Night Sky Course Spring 2015 – Notes from the last Session

MVNSC: Mississippi Valley Night Sky Conservation: Post Spring 2015 Lecture Notes

Night Sky Observations: May 8 , 17,  and June 7:

May 8 2015 21:00 EDT:

Sky Conditions: Sucker Holes

Sucker Hole:  A clear patch of sky where you point  your telescope only to discover that when you look through the eyepiece, all you see is cloud…

For a similar experience see last year’s report: We stayed ‘close to home’ and set up just inside the gates at the Mill of Kintail and observed with the following telescopes:

Aperture Focal Length Telescope Type
6″ F/8 Dobsonian Reflector
8″ F/6 Stargazer Steve Ultimate (Portable) Reflector
76mm or3″ F/9.2 SkyWatcher Reflector
8″ F/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain on tracking mount

We had a good look at planets Venus and Jupiter. We discovered that Venus had a definite phase – like the moon. Jupiter and the outer planets – not perceptible. Since the sky was not clear, we were confined to our solar system as the planets peeked in and out from behind the clouds.

One question that came up was: Why do we see a phase on Venus, but not on an outer planet like Jupiter or Saturn?

See :

In fact, we can bid farewell to Venus in the next month as it slides into inferior conjunction – image courtesy Sky News


Speaking of Saturn, it is also appearing low in the sky because for Saturn to be visible in our night sky, it is opposite the Sun … and the Sun is climbing higher and higher as we approach Summer Solstice!. Here’s the location for June 8 around 10pm


saturnCloseImages- courtesy Stellarium software.

On our last session, we were also wondering…

  • Is the South Galactic Pole visible (from our Latitude)?
  • Does the Celestial South Pole have a prominent star like Polaris?

For the answers to these questions