Tag Archives: Mars

Five planets alignment

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Today January 30th 2016 was the morning where five planets alignments occurred. The Planets Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter.

Five planets Alignment. From left to right, Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars, Jupiter. Lets not the Moon is included.

Five planets Alignment. From left to right, Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars, Jupiter. Lets not the Moon is included.

Here is the same photo where the Planets and the Moon are annotated.

The five planets and the Moon annotated.

The five planets and the Moon annotated.

Yes, there were clouds, how ever, this is relatively a clear night compare to the rest of the month night. The weather forecast predict a storm coming Sunday to the southern California area. which is the next day. This make this Saturday morning the period of the calm before the storm.

The temperature was around the lower 50s degree F. (around 10 degree Celsius.) The upper wind direction were from west to east. The winds near the ground were blowing from the East. The humidity was high.

Here is a close up look of the planets Mercury and Venus in the same picture frame over the San Fernando Valley:

Mercury and Venus over the San Fernando Valley.

Mercury and Venus over the San Fernando Valley.

As the Sunrise moment was approaching, I observed the marine layer over both the Simi Valley and the San Fernando Valley. The Earth shadow casting on the pink background sky was beautiful as always. It never gets old.

Earth shadow casting on the pink sky. The southern view from Rocky peak.

Earth shadow casting on the pink sky. The southern view from Rocky peak.

Another close up of the hills tops from the southern direction of the pink sky before Sunrise. The shadow division is Earth Shadow.

Another close up of the hills tops from the southern direction of the pink sky before Sunrise. The shadow division is Earth Shadow.

The view of the pink sky and the earth shadow cast from the West direction. You can see the the marine layer over Simi Valley.

The view of the pink sky and the earth shadow cast from the West direction. You can see the the marine layer over Simi Valley.

Soon after at this time of the day at 6:52 am in local time, the Sun rose from the east another day.

Moments before Sunrise.

Moments before Sunrise.

Sunrise of January 30th 2016 over the San Fernando Valley.

Sunrise of January 30th 2016 over the San Fernando Valley.

Close up. Sunrise of January 30th 2016 over the San Fernando Valley.

Close up. Sunrise of January 30th 2016 over the San Fernando Valley.

Half way through. Sunrise of January 30th 2016 over the San Fernando Valley.

Half way through. Sunrise of January 30th 2016 over the San Fernando Valley.

Today is another day. Sunrise of January 30th 2016 over the San Fernando Valley.

Today is another day. Sunrise of January 30th 2016 over the San Fernando Valley.

I spend another 2 hours around the peak and observed the changed of the marine layer as it flow over both valleys and between hills tops.

Here is the north view from Rocky peak. Which show Oat Mountain and its many Radio towers.

Oat Mountains right after Sunrise.

Oat Mountains right after Sunrise.

The flow of the marine layer from the south direction.

The flow of the marine layer from the south direction.

That’s it for today, and catch you later!

Have a nice day!

 

 

 

January 30th 2016

Santa Susana Pass, Los Angeles, California.

-Ahmad

 

Planets at Dawn

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In the early morning hours of October the 26th, the planets Jupiter, Venus, and mars aligned toward the direction of the eastern horizon and produce a beautiful triple planet conjunction show.

Followed later before Sunrise, the planet Mercury will join the morning planetary alignment

The Triple conjunction of planets Jupiter, Venus, and Mars above the San Fernando Valley

The Triple conjunction of planets Jupiter, Venus, and Mars above the San Fernando Valley

Here is a noted version of preview image:

The planets with respect to the background stars.

The planets with respect to the background stars.

The observation took place at Santa Susana pass, between the local two valleys. The weather condition didn’t prevent this night sky observation even though the valley been having cloudy nights during this month.

Orion constellation was at a good altitude above the southern horizon followed by Canis Major constellation.

Orion & Canis Major constellation.

Orion & Canis Major constellation.

The temperature was great, It was in the low 60s F or higher 50s F  (17~13 C degree)with light winds.

Closer look at the triple conjuction

Closer look at the triple conjunction

Closer look at the triple conjuction

Closer look at the triple conjunction

The planets conjunction over the hills

The planets conjunction over the hills

There were few shooting stars passed by. The most significant observed that morning were slicing the big dipper area coming from south to the Northern horizon. There was one caught on an image while photographing the conjunction of the three planets.

A shooting star frame the of conjunction

A shooting star frame the of conjunction

A shooting star frame the of triple conjunction

A shooting star frame the of triple conjunction (noted)

The shooting star is most likely from the Orionids meteor shower that is still active.

Orion was covered by passing clouds from time to time.

At this point of the night he Moon was reaching the western Horizon.

Another view of the triple conjunction near clouds.

Another view of the triple conjunction near clouds.

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Orion and the star sirius with clouds

The Moon on the Western Horizon

The Moon on the Western Horizon

Another shot of the Triple conjunction

Another shot of the Triple conjunction with passing clouds

Orion with respect to the local southern horizon which is higher than true south horizon.

Orion with respect to the local southern horizon which is higher than true south horizon.

The Pleiades were stunning as usual with Aldebaran following it. At this point of the night, Mercury was near rising, I had to take a couple more pictures of the triple conjunction and obseved the Moon set on the western horizon.

The Big Dipper was up high with it’s pattern of this time of the year and night.

Triple conjunction from Rocky Peak.

Triple conjunction from Rocky Peak.

Triple conjunction from Rocky Peak

Triple conjunction from Rocky Peak

I had to include my shadow in the frame for this one.

I had to include my shadow in the frame for this one.

The Big Dipper.

The Big Dipper.

The Big Dipper noted.

The Big Dipper noted.

A wide view of the triple conjunction from the peak over the San Fernando Valley.

A wide view of the triple conjunction from the peak over the San Fernando Valley.

The Moon set over Simi Valley

The Moon set over Simi Valley

Triple conjunction before Sunrise

Triple conjunction before Sunrise

Finally, Mercury is in the same frame image as the other planets.

Planet Mercury with the other planets

Planet Mercury with the other planets

Here is the noted version below:

Triple conjunction with Planet Mercury

Triple conjunction with Planet Mercury

The planet Mercury

The planet Mercury

One more close up of the triple conjunction. Jupiter Moons are showing easily

One more close up of the triple conjunction. Jupiter Moons are showing easily

Jupiter Left, Venus Right

Jupiter Left, Venus Right

The show of the night ended with the arrival of the most relevant start to our life, the Sun.

Sunrise October 26th-2015

Sunrise October 26th-2015

Until next time…

October-26th-2015

Rocky Peak, Santa Susana pass

Los Angeles, CA.

-Ahmad

Triple Conjunction

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This evening, the after Sunset view was beautiful with its celestial triple conjunction of the Moon, and the two planets Mars and Venus. The moon is nearly 49 hours old is easier to spot after Sunset than the one day old new moon. The separation of the Moon and the Sun to the observer perspective in the western horizon is greater, and nearly 25 angular degree apart from the Sun.

A passing airplane over the triple celestial conjunction

A passing airplane over the triple celestial conjunction

Venus was really bright. In term of visual brightness magnitude, the planet Venus was -3.38 which easily outshine the planets Mars which was nearly magnitude of 1.5.

Venus, Mars, and the Moon

Venus, Mars, and the Moon

The three celestial made a beautiful evening view. The weather wasn’t as good, and the clouds were coming and the humidity was high. The clouds than were overcast.

A western horizon view  of the Crescent Moon and the planets Venus and Mars.

A western horizon view of the Crescent Moon and the planets Venus and Mars.

The weather was becoming really foggy, and limit the observation, how ever, a couple of close up pictures were take.

Close up picture of Moon Crescent, Mars, and Venus

Close up picture of Moon Crescent, Mars, and Venus

A little over exposed photo of the conjunction.

A little over exposed photo of the conjunction.

One of the things I like to observe usually in the 2nd evening of a new moon, or when the moon is nearly 48 hours of age, is the southern pole region of the moon from earths perspective. The crescent at some point due to the geological features of the Moon just disappear, as if the crescent has a hole. The look of the crescent is captured well in the next photo.

50 hours old new Moon crescent cut off. The southern pole region of the Moon (The left edge of the Moon crescent in this image)

50 hours old new Moon crescent cut off. The southern pole region of the Moon (The left edge of the Moon crescent in this image)

February- 20th-2015

Santa Susana Pass, California.

-Ahmad

July’s 2014 evening sky.

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This month ecliptic path featured a good number of celestial alignments. On the evening of July the 5th, the nearly one week old moon with half of its face was illuminated (Phase of .57) near the Planet Mars, and the Star Spica, making a great view of triple celestial alignment, and on the evening of the 7th, the Moon was near the planet Saturn, with illumination of 76.7% (phase equal to .77).

Early next month, on the 3rd of August, The two planets Saturn and Mars, and the Moon will all be within less than two angular degrees and a half.

The asteroids had a close encounter too that will last for all month, and most of the year. More details can be found on this topic in this post: Asteroid Ceres & Vesta July viewing.

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Away from the ecliptic, the summer triangle is shining brightly for most of the night, with Vega nearly over head. The view of the Milky Way is spectacular as always, not a good viewing target in a light polluted city such as Los Angeles, and however, in suburban areas such as Santa Clarita, or Castaic Lake, and away from the streets lights, you can see a hint of it.

A look at Polaris, and you would see easily its two companions, the constellation Cassiopeia, and asterism the big dipper on the west side of the North Star. (Asterism is a celestial alignment that is usually but not always part of a constellation). The constellation Cassiopeia can be a little disorienting to find at the beginning of the night, but easily recognizable after midnight at this time of the year.

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The images were taken near south fork trail in Santa Clarita town, California. And it shows the big dipper pattern clearly, even in a slightly light polluted town. The pattern is on the right of the power lines.

 

July – 4th~10th – 2014

Santa Clarita, California.

-Ahmed

Asteroid Ceres & Vesta July viewing

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The sky this summer has two visitors from the asteroid belt that are getting with close range to each other visually to an observer from the surface of Earth. Recently both were promoted to be called dwarf planets by the text books.

For most of the year, (from observations and public open source data on the web) the two asteroids will be within few angular degrees from each other, and just recently, there at their closest point in July 4th/5th.

At the night of July-9th-2014, both asteroids were in the Virgo constellation area in the sky. Around 10 pm, the asteroids looked above the planet Mars and the star Spica (Mars and Spica were two degrees and a quarter apart from each other). As shown in the pictures taken this night, Ceres and Vesta were trapped between the stars Spica and Zeta Virgo.

Ceres and Vesta

Ceres is the one in the left, and Vesta is on its right side. Vesta looked brighter with magnitude of 6.38~6.7 than Ceres which had a magnitude of 7.69~8. (Again, the smaller the magnitude number, the bright the object is). Ceres roughly is twice the size of Vesta, however, due to asteroids locations from the Sun, and from Earth, it worked out for Vesta to be brighter in this time of their orbits.

The distance of Vesta that night was 1.818 AU, and Ceres to be 2.38 AU from Earth.

AU = Astronomical Unit = the average distance of earth from the Sun = 150 million Kilometers (93 million miles).

The visual separation of the asteroids was nearly 18 arcmin and a half. (Roughly, 2 thirds the appearing size of the Moon from earth surface).

The location in which the observations were taken was at South Fork trail in Santa Clarita, near the old bridge (Pictures included of the bridge) which had less light pollution than down town Los Angeles.

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ceres & vesta-4

ceres & vesta-5

 

July – 9th -2014

Santa Clarita, California.

-Ahmed

Lunar eclipse 2014

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The Lunar eclipse of  2014 on April 14/15th  Started a minutes earlier than 11 pm at the local observing site, and ended around 3 am after midnight.

Lunar eclipse 2014-1

Lunar eclipse 2014-2

Lunar eclipse 2014-3

 

The view was beautiful where the moon started to shine less near the oragness of the planet Mars and close the relatively bright bluish star Spica.

Lunar eclipse 2014-4

Lunar eclipse 2014-5

Lunar eclipse 2014-10

Lunar eclipse 2014-11

 

There were clouds passing by, but not thick enough to cover the view, just enough to smear its crisp sharpness to the eye and the photographs. The clouds were most present at the peak of the lunar eclipse and nearly all went away after 3 am.

Lunar eclipse 2014-6

Lunar eclipse 2014-7

Lunar eclipse 2014-8

Lunar eclipse 2014-9

Lunar eclipse 2014-15

 

And the landscape glow again as the Moon uncover.

Lunar eclipse 2014-16

Lunar eclipse 2014-17

Lunar eclipse 2014-18

Lunar eclipse 2014-19

Lunar eclipse 2014-20

Lunar eclipse 2014-21

 

Santa Susana Pass – April 2014

-Ahmed

Mars over SF Valley

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The red planet is coming close to reach its periodic orbital alignment where from earth’s night sky perspective will be in its brightness for this year tonight on April the 8th. The Sun will be in one direction in the sky, and Mars will be on the opposite side. This alignment is happening due to Earth’s position in the solar system with respect to the Sun and Mars. The red planet and will be above horizon most of the night time.

The image was taken from Santa Susana pass of Mars rising above the San Fernando Valley on April-7-2014.

MarsSF-2

The weather was warm and winds changed and stop blowing from South west and start coming from the North east after sunset.

-Ahmed

Observing Ison before the perihelion.

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Comet Ison is a comet full of surprises, and was discovered and observed since September 2012. It was named the Comet of the century for showing a lot of potential according to sources such as NASA and scientific media such as Astronomy and Sky and Telescope magazine, and many blogs and website around the globe.

Ison, November-15-2013 in the early morning before Sunrise.

Ison, November-15-2013 in the early morning before Sunrise.

Many amateur Astronomers with scopes no less than 8 inches (~20 cm) of aperture power got images as early as October. The comet was 1st spotted on June after it disappearing for few months.

The comet didn’t brighten at the same rate as it was expected. Even when it closer to the Sun, and was in the inner part of the solar system as of early October, which is the rocky planets part. It was a small let down. Still, a new comet in the sky is eventful.

Comet Ison was 1st logged in my logbook on November the 2nd 2013. It was early in the morning before Sunrise a couple miles away from the highway that took me away from the city.  It wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be, I even didn’t use gloves this time and didn’t go inside the car for a warm break.

Ison when 1st spotted on November the 2nd 2013.

Ison when 1st spotted on November the 2nd 2013.

The Comet was dim, and I couldn’t see it with the naked eye. However, I took view pictures of the location where I thought the comets would be in the field of view of the frame.

The comet was comfortably 10 degree above the horizon and bright enough to be capture with my camera lens.

I start to go every morning in week days before sunrise to a location near Castaic Lake. The observation of the weekend from the 9th to 11th November morning took place in the Sierra part of California. Then went back to near Castaic Lake and Rocky peak.

The weather wasn’t helpful though, and most of nights were cloudy. Beside, the locations I was observing from had a cloudy eastern horizon normally. Even in a clear morning, there are always few patches of clouds floating.

Nov-24th-2013

Nov-24th-2013

Nov-24th-2013

Nov-24th-2013

 

Nov-24th-2013

Nov-24th-2013

Most of the nights I spend stargazing and trying to hunt for the Comet end up with observing clouds instead and their behavior in the location I was in.  At some night, the light pollution from the city Lancaster which is at the Eastern horizon usually colors the clouds above it in beautiful colors. The colors are not as beautiful as the colors of the Sunrise and Sunset, but it has its own magic.

Before Sunrise Nov-24th-2013

Before Sunrise Nov-24th-2013

Clouds blocking the comet observation Nov-24th-2013

Clouds blocking the comet observation Nov-24th-2013

The planets were bright enough to peak through thin clouds, and this year, in this few months, all five planets that can be observed with the naked eye were present. Venues is relatively high in the sky right after Sunset and Jupiter dominate most of the night, and Mars in the early morning in the Eastern Horizon before Arcturus and Spica. Mercury and Saturn rise up before Sunrise.

Jupiter Nov-17th-2013

Jupiter Nov-17th-2013

Jupiter and its moons. Nov-18th-2013

Jupiter and its moons. Nov-18th-2013

The perihelion, the closest distance in which the comet will be to the Sun, and where the observation of the Comet is most difficult from the ground due the brightness of the Sun, was scheduled to be on the 28th of November – 2013. This happens to be on the American holiday day Thanksgiving.

At Thanksgiving Day, around Noon, the comet was pronounced dead by NASA officials and many media because the space NASA/ESA spacecraft SOHO could not see after it passes.

The next day, the Comet brightens up in the other side, and shining again, dimmer, but still shining. The tail is ejecting heavy material and lack of the light particles in the tail, according to early reports from sources such as NASA, and Astronomy magazine, and news media.

Comet Ison is full of curveballs, and I can’t wait to observe its comeback from the perihelion in the next few weeks if it can survive that long, and I can’t wait for the 26th when the comet closest approach to Earth given it survived..

The Comet trajectory will make the observation accessible at dawn toward the Eastern horizon even after passing the perihelion.

Clear skies

Nov/Dec 2013, California.

-Ahmed

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