Sky's Up - Fall 2015 - Page 2

Sky’s Up inside W Meet the Moon Begin your quadrant by quadrant journey across the face of the Full Moon — Page 10 Vol. 04 — Fall 2015 Published by the AstronomyOutreach network Founded in 2000, the AstronomyOutreach network (AOn) was created to encourage and celebrate public outreach efforts by astronomers of all levels. This non-profit organization has tasked itself with forging connections between individual astronomers, astronomy clubs and larger astronomy and space education initiatives. Board of Directors: Director: Scott W. Roberts Editorial Staff: Senior Editor: David H. Levy Project Manager: Patricia Smith © AstronomyOutreach network Duplication of contents in full or part is prohibited unless prior authorization by AstronomyOutreach network has been obtained. Unless an advertisement in the publication contains a specific endorsement by AstronomyOutreach network, it has not been tested by, approved by or endorsed by AOn. AstronomyOutreach network 621 Madison Street Springdale, AR 72762 Phone: 949-637-9075 www.astronomyoutreach.net email: comments@astronomyoutreach.com ooo Sky’s Up digital magazine is made possible through a generous contribution from Explore Scientific. 10 Questions JPL scientists discuss their efforts to pave the way for future space bases — Page 18 Haunting Beauties It’s a perfect season for checking out some of the night sky’s eeriest treats! — Page 24 What’s Up in the Sky........................................................................Page 8 SETI: Looking for ET..........................................................................Page 9 The STEM Zone.............................................................................. Page 22 On the Road with David Levy........................................................ Page 30 The Art of Astronomy.................................................................... Page 32 The Key to Your Sky: Lunar Calendar............................................. Page 36 The Key to Your Sky: Seasonal Sky Calendars................................ Page 37 on the cover “T his photo is my favorite from the “Moon Games” series Sabine and I have created. It’s the more peaceful and serene view with Sabine hanging the Moon with her right arm. The photo was taken as the Sun has set since 45 minutes and is now 5° below the horizon. Then, the landscape is rather dark so I had to overexpose the Moon to be able to see something in the foreground. The depth of field isn’t large enough to have a good focus on the Moon. I wasn’t able to stop down enough because at f/8.0, the exposure time was already 1/5 s. A weaker aperture would have increased the exposure time and would have triggered some movement on the character arm.” — Laurent Laveder elcome to our relaunching of A David Sky’s Up — an online magazine designed to inspire readers to Levy Sky look up at the sky. In this issue, we look at the closest and easiest object to observe in the evening sky — the Moon. It is the second thing I ever saw in the night sky (the first was a meteor), and the object of my first serious astronomy project. Just before school began in the fall of by David 1964, I spent an evening at the Observatory Levy of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s Montreal Centre. With a friend, I met David Zackon, a slightly older member about to embark on his final year at college. “How would you like to come to my place and observe with a 3.5-inch reflector?” I asked. David answered with another question, “How would you boys like to come to my place and observe with an 8-inch reflector?” It was obvious where we’d go. Once we got there, he deftly moved the big scope around to see Saturn, its rings and its giant moon Titan — the only moon in the solar system known to have an atmosphere. A few nights later David asked if I’d like to return for a second session. As we were observing, he mentioned that soon he would be leaving to complete his college education. “I am looking for someone who could put this telescope to good use for the next two semesters, until I return in late spring.” We talked about planetary work, and about double stars. I told him that during the summer I had completed the lunar training programme having spotted and drawn the 326 lunar features (300 craters and 26 mountain ranges and other features) on the Sky & Telescope lunar map. It is a project I had been working on for four years. “You’ve done that?” David asked. “You’ve finished the lunar training programme?” “Yes,” I repeated. He paused for a few seconds and then said “Then you’ve just borrowed yourself a telescope!” We moved the 8-inch to 818 Upper Belmont that very night, and I continued observing with it until dawn. Also that night I named the telescope Pegasus after a NASA project that launched three heavy satellites into orbit aboard Saturn 1 rockets (these were earlier versions of the Saturn V that eventually sent astronauts to the Moon). The Moon pays no attention to light pollution. It is gorgeous without even using binoculars, and through a telescope, any telescope, it is spectacular quite beyond description. Not only does the Moon show beauty, but also it teaches us something about the night sky for it does not stay in the same spot. Because it revolves about the Earth, it moves about its own diameter every hour and circles the entire sky in less than a month. It ranges in brightness from a thin sliver of a crescent almost impossible to see in bright twilight to a brilliant glowing ball that ut terly dominates the night sky. And there’s more: As the Moon orbits the Earth, it moves from a place relatively far from Earth to a place much closer. When it is closest, it is at perigee, and if it is near full phase at that time we sometimes call that a supermoon. When it is farthest from Earth, we say it is at apogee. The Moon has given me countless nights of joy. In fact my very first officially logged observing session — Session number one — involved a view of the Moon partially eclipsing the Sun on October 2, 1959. I was 11 years old, and my Mom drove my brother Gerry and me to the Lookout atop Westmount Mountain to catch a glimpse of the eclipse through passing clouds. Including this one, I have now seen 87 eclipses of the Sun or the Moon. Twelve of these events were total eclipses of the Sun. The most recent eclipse was the total eclipse of the Moon that took place the morning of April 4. Even though the total phase of this eclipse was a record short five minutes, the great thing about this type of eclipse is that it can be seen over the full half of the Earth that happened to be in darkness at the time. A total eclipse of the Sun, on the other hand, takes place only when the tiny shadow of the Moon strikes a particular band across Earth, a band that may be less than a hundred miles wide. In this issue there are other articles about the Moon, and how to enjoy looking at it. May you spend many, many nights under the stars, and even more enjoying the lovely Moon. Over decades of observing, David Levy has discovered or co-discovered a total of 23 comets. His prolific record includes the joint discovery of Shoemaker-Levy 9, which quickly went on to dramatically crash into Jupiter in 1994, and the individual discoveries of two periodic comets – P/1991 L3 and P/2006T1 – through his backyard telescope. In 2010, Levy became the first person to have discovered comets in three ways - visually, photographically and electronically. Beyond his observation achievements, Levy has authored, edited or contributed to more than 30 books and has periodically provided articles for publications like Sky & Telescope and Parade Magazine. As a teen, French national Laurent Laveder found a passion for astronomy. Now an accomplished photographer and writer, he specializes in landscape astrophotography that simultaneously captures the beauty of our world and the cosmos beyond. In his “Moon Games” series, he explores the connection between humanity and our Moon with engaging images that are both elegant and whimsical. Through a collaboration with his wife, Sabine Sannier, Laveder has published “Quartier Libre,” which is a collection of these photos paired with inspiring verse. For information on Laveder and a gallery of additional images, visit click here. 2 The magnificent Moon Sky’s Up Sky’s Up 3