This column was provided by San Benito County resident and amateur astronomer David Baumgartner as part of a local series on astronomy.
In the last two articles, part one and part two of “I want answers,’’ we covered a number of simple interesting facts such as where are we located, the connection between our sun and Earth, and the movement between the two. Some of us, including myself, thought they were quite uninteresting, dull and commonly known facts.
After taking the time to look these facts up my thoughts were changed somewhat. Finding out I was mistaken on a few of them turned out to be embarrassing. I won’t be divulging any of them to you for there are too many, or I should say it’s too embarrassing.
So let’s see what else I can shame myself with, or even some of you out there.
My daughter Lisa and I had the pleasure of visiting Europe together, drinking beer, seeing the sights, drinking beer, went to a Foo Fighters concert in London, where we drank beer. You get the story.
Lisa instructed me on how to drink beer, something she picked up going to college in Chico. Parents, “don’t let your children grow up to be cowboys” or go to college in Chico because they’ll drink you under the table. I’m exaggerating here somewhat.
One evening we were sitting under a beautiful clear night sky with a full moon looking back at us. And for a second, just a second mind you, I thought to myself: hey, that’s the same moon we have back home in California, and I figured out that though it was night time here in Finland it was day time back home. Well, Duh.
I was thinking as if I was some caveman long ago who had no clue what it was all about. I made the mistake and told Lisa my thoughts and she said that I might want to keep those to myself.
Well, let’s see if we can figure this caveman’s clue out together. Or should I say lack of a clue.
Day and night: As the Earth spins on its access it carries us around out of sight of the sun. This is when all you can see is the night sky with stars and stuff. Now that was simple enough. Even I understood that.
In the night, you are still looking through the air or atmosphere, but it is not filled with scattered sunlight so you can see the stars. The day is the time for getting on with activities on the Earth; the night is the time for looking out into space. And for some sleeping! OK, a little tougher here, we may have lost a few of you. Just remember; when it is night time here on the West Coast it is always daytime on the opposite side of the Earth.
Evening, midnight, and morning: Looking at the diagram provided, think about you as person number one. We will call her Eve. she is standing on the part of the Earth which is just moving out of sunlight into darkness. So it is sunset for her (about 6 p.m.).
Person number three, whose name is Dawn (isn’t that cleaver?) is standing on the opposite side of the Earth. She is being carried around into view of the Sun. Other words, she is seeing the sun rise. Her time is around 6 a.m.
Person two, whose name is Middiline, is on the part of the earth that is facing straight away from the Sun. For Middiline it is midnight. She is on the outer side of the Earth as it travels along. She has the best view of the night sky.
Hope you enjoyed theses simple three part sessions, I know I did.
It is amazing what you think you understood when you really didn’t and what you really didn’t understand what you understood. Well, something like that. Next you’ll hear that they put a man on the moon. Hope you all had a great Independence Day.
What’s up there this month:
July 6: Earth is at aphelion (94.5 million miles from the Sun)
July 6: Moon passes 3° south of Saturn
July 7: Venus is at greatest brilliancy (Magnitude -4.7)
July 8: Moon passes 1.7° south of Neptune
July 9: Last Quarter Moon occurs
July 10: Mars passes 0.7° north of Regulus
July 11: Moon passes 2° north of Jupiter
July 12: Moon passes 2° north of Uranus
July 17: New Moon
July 19: Moon passes 4° north of Mercury
July 20: Moon is at apogee (252,456 miles from Earth)
July 20: Moon passes 8° north of Venus
July 20: Moon passes 3° north of Mars
July 25: First Quarter Moon
July 26: Mercury passes 5° north of Venus
July 28: Mercury passed 0.1 south of Regulus
July 30: Southern Deltas Aquariid meteor shower peaks