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Old 08-09-2018, 09:17 AM   #15
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Old 08-09-2018, 10:04 AM   #16
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Hillary's 33000 delegated files?
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Old 08-09-2018, 10:08 AM   #17
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Most likely the "Evening Star". Venus. It is very bright late in the afternoon.
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Old 08-10-2018, 11:43 AM   #18
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Couldn't have been that one. Not shiny enough!
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Old 08-10-2018, 07:03 PM   #19
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Jupiter is very bright right now, visible toward the south before sunset. I saw it yesterday in a bright blue sky.
Of course, it looks even better after dark. Through a telescope.
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Old 08-14-2018, 11:00 AM   #20
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Four planets grace the evening sky right now. Starting from the southwest to the southeast: Venus (brilliant snow white), Jupiter (more cream colored) Saturn (due south, not as bright, cream colored) and Mars, southeast, quite bright, and orange/red) All four trace an arc in the southern sky which marks the ecliptic, the path the Sun Moon and Planets travel through the sky. Down and to the right of Saturn, is a bright star Antares who's name means "Rival of Mars" or "Like Mars" because it is a similar color of Mars and isn't far from the ecliptic. Fun Fact: Antares is a red giant, 300x the size of our sun.

Iridium flares can be very bright, exceeding the brightness of venus but they are from moving satellites and only last seconds. Satellites are most frequently seen just after dark because they are high enough not to be in the Earth's shadow right after dark or before dawn.

In my experience - 50+ years as an amatuer astronomer - when people ask "What's that bright thing/Star in the sky after sunset, or before sunrise, it's Venus 90% of the time. Second on the list is Jupiter. Saturn isn't bright enough to stand out that much and Mars is only strikingly bright for a few month's around opposition which only happens every other year-ish. (this year is one)

Just an additional fun fact. There's three more planets in the southern night sky; Uranus, Neptune and Pluto (yeah I know Pluto got kicked out of the planet club). If you have dark skies, good vision, and you know where to look Uranus can be seen naked eye, Neptune takes at least binoculars, and Pluto a decent sized telescope.

Just for giggles, if you own binoculars check out Jupiter. If you hold the binos steady, you can see Jupiter's 4 moons. They change position from night to night. The innermost moon Io, moves fast enough you can see it shift position in an evening's time. If you only see three or more rarely two, it's because the moons travel in front of, or behind Jupiter disappearing from view. You might be able to see the phase of Venus which is a half disk as of mid August. It will be getting brighter, larger, and closer to the Sun in the next couple months and the phase will change to an ever thinning crescent.

One trick to know if a bright object is a star or a planet is most of the time, planets don't twinkle unless they are low in the sky. Stars are immeasurably small points of light so any turbulence in the atmosphere causes the light to bend back and forth a little which makes the twinkle. The brighter planets are tiny disks whose diameters in the sky most of the time, exceeds the angle the light bends, hence they rarely twinkle.

Ok, kids. That's your astronomy lesson for the day. Your homework now is to use what you've learned to observe the four bright planets in the evening skies of August 2018, and be ready for a pop quiz.
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Old 08-14-2018, 11:20 AM   #21
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Hi Tom! Thanks for the lesson!



Is there any way to tell from the coordinates that I gave what is likely to be in that position from my location?
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Old 08-14-2018, 05:13 PM   #22
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What is your location? I can enter it into my sky software and see what's in that area. I'm in the Northwest corner of the Cont US which puts the planets pretty low in the sky here. Saturn is at the right azimuth right after sunset, about 163az, but altitude for me is only 18 degrees. It would be higher for someone in the southern US. From the latitude of San Francisco, it would be pretty close to 30 degrees alt. The thing is, Saturn isn't that bright. It's brighter than other stars in the area for sure, but you'd be way more likely to have Jupiter or Venus catch your eye but they are more west. Jupiter at about 210az and Venus at 250. Mars is low in the southeast at about 140az after sunset. Venus has a color that looks like aircraft landing lights or the sun glinting off a polished metallic surface. The brightest star in that part of the sky I mentioned before is Antares and is between Jupiter and Saturn at about 187az.

If you have a smartphone or tablet you can use free planetarium software. Google Sky Map for android, and SkyView for either Android or ios. Using the software you can hold your phone up and it'll show you a map of what's up in that direction. Bright stars and planets will have labels.

There really aren't any satellites that would be that bright and stationary. Geo sync satellites are big, but are much farther out in orbit than regular satellites so are visually faint. Depending on the angle, iridium flares can appear almost motionless and can get very bright, but only last seconds. I'm on the flight path for a major international airport and distant approaching planes can be bright and appear stationary at a distance but only for a few minutes. Same with the International Space station. Bright and can appear stationary for a short period as it crests the horizon but at 30 degrees altitude it would be obviously moving.

If it was one of the planets, or a bright star, it'll be there every night only changing positions over many days. From now on Mars will be rising earlier, and Venus, Jupiter and Saturn setting sooner.

If you only saw it one night then I'm stumped. I don't really know of anything that would be bright, stationary for more than a few minutes, and only visible one night.

Hope this helps.
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Old 08-14-2018, 05:33 PM   #23
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You realize that you live in a town with a big ole airbase. Something probably just fell off!
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