Astro Bob blog: Bar-hopping with the animalsA long night under the stars opens up both eyes and ears.
By: Bob King, Duluth News Tribune
Bar-hopping with the animals
The aurora looked like an eerie contrail below the W of Cassiopeia early this morning about 12:30. Details: 20mm lens at f/2.8, ISO 1600 and one-minute time exposure. Photos: Bob King
The sky was pristine last night, swept clear of humidity, dust and haze. My intention was to spend an hour or so observing the current half-dozen comets visible in moderate-sized telescopes but as frequently happens on a good night, time slipped away. One hour became three. A Northern saw-whet owl (right) in a nearby tree hooted its curious hoop-hoop-hoop-hoop courtship call the entire time. Mating and territorial calls were the rage from dusk till dawn. Spring peepers, drumming grouse, woodcock, chorus frogs and white-throated sparrows. I felt like I was bar-hopping with the animal crowd.
On my way home, I looked north and spied a frosty layer of aurora hanging low over the northern horizon. Though late, it was worth the time to find a spot with a clear view and take a few photos. The Milky Way was spectacular; no clouds robbed the stars of their light this night. In deference to the body's need for at least a quantum of sleep, I went to bed just after 1:30 but got up again at 3:30 unable to resist the moon-Jupiter pairing during twilight. No, I didn't wake my mom up and ask her to go outside and look. Flowers and a card seemed more appropriate.
The Milky Way stretches from the Northern Cross through Aquila the Eagle in the wee hours Sunday morning. Details: 16mm lens at f/2.8, ISO 1600 and one-minute time exposure.
The crescent moon joins Jupiter at dawn this morning. What a way to greet the day!
Remember sunspot group 1069 from a few days ago? The one that popped up out of nowhere? It's been kicking out lots of small flares over the past few days, but since they're directed off to one side of the sun we probably won't see any effects of the storms here on Earth. The recently-launched Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) took multiple images of nice flare yesterday which were combined into the very short movie below. Give a click and enjoy the sun's dynamic personality.
The International Space Station will wrap up its current round of evening passes for Duluth and region this week. The station looks like a very bright star traveling from west to east across the sky during twilight. Early in the week the ISS slices across the northern sky, later across the south. Viewing times are below. To find out pass times for where you live, please click HERE and enter your zip code.
* Tonight starting at 9:12 p.m. and again at 10:47 p.m. The latter pass will be short but very bright as the ISS moves straight up from the west before disappearing into Earth's shadow near the top of the sky.
* Monday May 10 at 9:37 p.m. Brilliant pass high in the north!
* Tuesday May 11 at 10:02 p.m. in the southern sky.
* Wednesday May 12 at 8:51 p.m. and again at 10:27 p.m. when it be visible low across the west-southwest
* Thursday May 13 at 9:16 p.m. Brilliant pass high in the south!
* Friday May 14 at 9:41 p.m. Low pass in the southwest
* Sunday May 16 at 8:55 p.m. Another low pass in the southwest