Star Gazer January 2018

Star Gazer January 2018

Schoonover Observatory 670 N. Jefferson Street, Lima, Ohio 45801

Mailing Address: Lima Astronomical Society, Box 201, Lima, OH 45802

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The Star Gazer is written by Sherry Cottle Graham. Please forward comments, suggestions, or to unsubscribe/subscribe to this newsletter to

January 5, 2018 Meeting starts at 8:00 P.M. at the Schoonover Observatory

Presentation: “Jupiter” hosted by Michael Ritchie

Under the Dome


Winter Celebration InvitationWhen: February 17th, 2018   Where: Lima Elks Club, 302 West North Street, Lima, Ohio Time: 6:30 PM.  Please mark your calendars and plan to attend our Winter Party.  We will send out more information to you as it becomes available. It will be a fun event and we hope that you will join us.

Lima Astronomical News

Schoonover Observatory now has a Camera

The MallinCam video camera has been received by Michael Ritchie. He also purchased a 25 ft USB cable for it which is needed to connect it to a computer. He stated that it has a universal 5X reducer lens and a spacer. The reducer will get the C-14 down to a focal ration of 5.5. Michael brought it into the last meeting to show the members what it looks like. The company gave him a discount since he had purchased the same camera for his personal use which was good news to the members.

Michael explained how it has a steep learning curve so many of the LAS members are anxious to down load its user’s guide. This guide is 181 pages long and Michael has already printed his copy and is actively learning how to use this camera. He explained how this is the current trend of many companies – to place their documentation online for downloading.

The members are anxious to link this new video camera into the HD television, so sky tours will be available to the pubic inside the main meeting room.

GoDaddy Website

We have experience a few technical difficulties with the GoDaddy Webhosting site. It seems that they have purged our content and they cannot recover it. Therefore, the members voted to move it to Eugene McCall’s hosting site for the time being for free. This will enable the society to keep this up to date and to avoid a few issues that they were experiencing with GoDaddy.

Lima Allen Country Convention and Visitors Bureau

David Humphreys is working with Tina Koester, Lima/Allen County Convention and Visitors Bureau, to give her our contact information that will be posted in their brochure. This brochure is printed very two years. We will include our location, contacts, Limaastro.Com website, and Facebook page.

Board Vacancy Announced

The secretary’s position is now open. Sherry Graham submitted her resignation to the board last month. If you are interested in helping the community and getting involved with the observatory and its ongoing activities, now is the perfect opportunity to help by submitting your name to fill this vacancy. You can do this by seeing David Humphreys, Michael Ritchie, or Eugene McCall.

What do “We” get for being a LAS Member

Dave Humphreys asked the attendees, “What do we get for being a member of LAS?” The answers were intriguing. These were the answers. We get public outreach (teaching), fellowship, having access to technology, being a part of the community, sharing a hobby, programs (talks), access to professional equipment, availability to equipment, knowledge of current astronomical events, and learning. This is truly a benefit, especially when you received your Key Membership (certification) and have access to use the main telescope whenever the sky calls to you.

There are other benefits that are always popping up from time-to-time. These include receiving discounts to magazines, membership to other clubs (ie. Astro League), field trips, star gazing parties, and fun get togethers. If you like to get involved with the local youth, this is a perfect way to get into the schools to host a presentation on astronomy. David Humphreys and Michael Ritchie are diligently working to enhance our involvement with our local leadership, community activities (including parks and scouts), and area schools.


General Meetings for 2018 are on Friday’s starting at 8:00 P.M.

Winter Celebration is February 17th , 2018 starting at 6:30 P.M. at the Lima Elks Club

Michael Ritchie is working on the yearly calendar for this year’s activities.

50th Anniversary of the Apollo Lunar Landing, May 4th, 2019 at the Neil Armstrong Airport.

Night Out at the Neil Armstrong Museum, May 19th, 2019.


Astronomical Events Calendar

  • January 1– Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation. The planet Mercury reaches greatest western elongation of 22.7 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the morning sky. Look for the planet low in the eastern sky just before sunrise.
  • January 2– Full Moon, Supermoon. The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 02:24 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Wolf Moon because this was the time of year when hungry wolf packs howled outside their camps. This moon has also been know as the Old Moon and the Moon After Yule. This is also the first of two supermoons for 2018. The Moon will be at its closest approach to the Earth and may look slightly larger and brighter than usual.
  • January 3, 4– Quadrantids Meteor Shower. The Quadrantids is an above average shower, with up to 40 meteors per hour at its peak. It is thought to be produced by dust grains left behind by an extinct comet known as 2003 EH1, which was discovered in 2003. The shower runs annually from January 1-5. It peaks this year on the night of the 3rd and morning of the 4th. Unfortunately the nearly full moon will block out all but the brightest meteors this year. If you are patient, you should still be able to catch some of the brightest ones. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Bootes, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
  • January 17– New Moon. The Moon will located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 02:17 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
  • January 31– Full Moon, Supermoon, Blue Moon. The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 13:27 UTC. Since this is the second full moon in the same month, it is sometimes referred to as a blue moon. This is also the last of two supermoons for 2018. The Moon will be at its closest approach to the Earth and may look slightly larger and brighter than usual.
  • January 31– Total Lunar Eclipse. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes completely through the Earth’s dark shadow, or umbra. During this type of eclipse, the Moon will gradually get darker and then take on a rusty or blood red color. The eclipse will be visible throughout most of western North America, eastern Asia, Australia, and the Pacific Ocean. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)
  • February 15– New Moon. The Moon will located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 21:05 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
  • February 15– Partial Solar Eclipse. A partial solar eclipse occurs when the Moon covers only a part of the Sun, sometimes resembling a bite taken out of a cookie. A partial solar eclipse can only be safely observed with a special solar filter or by looking at the Sun’s reflection. This partial eclipse will only be visible in parts of Chile, Argentina, and Antarctica. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)

In the News

Rare Lunar Eclipse of a “blue moon” on January 31st, 2018

Supermoon 2018: When and How to See January’s Two Full Moons

January 01, 2018 | Article

January is a very special month for lunar observers: The first month of 2018 will feature two full moons and a total lunar eclipse, or “blood moon.”

The January full moon is traditionally called the Full Wolf Moon in the Northern Hemisphere, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. In 2018, it occurs on Jan. 1 at 9:24 p.m. EST (0224 GMT). [Note: In Europe and Asia, the full moon occurs Jan. 2 due to time zone differences.]  Moonrise in New York City that day is at 4:34 p.m. local time, just a few minutes before sunset which happens at 4:39 p.m. So the Wolf moon will briefly share the sky with the sun, though you’ll need a view of a relatively flat, unobscured horizon to see it happen.

January’s full moon will also occur just hours after the moon reaches perigee, its closest point to Earth in its monthly orbit, making it a so-called supermoon. At its closest point on Jan. 1, the moon will be 221,559 miles (356,565 kilometers) from Earth. On average, the moon is about 238,000 miles (382,900 km) from Earth, though its orbit is not perfectly circular. For more on the Jan. 1 supermoon, read our full guide:

Supermoon 2018: When and How to See January’s Two Full Moons

The Wolf Moon rises

The Wolf moon (when it reaches full phase) will be in the constellation Gemini, according to, roughly along a line between Pollux (Beta Geminorum) and Betelgeuse (Alpha Orionis). The moon is so bright that it will make the deep sky objects nearby — the Orion nebula, for example — a bit harder to see if the sky isn’t perfectly clear.

An interesting artifact of celestial motions is that on that first full moon night, none of the traditional naked-eye planets — Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter or Saturn — will be visible at all from the northeastern U.S. when the moon reaches full phase. Mars and Jupiter don’t rise in New York City until the morning of Jan. 2 at 2:54 a.m. and 3:04 a.m. local time, respectively, and Saturn doesn’t poke above the horizon until 6:37 a.m., just about 42 minutes before sunrise.

That second full moon has also been dubbed a “supermoon” — a full moon that roughly coincides with perigee, the point in the moon’s orbit when it is closest to Earth. In January the moon reaches perigee on the night of Jan. 30, and reaches peak fullness on the night of Jan. 31.

The moon’s distance from Earth can vary a bit because the orbit isn’t perfectly circular, so even though the average distance is 238,855 miles (384,400 kilometers) on Jan. 30 it will be only 221,559 miles (356,565 kilometers) away. On average, the apparent size of the moon in the sky is about 0.5 degrees across, or about 31 arcminutes. (Check out’s guide to measuring distances on the sky for more information.) During this supermoon, though, our lunar neighbor will be 33.51 arcminutes across, or 0.56 degrees. As a result, it will appear 11 percent larger than an average full moon. For most skywatchers, that difference is difficult to see.

The month’s second full moon, on Jan. 31, will feature a total lunar eclipse, or a “blood moon.”. If you live in the western U.S., Hawaii, or the Eastern half of Asia, you’ll see the moon turn blood-red as it enters the deepest parts of the Earth’s shadow during the eclipse. A total lunar eclipse is one where the moon passes through the central region of the shadow of the Earth, which describes a cone that stretches away from the sun. At other times the moon only passes through the shadow partway, and that’s a partial lunar eclipse.

During a total lunar eclipse, the surface of the moon appears to turn red because red light that passes through the Earth’s atmosphere is bent; the atmosphere is acting like a lens. In addition, red light is scattered less than blue. So the red light makes it through and shines on the lunar surface, even though the moon is in shadow. This is the same mechanism that makes sunsets look red – at sunset the sun’s light has to pass through more of the Earth’s air and the shorter-wavelength blue parts of the spectrum are scattered away.

Some places on Earth will feature a spectacular view of the blood moon rising or setting on the day of the eclipse. Observers on the East Coast of the U.S. on Jan. 31 won’t get that — the moon will only just be entering the darker part of the Earth’s shadow when it sets at 7:04 a.m. in New York City. (Fullness occurs at 8:26 a.m. local time in New York, but the moon will be out of view then). On the other hand, if you are in Chicago, the eclipse will reach its maximum at 6:56 a.m. local time, and the moon will be setting at 7:03 a.m. As one moves west, the eclipse happens earlier in the evening, and by the time one reaches Hawaii the entire eclipse is visible well before the moon sets (at 7:19 a.m. local time in Honolulu).

If you live in Moscow or locations roughly on a northwest-to-southeastern line from there, the moon will be emerging from the Earth’s shadow as it rises. This line marks the “terminator” of the Earth – the line between the day side and night side. (It’s not straight north-south because the Earth is tilted on its axis).

In Moscow, moonrise is at 5:01 p.m. local time and the moon will still look red for another six minutes. Moving southeast to Karachi, the view is better; at 6:13 p.m. local time the moon rises, and it reaches the maximum eclipse at 6:29 p.m., making for some spectacular photo-ops.

Click for pictures …

The Brightest Planets in January’s Night Sky: How to See them (and When)

By Joe Rao, Skywatching Columnist | January 1, 2018 07:26am ET

As the New Year opens, we find the evening sky completely devoid of any bright planets. All of the action takes place well after the witching hour of midnight, but there is a lot to be seen early in the month for those who set their alarm clocks and rise before the sun. Jupiter and Mars come up over the east-southeast horizon by 3 a.m. and are near to each other for the first half of the month; interacting closely with each other with a tight conjunction on the morning of the 7th. We must wait until after the break of dawn to catch Saturn, very low near the east-southeast horizon during the second week of January, but it too will have a companion: Mercury; interesting how the speedy messenger of the gods will have a meeting with the slow-moving god of time on the morning of the 13th.

The only planet completely out of the loop is the one that usually dominates all the others: Venus. But she is in the midst of making a slow transition from the morning to the evening sky and will not return for viewing until next month.

In our schedule, remember that when measuring the angular separation between two celestial objects, your clenched fist held at arm’s length measures roughly 10-degrees. Here, we present a schedule below which provides some of the best planet viewing times as well directing you as to where to look to see them.


On Monday, January 1, Mercury will reach its greatest angle west of the sun, when it will be visible low in the eastern sky for about an hour before sunrise. In a telescope the planet will exhibit a waxing gibbous phase. With Mercury well above a shallow morning ecliptic (green line), this apparition is a good one for northern hemisphere observers, but a poor one for observers in the southern hemisphere.

Mercury – Mercury stands at greatest elongation (23-degrees west of the sun) on New Year’s Day. During the first week of the New Year, as seen from mid-northern latitudes, this speedy zero magnitude planet rises in the southeast before morning twilight begins. This favorable circumstance will not recur until December 2018. Mercury can be easily followed with the naked eye until about the 15th (passing a dimmer Saturn along the way on the 13th) and then as it sinks back into the increasingly bright twilight glow, you can then track it with binoculars for perhaps another week.


Venus is hidden from view until well after solar conjunction on January 9. The best opportunities to see Venus during January are in the last few evenings of the month, when it will start to emerge from the twilight in the west-southwestern evening sky.

Venus – remains hidden in the Sun’s glare all month, reaching superior conjunction (passing behind the sun) on Jan. 9th. It will reappear very low in the sunset in February.


Earth – will be closest to the sun for the year at 1:00 a.m. EST; a distance of 91,401,983 miles. We are 3.3 percent closer to the sun than we will be when the Earth is at aphelion next July 6th.


In January, look for Mars and Jupiter in the predawn sky.

Mars – now appears respectively bright at magnitude +1.4. By the end of the month it brightens to +1.2, because the Earth edges 25,563,000 miles closer to it during January. Through a small telescope, the red planet is still a tiny featureless blob; you would need a 14-inch telescope magnifying at 360-power to make Mars appear as large as the full moon does to the unaided eye. Check out the southeast sky at around 5:30 a.m. on the 7th, for Mars passing only 0.2-degrees south of Jupiter, and then on the 11th for a view of an isosceles triangle formed by the waning crescent moon, brilliant Jupiter (magnitude -1.9) and orange-yellow Mars.


Bright Jupiter continues to climb the eastern pre-dawn sky during January, slowly moving eastward through central Libra. On Saturday, January 6, Mars will pass very close to Jupiter. On both Saturday and Sunday morning, observers in the Americas will see the two planets separated by about 0.33 degrees (less than a full moon’s diameter). A few mornings later on Thursday, January 11, the waning crescent moon will join Jupiter and Mars. All three objects will fit within the field of view of binoculars. Galilean moon shadow transits occur frequently during January, including several double shadow events.

Jupiter – spends the first half of January in the company of Mars. On the morning of the 7th it engages with Mars in what the Observer’s Handbook of the Royal Astronomical of Canada describes as a “splendid dawn conjunction.” The best time this month to observe Jupiter with a telescope is in morning twilight when the atmospheric seeing is often excellent, but even then it is not very high in the southeast for observers at mid-northern latitudes.


Low in the southeastern pre-dawn sky of Monday, January 15, the old moon’s very thin crescent can be glimpsed sitting three degrees to the left of Mercury. Meanwhile, Saturn will be positioned three degrees to the upper right of Mercury. All three objects will fit into the field of view of binoculars.

Saturn – begins its 2018 apparition about 10 days or so into the New Year. Using binoculars during the second week of January, see how soon you can spot Saturn to the lower left of Mercury at the southeast horizon about an hour before sunrise. On the morning of the 13th it is 0.7-degrees to the upper left of Mercury, but appears only half as bright. The very next morning, about an hour before sunrise, look for a very narrow crescent moon (6 percent illuminated) low in the southeast sky and about 6 to 8-degrees to its lower left will be Saturn and Mercury.


Mission Statement

Mission Statement: To promote knowledge of astronomy and science (in general) for the residents in and around our community.

Membership Renewals for 2018 year are now due. Please send your checks toLima Astronomical Society, Box 201, Lima, OH 45802.  The price is: Student $15: Individual $20: Family $25: Life Time $300.

End of Star gazer