December 2020

Field of View - January 2021

Original article appears in GuideStar January, 2021.

 

A picture containing text, night, star, outdoor objectDescription automatically generatedby Don Selle

Guidestar Editor

 

Its an old tradition to make New Year’s resolutions, to think ahead optimistically about what we will do and what we will change in the coming year. Many resolutions are centered on self-improvement or doing things better. This year we will also consider which pandemic required changes to our lives we will keep and which will go.

For example, while resolutions about weight loss are common, I have resolved to lose my “pandemic paunch”. Then there is Zoom. While online meetings had been a work only necessity, my extended family scattered across US and international locations has resolved to stay closer by Zooming regularly in the new year.

So what will your New Year resolutions be? Hopefully, you will make some resolutions that will be rewarding or fun to keep. Might I suggest a few related to astronomy?

Are you missing notifications about upcoming events and meetings?

If you seem to be out of the loop for meetings and other events, it could be due to a mistyped or no longer used email address. The new year is a good time to check that. Log in if you can and then check your info from the blue Edit Profile button under your avatar. Or you can email me at [email protected] with your contact email address and I’ll get it taken care of for you—Rene Gedaly

*UPDATED* The Great Conjunction of 2020: Jupiter and Saturn set early in the SW

The 2020 Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn is here. We have all been watching Jupiter and Saturn continuing to get closer together in the night sky over these last days. On Monday, December 21, they will be the closest they have been in 800 years.They will be close enough together to appear in the same field of view in a telescope even at moderate to high powers. As a naked-eye event, this is an event of great interest even to the most casual observers. Since COVID-19 has prevented us from doing any major outreach events, let’s get the word out! I encourage all of you to put a message out there on Nextdoor or whatever your favorite networking app is and let your circle know what’s going on. 

As Aaron Clevenson shared with us via some of our messaging platforms earlier, the Astronomical League is also awarding a special observing award related to the conjunction.  All you need to do is image or visually observe the two planets in the same field of view, and conduct an outreach event related to the conjunction.  Because of COVID, any broadcast communication to observe the event can count as an outreach for this award.  Please refer to the Astronomical League website (astroleague.org) for more information.  Additionally, two planets in the same field of view is also acceptable to count toward your 100 observations for the AL’s Two in the View program if you are interested in that one (see AL website for requirements). 

To locate Jupiter and Saturn, you will need to look low in the Southwest after sunset.  The two planets set by 7:30 PM so for best results you will want to observe them before 6:30 at least, from a location with a decently clear horizon (see illustration).  Our dark site is a good place to go as always, but you don’t need dark skies to observe the planets. The weather forecast is looking iffy for Monday so I will be taking one of my small scopes to George Bush Park in west Houston on *Sunday*, and I invite any of you who want to come out to join me out there (socially distanced of course).  While they won’t be quite as close together on Sunday as Monday, we must take what the weather gives us.  Look out for announcements from other members about what they’re doing on the email lists or the Facebook page.  Clear skies all! --Stephen Jones, VP, VSIG

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