Today January 30th 2016 was the morning where five planets alignments occurred. The Planets Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter.
Here is the same photo where the Planets and the Moon are 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:
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.
Soon after at this time of the day at 6:52 am in local time, the Sun rose from the east another day.
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.
The new Nova in morning night sky near Sagittarius is still giving a good show even in a light polluted areas. The images were taken in the same morning of the Lunar eclipse of April 4th 2015
The location of the observation was taken in Santa Susana Pass, and the direction of the Nova is toward the west, where it was near the San Fernando Valley light pollution.
The image above shows the Teapot pattern, or Asterism, on the lower left corner of the image.
I had to climb a little higher on trail i was taken, and to wait a title longer so the nova position will get higher in the sky and a little more away from the light pollution as I was observing the Moon eclipse.
Here is a close look of the Teapot pattern, and The Nova, with set of pictures showing the targets marked.
Even not far away from the city, the Nova is bright changing the image of the Teapot pattern and the Sagittariuses constellation. The Nova to our eyes is a new star in the sky.
And in the subject of changing patterns of the sky because of unusual placement of celestial object, the planet Saturn is doing a well job in disturbing the Scorpio constipation pattern.
The next set of images shows this phenomena beautifully, so enjoy it this year before it changes as the seasons past by.
The Surreal painting of the ring system planet is inspired by the wild life that is around me during stargazing session at this time of the year. The points of lights on the globe remind me of Simi Valley city lights from rocky peak perspective.
The type of butterfly that was featured in the painting is commonly known as Adelpha in the scientific community, and can be called sister due to similarity with other butterfly family.
This new heavenly visitor that appeared in our night sky, from earth perspective, to be near the heart of the milky way galaxy. The new Nova can be observed with the naked eye in Sagittarius constellation a couple of hours before sunrise time.
I have enjoyed the new view of the night sky with it’s newly Nova arrival. The Nova appeared earlier this week, and it was predicted by Astronomers and Stargazers around the world that it will be visible to the unaided eye by Morning March-22. However, the star in the night sky canvas is a view that hardly ever change to the naked eye, so a visible Nova is an experience that not many got to enjoy or witness in one life time. As if the night sky had a new is drawing a new star in its canvas, even if it was temporary, after all, the whole universe is in a temporary state.
The event is worth getting up earlier, or staying up late to be witnessed even if stargazing is not the observer profession.
Personally, the experience was extremely powerful, even if it was a little point of light that barely touching the limit of the naked eye (Visible magnitude brightness of 4.5~5).
When I saw Sagittarius, right away, I saw the new star, or more accurately, the Nova. Sagittarius wasn’t Sagittarius, at 1st glance, I realize how the new Nova altered my memory view of the constellation. The constellations positions against the starry sky, to our senses, are stationery with respect to one human life spam.
I hope this thought help understand the significance of the event.
Here are two more versions of the same image where in one of them, the constellation Sagittarius is highlighted, and the other where the Nova is.
The temperature was near 7 degree Celsius (~44 degree F). The clouds were very low near the eastern horizon, but did not interfere with the event.
The site from where I was observing featured a good dark sky, and I couldn’t help my self taking more images of it until Sunrise.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.