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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Rare Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter on November 24


November 24 - A rare conjunction of Venus and Jupiter. A conjunction of Venus and Jupiter will be visible on November 24. The two bright planets will be visible within 1.4 degrees of each other in the evening sky. Look for this impressive sight in the western sky just after sunset.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Rare Transit of Mercury, November 11, 2019

A rare transit of Mercury will occur on November 11. The closest planet to the sun will be seen crossing the sun as a small black dot, the planet seen in silhouette, as it passes from the evening sky into the morning sky.

In this composite image provided by NASA, the planet Mercury passes directly between the sun and Earth on May 9, 2016 in a transit which lasted seven-and-a-half-hours. On Monday, Nov. 11, 2019, Mercury will make another transit, visible from the eastern U.S. and Canada, and all Central and South America. The rest of North America, Europe and Africa will catch part of the action. Asia and Australia will miss out. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/SDO/Genna Duberstein via AP

In Israel the transit will begin at 2:35pm IST. In the US the transit will begin at 7:35am EST. The entire transit will last 5 1/2 hours, so the sun will set in Israel as the transit is still in progress. The next transit isn't until 2032 and North America won't see another transit until 2049. There are only 13 or 14 Mercury transits visible from earth per century.

This should make for some wonderful photo opportunities, especially as the sun sets, IF YOU HAVE THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT. You should never stare at the sun with your naked eye without proper solar filters. You can damage your sight permanently. If you have solar eclipse gasses you can put them on to try viewing the transit with your naked eye, but Mercury will be a very tiny dot and probably not visible without optical aid.  Don't put binoculars up to your eyes with solar filter glasses on. The sun will melt them instantly and shine into your eye. All proper solar filters need to be in front of the main optics to block the light of the sun from entering. The same goes for your cameras. Without a proper solar filter in front of your lens you will burn out the camera's sensor. It will take a minimum of a 300mm lens to show the silhouette of Mercury against the sun. Bigger is better. As the sun sets with Mercury in transit it should make for some special photos from Machtesh Ramon.

Astronomy Israel (me) is setting up solar telescopes for viewing at Har Gamal in Mitzpe Ramon. We should be out by 3:00pm. Just put "Har Gamal Mitzpe Ramon" in Google Maps or Waze to find us. No charge for this event. You are welcome to join us for a star tour at 9:30pm Monday night. To get all information and book a tour click: www.bookeo.com/astronomyisrael


Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Milky Way Trail in Mitzpe Ramon

I want to make people aware of a little-known, new special attraction in Mitzpe Ramon. I’ve lived here almost 10 years and didn’t discover it until last night.

There is a new paved, serpentine trail that leads from the KKL forest at the entrance to town to the edge of the Machtesh. It’s roughly 1/4 mile long. What’s special is that it’s paved with iridescent stones that glow in the dark. It’s like walking down the Milky Way to the crater’s edge. At the end there’s a surprise ( I won’t spoil it by telling you) and a great view of the Machtesh below. This effect is obviously only visible in the dark, but it looks like a nice walk in the day time. Benches and explanations posted along the way. You don’t need a flashlight but useful if you want to look around.

This would be a great jaunt on the way to Eilat or a must experience if you’re staying in Mitzpe Ramon. Truly a wonder. Handicap accessible and strollers and carriages can be pushed on the somewhat pebbly surface.

The Milky Way Trail at night in Mitzpe Ramon
The Milky Way Trail is located at the entrance to the Sculpture Garden. At the entrance sign bear hard right into the small parking lot. Don’t go down the gravel road.

Sculpture Garden
Israel National Trail, Mitzpe Ramon
https://goo.gl/maps/ztTgBdnVEJ1JuptL8



/Ira, The Starman of Mitzpe Ramon ✨

Friday, September 13, 2019

A Rare Friday the 13th Full Moon

The full moon in September closest to the Autumnal Equinox falls on Friday the 13th in North America. But in Israel it falls on Saturday September 14th at 7:33 AM. Lucky us! This full moon is known as the Harvest Moon. Instead of rising about 45 minutes later every night as it usually does, it rises about the same time every night for the next 3 nights, just as the sun sets. The bright full moon thus allows farmers to continue their fall harvest after dark. Hence its name, “The Harvest Moon”. It should be a lovely sight. Go outside and watch it rise in the east about 6:45PM IDT.

The last Friday the 13th full moon in North America fell in October 2000. The next w. ill fall in August 2049. 
This is also an Apogee full moon, occurring when the moon is the greatest distance from earth, or at Apogee. In Internet times this Perigee full moon has been dubbed a "Supermoon". Our Apogee full moo in September I guess should be called a "Minimoon".  It should look a little smaller than a regular full moon, but still plenty bright. People are sometimes surprised at just how bright the full moon is. Go outside in the dark and see for yourself.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Perseids Meteor Shower 2019 in Mitzpe Ramon

Sorry about the late post. The peak of this year's Perseids Meteor Shower will fall as usual on the night of Monday August 12 and the early morning hours of Tuesday August 13. This year's peak comes just two days before the full moon. That moon looks full and is just about as bright as the full moon two days later. This means the bright moonlight will interfere with seeing the meteor shower. How much, no one knows. Alot depends on sky conditions which are unpredictable.

Nevertheless, Mitzpe is having it's usual Perseid's Star Party, a large gathering of people to view the meteor shower and enjoy the night sky. There will also be many astronomers with their telescopes to view the best sights of the night, which include the planets Jupiter and Saturn and, of course, the moon itself. There will also be astronomy talks and presentations in Hebrew. The star party takes place in the Spice Routes Quarter of Mitzpe Ramon, whose lights will be turned off so we can enjoy the night sky. Admission is free,

We will be participating in the star party and not having our regular star our on August 12. Our regular star tours resume on August 13. Presentations at the star party begin at 6:30pm. The sky gets dark enough to see between 8:00pm and 8:30pm. Below is a schedule of events in Hebrew. I couldn't find an English version.

Schedule of  events in Mitzpe Ramon for the Perseids Meteor Shower Star Party 2019

Click: How to watch a meteor shower in moonlight


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Two Meteor Showers Peak at the End of July

The Alpha Capricornids and the Delta Aquariids Meteor Showers both peak at the end of July. While these minor meteor showers usually play second fiddle to the much more intense Perseids Meteor Shower which peaks on August 12, the nearly full moon will interfere with viewing the Perseids this year. So these two Meteor Showers at the end of July may be your best chance to enjoy the “shooting stars” this year.

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1GbfnKcUXMzWtd7KE1l1pVZJeYkcvpryG
Delta Aquariids

Last night (July 29) We saw about a dozen meteors, maybe more, during the two hours of our star tour. You need a dark skyand an open horizon to see them best. Just lie down on a comfy blanket or lounge and look straight up. They can appear anywhere in the sky. They are usually best seen after midnight, but last night we had the best show between sunset and 11:30 PM. 

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