Astronomical Highlights for the week.

Weather
Solar Flare

Highlights

  • NASA’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument aboard the Aqua satellite captured the polar vortex as it moved southward from central Canada into the U.S. Midwest from Jan. 20 through Jan. 29. More info
  • National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory have produced a visualization of the life cycle of a solar flare. An animated GIF and link to the video are available below. More information is available from NCAR, and if you are feeling adventurous or just would like to leave something on the weather desk to keep the weather intern on their toes, Dr. Cheung’s paper on the subject is available here
  • Feb 5 0926Z: The moon will be at apogee (furthest point from Earth in its orbit), 406,556 km away.
  • Mon Feb 04 16:03:34: new moon
  • Tue Feb 12 17:26:14: first quarter moon

On This Day

  • Feb 5, 1974: Mariner 10 swings by Venus in a gravity assist on to Mercury
  • Feb 7, 1999: the Stardust mission launches to return samples of comet and interstellar dust

Neat Fact

The Sun has its own weather! Scientists have created a complete (and beautiful) computer model showing the entire life cycle of a solar flare (via NCAR).

Near Earth Objects (NEO)

lunar distance (LD) is the mean distance to the moon ~239k miles. Anything within 1 LD is newsworthy. For more information see NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies

This week

object

close approach date

uncertainty

LD

million
miles

2019 BH1

2019-02-03 02:21Z

< 1 sec

11.1

~3

2019 BE3

2019-02-03 08:01Z

< 1 sec

16.8

~4

2019 BH3

2019-02-04 02:34Z

< 1 sec

14.0

~3.55

2019 BK4

2019-02-06 01:29Z

< 1 sec

4.1

~1

2013 RV9

2019-02-06 06:30Z

< 1 sec

17.8

~4.55

2019 BB5

2019-02-07 10:18Z

~1 hour

11.1

~3

2019 BA5

2019-02-08 01:36Z

< 1 sec

13.9

~3.55

2017 PV25

2019-02-12 12:42Z

~2 hours

7.3

~2

Closest

within

object

close approach date

uncertainty

lunar distances

million
miles

~14 days

2019 BK4

2019-02-06 01:29Z

< 1 sec

4.1

~1

~1 year

2015 EG

2019-03-04 21:03Z

< 1 sec

1.1

~0.55

~100 years

2010 RF12

2095-09-06 00:03Z

~4.55 hours

0.1

~15,290.55 miles

Planet visibility

body (phase)

rise

transit (alt)

set

constellation

Mercury (98%)

07:42:45

12:46:28 (33??)

17:51:09

Capricornus

Venus (63%)

04:32:14

09:19:04 (28??)

14:05:50

Sagittarius

Moon (0%)

07:20:30

12:22:53 (31??)

17:29:22

Capricornus

Mars

10:06:10

16:41:15 (59??)

23:17:20

Pisces

Saturn

05:40:32

10:22:06 (27??)

15:03:41

Sagittarius

Jupiter

03:44:52

08:25:40 (27??)

13:06:27

Ophiuchus

Sample rise/set times for 02/04/19

Satellite Passes

This information is best used to identify passes worth sharing or skipping. Those nearest overhead are closest, brightest, and longest. Check dates and times for each pass before your share.

International Space Station (ISS)

  • below trees pass begins Mon 2019-02-04 18:13:54 EST from the NNW (336°) reaches 15°, enters Earth’s shadow 11° above the horizon 3 minutes later
  • fair pass begins Tue 2019-02-05 18:58:34 EST from the NW (322°) reaches 31°, enters Earth’s shadow 31° above the horizon 3 minutes later
  • poor pass begins Wed 2019-02-06 18:07:21 EST from the NNW (329°) reaches 22°, enters Earth’s shadow 11° above the horizon 5 minutes later
  • outstanding pass begins Thu 2019-02-07 18:52:06 EST from the NW (311°) reaches 68°, enters Earth’s shadow 39° above the horizon 4 minutes later
  • good pass begins Sat 2019-02-09 18:45:52 EST from the WNW (296°) reaches 46°, lasts 6 minutes
  • below trees pass begins Mon 2019-02-11 18:40:09 EST from the W (274°) reaches 18°, lasts 4 minutes

Atmospheric drag and other factors can and does cause orbits to change. See the European Space Agency supported Heavens Above for the latest pass predictions. Satellite pass gradings are based on altitude reached and duration of the pass. Higher altitude passes are closer to the observer and generally brighter as a result. Satellites other than ISS are much more difficult to spot.

Moon Phases

date

phase

Mon 2019-02-04 16:03:34

new

Tue 2019-02-12 17:26:14

first quarter

Tue 2019-02-19 10:53:34

full

Tue 2019-02-26 06:27:42

last quarter

Sun

Sunrise/set

Date

Rise

Solar noon (alt)

Set

sunlight

Mon 2019-02-04

07:20

12:28 (33.36??)

17:35

10 hrs 14 min

Tue 2019-02-05

07:19

12:28 (33.67??)

17:37

10 hrs 17 min

Wed 2019-02-06

07:18

12:28 (33.97??)

17:38

10 hrs 19 min

Thu 2019-02-07

07:17

12:28 (34.28??)

17:39

10 hrs 21 min

Fri 2019-02-08

07:16

12:28 (34.60??)

17:40

10 hrs 24 min

Sat 2019-02-09

07:15

12:28 (34.92??)

17:41

10 hrs 26 min

Sun 2019-02-10

07:14

12:28 (35.24??)

17:43

10 hrs 28 min

Mon 2019-02-11

07:13

12:28 (35.57??)

17:44

10 hrs 31 min

Tue 2019-02-12

07:11

12:28 (35.90??)

17:45

10 hrs 33 min

Wed 2019-02-13

07:10

12:28 (36.24??)

17:46

10 hrs 36 min

  • gained 0:21:16 (hh:mm:ss) of daylight over this period
  • daylight (HH:MM): 10:24
  • mean: sunrise 07:16 sunset 17:41
  • max: sun angle 36.24??

Twilight

date

rise

set

Mon 2019-02-04

05:45

19:09

Tue 2019-02-05

05:45

19:10

Wed 2019-02-06

05:44

19:11

Thu 2019-02-07

05:43

19:13

Fri 2019-02-08

05:42

19:14

Sat 2019-02-09

05:41

19:15

Sun 2019-02-10

05:40

19:16

Mon 2019-02-11

05:39

19:17

Tue 2019-02-12

05:38

19:18

Wed 2019-02-13

05:36

19:19

Covers Mon 2019-02-04 01:00 through Thu 2019-02-14 01:00 . Calculations are for Altoona, PA (40.4780,-78.4213) at an elevation of 341 m and are expressed in local (US/Eastern) time and a 24-hour clock.

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