Working on my post today was difficult
With world events being what they are, I was horribly distracted while working on this post. This line from Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot” kept popping into my head:
Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the ‘Momentary’ masters of a ‘Fraction’ of a ‘Dot.’
Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994
I mentioned last week that Jupiter has vanished from the western sky at sunset; Jupiter is very close to the Sun from the viewpoint of the Earth – both appear below the silhouetted horizon in this image.
Mercury, Venus, Saturn and Mars continue to appear in the southeastern predawn sky all week; Mercury and Saturn appear close to each other on March 1st & 2nd.
By early next week, Mercury and Saturn will have separated quite a bit, with Saturn appearing a bit higher each morning.
A thin crescent Moon appears in the western sky after sunset from Mar. 4th -7th
A crescent Moon appears in the western sky below the planet Uranus after sunset on Mar. 7th
The constellations Orion and Taurus appear in the southwestern sky after sunset this week – the crescent Moon appears with the constellations on March 7th.
The star Regulus in the constellation Leo appears in the eastern sky after sunset.
- The Moon is a Waning Crescent – visible low to the east before sunrise.
- The New Moon occurs on March 2nd – the part of the Moon facing us is completely in shadow.
- After March 2nd the Moon will be a Waxing Crescent – visible toward the southwest in early evening.
If you click on the Moon image above, or click this link, you will go to NASA’s Moon Phase and Libration, 2022 page – it will show you what the Moon looks like right now. If you click the image on that page, you will download a high-rez TIFF image annotated with the names of prominent features – helpful for logging your lunar observations!
The Sun has five named sunspots. Spaceweather.com says “All of these sunspots have simple, stable magnetic fields that pose no threat for strong flares. This situation could soon change, however, because AR2956, 57 and 58 are growing rapidly.”
The Sun seen in 193 angstroms on February 28th.
Several coronal holes pepper the face of the Sun – both poles show little if any coronal holes. LOTS of regions of coronal loop activity.
The Sun seen in 304 angstroms on February 28th.
Prominences everywhere – both long-lived and short-lived ones popping up and vanishing all along the Sun’s limb.
Videos courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams.
You can view the Sun in near real-time, in multiple frequencies here: SDO-The Sun Now.
You can create your own time-lapse movies of the Sun here: AIA/HMI Browse Data.
You can browse all the SDO images of the Sun from 2010 to the present here: Browse SDO archive.
Amateur Solar Astrophotography
Solar wind speed is 542.6 km/sec ▲ with a density of 8.2 protons/cm3 at 1620 UT.
Click here to see a near real-time animation of the corona and solar wind from the Solar & Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO).
- Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) discovered this month: 239, this year: 456 (+82), all time: 28,463 (+82)
- Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs): 2262 (updated 2022-02-22)
- Total Minor Planets discovered (MPC): 1,166,136 (-110 updated 2022-03-01)
- Total Minor Planets discovered (NASA): 1,113,527 (updated 2021-08-17) – This value has not changed for months. I emailed the site manager offering to keep it updated for them.
Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
|Asteroid||Date(UT)||Miss Distance||Velocity (km/s)||Diameter (m)|
|2022 DQ1||2022-Mar-01||7.5 LD||8.5||15|
|2022 DY2||2022-Mar-01||1.1 LD||15.4||7|
|2022 DA3||2022-Mar-01||3.5 LD||10.5||10|
|2022 DE3||2022-Mar-02||2 LD||6.9||9|
|2022 DM1||2022-Mar-02||17.9 LD||6.7||17|
|2022 DN1||2022-Mar-03||11.4 LD||10||20|
|2022 DK1||2022-Mar-03||9.7 LD||6.4||23|
|2022 DC1||2022-Mar-03||13.4 LD||8.3||17|
|2021 UL7||2022-Mar-04||11.5 LD||2||25|
|2022 DT3||2022-Mar-06||9.8 LD||19.5||22|
|2022 DO1||2022-Mar-06||6.6 LD||13.8||15|
|2020 DC||2022-Mar-06||3.9 LD||4.9||16|
|2022 DH1||2022-Mar-07||18 LD||7||45|
|2022 DS3||2022-Mar-09||13.3 LD||3.7||15|
|2021 EY1||2022-Mar-10||10.1 LD||15.5||16|
|2015 DR215||2022-Mar-11||17.5 LD||8.3||290|
|2022 DX2||2022-Mar-13||15.8 LD||12.8||39|
|2022 DR3||2022-Mar-13||15.6 LD||12.4||32|
|2018 GY||2022-Mar-13||11.9 LD||10.7||43|
|2022 BX1||2022-Mar-13||20.1 LD||11||161|
|2022 DP3||2022-Mar-15||3 LD||10.8||45|
|2022 DB2||2022-Mar-18||11 LD||8.6||52|
|2016 FZ12||2022-Mar-19||2.2 LD||8.3||16|
|2022 DX||2022-Mar-19||8.5 LD||1.5||9|
|2022 DG3||2022-Mar-21||18.3 LD||7.1||38|
|2020 SQ||2022-Mar-21||2.8 LD||6||12|
|2013 BO76||2022-Mar-24||13.3 LD||13.8||271|
|2011 GE3||2022-Mar-26||7.6 LD||7||22|
|2012 FX35||2022-Mar-26||13.7 LD||5.9||25|
|2010 GD35||2022-Mar-29||17.7 LD||12.5||43|
|2020 FW5||2022-Mar-30||8.9 LD||13.1||27|
|2007 FF1||2022-Apr-01||19.4 LD||12.8||155|
|2021 GN1||2022-Apr-02||14.4 LD||14.3||19|
|2016 GW221||2022-Apr-02||9.8 LD||5.9||41|
|2012 TV||2022-Apr-05||19.2 LD||18.1||32|
|2020 GH1||2022-Apr-09||16.8 LD||7.2||28|
|2017 TO2||2022-Apr-10||17.9 LD||11.6||78|
|2020 TQ6||2022-Apr-18||13.4 LD||15.4||43|
|2017 UR2||2022-Apr-22||19.4 LD||9.3||10|
|2020 VN1||2022-Apr-25||19.3 LD||2.3||9|
On February 27, 2022, the NASA All Sky Fireball Network reported 6 fireballs!
If you see a bright meteor or a fireball, please REPORT IT to the American Meteor Society and the International Meteor Organization!
Position of the planets & several spacecraft in the inner solar system on March 1st:
Position of the planets in the middle solar system:
Position of the planets in the outer solar system:
Position of the planets in the extreme outer solar system:
Solar System News
Aligning, aligning, aligning
Mars Helicopter 20th flight a success!
Click to see Perseverance on NASA’s Solar System Orrery
HiRISE - Beautiful Mars
International Space Station
International Space Station
416.71 ppm #CO2
March 1 @ 4:38 p.m. EST
See a list of current NASA missions here: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions?mission_status=current
ex·o·plan·et /ˈeksōˌplanət/, noun: a planet orbiting a star other than the Sun.
* Confirmed Planets Discovered by TESS refers to the number planets that have been published in the refereed astronomical literature.
* TESS Project Candidates refers to the total number of transit-like events that appear to be astrophysical in origin, including false positives as identified by the TESS Project.
* TESS Project Candidates Yet To Be Confirmed refers to the number of TESS Project Candidates that have not yet been dispositioned as a Confirmed Planet or False Positive.
SpaceWeather.com Realtime Aurora Gallery: https://spaceweathergallery.com/aurora_gallery.html
Latest Aurora Oval Forecast
Mt wife and I will be staying at Big Bend in early April!
- Visit an International Dark Sky Park: https://www.darksky.org/our-work/conservation/idsp/parks/
- If you live in Michigan, visit the Michigan Dark Skies site: https://sites.lsa.umich.edu/darkskies/
Weird and Wonderful Universe
Messier Tour: M7
Messier 7 (M7), also known as Ptolemy’s Cluster, is a bright open cluster in Scorpius constellation. The cluster lies at an approximate distance of 980 light years from Earth. It has the designation NGC 6475 in the New General Catalogue. With a visual magnitude of 3.3 and an apparent diameter of 80 arc minutes – more than twice the apparent size of the full Moon – Ptolemy’s Cluster is an easy naked-eye target.
Messier 7 can be seen near the stinger of the celestial scorpion. The cluster is the southernmost Messier object in the sky, which makes it a challenging object for those in northern latitudes as Scorpius constellation never rises very high above the horizon.
The best time of year to observe M7 is in the summer months. Because of its large size, the cluster is best seen in binoculars. – messier-objects.com
M7 is one of the most prominent open clusters in the sky, known since antiquity. It was named Ptolemy’s Cluster because it was first recorded by the Greek astronomer and mathematician Claudius Ptolemy in the 2nd century. Ptolemy listed the cluster in his Almagest as Object Number 567 and described it as a “nebula following the sting of Scorpius” in 130 AD.
Italian astronomer Giovanni Batista Hodierna counted 30 stars in the cluster before 1654. In 1678, English astronomer Edmond Halley included the cluster in his catalogue of southern stars as No. 29.
French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille observed the cluster on June 15, 1752 and listed it as Lac. II.14 in his catalogue of southern objects. He described the cluster as a “group of 15 or 20 stars very close together, in the figure of a square.” messier-objects.com
The stars in M7 were all formed at roughly the same time in the same large cosmic cloud. Groups of stars in open clusters, which are all approximately the same age and have similar chemical composition, are invaluable to scientists as they provide insight into stellar evolution and structure.
The brightest members of the cluster – up to 10 percent of M7’s population – will eventually end their lives in violent supernova explosions, while the remaining fainter stars will gradually drift apart until they no longer form a cluster. – messier-objects.com
The following image is a star field, cropped from the upper-right of the ESO M7 image. M7 is located within the galactic plane, looking towards the galactic bulge, so yea… LOTS of stars! I set this as my desktop background – WOW is this pretty!
Cover Image: Messier 7. Credit: ESO
Messier Object List: [Link]
Software Apps used for this post:
NASA Eyes on the Solar System: an immersive 3D solar system and space mission simulator – free for the PC /MAC.
Stellarium: a free web-based planetarium app. It’s a great tool for planning observing sessions.
SpaceEngine – Explore the universe in 3D and VR!
Worldwide Telescope – operated by the American Astronomical Society (AAS).