Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Less than "one moon" until this year's Conference on Precession and Ancient Knowledge!

Waxing crescent, September 04, 2016 (looking west).

The moon is now waxing, from the very thin crescent first visible on Friday and growing thicker each night and trailing behind the sun [or moving eastwards : ) across the night sky] a little more each night.

The tenth Conference on Precession and Ancient Knowledge will commence at the next new moon, on Friday the 30th of September. So, as you watch the moon grow towards full moon and then wane towards new moon, we'll be that much closer to the conference, if you are able to attend that in southern California this year.

Either way, I hope that if at all possible you are able to observe the dazzling array of stars in our night sky in the hours after sunset and again in the hours before sunrise.

This is a special time of year when you can enjoy the lineup of Scorpio and Sagittarius and friends after sunset, and then see Orion and Taurus and friends prior to sunrise. And, the best time to do so is when the moon is still relatively less bright (the moon of course will be brightening significantly as we move towards full moon).

Below is a star chart showing the night sky after sunset, with the outlines of Scorpio and Sagittarius labeled, and the glorious band of the Milky Way rising up between them (the brightest portion of the Milky Way is found between Scorpio and Sagittarius).

These charts are depicted for a viewer in the northern hemisphere, at about latitude 35.6 north:

The stars shown above are from the free open-source planetarium app stellarium.org. Due to the way the program depicts the sky, constellations in the center and bottom of the screen seem "farthest away" and are thus shown smaller relatively-speaking to the others -- in reality, you will see that Scorpio and Sagittarius and Aquila are much larger in the night sky than they appear in the above image.

Note the planets Saturn and Mars forming a bright triangle with the red giant Antares in the heart of the Scorpion (at the point where the "delta fan" of Scorpio's "multiple heads" branch out from the sinuous serpentine body of Scorpio). This triangle will widen over the course of the month.

If at all possible, rising early to see the pre-dawn lineup of stars is well worth the effort required. You will see the breathtaking form of the giant Orion rising well above the horizon in the east by 5 am (if you can get up by 5 am or just before, you should get a fantastic display of stars). Below is the star chart showing the most noticeable constellations in the pre-dawn lineup:

I hope to see you at this year's Conference on Precession and Ancient Wisdom at the start of the next new moon!

Either way, if at all possible, I hope you have an opportunity to enjoy the dazzling panoply of constellations presently visible in the sky after sunset, and again before sunrise.