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Sky Report by Ted Gruber
Jupiter (magnitude -2.1) becomes visible in the southwest sky at dusk and currently sets just before 8:00pm. The bright planet remains visible through mid-February, when it appears low in the west-southwest sky and sets a bit after 6:30pm. A very thin crescent moon passes about 4° south of Jupiter the evening of February 2.
Mars (magnitude 1.5) and Venus (-4.4) are visible in the pre-dawn southeast sky. Mars currently rises about 5:45am, with much brighter Venus following about 30 minutes later. Both planets brighten slightly over the next month and rise about 30 minutes sooner by mid-February. The moon passes about 2° south of Mars the morning of January 29. Mars appears just south of Venus in early February; the two planets make their closest apparent approach the morning of February 12 when they appear about 6.5° apart.
Mercury (magnitude 1.9) returns to the morning sky by the end of January, rising in the east-southeast about 6:30am. The innermost planet brightens quickly through mid-February, shining at magnitude 0.0 when it reaches greatest western elongation on February 16. Mercury rises about 6:00am on that day.
Last (1/25), new (2/1), first (2/8), full (2/16), last (2/23)
"The weather turned out to be as good as it could be. Despite leaving Beaverton in the pouring rain, as soon as we approached Longview, the winds died down and the rain diminished to a light drizzle.
Happy Solstice and thank you Longview!
It was our muddiest event yet.
A few people wondered if we'd cancel due to the afternoon monsoons. Nope! Who's afraid of a little rain?
Our third annual Solstice Lantern Walk through the Solar System was on December 18, 2021.
The wind and rain eased off as the event started. We had awesome burritos and tacos from Planet Taco (Tacos and Tortas all the way from Centralia).
We brightened the longest night, celebrated the return of longer days, and met great people. Here are some highlights:
Our route followed the Solar System Walk given to the City of Longview by the Friends of Galileo Astronomy Club in 2001. The walk is a series of granite markers showing the relative distances between the Sun and the planets - it's our solar system, scaled down to Lake Sacajawea. The markers follow the path on the west side of Lake Sacajawea, over 1.64 miles.
Solar System Walk
We had passports for people to take to each planet and get stamped. Thank you to Pat and Michelle at Copies Today/Speedy Litho for donating the printing for our passports - a third time. They looked great!
The planets were lit up in a small way or in a big way. Kids got candy at several planets and people got to know some of the great clubs in our community.
* * * * * If you walked the whole Solar System (3.7 billion miles!), you saw:
The Sun - Friends of Galileo Astronomy Club started off the event with lanterns and passports and candy for the kids. FoG has monthly meetings, sidewalk astronomy, star parties, and our annual overnight event at Mount St. Helens.
Mercury - Santa and Mrs. Claus! It was a very busy time for them, of course, but they came to start off the walk with Christmas cheer.
Venus - The Girl Scouts of Western Washington came out a third time with a big, welcoming tent. They worked with the Boy Scouts to light up the path with luminaria... By the way, it'll be cookie season soon.
Earth - Three Rivers Christian School came out a second time to support the Solstice Lantern Walk. What a great turnout they had!
Mars - Shinju Dojo Aikido Martial Arts School was our very first planet sponsor in 2018! Learn self-defense and self-confidence in a friendly, low-impact, non-competitive atmosphere right here in Longview.
Jupiter - Longview Freemasons Lodge #263 - Our most generous donor. Thank you, Masons! Freemasons have been making good men better for centuries. Longview Lodge will celebrate its first century the year after Longview does. Find out more at their Thursday breakfasts (823 7th Ave, Longview, about 8:00 am).
Saturn - Kelso-Longview Elks, Lodge #1482. The Elks did a great job again. Did you see all the glowing Saturn models?
Planet Taco - Thank you, Tacos and Tortas of Centralia, for joining us with your food truck. Their burritos and tacos were great, and helped fortify people during their billion-mile walk.
Tacos and Tortas
Uranus - The Boy Scouts of America, Cascade Pacific Council didn't just have a good set up and interesting information about their planet ("12 Facts About Uranus!"), they added s'mores and a warming tent! Both were very welcome at that point in the walk.
This year, the Boy Scouts worked with the Girl Scouts to cover more of our route with glowing luminaria to mark the path. What a cheerful trail to follow. Wow!
Sacajawea - Amtgard, Shire of Mithril Hills, is a LARP, a live-action role playing group. Swords, shields, spells - come watch them practice or better yet, join in! They practice at noon on Sundays in Lexington Park.
Amtgard Mithril Hills
Neptune - Even with TWO astronomy clubs involved in this event, the Mount St. Helens Hiking Club was the only one to bring along a telescope - three years in a row.
Comet Swift-Tuttle - Columbia River Reader brightened up the outer solar system again. Thanks for supporting us with a great description in the CRR!
Pluto - Rose City Astronomers came all the way from Portland to set up at the far end of the solar system. Check out their calendar of events next time you're in Portland.
Space Shuttle - thank you Ray Zimmerman and the Afifi Shrine for helping our walkers get back to the start. We've already heard great feedback - much appreciated! The Shriners meet to have fun and to support Shriner Hospitals around the world.
Thank you also...
Thank you, Emiley Siters for loaning us canopies from Youth and Family Link again. You kept Santa dry!
Thank you, Joe Hotai, for permission to use your photos again (most of the photos above are his).
"Joe" Kazumi Hotai
* * * * * Which planet won the Out of This World Award?
Our team of judges, Comet Me Bro, made their decision. Tiegan and Lucy walked the whole route and judged each planet on these criteria:
The winner will be announced at FoG's next meeting (details below). The prize? An awesome custom-made, astronomy-themed wreath.
* * * * * Most of all, thank you everyone who came out for the event!
You got a chance to meet some of the terrific people here in Longview and to learn about local clubs.
Do you want another Solstice Lantern Walk in 2022?
Come to Friends of Galileo Astronomy Club and help make it happen:
Happy New Year!
Friends of Galileo Astronomy Club
Looks like we get to enjoy a wee bit of rain for the Solstice Lantern Walk.
Don't worry - we won't cancel and you won't melt.
Dress for the weather, bring your lanterns and flashlights, and check out the great community groups who will help us bring light and cheer to the longest night of the year!
Don't forget to pick up a passport at the Sun (south end of Lake Sacajawea)!
Bring some light and cheer to the longest night of the year. Celebrate the return of longer days. Meet some of the small organizations that make Longview a great place to live!
We'll follow the granite planet markers on the west side of the lake.
More event info on our Solstice page.
Our community groups are working hard to make a wow experience for you.
We're going to have judges choose which group has done the best job. Be sure you vote for your favorite, too!
Our winner will get a custom-made, space-themed wreath, generously donated by Twiggy Wreaths. We'll award it at our January meeting.
Just two weeks to go!
Longview's third Solstice Lantern Walk Through the Solar System will be on Saturday, December 18th. The event starts at 7:00 PM at the south end of Lake Sacajawea.
Bring light and cheer to the longest night of the year.
Celebrate the return of longer days by coming out to meet great community groups (see the list on our Solstice page). They're going to light up the park - bring your own lantern or headlight and do your part to chase away the dark.
Get your Solstice passport at the Sun (south end of the lake) and get it stamped at each planet.
See you there!
Oh, and feel free to share the event poster (.pdf below). Print it and see if your school, business, dentist etc can display it.
Sky Report by Ted Gruber
Venus (magnitude -4.3) becomes visible in the southwestern sky at twilight and currently sets about 8:00pm (PDT), and around 7:00pm (PST) by mid-November when it reaches magnitude -4.6.
Jupiter (magnitude -2.6) is visible in the east-southeast at dusk, with Saturn (0.6) becoming visible west of Jupiter as the sky darkens. Saturn currently sets in the southwest about 12:30am (PDT) and Jupiter a bit before 2:00am (PDT). By mid-November, Jupiter will dim slightly to magnitude -2.4 and set just after 11:00pm (PST). Saturn will also dim slightly to magnitude 0.7 and set around 9:45pm (PST).
The moon passes about 1° north of Venus in the early evening hours of November 7. On November 10, the moon, Jupiter, and Saturn form a triangle in the southern sky, with the moon passing about 4° south of Saturn, and 4° south of Jupiter the next night.
Mercury (magnitude 0.9) appears very low above the east-southeast horizon just before sunrise in early November. The moon occults Mercury the morning of November 3, but this occultation will not be visible in the Pacific Northwest. Here there will be about 1° of separation when the pair rises about 6:30am (PDT). This conjunction should be visible for a little more than an hour until fading from view as dawn breaks, reaching about 10° above the horizon.
The Orionids meteor shower is active from September 26 to November 22, peaking the night of October 20-21. This year the predicted rate at the peak is 20 meteors per hour, but a full moon will drown out all but the brightest meteors. The shower is called the Orionids because the meteors appear to emanate from a point in the constellation Orion in the east-southeast sky. The meteors result from the debris trail left by Halley’s Comet.
The Leonids meteor shower is active from November 6 to 30. It peaks in the early morning hours of November 17 with a predicted rate of 10 meteors per hour, but as with the Orionids, a nearly full moon that night will drown out all but the brightest meteors. The shower is called the Leonids because the meteors appear to emanate from a point in the constellation Leo in the southeast sky. The Leonids result from the debris trail left by comet 55P/Temple-Tuttle.
Full (10/20), last (10/28), new (11/4), first (11/11), full (11/19), last (11/27)
Chuck Ring, founding club leader and many times club past president, and his wife, Sue, have been very active members in most FOG club activities since 1995. Sadly, they are moving to West Seattle to live closer to family after 46 years in their Kelso home.
Chuck, a career salesman, has always been FOG’s enthusiastic promoter, very personable recruiter, and community connecter. He and Sue Piper shared their common interest in astronomy at Toastmasters and started our club in spring 1995. They started with a public viewing in Feb. ’95, even before owning any telescopes. Chuck greeted all visitors at those impromptu star parties and recruited to join the club. Chuck and Sue endured icy roads and a car wreck to meet Cal Zambuto, regional Telescope maker. They enticed Carl (now nationally known mirror manufacturer) to teach a mirror grinding and telescope making class to their fledgling group of a dozen astronomy enthusiasts. World famous astrophysicist, James Dobson, Ph.D. lectured our group at Jepson’s workshop at the commissioning of 9 completed 6‘’-8’ Dobs. I joined the first official club meeting in May ’95. Since then, we have met monthly for a scientific program and enjoyed sharing our friendship and interests as astronomy hobbyists.
Chuck would frequently setup his new telescope at the Allen St. gas station on clear evenings to invite any passerby to look at the moon. Chuck and Sue always helped with the July solar Picnic, the December potluck Christmas Party and white elephant astro-gift exchange, the Earth Day FOG booth, special public viewings for lunar eclipses, transits, comets, and school events. They helped with newly started Winter Solstice Lantern Walk at Lake Sacajawea, the biennial painting of the Human Sundial at LCC with Steve Powell, Peg, Mark, Greg, or Bill, and the annual Mt. Saint Helens Star Party. Chuck enjoyed cultivating relationships with our monthly guest astronomy speakers at the pre-meeting dinners. He maintained contact with our NASA Solar System Ambassadors, Les Hastings and Greg Cermac. Chuck was passionate about outreach with Sidewalk Astronomy viewing. He was our faithful liaison with Andre Stepankowsky, The Daily News Editor, who published articles that promoted our educational public astronomy events including the 2017 Solar Eclipse. Chuck’s friendly demeanor encouraged many local astronomy aficionados to keep looking up at the starry nights. Chuck is bringing his 8” Dob to their new home. We are excited to stay connected with him through our zoom hybrid meetings. Chuck and Sue feel blessed with their 4 children and 8 grandchildren, who he says, “turned out pretty good!” They are enjoying the loving attention from their family.
But they cherish the fun that we shared in our friendship through Friends of Galileo during 26 years. Please consider corresponding with Chuck and Sue Ring in Seattle (address available to club members).
-- by Mark Thorson
Friends of Galileo
We are astronomy enthusiasts who love to learn and to share our wonder at the amazing sights right overhead.