(NASA)  Moderately bright Zubenelgenubi is the star just off the upper right hand limb of an eclipsed Moon in this telescopic view from Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Actually the second brightest star in the constellation Libra, Zubenelgenubi is fun to pronounce (try zoo-BEN-al-je-NEW-bee …) and rewarding to spot in the night sky as it has a fainter companion star, seen here on the far right. Astronomer Francois du Toit reported that both stars were visible to the unaided eye on the night of May 4th, 2004, during the Moon’s total eclipse phase. Orbiting a common center of gravity once every 200,000 years or so, the two stars are both larger and hotter than the Sun. About 77 light years away they are separated from each other by over 730 light hours – about 140 times Pluto’s average distance from the Sun. Zubenelgenubi was once considered the southern claw of the nearby arachnologically correct constellation Scorpius. What star was the northern claw? Zubeneschamali, of course.

Not really an “eye” but it looks like an eyeball doesn’t.  That’s actually San Jose City Hall, one of the few aesthetically interesting buildings in San Jose.  Do you notice what the “eye” is looking at?  Check out the largest possible size and look carefully. 

What you’ll notice in the left of the frame is the bright planet Mercury before it rose into the clouds. In the “spotlight” are what appears to be. and is, a double star called, and I’m not making this up:  Zubenelgenubi which in Arabic means the “Southern Claw” as it once was consider part of the constellation of Scorpio, the scorpion. Most people know this star as alpha Libra - the brightest star in the constellation of Libra, the zodiacal sign. BUT, the faint wispy thing just above and at the left edge of what would be the iris of the skyward facing eye is C/2012 S1 which is more commonly called Comet ISON.  This was about the last day you’re likely to get anything because ISON is drawing nearer to the sun and the sky is too bright by the time ISON rises high enough in the sky to be seen.  It was NOT visible to the naked eye, at least not in San Jose.

The goal here was to capture Saturn, Mercury, Comet ISON and Comet Encke in one photograph, however the cloud deck caused Mercury to disappear by the time Saturn became visible.  There was little hope of actually seeing Encke as it’s even lower in the sky!  Saturn would enter the frame from the lower left in just about 5 more minutes.

I’m not sure which building is bathing the sky with needless light.  See the next image which includes Saturn and ISON, though ISON is even harder to see in the next image due to the clouds and brightening sky.

This was an informal outing with Eric Harness, co-conspirator at StarCircleAcademy and Rick Whitacre who suggested this alignment for a photograph after I had suggested aligning over the Bank of Italy (previously Bank of America) building in downtown SJ the prior morning.

By the way if you’d like to know how to plan to have something in the sky - particularly the sun or moon - align over a terrestrial landmark we have a webinar on the subject approximately every other month. The next webinar is December 3rd.  http://starcircleacademy.com/webinars

Half Moon Fever, More Meteors, and Some Public Stargazing

This week, the Moon waxes every day - starting from a lovely thin crescent tonight to nearly full next weekend. On Monday night only, look in the southwestern sky after sunset for the nearly half Moon a few fingers widths below yellow Saturn. The Moon will set about 11 pm and Saturn soon afterwards. The following evening (Tuesday), look for the Moon just to the lower left of the double star Zubenelgenubi in Libra. Take a look in binoculars or your telescope at low power (the highest numbered eyepiece you have)! Zubenelgenubi, like most western star names, is an Arabic word. It means “Southern claw” – because it used to be counted as part of the nearby constellation Scorpius, the scorpion. Many double stars have only a single Arabic name because the ancient desert tribes naming them had no telescopes to reveal that the apparent single stars were actually a pair.

(Above: The Moon visits Saturn on the evening of August 12th)

The Moon reaches 1st Quarter before sunrise on Wednesday. This is the phase when the side that faces us is exactly half illuminated (always lit on the right/bottom – towards the Sunset). Each evening this week is perfect for close-up Moon observing! The area separating the light and dark halves (the boundary is called the Terminator) is rich with bright peaks and deep black shadows cast by the Sun!

Venus is still the bright object low in the western sky after dusk, and setting around 9:45 pm. Yellow Saturn is in the southwestern sky after dusk, and sets around 11 pm. Early risers can see red Mars below much brighter and whiter Jupiter in the stars of Gemini.

Dawn on Monday, August 12th marks the peak of the great annual Perseid Meteor Shower, known for producing bright fireballs! At that time, the Earth will be passing through the densest part of the cloud of particles in space that produce the shower. The active period of this year’s shower is July 17th through August 24th, so keep an eye out for them all week, anywhere in the sky. Let me know if you see any Perseids!

On the first clear evening this week, the RASC will be holding their monthly free public stargazing session called City Observing. It’s held at Bayview Village Park. All are welcome to attend – with or without any equipment. You don’t have to be a member of the RASC. Details are at http://www.rascto.com/content/august-city-star-party. The GO or NO GO decision is posted on the RASC Toronto home page www.rascto.com around 5 pm. Dress appropriately and come out for some Moon gazing! We might see Neptune, too!

Keep looking up to enjoy the sky! I love getting questions so, if you have any, send me a note.

ALERTE ROUGE - La crise Américaine sur l'immigration

ALERTE ROUGE – La crise Américaine sur l’immigration

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A version of this video should normally be produced in english in about 3 to 4 weeks.

For now, please read the following summary as to know what I am talking about. Hoping this will help you to undestand

I will produce an English version of this series but when I come back. This is too important. To give you an idea, I have found the perfect next retrograde motion of Saturn in Libra, just next to…

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