Category Archives: SKYGAZING

SKYGAZING : Location of Planets in Summer Sky as seen from Surat, India

WHERE
In Surat, India
Co-ordinates are 21.1 ° N latitude 72.8° E longitude

WHEN
May 2020

WHAT YOU CAN SEE
Planets –
Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn

WHAT YOU NEED
Sense of Direction, Observation Skills & Patience a lot of it.


MERCURY

Mercury is an interior planet with respect to the Earth. It is the closest planet to the Sun. So you will see it either right before Sunrise or after Sunset. It is very small planet so spotting Mercury in the sky is quite some challenge. It might take some time to get a hang around it as well as your local conditions must be good enough to be able to see it as it will often be seen only around the horizon where maximum obstacles are seen or pollution interferes.

A planet is said to be inferior or interior with respect to another planet if its orbit lies inside the other planet’s orbit around the Sun.

In Surat which is an urban city with dense population and vehicular movement, sky at the horizon is usually obstruct by buildings or covered in dark clouds caused by pollution. You may either take a vantage point at a building’s terrace or find an open field near Tapi river where you can see horizon.

In the month of May, Mercury is close to Sun in the sky, so it is not possible to see it. So you may enjoy looking at Venus during this time. Mercury revolves the Sun in 88 days, so it goes around in the sky from East to West with in that duration.

Position of Mercury as seen from Earth in May 2020

VENUS


Venus is the brightest object in the night sky after Moon. It shines bright enough to be seen in the presence of Sun at Sunset or Sunrise. You may get it confused with Sirius star which looks almost similar but you just need to find if it’s twinkling or not to be able to identify Venus. Yes, planets don’t twinkling in sky due to their proximity to Solar system as well as they don’t have their own light. Planets reflect the light of Sun, just like the Moon.

Venus is interior planet like Mercury. It is seen either before Sunrise or after Sunset as per it’s position in the orbit around Sun. In May it is seen the west after Sunset.

And yes, planets undergo phases just like the Moon, however it is not possible to see the phasing details with naked eye. However using a sufficiently strong telescope, phases of Venus can be seen just like how Galileo did.

Venus is shining bright in the west sky right after the Sunset. It shines bright enough to be confused with a light bulb. Follow the Sun in the evening and enjoy the Sunset. Right after sunset, you will see a bright star shining in the sky in the same direction, that is Venus. Venus is visible until 9 PM or so in Surat. The altitude of Venus will be around 30 degree from horizon when you will be able to see it the best.

Sunset is at 7:05 PM today.


MARS


Mars can be seen from 2 am onwards in Surat towards the South-East sky. All planets follow the elliptical. Once you get a hang of it, you would know where the planets may be located. Currently all the 3 exterior planets visible to naked eye are in sequence in the night sky.

Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are superior planets visible to naked eye. Since they have orbits larger than Earth, they follow the movement of sky as seen from Earth. You can see these planets rising and setting down. Currently the rising hours are near midnight so they can be seen for around 3-5 hours depending upon the Sunrise.

A planet is said to be superior with respect to another planet if its orbit lies outside the other planet’s orbit around the Sun.

POSITION OF MARS, JUPITER & SATURN AS SEEN FROM EARTH IN MAY 2020

JUPITER


Jupiter is visible first in the east sky at night in the sequence of the three exterior planets visible with naked eye. It can be seen clearly from 12:30 am onwards.

Jupiter is very bright and easily spotted in the sky. Once identified, it can be taken as a reference to spot Saturn, which is very dim and Mars which is fairly bright in itself.


SATURN


Saturn is following Jupiter in the sky as seen from Surat. As Jupiter rises high in sky sometime after that, Saturn will start to shine very dim. As it rises up in the sky and night starts to fall in, it gains some sharpness.


SOLAR SYSTEM 101

SOLAR SYSTEM 101 BY NGC

Looking for stars and constellations in the night sky, check out here.


To know more about Night Sky, Naked Astronomy, Solar System, Planets, Stars and Cosmos check out our series about SKYGAZING.

Sky gazing in Surat – May 2020

WHERE
In Surat, India
Co-ordinates are 21.1 ° N latitude 72.8° E longitude

WHEN
03-05-2020 8 PM onwards

WHAT YOU CAN SEE
Moon
Scorpius & Libra Constellation
Stars – Antares, Shaula, Rigil, Hadar, Spica, Regulus, Algieba

FOR BEGINNERS

Sky at night keeps moving every hour due to the rotation of Earth. So the stars move across the sky over the night. Stars also appear 4 minutes earlier every night. So with change in month, as you keep observing every night, you will find stars have shifted their position compared to previous night. And if you look for long enough like 6 months, you will find the entire sky has changed over that duration, since the Earth has rotated across the other point in it’s orbit around the Sun.

Stars appear 4 minutes earlier every night.

SCORPIUS CONSTELLATION

It is mid of summer here in Surat as we move into the month of May,. Surat was under lockdown from 25 March 2020 due to the on-going corona virus caused COVID-19 global pandemic. So there was not much activity carried out in terms of sky-gazing during the month of April 2020. However we start with new enthusiasm in May 2020.

Dark sky is clear. The best location to start look at is in the East for it is where the sky rises and it helps to keep track of the timing, position and movement. Little after sunset, if you look towards the South-East sky you will be able to spot a bright star – ANTARES. This will be a good starting point to explore the south sky.

Let your eyes get adjusted to the darkness. It will take around 30 minutes for a good enough experience.

Once you identify Antares, which is the brightest star in Scorpius constellation as well as one of the brightest star in the night sky. It will appear slightly reddish if you observe carefully. Following the Antares, you can go up and track the 3 stars of the constellation which look like the claws of the scorpion image. Two of them will be distinctly visible, the other one will take some time for you to adjust and identify.

Then it’s time to track SHAULA, which is bright enough to be spotted easily. Once you have the overlying area of the constellation. Keep looking for other smaller stars. It will depend on light pollution in your surrounding, air pollution, your eye sight, clouds in sky and other parameters. But if you keep looking, you will develop an habit of finding out details of the constellation and be able to find other dim stars. Hence completing your observation and tracking of Scorpius constellation.

Use star tracker apps like Sky-View or SkySafari to identify and spot the stars easily with the help of view finder.

It may take around an hour to be able to completely get the imprinting of a scorpion image on whose comparison in ancient world drew the pictures in their minds about the sky. At around 10 PM, the constellation would be high enough to be completely in view. If you are surrounded by buildings, then wait for the constellation to rise higher. You will be able to see it in the zenith, highest point in sky at around 12 AM or so. That would be the best time to view. If you are a night owl, then it is the best experience.

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LIBRA, VIRGO AND LEO

As you go higher in sky above Scorpius, you will be able to see 4 stars forming a quadrilateral. These stars are part of Libra constellation. 3 of those stars will be visible easily. Use app to see dimmer stars. Surrounding the sky in that area, other 4 to 5 stars are fairly visible and shine brighter, captivating your attention.

Facing exactly towards the south, you will see two stars shining bright like a light bulb in some buildings. Those two stars RIGIL and HADAR will stay close to the horizon. Other stars facing south which shine bright during the entire winter season in Surat are CANOPUS & REGOR.

Sky appears different based on your latitude. You will never be able to see some stars from your location. You will have to go either North or South.

If you look up the night sky over your head after 10 PM, you will see a bright star twinkling, that is SPICA. It is part of VIRGO constellation. Other stars are not so visible, especially due to the close proximity to bright Moon.

Moon was shining bright in LEO constellation for the last 2 nights. The bright star shining towards the west of moon was REGULUS. You can also see ALGIEBA. Leo will be going down in the west sky as night falls.

No access to North facing sky tonight. Some updates coming soon.

Some stars don’t seem to be twinkling, they are planets.


ISS Spotting in Surat – December 2019

Location: Surat, India

The following ISS sightings are possible from Wednesday Dec 11, 2019 through Friday Dec 27, 2019

Date Visible Max Height Appears Disappears Share Event
Date: Wed Dec 11, 7:09 PM Visible: 3 min Max Height: 40° Appears: 12° above NNW Disappears: 40° above NE
Date: Thu Dec 12, 6:21 PM Visible: 5 min Max Height: 20° Appears: 10° above N Disappears: 10° above E
Date: Thu Dec 12, 8:00 PM Visible: 1 min Max Height: 17° Appears: 17° above WSW Disappears: 16° above SW
Date: Fri Dec 13, 7:09 PM Visible: 6 min Max Height: 38° Appears: 10° above WNW Disappears: 11° above SSE
Date: Sat Dec 14, 6:20 PM Visible: 6 min Max Height: 86° Appears: 11° above NW Disappears: 10° above SE
Date: Mon Dec 16, 6:24 PM Visible: 1 min Max Height: 16° Appears: 16° above SSW Disappears: 11° above S
Date: Thu Dec 19, 6:06 AM Visible: < 1 min Max Height: 13° Appears: 11° above SSE Disappears: 13° above SSE
Date: Sat Dec 21, 6:04 AM Visible: 6 min Max Height: 75° Appears: 10° above SW Disappears: 11° above NE
Date: Sun Dec 22, 5:18 AM Visible: 3 min Max Height: 30° Appears: 30° above SE Disappears: 11° above ENE
Date: Mon Dec 23, 6:08 AM Visible: 2 min Max Height: 20° Appears: 20° above NNW Disappears: 11° above N