >
South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin Blog: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, etc.: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Astronomical Calendar: 2017 July

Astronomers have slammed the Mayak satellite (pictured), which is no larger than a rugby ball, calling it a 'nonsense' project that could 'ruin' dark skies for everyone170630-mayak-satellite-feature-image
The launch of a Russian crowd-funded satellite, called Mayak, is expected on July 14. The purpose of the small, but very bright, satellite is to test how to brake satellites and de-orbit such satellites. However, astronomers are complaining that this satellite will contribute to light pollution in the night sky, as it is expected to be as bright as the third or fourth brightest object in the sky.
More info: Link >>> http://nypost.com/2017/06/30/russian-satellite-to-be-one-of-the-brightest-objects-in-the-night-sky/ (Image Source: Mayak Project)

Astronomical Calendar for 2017 July: 
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium4.tripod.com/astrocalendar/2017.html#jul

 Related Blog Post ---


"Astronomical Calendar: 2017 June." 2017 June 1.

Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium4.tripod.com/astrocalendar/2017.html#jun


     Safe Public Viewing of the Great American Solar Eclipse
                         Monday, August 21, 2017
     Mt. Lebanon Public Library, South Suburban Pittsburgh
More Info: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/archivenews/releases/poster-flyer/2017SolarEclipse-Flyer.htm

Source: Friends of the Zeiss.
              2017 July 1.

                             Like This Post? - Please Share!

            More Astronomy & Science News - SpaceWatchtower Twitter Feed:
            Link >>> https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower

        Astronomy & Science Links: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks

                Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your in-box ?
                Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >.

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
& SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Astronomy Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#astrolinks >
Science Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks >
SpaceWatchtower Twitter News Feed: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
LibraryWatchtower Blog: < http://librarywatchtower.blogspot.com >
TransportWatchtower Blog: < http://transportwatchtower.blogspot.com  >
South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin Blog: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, etc.: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Monday, June 19, 2017

Special Solar Eclipse Stamp to be Unveiled During Stonehenge-Type Solstice Event in Wyoming

   http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/pix/graphics/solsticeimage008.png
This diagram shows the position of the Earth, in relation to the Sun, at the time of the Summer Solstice, as well as the other solstice and equinoxes of the year.
(Graphic Source: ©1999, Eric G. Canali, former Floor Manager of Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science and Founder of the South Hills Backyard Astronomers amateur astronomy club; permission granted for only non-profit use with credit to author.)


By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

This year in North America, the Summer Solstice occurs both on Tuesday and Wednesday, depending on which time zone is being considered. On Tuesday, the Summer Solstice is being celebrated in Wyoming, by the U.S. Post Office, by the unveiling of a very special postage stamp to commemorate the Great American Solar Eclipse which will occur on August 21. This unveiling will occur following a rather unique, Stonehenge-like Solstice event! And on Wednesday, NASA will hold a news conference, which can be seen on NASA-TV (including on the Internet), regarding the Great American Solar Eclipse.

                                                         Summer Solstice 2017

For 2017, the season of Summer begins in Earth's Northern Hemisphere (and the season of Winter begins in the Southern Hemisphere) at the moment of the June Solstice: Wednesday Morning, 2017 June 21 at 12:24 a.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / 4:24 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

Now in North America, the Summer Solstice occurs early Wednesday morning only in the Eastern and Atlantic Time Zones, according to Daylight Saving Time. Elsewhere in North America, the Summer Solstice occurs late Tuesday evening.

In etymology, the word solstice comes from the Latin terms sol (Sun) and sistere (to stand still). In ancient times, astronomers / astrologers / priests recognized that on one day of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere, near the day we now call June 21), the Sun would appear to reach its highest point in the sky for the year. The motion of the Sun's apparent path in the sky (what is known astronomically, today, as the Sun's declination) would cease on this day, before appearing to reverse direction.

Today, we know that, while the Sun does have motions, it is actually the motion of the Earth tilted on its axis 23.43715 degrees / 23 degrees 26 minutes 13.7 seconds away from the plane of the ecliptic (Earth's orbital plane around the Sun), while revolving around the Sun, that causes the Earth's seasons. Hence, as the Earth arrives at the point in its orbit around the Sun, when the north polar axis is most directly inclined toward the Sun, this marks the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the Winter Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere.

Alternately, the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere occurs when the Earth reaches the point in its orbit when the North Pole is most directly inclined away from the Sun. And, conversely, at this time Summer begins in the planet's Southern Hemisphere.

Although the Summer months in the Northern Hemisphere are known for the year's warmest weather, the Earth is actually at the point in its orbit farthest from the Sun (astronomically known as the point of aphelion) around July 5; the Earth's closest approach to the Sun (perihelion) each year is around January 2. Solar radiation, and hence the heat from the Sun, depends on the length of daylight and the angle of the Sun above the horizon. The tilt of the planet's axis toward the Sun determines the additional and more direct solar radiation received by a planet's Northern or Southern Hemisphere, and hence, the warmer season of the respective hemisphere.

The Vernal Equinox, when the season of Spring begins in the Northern Hemisphere (and the season of Autumn begins in the Southern Hemisphere), occurs between the Winter and Summer Solstices when the Earth reaches the point in its orbit around the Sun when the Earth's axis is inclined neither toward nor away from the Sun. Likewise, when the Earth reaches the point in its orbit around the Sun, between the Summer and Winter Solstices, when the Earth's axis is inclined neither toward nor away from the Sun, this is known as the Autumnal Equinox (beginning of Fall or Autumn) in the Northern Hemisphere; at this time Spring begins in the Southern Hemisphere. And, half-way between the beginning points of each season are Cross-Quarter Days, each related to traditional holidays: Groundhog Day (February 2), May Day (May 1), Lammas Day (traditionally, the first harvest festival of the year on August 1), and Halloween (October 31).

In ancient times, the Summer Solstice was known as Midsummer Day, in early calendars observed around June 24. Such early European celebrations were pre-Christian in origin. Many will associate this ancient holiday with the famous William Shakespeare play, “A Midsummer Night's Dream.” Some speculate that the play was written for the Queen of England, to celebrate the Feast Day of Saint John.

As with the Roman Catholic Church's decision to Christianize the pagan Winter Solstice festivals with the introduction of Christmas Day on December 25, the Church began to associate the Midsummer festivals with the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist on June 24. In the Bible, the Gospel of Saint Luke implies that John was born six months before the birth of Jesus, although no specific birth dates are given.

             Unveiling of Great American Solar Eclipse Postage Stamp (#EclipseStamps)

                         Solar eclipse Forever stamps

On June 20, the U.S. Postal Service issues a unique postage stamp (Forever Stamp) marking the Great American Solar Eclipse (which will cross the continental United States from Oregon to South Carolina on August 21) at the University of Wyoming Art Museum. A first-of-a-kind stamp, the heat from the touch of a finger transforms the eclipsed Moon into the image of the Moon!

The postage stamp unveiling will occur at the Art Museum on the campus of the University of Wyoming (UW) in Laramie, Wyoming at 1:30 p.m. Mountain Daylight Saving Time (MDT) / 3:30 p.m. EDT / 19:30 UTC. The Post Office asks the public to share this news on Social Media, using the hash-tag #EclipseStamps.

The reason the U.S. Postal Service chose this particular Art Museum for the postage stamp unveiling is due to a rather unique, Stonehenge-like event that occurs each year at this museum, around the time of the Summer Solstice. An hour and a-half before the unveiling, on that Tuesday at 12:00 Noon MDT / 2:00 p.m. EDT / 18:00 UTC, visitors can see a single beam of sunlight shining on a Silver Dollar embedded in the floor of the UW Art Museum's Rotunda Gallery. Visitors are encouraged to arrive at the museum by 11:30 a.m. MDT / 1:30 p.m. EDT / 17:30 UTC, to view this rather unique architectural feature.

                           Countdown to the Great American Solar Eclipse

On the day of the Summer Solstice, Wednesday, June 21, 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. EDT / 17:00 to 19:30 UTC, NASA will hold a news conference regarding the Great American Solar Eclipse, which will be exactly two months from June 21. During the news conference, which can be seen on NASA-TV on cable television or streamed on the Internet, people can learn about:

  • How to experience the August 2017 eclipse through the eyes of NASA
  • Views from different areas of the country and how to prepare
  • Safe eclipse viewing practices
  • What causes an eclipse and why you should care
  • How to participate in events around the country
  • The unique research opportunities to study our Earth, moon and the sun
 Internet Link to NASA-TV: Link >>> https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/
 
Internet Links to Additional Information ---

Special U.S. Postage Stamps Commemorating the Great American Solar Eclipse on August 21:
Link >>> https://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2017/pr17_020.htm

Great American Solar Eclipse (Oregon to South Carolina) on August 21:
Link 1 >>> https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEgoogle/SEgoogle2001/SE2017Aug21Tgoogle.html
Link 2 >>> https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/
Link 3 >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_eclipse_of_August_21,_2017

Safe Public Viewing Event of the August 21 Great American Solar Eclipse in South Suburban Pittsburgh:
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/archivenews/releases/poster-flyer/2017SolarEclipse-Flyer.htm

Solar Eclipse / Eclipse of the Sun - Tips for Safe Viewing:
Link >>> http://andrewcarnegie.tripod.com/solflyer2.htm

More on the Summer Solstice -
Link 1 >>> http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/astronomy/SummerSolstice.html
Link 2 >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summer_solstice

More on the Season of Summer: Link >>>
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summer

More on the history of Midsummer: Link >>>
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midsummer

Summer "Solstice Day" Annual Free-of-Charge Day, 1985 to 1991, at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science (a.k.a. Buhl Science Center):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2015/06/snowballs-on-first-day-of-summer.html

     Safe Public Viewing of the Great American Solar Eclipse
                         Monday, August 21, 2017
     Mt. Lebanon Public Library, South Suburban Pittsburgh
More Info: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/archivenews/releases/poster-flyer/2017SolarEclipse-Flyer.htm


Special Thanks:
* John Sibenac, producer of bookmarkers from postage stamps.
* Eric G. Canali, former Floor Manager of Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science and Founder of the South Hills Backyard Astronomers amateur astronomy club.

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
             2017 June 19.

                             Like This Post? - Please Share!

            More Astronomy & Science News - SpaceWatchtower Twitter Feed:
            Link >>> https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower

        Astronomy & Science Links: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks

                Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your in-box ?
                Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >.

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
& SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Astronomy Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#astrolinks >
Science Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks >
SpaceWatchtower Twitter News Feed: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
LibraryWatchtower Blog: < http://librarywatchtower.blogspot.com >
TransportWatchtower Blog: < http://transportwatchtower.blogspot.com  >
South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin Blog: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, etc.: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

240th Anniversary of American Flag: Why Stars Were Used on the Flag

Photo
of historic & refurbished Buhl Planetarium flag pole
The American Stars and Stripes flies on the original, refurbished, flag pole next
to Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, now
used by the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh.
(Photo taken 2013 November 20; Image Source: Friends of the Zeiss)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

On this Flag Day, 240 years ago, the American Continental Congress approved the design of the first American Flag. It is interesting, if still mysterious, as to why the Founding Fathers chose to include stars as a part of the “Stars and Stripes.” The American Flag was also called the “The Star-Spangled Banner” decades before this name was given to the American National Anthem.

June 14 is also the anniversary of the U.S. Army. Congress approved the establishment of the "American continental army" on 1775 June 14, 2 years before approval of the U.S. Flag.

The resolution for the first Flag Act was offered by the Continental Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress:

   “Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and
   white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”

Consequently, the Continental Congress approved the resolution on 1777 June 14. Of course, each of the 13 stars displayed on the flag represented one of the original British colonies, which were now designated as states of the Union. No single star represents any particular state.

So, Congress did compare the new Union of 13 states to constellations in the night sky. Yet, the minutes of the Congress did not give any other details regarding the rationale for the design.

With scientists such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson as members of the Second Continental Congress, perhaps it is not surprising that the new United States of America was considered “a new Constellation.” However, some historians believe the term “a new Constellation” (and, perhaps even the idea of having a blue field full of stars on the flag) may have been included in the resolution in tribute to Philadelphia clock-maker and astronomer David Rittenhouse.

This resolution, which resulted in the Flag Act of 1777, was authored by Francis Hopkinson, who was a member of the Continental Congress, Chairman of the Navy Board under the Marine Committee (today, this position would be equivalent to Secretary of the Navy), and an admirer of University of Pennsylvania Astronomy Professor David Rittenhouse. In addition to his scientific pursuits, Professor Rittenhouse served as Treasurer of Pennsylvania from 1779 to 1787, and on behalf of the Federal Government he founded the U.S. Mint in 1792.

Legend has it that the first American Flag was designed by Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross in June of 1776, at the request of a committee composed of George Washington, Robert Morris, and George Ross (Betsy Ross' uncle-in-law). Historians now doubt this, as there is no record of any such committee.

It was not until a century later, around the time of the American Centennial, that the claim that Mrs. Ross designed the first flag was promoted by her grandson, William J. Canby. It was at this time that Mr. Canby made the claim in a historical research paper submitted to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. To verify this claim, he used information from his aunt, Clarissa Sydney (Claypoole) Wilson in 1857, 20 years after the death of Betsy Ross.

Ironically, it was on 1777 June 15, the day after the Continental Congress approved the Flag resolution, that Betsy Ross married her second (of three) husband, Joseph Ashburn. Apparently, her first husband, John Ross, had died from a gunpowder explosion, while guarding munitions during the Revolutionary War as a member of the local Pennsylvania Provincial Militia; however, some family members doubt this story.

It is now believed that Betsy Ross was just one of several Philadelphia flag makers for the government and military of the new nation.

Historical evidence (journals of the Continental Congress) has led to the conclusion that Francis Hopkinson actually designed the first U.S. Flag. Although, after several attempts to receive payment for the design of the flag, Congress refused to pay Mr. Hopkinson, stating that Mr. Hopkinson was already being paid as a member of Congress.

Although all new versions (with additional stars representing new states admitted to the Union) of the American Flag are now unveiled on Independence Day, Flag Day has been celebrated for more than a century as the anniversary of our nation's standard. The earliest suggestion for a Flag Day seems to have come from George and Victor Morris of Hartford, Connecticut in 1861. That year, the City of Hartford held an official ceremony commemorating Flag Day; however, it did not become a tradition.

In the following years, several schools and patriotic organizations promoted the idea of Flag Day. Bernard J. Cigrand, while a school teacher in Waubeka, Wisconsin in 1885, started a Flag Day tradition. He went on to promote Flag Day across the country, becoming President of both the American Flag Day Association and the National Flag Day Society. He is known as the “Father of Flag Day.”

Pittsburgh native William T. Kerr was also very active promoting Flag Day after he founded the American Flag Day Association of Western Pennsylvania in 1888. The very next year he became National Chairman of the American Flag Day Association, a position he held for 50 years!

Pennsylvania became the first state to declare Flag Day as a state holiday beginning on 1937 June 14, with the first official celebration in the Pittsburgh suburb of Rennerdale. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson issued the first Presidential Proclamation establishing Flag Day on 1916 May 30. In August of 1949, an Act of Congress established National Flag Day on June 14 of each year. William T. Kerr attended the signing of the Congressional Act, by U.S. President Harry S. Truman.

Actually, national flags were not common in the era of the American Revolution. This may explain why the Flag resolution came from the Marine Committee of the Continental Congress, and the resolution came between two other unrelated Committee resolutions. This resolution may have primarily been meant to approve the design of a Naval Ensign to fly on U.S. war ships.

On the very first flag, each of the 13 stripes also represented the first 13 states. However, on the second American Flag, which was officially unveiled on 1795 May 1, there were 15 stars and 15 stripes. The 2 extra stars and 2 extra stripes represented the admission to the Union of 2 new states: Vermont and Kentucky.

However, as other new states started to enter the Union, it quickly became apparent that adding a new stripe, for each new state, was not feasible. So the third American Flag, unveiled after the War of 1812 on 1818 July 4 (from then-on, all new flags were unveiled on Independence Day), reverted to 13 stripes, memorializing the original 13 colonies which broke-away from the British Empire on 1776 July 4.

Each new American Flag included new stars, for the new states recently admitted to the Union. In 1818, the new stars signified the admission of the states of Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee—for a grand total of 20 stars.

With the admission to the Union of Arizona and New Mexico, the American Flag reached 48 stars, for all 48 states in the continental United States, in 1912.

After the admission of Alaska to the Union on 1959 January 3, for just one year the American Flag had 49 stars beginning on 1959 July 4. Interestingly, the Alaska state flag also includes stars forming the well-known Asterism of the Big Dipper (in the Constellation of Ursa Major). Additionally, the largest displayed star in the right-hand corner of the flag is Polaris, currently our North Star. Ursa Major, known as the Big Bear, symbolizes an animal indigenous to Alaska.

Another Asterism well-known in Earth's Southern Hemisphere, the Southern Cross, appears on the flags of five other nations: Australia (1 small, 5-pointed star and 4 larger, 7-pointed stars representing the Southern Cross Asterism along with a large, 7-pointed star known as the Commonwealth Star), Brazil (stars in position as viewed from Rio de Janeiro on 1889 November 15, including the Southern Cross Asterism; each star represents one of the Federated states / units), New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Samoa. Additionally, the flag of Uzbekistan includes 12 stars, which represent the 12 months of the Islamic Calendar and the 12 Constellations of the Zodiac.

The admission of Hawaii on 1959 August 21, after being a Territory for several decades, brought the Union to a total of 50 states, as it is today. The 50-star American flag was unveiled on 1960 July 4.

There are two reasons why 5-pointed stars were used on the American Flag, rather than 6-pointed stars which are used on some flags of other nations today. Five-pointed stars are the easiest to create on a fabric (Although, it is also considered a legend that Betsy Ross convinced George Washington that 5-pointed stars were easier and faster to create than 6-pointed stars.). Also, this minimalist design is the easiest to recognize from a ship miles away.

Actually, stars are now a fairly popular aspect of the flags of many states and nations, with many of these stars being a depiction of our own Sun. It seems that the stars on the American Flag were a good example, copied by other states and nations for their own flags.

State flags with one or more stars include Alaska [Asterism of the Big Dipper and Star Polaris (currently our North Star)], Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia (includes Confederate Battle Flag), Indiana, Mississippi (includes Confederate Battle Flag), Missouri, Montana (Rising Sun), Nevada, New Hampshire (Rising Sun), New Mexico (Sun), New York (Rising Sun), North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon (Rising Sun), Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas.

Additionally, Kansas includes a Sunflower on their flag. There are also stars on the flags of the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth (Territory) of Puerto Rico. The only Canadian Province to include a star on their flag is British Columbia (Rising Sun).

It should be noted that the flag popularly associated with the Confederate States of America (with a blue X containing 13 stars, on a red field) was really the Confederate Battle Flag. The 13 stars represented the 11 seceding states plus Kentucky and Missouri; although Kentucky and Missouri never officially seceded from the Union, the 2 additional stars represented rebel governments of those 2 states. The Confederate National Flag, known as the “Stars and Bars,” which contained 7, and later 13, stars for the seceding states, looked too much like the American Flag to be used on the battlefield.

Other nations which include one or more stars on their flags include Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda (a half Sun), Australia (1 small, 5-pointed star and 4 larger, 7-pointed stars representing the Southern Cross Asterism and a large, 7-pointed star known as the Commonwealth Star), Azerbaijan, Brazil (stars in position as viewed from Rio de Janeiro on 1889 November 15, including the Southern Cross Asterism; each star represents one of the Federated states / units), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Burundi (3 6-pointed stars), Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, Peoples' Republic of China, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominica, Ethiopia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Israel (6-pointed star), Japan as (Rising Sun), Jordan (7-pointed star), Kazakhstan (gold sun), Kiribati (a half Sun), Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea), Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan (Sun), Liberia, Libya, Macedonia (Sun), Malawi (Rising Sun), Malaysia (14-point star), Marshall Islands (large white star with 4 large rays and 20 small rays), Mauritania, Micronesia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar (Burma), Namibia (Sun), Nauru (Sun), Nepal (Sun), New Zealand (Southern Cross Asterism), Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea (Southern Cross Asterism), Philippines (3 gold stars and 8-rayed gold Sun), Rwanda (Sun), St. Kitts and Nevis, Samoa (Southern Cross Asterism), Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Solomon Islands (5 stars represent number of provinces in 1977, 8 months before independence from the United Kingdom), Somalia, South Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Republic of China (Taiwan) (Sun), Timor-Leste (East Timor), Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, (5 stars represent 5 regions of country), Tuvalu (9 stars represent 9 islands of this mid-Pacific Ocean country), Uruguay (Sun), Uzbekistan (12 stars represent the 12 months of the Islamic Calendar and the 12 constellations of the Zodiac), Venezuela, Vietnam, Zimbabwe.

Internet Links to Additional Information ---

Flag of the United States of America ---
Link 1 >>> http://www.usflag.org/history.html
Link 2 >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_the_United_States

Flag Day ---
Link 1 >>> http://www.usflag.org/history/flagday.html
Link 2 >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_Day_(United_States)

National Flag Foundation, Flag Plaza, Pittsburgh: Link >>> http://www.usflag.org/nff.html

Francis Hopkinson: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Hopkinson

Betsy Ross: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betsy_Ross

Benjamin Franklin: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Franklin

Thomas Jefferson: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson

David Rittenhouse: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Rittenhouse

Asterism: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asterism_(astronomy)

Constellation: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constellation

Related Blog Posts ---

"160th B-day: Transit of Venus Admirer John Philip Sousa." 2014 Nov. 6.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2014/11/160th-b-day-transit-of-venus-admirer.html

 

"Bicentennial: National Anthem Inspired by British Rockets." 2014 Sept. 14.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2014/09/bicentennial-national-anthem-inspired.html

 

"Historic Buhl Planetarium Flag Pole Refurbished, Back-in-Use." 2013 Dec. 7.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/12/historic-buhl-planetarium-flag-pole.html

 

"U.S. Flag That Survived Challenger Disaster: Romney Displays." 2012 Nov. 4.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/11/us-flag-that-survived-challenger.html

 

"Most U.S. Flags on Moon Still Standing." 2012 July 28.

Link >>> https://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/07/most-us-flags-on-moon-still-standing.html


     Safe Public Viewing of the Great American Solar Eclipse
                         Monday, August 21, 2017
     Mt. Lebanon Public Library, South Suburban Pittsburgh
More Info: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/archivenews/releases/poster-flyer/2017SolarEclipse-Flyer.htm

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
             2017 June 14.

                             Like This Post? - Please Share!

            More Astronomy & Science News - SpaceWatchtower Twitter Feed:
            Link >>> https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower

        Astronomy & Science Links: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks

                Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your in-box ?
                Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >.

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
& SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Astronomy Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#astrolinks >
Science Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks >
SpaceWatchtower Twitter News Feed: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
LibraryWatchtower Blog: < http://librarywatchtower.blogspot.com >
TransportWatchtower Blog: < http://transportwatchtower.blogspot.com  >
South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin Blog: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, etc.: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Astronomical Calendar: 2017 June

Solar eclipse Forever stamps
On June 20, the U.S. Postal Service issues a unique postage stamp
(Forever Stamp) marking the Great American Solar Eclipse (which
will cross the continental United States from Oregon to South
Carolina on August 21) at the University of Wyoming Art Museum.
A first-of-a-kind stamp, the heat from the touch of a finger transforms
the eclipsed Moon into the image of the Moon!
More info: Link >>> https://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2017/pr17_020.htm
Safe Public Viewing of Eclipse in South Suburban Pittsburgh:
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/archivenews/releases/poster-flyer/2017SolarEclipse-Flyer.htm

Astronomical Calendar for 2017 June: 
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium4.tripod.com/astrocalendar/2017.html#jun

 Related Blog Post ---


"Astronomical Calendar: 2017 May." 2017 May 1.

Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium4.tripod.com/astrocalendar/2017.html#may


     Safe Public Viewing of the Great American Solar Eclipse
                         Monday, August 21, 2017
     Mt. Lebanon Public Library, South Suburban Pittsburgh
More Info: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/archivenews/releases/poster-flyer/2017SolarEclipse-Flyer.htm

Source: Friends of the Zeiss.
              2017 June 1.

                             Like This Post? - Please Share!

            More Astronomy & Science News - SpaceWatchtower Twitter Feed:
            Link >>> https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower

        Astronomy & Science Links: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks

                Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your in-box ?
                Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >.

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
& SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Astronomy Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#astrolinks >
Science Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks >
SpaceWatchtower Twitter News Feed: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
LibraryWatchtower Blog: < http://librarywatchtower.blogspot.com >
TransportWatchtower Blog: < http://transportwatchtower.blogspot.com  >
South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin Blog: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, etc.: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Monday, May 22, 2017

Comet Johnson Getting Brighter in Small Telescopes

https://assets.cdn.astronomynow.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/02211027/Comet_C2015_V2_40x10s_2Apr2017_0044BST_v3.jpg
Image of Comet Johnson (C/2015 V2) at Apparent Visual Magnitude +8, with an obvious tail, photographed in the Constellation Hercules the Hero on the night of April 1-2 by Ade Ashford.
(Image Source: AstronomyNow Magazine from the United Kingdom)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

Comet Johnson (C/2015 V2) has now become the brightest comet visible in small telescopes and possibly binoculars. It will come closest to the Earth on June 5.

Currently, Comet Johnson is passing through the Constellation Bootes the Herdsman. An hour after sunset, it can be found about 40 degrees above the eastern horizon. It will pass Bootes' brightest star, Arcturus, on June 6. Comet Johnson is visible most of the night. It is highest in the southern sky around local Midnight.

Comet Johnson will appear as a diffuse white ball, looking nothing like the pinpoint-like stars or oval planets of our Solar System. Only in the larger, professional telescopes are the two tails visible. The larger one is the traditional dust tail, while a much thinner tail is composed of gas.

At closest approach to Earth, Comet Johnson will be at a distance of 0.812 Astronomical Units or 75,480,115.505697 miles / 121,473,471.0084 kilometers. Used by astronomers to measure the great distances within our Solar System, one Astronomical Unit (AU) is the average distance between the Earth and the Sun: 92,955,807.273026 miles / 149,597,870.70 kilometers.

Visible in small telescopes and binoculars evenings after dusk, the Comet currently shines at an Apparent Visual Magnitude +7.05. Comet Johnson will reach perihelion (closest approach to the Sun) on Monday Morning, 2017 June 12 at 5:31:39 a.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / 9:31:39 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

In late June, after Comet Johnson reaches perihelion, it could possibly reach a maximum brightness of +6—which would be barely (particularly considering the diffuse nature of a comet) bright enough to be seen with the naked-eye under ideal conditions. However, it should continue to make a good target for small telescopes and, possibly, binoculars.

For the first part of Summer in the Northern Hemisphere, Comet Johnson will be particularly visible to northern viewers due to its favorable orbit, which has a high inclination of 50 degrees relative to the ecliptic. However, by the end of July this comet will become an almost exclusively Southern Hemisphere object, as it continues progressing southward in the sky.

On the evening of 2015 November 3, astronomer Jess Johnson discovered Comet Johnson as part of the Catalina Sky Survey. When first seen, the Comet had a very dim Apparent Visual Magnitude of +17, at a distance of 6.17 AU or 573,537,330.874568 miles / 923,018,862.219 kilometers.

This is the first and last time we will see Comet Johnson, at least in the Inner Solar System. Comet Johnson has a hyperbolic orbit. Once it goes around the Sun, it will move away and never come back, eventually leaving our Solar System for-good.

American astronomer Fred Whipple described a comet as a “dirty snowball.” Comets are a combination of rocks, dust, water ice, and other frozen gases, from the early days of our Solar System.

The solid core of a comet is known as the nucleus. Streams of dust and gas released from the comet, as it nears the Sun, form a thin atmosphere around the comet nucleus called the coma. The coma is composed mostly (90 per-cent) of water, with dust making-up the rest of the coma.

Most, but not all, comets have one or more visible tails. The tail(s), which is usually not visible in the Outer Solar System, is composed of dust and gases emanating from the comet, caused by solar radiation as the comet comes closer to the Sun; this radiation usually is too weak to create tails in the Outer Solar System. Normally, a comet's tail(s) points away from the Sun, no matter the direction of movement of the comet; hence, a comet leaving the Inner Solar System often has a tail pointing in the direction of the comet's motion.

Comets usually have a highly-eccentric, elliptical orbit around the Sun, which brings a comet into the Inner Solar System for a short time, while it spends most of its time in the Outer Solar System. Short-period comets originate in the Kuiper Belt, just beyond the orbit of the Planet Neptune, while long-period comets are thought to originate in the Oort Cloud, a spherical cloud of icy bodies beyond the Kuiper Belt.

Short-period comets may have an orbit of only a few years, while long-period comets, potentially, could have an orbit of several million years. Some comets have very short lives, and they disappear into the Sun before they can resume traveling to the Outer Solar System. Other comets, known as hyperbolic comets, go around the Sun once and never come back, continuing into Interstellar Space forever.

To more easily see comets, it is better to be away from city lights, as artificial lighting can drown-out the dimmer comets. Bright moonlight can also drown-out some of the dimmer comets, so monitor the Moon Phase on the monthly SpaceWatchtower Astronomical Calendar.

When looking for a comet, it is best to be in an area that gets a good view of the entire sky (with few obstructions such as buildings, trees, or hills). Of course, you definitely want an unobstructed view for the area of the sky where you expect to find the comet. And, if the comet is expected to be low on the horizon where you expect to view it, you want your observation site to be as high in elevation as possible.

Of course, viewing comets, like all celestial observations, are weather-permitting. If there are more than a very few clouds in the sky, a comet will be much more difficult to find.

And, you want to go out ahead of time, before you actually start looking for comets, to get your eyes accustomed to the dark sky. Dark-adapting your eyes for comet-watching could take up to a half-hour.

Internet Links to Additional Information ---

SpaceWatchtower Monthly Astronomical Calendar ---
Current Month (2017 May):
Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2017/05/astronomical-calendar-2017-may.html
Calendar Archives: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium3.tripod.com/Buhlnews.htm#astrocalarchiv

Comet: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comet

Comet Johnson (C/2015 V2) -
Link 1 >>> https://theskylive.com/c2015v2-info
Link 2 >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C/2015_V2

Related Blog Post ---

"4 Comets May Be Visible w/ Small Telescopes." 2017 April 12.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2017/04/4-comets-may-be-visible-w-small.html


     Safe Public Viewing of the Great American Solar Eclipse
                         Monday, August 21, 2017
     Mt. Lebanon Public Library, South Suburban Pittsburgh
More Info: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/archivenews/releases/poster-flyer/2017SolarEclipse-Flyer.htm

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
             2017 May 22.

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gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
& SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
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Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >