Observing with Street Lights

Observing with Street Lights
Dark sky sites not always necessary to see the Milky Way (This image was taken ouside of a B&B in Julian, CA)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Planning for AIAA conference in Pasadena, Planning for Eclipse 2017, and Sun Dog seen in Julian?

Greetings from Palmia Observatory,

Well, no deep space observing this week, what with the moon full tonight.  The moon light and perhaps a werewolf or two will not go well.  So, I'm getting ready to go to Pasadena Convention Center next week for the AIAA Space 2015 conference.  About a 1,000 participants will spend 3 days hearing from 350 presenters, plenary session speakers and exhibit hall discussions covering all
sorts of space science topics.  It should be fun.  Resident Astronomer Peggy and Astronomer Assistant Danny will keep the observatory going while I'm off playing.

I'll probably stay in Pasadena since I can't take making the 2 hour drive up there and the 2 hour drive back each day.  Wow, I guess I'm getting soft in my old age.  If this keeps up how am I going to make the drive to Casper, Wyoming.  Remember, just in case you still haven't got this date on your calendar that the 2017 solar eclipse will be a total eclipse in Casper as well as other sites in a narrow band extending out to Kentucky.  Anyway we plan to drive the 1000 miles to Casper and meet up there with Trying to catch a gravity wave investigator, Dr. Gary.  Still looking forward to it Gary!

Anyway, I do have an image or two for review.  How many of you have seen a sun dog?  Well, I caught a couple of images of possible sun dogs.  Is this first image of a sun dog?  No, that is just astronomer assistant, Danny, thinking he might get to do some computer work.  No, he is just in my chair preventing me from doing some work.

The next image seems to meet all of the requirements for a sun dog.

Possible sun dog spotted in Julian (Source: Palmia Observatory)
Possible sun dog spotted in Julian (Source: Palmia Observatory)

Remember a sun dog is an atmospheric phenomenon where multiple images of the sun are sometimes observed in a horizontal arc of about 22 degrees centered on the sun.  This image, captured on my cell phone seems to fit that description.  My IPhone camera has about 50 degrees field of view and the distance between the sun and sun dog appears to be about half of that distance, which is close to the required 22 degrees.  Resident astronomer Peggy and I noticed this event as we walked back to our B & B after dinner at a local restaurant in Julian.  When I took this photo near sunset, I recognized it as unusual, but didn't remember at the time to check if the same type of reflected image was on the other side of the sun too.  Oh, well, that is why I'm just an amateur.

What do you think, doesn't that photo qualify as a sun dog capture?

Finally, I should answer some of the mail.  Armchair astronomer Gene forwarded a news article on the Butterfly Nebula.  The nebula is the result, in this case of the death of a binary star system.  The nebula is in the constellation Ophiucus, which is visible at this time of the year, but the nebula shinning at magnitude 14.7, needs a bigger scope than mine to be be imaged. The nebula is apparently only about 1200 years old and is expected to be visible for another 10,000 to 50,000 years, at which time the dying stars will not produce enough ultraviolet radiation to keep the gas in the nebula visible.

Further details can be found in the original reference from Gene.  Thanks for the update, Gene!


Until next time,
Resident Astronomer George

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