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OT: "Stellarium"

Started by Don Y October 16, 2021
We have delightfully dark night skies -- so watching meteor
showers is a thrill!

But, it's annoying to have to hunt down information as to
where to watch (i.e., where the radiant will be at particular
times of the night).

There's a FOSS app -- Stellarium -- that is remarkably detailed
in its modeling of the heavens.  It's also amusing to see an
application that is almost entirely "math (driven)".

FWIW
On 10/17/2021 0:32, Don Y wrote:
> We have delightfully dark night skies -- so watching meteor > showers is a thrill! > > But, it's annoying to have to hunt down information as to > where to watch (i.e., where the radiant will be at particular > times of the night). > > There's a FOSS app -- Stellarium -- that is remarkably detailed > in its modeling of the heavens.  It's also amusing to see an > application that is almost entirely "math (driven)". > > FWIW
I (being completely illiterate when it comes to astronomy) use this site, https://www.timeanddate.com/weather/bulgaria/sofia . Lucy had discovered it; they have (under "sun and moon") also some nice maps to see which planet where/when to look for etc. Discovered Jupiter can actually be seen in the night sky, very bright indeed (why I thought it could not is beyond me). Saturn is also visible (from here) at the moment, Mars was visible last summer and it was reddish indeed... Tried to set the location for you for a minute or so, was not that easy so you'll have to wrestle that yourself :-).
On 10/16/2021 2:50 PM, Dimiter_Popoff wrote:
> I (being completely illiterate when it comes to astronomy) use > this site, > https://www.timeanddate.com/weather/bulgaria/sofia .
Yes, there are usually lots of places to get this sort of information -- esp just prior/during a particular meteor shower. But, they are often unclear as to time (are the times GMT or local? do they realize that we don't observe DST?). And, will often be vague as to whether they are talking about "the morning of" or "the evening of".
> Lucy had discovered it; they have (under "sun and moon") also > some nice maps to see which planet where/when to look for etc.
This will show you solar system objects, artificial satellites, deep space objects, etc. You can point at an object for more detail (updated many times per second). And, can apparently connect it to the various "smart" telescopes so it can track a particular object of your choosing. There are other bits of anecdotal information that, had they not been easily inspected, would be easy for you to ignore (or remain ignorant of). E.g., the "constellations" that the Navajo recognize differ from what we've become accustomed to in The West. Ditto the Mayans, etc. It also places the observer inside a cylindrical (or spherical, if available) panorama so you can (in theory, if you create a panorama of your point of observation) see the sky in relation to the ground objects around you. (use mouse to spin the world around your observation point) There are, for example, "landscapes" for Rila Monastery, Statue of Freedom, Silistar Beach, Saint Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, etc. Of course, it's unlikely that an observer will be IN one of those particular locations, watching the heavens. But, for The Curious, it lets one easily explore some of these places without leaving home! I've enjoyed poking around Concordia Station (Antarctica) without having to deal with the cold... :> I imagine it is also possible to site yourself "off planet" and observe from that vantage point (?)
> Discovered Jupiter can actually be seen in the night sky, very > bright indeed (why I thought it could not is beyond me). Saturn > is also visible (from here) at the moment, Mars was visible last > summer and it was reddish indeed...
Yes. Venus, Mars, etc. The local meteorologists usually alert us to objects of interest in the night sky -- the ISS, planets, meteor showers, etc.
> Tried to set the location for you for a minute or so, was not > that easy so you'll have to wrestle that yourself :-).
On 16/10/21 22:32, Don Y wrote:
> We have delightfully dark night skies -- so watching meteor > showers is a thrill! > > But, it's annoying to have to hunt down information as to > where to watch (i.e., where the radiant will be at particular > times of the night).
I've never found the radiant to be of any help in spotting meteor(ite)s. The streaks appear anywhere in the sky, albeit /pointing/ to the radiant.
On 10/16/2021 4:03 PM, Tom Gardner wrote:
> On 16/10/21 22:32, Don Y wrote: >> We have delightfully dark night skies -- so watching meteor >> showers is a thrill! >> >> But, it's annoying to have to hunt down information as to >> where to watch (i.e., where the radiant will be at particular >> times of the night). > > I've never found the radiant to be of any help in > spotting meteor(ite)s. The streaks appear anywhere in > the sky, albeit /pointing/ to the radiant.
Yes. But, when the radiant is below the horizon, it leaves you with little chance to find them other than originating from that point BELOW the horizon. And, they're not going to be heading TOWARDS it! [It also tells you when standing outside, searching, is likely a foolhardy exercise!] Thankfully, the neighbors behind us removed their 75 ft pines which opens up a lot more of the sky to easy observation!
On 16/10/2021 22:32, Don Y wrote:
> We have delightfully dark night skies -- so watching meteor > showers is a thrill! > > But, it's annoying to have to hunt down information as to > where to watch (i.e., where the radiant will be at particular > times of the night).
A rough heuristic is that you are best off watching after midnight with peak rates occurring just before dawn. That way you get to see meteors at the highest rate since the stream is coming towards us and the Earth is moving toward the meteor stream. In the evening the only meteors you will see are the ones that can overtake the Earth in its orbit (which may still be a good fraction of them). Moonlight hides a lot of faint meteors so moonless nights are better.
> > There's a FOSS app -- Stellarium -- that is remarkably detailed > in its modeling of the heavens.  It's also amusing to see an > application that is almost entirely "math (driven)".
It is a lovely programme and can be persuaded to simulate meteors too! Try zooming in on the planets. I put together a collection of links for basic Stargazing from when I did popular astronomy talks and star gazing nights (suspended due to Covid). Its a bit dated now but most of the links should still work. http://www.therountons.com/events/Stargazing/index.htm Its meteor link is however sadly defunct. Earthsky has the best guide to the major meteor displays for the current year: https://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/earthskys-meteor-shower-guide/ The Astronomer has a rather more exhaustive list of showers including ones used to predict when meteor bounced radio links are possible and also charts of where the radiants are (drawn for UK latitude). https://www.theastronomer.org/post/MeteorDiary/ Upcoming are the Taurids most nights until November and the potentially spectacular Leonids on 17-18 November for one night only. Blink and you will miss it. Despite what the site says the peak ZHR in Europe was very high for some at the turn of the century - just not as high as in 1966. It is pot luck whether you see huge numbers or not. Some favoured locations get a fireworks display level shower every now and then. -- Regards, Martin Brown
Don Y <blockedofcourse@foo.invalid> wrote in news:skfgem$hg6$1@dont-
email.me:

> We have delightfully dark night skies -- so watching meteor > showers is a thrill! > > But, it's annoying to have to hunt down information as to > where to watch (i.e., where the radiant will be at particular > times of the night). > > There's a FOSS app -- Stellarium -- that is remarkably detailed > in its modeling of the heavens. It's also amusing to see an > application that is almost entirely "math (driven)". > > FWIW >
I've used it for years. Even before it was called that. Great app. I had gigabytes of hi resolution Earth and Moon model add-ons. Knew where every Moon landing site is at. Had one with every satellite and one that even showed the debris cloud(s) orbiting us. Then Mars. Got a bunch of that. Haven't done much in a while though.
On 10/17/2021 2:12 AM, Martin Brown wrote:
> On 16/10/2021 22:32, Don Y wrote: >> We have delightfully dark night skies -- so watching meteor >> showers is a thrill! >> >> But, it's annoying to have to hunt down information as to >> where to watch (i.e., where the radiant will be at particular >> times of the night). > > A rough heuristic is that you are best off watching after midnight with peak > rates occurring just before dawn. That way you get to see meteors at the > highest rate since the stream is coming towards us and the Earth is moving > toward the meteor stream. In the evening the only meteors you will see are the > ones that can overtake the Earth in its orbit (which may still be a good > fraction of them).
I tend to start around 2A and knock off around 4A. Earlier and you also contend with lights in neighbors' homes (while they don't affect the view of the sky, GLANCING in their direction screws up your vision for a bit as everywhere else is BLACK). [One neighbor has the front of their home brightly lit, all night. Most have their homes dark -- especially when I'm outside watching. So, I have to observe from someplace that lets me put the house between us!] East and Northeast being the general direction. But, as MOST only cross a few degrees of arc -- and do so very quickly -- it's possible for them to appear almost anywhere. Hence, give yourself the "biggest sky" in which to observe. It also depends on where the moon ends up. E.g., the Orionids will be a bit of a challenge as the moon is full; looking in that general direction is like looking into the neighbors' lights that I'm trying to avoid. Being able to see what conditions are likely going to be before (even months before!) lets me plan better.
> Moonlight hides a lot of faint meteors so moonless nights are better.
We've little problem seeing them even with the moon nearby. Our sky is REALLY dark! But, you can't let the moon draw your attention as it will screw up your vision for a while.
>> There's a FOSS app -- Stellarium -- that is remarkably detailed >> in its modeling of the heavens. It's also amusing to see an >> application that is almost entirely "math (driven)". > > It is a lovely programme and can be persuaded to simulate meteors too!
Yes. And the frequency of their appearance. But, there doesn't seem to be a way to limit WHICH radiant is affected by the control.
> Try zooming in on the planets.
Yup. The shift from "large dot" to "small photo" needs some work, though. I had another app (maybe an earlier version of THIS one?) that acted similarly. It would be amusing if one could select and zoom on artificial objects as well! :>
> I put together a collection of links for basic Stargazing from when I did > popular astronomy talks and star gazing nights (suspended due to Covid). Its a > bit dated now but most of the links should still work. > > http://www.therountons.com/events/Stargazing/index.htm > > Its meteor link is however sadly defunct. Earthsky has the best guide to the > major meteor displays for the current year: > > https://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/earthskys-meteor-shower-guide/
I've little interest in watching the sky. You'll see folks staring up to watch the ISS pass or various planetary bodies, etc. <shrug> Those are predictable. "Shooting stars", OTOH, are literally breathtaking to see -- owing largely to their unpredictability. I pity folks who live places where the "light pollution" renders them effectively invisible.
> The Astronomer has a rather more exhaustive list of showers including ones used > to predict when meteor bounced radio links are possible and also charts of > where the radiants are (drawn for UK latitude). > > https://www.theastronomer.org/post/MeteorDiary/ > > Upcoming are the Taurids most nights until November and the potentially > spectacular Leonids on 17-18 November for one night only. Blink and you will > miss it. Despite what the site says the peak ZHR in Europe was very high for > some at the turn of the century - just not as high as in 1966.
Leonids and Perseids tend to be my favorites. But, I'll give each event some of my time. Often 20+ per hour -- when you see two in rapid succession, the second REALLY takes you by surprise!
> It is pot luck whether you see huge numbers or not. Some favoured locations get > a fireworks display level shower every now and then.
I've always been able to see one in the first 5+ minutes outdoors. The only time it has been disappointing is when it is overcast -- which is a rare event, here ("Why did it have to be THIS night??")
On 17/10/2021 17:29, Don Y wrote:
> On 10/17/2021 2:12 AM, Martin Brown wrote:
>> Moonlight hides a lot of faint meteors so moonless nights are better. > > We've little problem seeing them even with the moon nearby.&nbsp; Our > sky is REALLY dark!&nbsp; But, you can't let the moon draw your > attention as it will screw up your vision for a while.
I have a feeling you are in rural high desert where the effects of humidity and urban light pollution are negligible but the moon still prevents your eyes from reaching full dark adaption and raises the sky brightness level enough to swamp out faint meteors. You should be able to see the milky way clearly after about 2 minutes in the dark there but it will get perceptually brighter for the next half hour or so.
> I've little interest in watching the sky.&nbsp; You'll see folks staring up to > watch the ISS pass or various planetary bodies, etc.
You should still try to see Saturn and the moon through a decent telescope at least once in your lifetime. They are breath taking.
> <shrug>&nbsp; Those are predictable. > > "Shooting stars", OTOH, are literally breathtaking to see -- owing largely > to their unpredictability.&nbsp; I pity folks who live places where the "light > pollution" renders them effectively invisible. > >> The Astronomer has a rather more exhaustive list of showers including >> ones used to predict when meteor bounced radio links are possible and >> also charts of where the radiants are (drawn for UK latitude). >> >> https://www.theastronomer.org/post/MeteorDiary/ >> >> Upcoming are the Taurids most nights until November and the >> potentially spectacular Leonids on 17-18 November for one night only. >> Blink and you will miss it. Despite what the site says the peak ZHR in >> Europe was very high for some at the turn of the century - just not as >> high as in 1966. > > Leonids and Perseids tend to be my favorites.&nbsp; But, I'll give each event > some of my time.&nbsp; Often 20+ per hour -- when you see two in rapid > succession, the second REALLY takes you by surprise! > >> It is pot luck whether you see huge numbers or not. Some favoured >> locations get a fireworks display level shower every now and then. > > I've always been able to see one in the first 5+ minutes outdoors.
My skies are pretty dark apart from the N horizon. I have to wait a bit longer. I do remember seeing one of the big Leonid light shows from a suburb of Brussels (one of the most light polluted countries on Earth). It was like Star trek with bright shooting stars whizzing past in a near continuous stream giving the disconcerting illusion of forward motion. Sometimes with 2 or 3 in the sky at once. In darker skies with many more fainter ones visible the effect would have been even stronger. It is definitely one to watch if you get the chance and the moon is out of the way. Some places on Earth may get lucky even in bad years. -- Regards, Martin Brown
On 10/18/2021 2:34 PM, Martin Brown wrote:
> On 17/10/2021 17:29, Don Y wrote: >> On 10/17/2021 2:12 AM, Martin Brown wrote: > >>> Moonlight hides a lot of faint meteors so moonless nights are better. >> >> We've little problem seeing them even with the moon nearby. Our >> sky is REALLY dark! But, you can't let the moon draw your >> attention as it will screw up your vision for a while. > > I have a feeling you are in rural high desert where the effects of humidity and > urban light pollution are negligible
Yes. The city also has ordinances discouraging (excess) "light pollution". Many older parts of the city have street lights, etc. Here, if you want to walk during a new moon, you carry a flashlight as few folks will have outdoor illumination from which you could benefit. Astronomy is sort of an industry, here (plus observatories nearby), and the university is known for its optics lab (they grind REALLY big mirrors, etc.).
> but the moon still prevents your eyes from > reaching full dark adaption and raises the sky brightness level enough to swamp > out faint meteors.
It depends on where the moon is in the sky wrt the radiant. As long as you can avoid looking *at* it, your eyes can stay reasonably well dark-adapted. I used to lie on the roof so I could just stare up and see the entire sky. But, on moonlit nights, there's no way to block the moon's presence. So, at those times, I stand on /terra firma/ with my back towards the moon. The mountains are just (barely) far enough away that they don't impinge on the field of view. So, I have this delightfully black canvas to watch for streaks of white. [It's an amusing sensation trying to make "your eyes bigger" while keeping them close to focused]
> You should be able to see the milky way clearly after about > 2 minutes in the dark there but it will get perceptually brighter for the next > half hour or so. > >> I've little interest in watching the sky. You'll see folks staring up to >> watch the ISS pass or various planetary bodies, etc. > > You should still try to see Saturn and the moon through a decent telescope at > least once in your lifetime. They are breath taking.
As a kid, I had a telescope and caught all the "low hanging fruit". But, didn't realize that meteor showers were so regular (and frequent!). Coupled with a reasonably urban area and frequent cloud cover, it was just not something I'd stumble upon. I was corresponding with a guy many years ago and he happened to mention a meteor shower that was occurring that night. With no real preparation, I just walked outside and looked up. It was the first time anything had (literally) taken my breath away since childhood. Now, despite seeing them frequently (each different "storm"), they still have a profoundly startling effect! My response to each "discovery" is always with a gasp. For most, the event is over before (or coincident with) that gasp. On a few occasions, I've encountered slow moving ones that traveled 30 degrees of arc -- a long time to stand, mouth agape, waiting to take your next breath (but not daring to do so until the event has passed) It's sad in that it's really a "solo" experience -- hard to share with anyone else as there's no guarantee you'll both be staring at the same patch of sky -- and no time to alert anyone to the appearance of one!
>>> It is pot luck whether you see huge numbers or not. Some favoured locations >>> get a fireworks display level shower every now and then. >> >> I've always been able to see one in the first 5+ minutes outdoors. > > My skies are pretty dark apart from the N horizon. I have to wait a bit longer. > I do remember seeing one of the big Leonid light shows from a suburb of > Brussels (one of the most light polluted countries on Earth). > > It was like Star trek with bright shooting stars whizzing past in a near > continuous stream giving the disconcerting illusion of forward motion. > Sometimes with 2 or 3 in the sky at once. In darker skies with many more > fainter ones visible the effect would have been even stronger.
The difference being that you can *predict* what you will see on a "warp speed" animation. Here, you have to remain constantly vigilant as the next one can be in a different part of the sky, traveling in what *appears* to be a different direction, brighter, dimmer, slower, faster, etc.
> It is definitely one to watch if you get the chance and the moon is out of the > way. Some places on Earth may get lucky even in bad years.
It's the only time of year when I wear a "winter" coat. Standing outside, motionless, for an hour or more in November -- even here -- can get pretty chilly. If I'm lying on the roof, doubly so!