I live in central London. Most nights, there is just the moon that’s visible, however, this evening there is one very bright star shining in the western night sky. Does anyone have any idea what I may be looking at?
FYI, I ran a simulation using Stellarium 0.19.3 and Starry Night Pro Plus 8, set the location to London UK. For this evening, Venus is the bright object in western sky of London. At 1900 or 7:00 PM local time (or 1900 UT), Venus will be some 35 degrees altitude and 261 degrees azimuth. Venus sets at London near 2305 local time or 11:05 PM. Venus is in Aries and the waxing crescent Moon will be visible too in Aries, in the west sky, about 12 degrees below Venus. Venus is very bright, near -4.5 apparent magnitude. Stellarium and Starry Night shows the bright object is Venus --Rod
This might sound cruel, but since it is happening beyond our control, some of us suburban astronomers wouldn't mind if this pandemic at least cut down on light pollution. Apparently it is in some places. Any simulations on what effect it might have on various locations?
I am 30 miles north of Philly, and 20 years ago I could easily see the Crab Nebula, and M104 was fabulous. Now, I cannot see them at all! I have to make a 200 mile drive northwest to see anything deep sky, and this is with an 11" SCT!
There is satellite imagery floating around out there that does show a decrease in light-pollution, on average, in major urban areas around the world since Covid-19 became a real issue. Hope that helps answer your question.
Dave, using the The Bortle Dark-Sky Scale visualized in the sky & telescope link, I am in an area closer to 3.5 or so on the index. No street lights near me, open farm fields and well water too, septic. I use my telescopes (90-mm refractor and 10-inch) from these fields, legal hunting zone too--Rod
Dave, I saw your notes about the Crab using the C-11. I can see M35 in Gemini unaided eyes, M31, M41 and stars down to about 5.6 or so limiting magnitude (at higher elevation angles above 30 degrees), a bit of the Milky Way too that runs from Cygnus to Sagittarius in late summer and early fall evenings. My 10-inch and 90-mm still show M1, the Crab nebula, the 10-inch is better view though. However there is light pollution to N and W. East and south, largely rural areas and farms, Chesapeake Bay, eastern shore so much better viewing.
Thanks rod. I have seen those "dark sky site" maps before. For me, West Virginia is the closest really dark site, but north central PA is also good. It is just a pain to make that drive. You are lucky to be so dark. Jeez.....5.6 mag stars. I will keep an eye on my sky glow and see if it goes down. Right now, the weather is not helping out, and then the moon will be out. Astronomy is a hobby with lots of high points (har,har), and lots of low points (not so har, har).
In my stargazing log, I periodically check limiting magnitude stars at my location and record. On 19-Dec-2019 I observed unaided eyes and 10x50 binoculars to check. 137 Tau at or near 5.6 was visible but the star near 64 degrees altitude and 198 degrees azimuth when I checked the sky. "Observed unaided eyes 0000-0030 EST. I tested unaided eye, limiting magnitude by viewing stars near Betelgeuse in Orion and Lambda Ori. 137 Tau visible unaided eyes. I used 10x50 binoculars too for accurate star location determination."
You sure don't need to drive anywhere. And with everything coming up in the east, many things to see for you I would bet. I can still see some things naked eye, but only at high altitude. M31 is like a fuzzy football now, but only near the zenith, whereas before it was quite extensive at 45 altitude. Using my 2 inch 55 mm Space Walk Televue, I can barely make out the Ring Nebula, but it has to be almost overhead. Several years ago I tried to find M-51 in U. Major. I had seen it many times before, had not looked at it for a few years, and lately, it is gone too. I spent an hour trying to locate it, thinking my finder was off. But then realized it was all washed out. I am almost blind in the night. About $8K of prime optics, but at least I still get great views of the planets and moon.
What do you think of these Musk mini-satellites flashing all over the place. The pros in astronomy are going ballistic about these. He is "painting" them black and expects to reduce reflectivity by 90% or so, but this might not be enough when working with the VLT, the Kecks etc. Light pollution and now satellites. Wait until the skies are full of drones 24/7. May need to get out some ack-ack batteries with radar fire control!
FYI. Starlink looks like a disaster coming for stargazers. I see reports on Sky & Telescope where some show images of the sky with streaks across it. Some observatories are reporting and showing image trouble too. Concerning M51, I still can see without much of a problem from my fields. Back on 12-Mar-2019 I viewed after midnight using the smaller 90-mm and 10-inch. The 10-inch showed more and hint of spiral structure but both components visible, even in the smaller refractor. On my 90-mm refractor, I use a Telrad for quick targeting and location, works great. Perhaps we should move to a conversation or message mode if you want to discuss more on stargazing--Rod