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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

/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.
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. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Lunar Eclipse in Israel, July 16, 2019 - ECLIPSE PARTY TIME!

A partial lunar eclipse will be visible in Israel the night of Tuesday, July 16. Israel is nearly ideally placed for the timing of the eclipse whose partial phase begins at 11:01PM IDT. Maximum partial eclipse is at 12:30AM July 17, when a little over half the moon will be eclipsed. The partial eclipse ends at 1:59AM on July 17.

The moon orbits the earth, moving from west to east in the sky. As it does so on the night of July 16 it passes through the earth's shadow. A little over half the moon will become covered at mid-eclipse.

Astronomy Israel will be having a lunar eclipse party starting at 10:30PM the night of July 16 with special party pricing of 100nis/adult, 75nis/child between 6-12 years old, no charge under 6.

A lunar eclipse occurs only when the moon is full, so it will be very bright and visible from almost anywhere in Israel. (Unfortunately for the Americas, the eclipse will be over before moon rise there so not visible to enthusiasts there. Come to Israel to see it!!) So, unlike many astronomical events that require a dark sky, you will be able to see it from wherever you are. (Do I have to tell you how to find the moon?) Nevertheless, we are having an eclipse party in Mitzpe Ramon beginning our regular star tour at 10:30PM on July 16 instead of  9:30PM, half an hour before the partial phase begins. We will be able to watch the eclipse through our telescopes and binoculars, point out features on the moon visible only through telescopes, and look for the Apollo 11 landing site, only 4 days before the 50th anniversary of the first manned landing on the moon of July 20, 1969.

This is the last umbral lunar eclipse, where the moon passes through the dark part of the earth's shadow, until May 26, 2021. All of the four lunar eclipses in 2020 are penumbral eclipses, which are hardly visible even as they occur, so be sure to go out and watch it.

Lunar eclipse timings for Israel, July 16-17, 2019
You can sign-up for the star party at this link:

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Thursday, February 21, 2019

SpaceX to Launch Israeli Moon Lander Beresheet on February 21/22, Thursday Night/Friday Morning

Elon Musk's SpaceX will launch Israeli Moon Lander Beresheet on Thursday February 21 at 8:45PM EST (February 22 at 3:45AM IST, 1:45 GMT February 22) on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral. If the mission is successful this will make Israel just the 4th nation to land on the moon after the US, China, and the Former Soviet Union.

Read full details and real-time streaming sites here:

Israel shoots for the Moon with Beresheet lander

Eitan, a volunteer with SpaceIL on tonight's star tour.

Real time location of lunar lander Beresheet and simulation of orbit to the moon:

Highlights of SpaceX Falcon 9 launch


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