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Friday, March 20, 2015

Solar Eclipse Visible from Israel on Friday, March 20

An eclipse of the sun will be visible across Israel on Friday March 20, coinciding with the first day of Spring, or the Vernal Equinox as astronomers call it. The eclipse will just be partial in Israel, with just 5% of the sun's disk being obscured by the moon. The eclipse will not be visible at all in the US.

The eclipse begins in Israel at 11:17am local time and ends at 12:39pm local time. Maximum eclipse occurs at 11:58am, when just a tiny sliver of the sun, just 5% will be covered by the moon.

Be careful observing the sun. You always need special filters to view the sun with optical aid. They cannot be home made. Observing the sun without proper eye protection with binoculars or a telescope wil result in immediate and permanent damage to your eyes. The same is true if you stare at the sun with your naked eye. Don't do that. You can make a home made pinhole projector to observe the sun, or else use a #14 welders glass, no other value. But the welders glass, if you have one, should only be used with the naked eye, not in front of optics.

If you want to watch totality, go to www.slooh.com, an online telescope where the total eclipse will be shown from the Faroe Islands, weather permitting.

And, of course, the astrologers have to make their appearance, too: http://www.timesofisrael.com/solar-eclipse-friday-has-some-looking-for-signs-from-god/

Good viewing and Happy Spring!

Table of times for the partial solar eclipse of March 20, 2015, visible across Israel. The diagram at the top shows the small sliver of the sun that will be obscured by the moon. See the text above for proper eye protection needed to view the sun. Without it you can permanently damage your vision.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Did You Catch the Triple Conjunction at the End of February?

Most people around the world in the Northern Hemisphere probably missed the triple conjunction of the moon, Mars and Venus at the end of February. We certainly did in Israel where the winter has been cloudy, windy, rainy, snowy and cold. We even had two snow days in February alone in Mitzpe Ramon! It's been weeks since I've been able to do a star tour.

For those who missed the sight here's a photo of the triple conjunction from Palm Springs, California, looking toward the San Jacinto mountains in the West.

Moon to the right, Venus to the bottom left, Mars between, as seen on Feb. 23 from Palm Springs, California. Photo by Kendigitize.
kendigitizeKen
kendigitize

Triple conjunction over Manhattan by Stan Honda




Friday, February 20, 2015

Venus, Mars and Moon Triple Conjunction

Weather permitting, observers in Israel will have the opporunity to see a beautiful triple conjunction of Venus, Mars and the new crescent moon of Adar on Friday evening, February 20, at dusk. The three celestical bodies will then be within half a degree of each other in the western sky. Half a degree is the diameter of the full moon in the sky. Such close approaches make for very memorable and beautiful displays. Of course, these celestial bodies only appear close together as they align in our line of sight in the sky. The moon is about 230,000 miles away, Mars about 142 million miles away, while Venus is 67 million miles away.



The next night, Saturday February 21, the crescent moon will have moved to the upper left of Venus and Mars, but the two planets will remain impressively close together for the rest of the month. See if you can distinguish them by color. Venus is creamy white, Mars a pale red.



Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Photographic Finder Chart for Comet Lovejoy

Here's a nice photographic finder chart for Comet Lovejoy through January 19.

Comet Lovejoy, Hyades, Pleiades, Astronomy Israel
Comet Lovejoy is currently passing close to the Hyades and Pleiades star clusters, easy to find through most of the night.




Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Comet Lovejoy as Seen from Mitzpe Ramon on 1-12-15

I made an attempt to photograph Comet Lovejoy last night from Mitzpe Ramon. While it was quite easy and bright in my 10x30 binoculars and telescopes, this photo barely captures it as a smudge. In my 5" APO refractor it had a bright tiny nucleus, a large fuzzy coma, and a very short stubby tail, all slightly greenish in color. It should remain easily visible in binoculars and telescopes through January.

Comet Lovejoy, Pleiades, Hyades, Mitzpe Ramon, Astronomy Israel
Comet Lovejoy can just barely be seen immediately to the left of its label.


Mercury and Venus Set Beside the Dome of the Weiss Observatory in Mitzpe Ramon

Venus Mercury Weiss Observatory Mitzpe Ramon
Venus, upper left, and mercury set next to the dome of the Weiss Observatory in Mitzpe Ramon, Israel.

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