West Seattle sky-watch updates: ‘Northern Lights’ a local no-show

September 12, 2014 at 8:37 pm | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 63 Comments

(Embed removed for technical difficulties – see map here)

Our “Skies Over West Seattle” correspondent Alice Enevoldsen says tonight brings the best chance in years of aurorae – “Northern Lights” – in our area, so now that it’s dark, we’re starting a sky watch. Above, a map Alice made overnight with suggested West Seattle-area viewing spots, if you can’t just hit the road and drive away from the city.

9:04 PM: From Alice via Twitter:

9:30 PM: Tweeted by Patrick:

10:41 PM: Hope is fading, Alice tweets:

We’ll be watching for a while longer, just in case.

12:58 AM: No miraculous appearance, so far as we can tell, combing Twitter (and elsewhere) for reports, and checking comments. (Alice tweeted about an hour ago that she’d seen some meteors, though. A clear sky always has SOMETHING worth watching.)

5:32 AM: We’ve been up all night but no sign of major Northern Lights (as commenters from all over the region were saying, too). Maybe tonight? We’ll be watching, again.

Update: Aurora or no aurora? We’re checking with Alice – who’s made a ‘where to watch’ map

September 11, 2014 at 9:40 pm | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 17 Comments

You’ve probably heard about the big solar flare, and the possibility it’ll bring the “Northern Lights,” aka aurora. Since we are lucky to be able to work with expert skywatcher, Solar System Ambassador, and Skies Over West Seattle correspondent Alice Enevoldsen, we’re keeping in touch with her (and you can also find her on Twitter) – so far, the prospects aren’t clear, though the sky is. Her recommended info-source currently isn’t showing it getting this far south, but things can change, so keep checking (we will, too).

1:39 AM: If you’re interested, hope you were following along in comments – Alice will be checking again for tomorrow. And in the meantime, she’s come up with recommendations of best potential viewing spots in West Seattle, and mapped them

(embed removed for technical difficulties – follow that link to see the map)

(If you are a longtime WSB’er, you might remember Alice’s mapmaking back during the December 2008 “snowpocalypse,” years before the city finally started mapping plowed/not-plowed routes itself!)

FRIDAY AFTERNOON: Looking promising for tonight, according to some numbers Alice forwarded. We’ll take a separate, more extensive look when it gets closer to nightfall.

Skies Over West Seattle, September 2014 edition: MAVEN near Mars; equinox ahead; ‘what’s that, up there?’ and more

September 9, 2014 at 11:19 pm | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ever wish for advance alert of an upcoming meteor shower/eclipse/etc. – and/or wonder “What’s that bright ‘star’ up there?” This should help. It’s our periodic feature by West Seattle’s own Solar System Ambassador Alice Enevoldsen, famed for her solstice/equinox sunset watches, among other things.

(WSB photo: Last year’s fall-equinox sunset at Solstice Park)
By Alice Enevoldsen
Special to West Seattle Blog

Although we still have some summer weather yet to go, I’ve started to notice the leaves begin to change, so get your cameras ready.

This month we have the fall equinox and associated Sunset Watch at Solstice Park (Monday, September 22), and we have just seen the Supermoon bringing in higher-than-usual and slightly-low tides these past two days.

Hey, what’s that?

Just before the Sun rises, you’ll be unable to miss Jupiter shining low in the East.

Click to read the rest of Skies Over West Seattle, September 2014 edition: MAVEN near Mars; equinox ahead; ‘what’s that, up there?’ and more…

Skies Over West Seattle, August 2014: ‘Supermoon’ tonight, meteors this week…

August 10, 2014 at 6:38 pm | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 8 Comments

(Saturday moonrise by Christopher Frankovich)
EDITOR’S NOTE: Ever wish for advance alert of an upcoming meteor shower/eclipse/etc. – and/or wonder “What’s that bright ‘star’ up there?” This should help. It’s our periodic feature by West Seattle’s own Solar System Ambassador Alice Enevoldsen, famed for her solstice/equinox sunset watches, among other things.

By Alice Enevoldsen
Special to West Seattle Blog

It is time for the Perseid Meteor Shower… and another Supermoon! Let’s get started.

Hey, what’s that?

Mars, Spica, and Saturn — Last time I said you’d notice a pair of stars just after sunset, one of which was Mars (a planet, not a star) and the other, Spica. Tonight as you look up, Mars will have moved off to the South a bit and is now about halfway between Saturn and Spica. Toward the end of the month Mars will be even closer to Saturn, making a striking pairing of planets.

Morning people? Venus is a brilliant morning “star” this month, rising shortly before the Sun in the East. Wow. I saw it this morning for the first time this season (I am NOT a morning person. Just ask my Mom) and I thought it was an airplane it was so bright.

You may also have seen a few awe-inspiring shooting stars in the early evening or early morning. These are the earlybirds of the Perseid meteor shower, called earth grazers because of how they glance through our atmosphere making a long, bright trail.

Perseids!!!

The Perseid Meteor Shower is one of the brightest and most fun meteor showers to view, because it is on a comfortable summer night and is traditionally a fairly dense shower with lots of shooting stars (meteors).

Click to read the rest of Skies Over West Seattle, August 2014: ‘Supermoon’ tonight, meteors this week……

West Seattle skygazing: ‘Supermoon’ tonight; meteors soon

August 10, 2014 at 4:19 am | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 9 Comments

Thanks to “Diver Laura” James for that photo of the nearly full moon, on its way to what’s likely to be another beautiful morning moonset. It’ll be another “supermoon” when it rises again tonight (Sunday) at 8:13 pm, not long before sunset (the official sun/moon rising/setting times can always be found on the WSB West Seattle Weather page). And then Monday-Tuesday, as noted in the most recent “Skies Over West Seattle” report by WSB contributor Alice Enevoldsen, watch for the Perseid meteor shower – if clouds don’t get in the way.

Skies Over West Seattle, midsummer edition: Meteors on the way

July 24, 2014 at 7:33 pm | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 10 Comments

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ever wish for advance alert of an upcoming meteor shower/eclipse/etc. – and/or wonder “What’s that bright ‘star’ up there?” This should help. It’s our periodic feature by West Seattle’s own Solar System Ambassador Alice Enevoldsen, famed for her solstice/equinox sunset watches, among other things.

By Alice Enevoldsen
Special to West Seattle Blog

Happy summer, everyone! I, like many, did not enjoy our recent heat wave. I’m Seattleite to my bones, and temperatures outside 50-80°F send me searching desperately for relief. Lucky us, hot days make for comfortable stargazing nights. You’ll often hear me advocate for the winter skies, because they’re so pristine (whenever we can see the stars through the clouds), and the long nights give you lots of things to see. The benefit to summer skies is that you don’t have to bundle up, and you’re probably thrilled to spend an hour or two with an excuse to just relax in the cool night air, and we do (believe it or not) have more clear nights in summer.

Hey, what’s that?

Mars and Spica — This pair, a star and a planet, have been giving us quite a show every night in the West as soon as it begins to get dark, around 10 pm. If you’ve seen something in the sky and wondered what it was, I’m betting it is these two. Spica is a brilliant white, and Mars has a blush of a tan or salmon color to it.

You may be inexperienced at noticing the different colors of the stars, so this is a perfect chance to push yourself a little further. Go out tonight – if we get a break in the clouds – and look at this pairing. First, just try to decide if they appear to be the same color or different colors. Then, keep observing and start thinking about what you would name those two different colors. Try looking away at some other stars and then bringing your eyes back.

Another major difference to watch for in the pair is that Spica will twinkle, and Mars will not. Planets don’t twinkle (an easy way to remember this is that the song doesn’t go “Twinkle, twinkle little planet …”).

Click to read the rest of Skies Over West Seattle, midsummer edition: Meteors on the way…

Watching summer’s first sunset at Solstice Park with Ambassador Alice

June 22, 2014 at 12:49 pm | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

(Photo by Jeff Johnson)
If you missed watching the first sunset of summer at West Seattle’s Solstice Park on Saturday night with NASA Solar System Ambassador Alice Enevoldsen – you can try for a similar view tonight (the earth and sun haven’t moved that much), though it’ll be minus Alice:

(This photo and next by Eric Bell)
A crowd that peaked around 100 came to the little park upslope from the tennis courts across from north Lincoln Park for what turned out to be a glorious sunset (understatement!):

The big attraction at Solstice Park, enhancing its Sound-and-mountains view, is fourfold – four pathways, each lining up with what should be the perfect sunset view on either winter or summer solstice or spring or fall equinox.

(This and all following photos by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
Alice asked everyone to take turns viewing via the summer-solstice-aligned path.

Then, once the sun had made its way behind the Olympic Mountains, it was time for her solstice explanation. As usual, she enlisted volunteers to help demonstrate what actually happens with the sun and earth at the solstice moment.

A second Solar System Ambassador, Dave from Lake City, offered some astronomy info too:

Here’s another gratuitous sunset shot:

And Alice shared some big news – including how thrilled she is to have an article coming up in Sky and Telescope Magazine, about stargazing with small children:

You’ll find it in the August edition, out next month. Alice also promises another of her periodic “Skies Over West Seattle” reports for WSB in July. Her own astronomy-info-filled website is at alicesastroinfo.com.

P.S. Pam at Nerd’s Eye View has published her take on Solstice Sunset View ’14 – see it here.

Skies Over West Seattle: Eclipse on the way, as stargazing-friendly weather returns

April 7, 2014 at 3:46 pm | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ever wish for advance alert of an upcoming meteor shower/eclipse/etc. – and/or wonder “What’s that bright ‘star’ up there?” This should help. It’s our periodic feature by West Seattle’s own Solar System Ambassador Alice Enevoldsen, famed for her solstice/equinox sunset watches, among other things.

By Alice Enevoldsen
Special to West Seattle Blog

We’re getting into stargazing weather again, and the Sun’s been active this week, leading to tantalizing chances for aurorae – though I haven’t actually seen one. That’s not what’s most exciting about this month, though: This month we will have a total lunar eclipse, and (depending on the weather) the entire thing will be visible from West Seattle.

Lunar eclipse quick facts:


(Diagram by Fred Espenak via MrEclipse.com, licensed via Creative Commons)
Date: The night of Monday April 14, 2014 to early morning on Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Time: 10:58 pm-2:33 am

The Cool Part: 12:07 am-1:25 am

What is a lunar eclipse?

Click to read the rest of Skies Over West Seattle: Eclipse on the way, as stargazing-friendly weather returns…

Skies Over West Seattle: Sneak peek at what you’ll see this year

February 2, 2014 at 5:53 pm | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ever wish for advance alert of an upcoming meteor shower/eclipse/etc. – and/or wonder “What’s that bright ‘star’ up there?” – especially on these recent clear nights? Here you go! It’s our periodic feature by West Seattle’s own Solar System Ambassador Alice Enevoldsen, famous for her solstice/equinox sunset watches among other things.

(December 2011 lunar eclipse, photographed by David Hutchinson – more on the way!)
By Alice Enevoldsen
Special to West Seattle Blog

It finally cleared up a bit recently for the first time since December and got me thinking about what’s coming up for the year. So here I present for you an overview of what to watch for in 2014.

Right Now: Nova in M82

There’s another nova in our sky right now, though it is extremely difficult to see from the city, even with an amateur telescope. “Nova” classically means ‘new star,’ though nowadays we know that these so-called ‘new’ stars are just brightening of stars that were there before. This one, SN2014J, has apparently peaked in brightness, and is a telescope-only object. It’s in the galaxy M82, conveniently located off the tip of the bowl of the Big Dipper. If you plan on looking for it, leave the city.

All Year: Sun & Aurora, Saturn & the Moon

Don’t be worried, I’m not asking you to read that NASA graph in detail.

We have just passed the maximum of this 11-year solar cycle, so we can expect less and less activity on the Sun as time passes. Funny thing though, some of the biggest solar flares happen in the few months after solar max. Those amazing flares can, in turn, lead to aurorae on Earth as far south as Seattle, as well as significantly farther: even Colorado & New Mexico.

Click to read the rest of Skies Over West Seattle: Sneak peek at what you’ll see this year…

Winter’s first night begins! Alice Enevoldsen’s West Seattle solstice sunset watch

December 21, 2013 at 6:55 pm | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

The first night of winter is here – and as has happened for almost every change of seasons since fall 2009, West Seattle’s NASA Solar System Ambassador Alice Enevoldsen (above left) was at Solstice Park for the new season’s first sunset. The sun didn’t show up this time (it did last year!), but no one minded much. Alice led a participatory demonstration, showing how the earth’s axis tilts away from the sun this time of year.

Alice writes “Skies Over West Seattle” for WSB (here’s the most recent edition) and has long kept her own informative site, Alice’s Astro Info. On the first sunset after solstice or equinox, she presides over an educational, entertaining gathering at the park, so if you haven’t gone to one yet, consider marking your calendar for the spring equinox – March 20, 2014.

Skies Over West Seattle, almost-winter edition: Look, up there!

December 6, 2013 at 4:51 pm | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 7 Comments

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ever wish for advance alert of an upcoming meteor shower/eclipse/etc. – and/or wonder “What’s that bright ‘star’ up there?” – especially on these recent clear nights? Here you go! It’s our periodic feature by West Seattle’s own Solar System Ambassador Alice Enevoldsen, famous for her solstice/equinox sunset watches among other things.

By Alice Enevoldsen
Special to West Seattle Blog

Well, it has been quite a cloudy fall, so not so much to see, but as we move into winter, we get some blazingly clear skies inbetween the clouds. The colder it is, the more dazzling our skies.

Hey! What’s That?

In the Southwest just before and after sunset: Venus

High in the East a while after sunset, and climbing higher through the night: Jupiter

Rising Southeast later at night: Sirius, brightest star in the night sky. It will twinkle so much you’ll think it is an airplane flashing its lights at you.

Click to read the rest of Skies Over West Seattle, almost-winter edition: Look, up there!…

Skies Over West Seattle, September 2013 edition: ‘Fall is packed’ with Comet ISON and more

September 8, 2013 at 9:39 pm | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ever wish for advance alert of an upcoming meteor shower/eclipse/etc. – and/or wonder “What’s that bright ‘star’ up there?” Here you go! It’s our monthly feature by West Seattle’s own Solar System Ambassador Alice Enevoldsen, famous for her solstice/equinox sunset watches among other things.

(Moon and Venus at dusk tonight; photo shared by Greg, over Weather Watch Park)

By Alice Enevoldsen
Special to West Seattle Blog

Welcome to fall! Fall is packed: Rocket launches to the Moon and Mars (both unmanned spacecraft); Comet ISON, which is being bid as the Comet of the Century—maybe, lots of very bright stars, and a sunset watch. Whew. Read on.

Hey! What’s That?

In the W just after sunset: Venus or Saturn

Click to read the rest of Skies Over West Seattle, September 2013 edition: ‘Fall is packed’ with Comet ISON and more…

Skies Over West Seattle, special edition: New star to look for

August 18, 2013 at 10:02 am | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Something new has turned up since Alice’s August edition of “Skies Over West Seattle!)


(Image © 2013 Alice & Jason Enevoldsen)

By Alice Enevoldsen
Special to West Seattle Blog

There is a new star this week in the tiny constellation Delphinus. It should be visible from West Seattle again tonight, but it has already begun to dim down, so by Monday you’ll likely need a pair of binoculars or a telescope to see it.

Before I explain more details, I’d like to set up your expectations. This may be the dimmest star you have ever tried to find. It won’t be the dimmest star you’ve ever seen, but I can’t think of another time that those of you who aren’t amateur astronomers will have looked for something this dim.

Above is an image I took the day it was found, that works decently well as a map of where you ought to look. You can see more images on my blog.

Finding the Nova

Click to read the rest of Skies Over West Seattle, special edition: New star to look for…

Skies Over West Seattle, August 2013: Meteor shower on the way

August 4, 2013 at 9:47 pm | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 7 Comments

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ever wish for advance alert of an upcoming meteor shower/eclipse/etc. – and/or wonder “What’s that bright ‘star’ up there?” Here you go! It’s our monthly feature by West Seattle’s own Solar System Ambassador Alice Enevoldsen, famous for her solstice/equinox sunset watches among other things.

By Alice Enevoldsen
Special to West Seattle Blog

August might be your peak month for stargazing, depending on the time you have available. Whatever your reason for finding time to view the beautiful August skies, take advantage of it, and don’t miss the Perseid meteor shower next weekend. The only thing working against you is the late sunsets and early sunrises. First:

Hey! What’s That?

Venus – in the W just after sunset
Saturn – medium-low in the SW after sunset
Arcuturus – high in the W
Jupiter – low in the E before sunrise
Capella – low in the NE after midnight

Let’s talk about Aurorae (“Northern Lights”)

I’ve been tweeting very wishy-washy Aurora alerts over the last couple months. I wish I could be more specific for you, but the Aurora is one of those sky phenomena that is less predictable – just like comets.

The Aurora is so unpredictable is because it is caused by an interaction between the Earth’s magnetic field and the solar wind.

Click to read the rest of Skies Over West Seattle, August 2013: Meteor shower on the way…

Skies Over West Seattle update: ‘Northern Lights’ alert right now

June 28, 2013 at 11:30 pm | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 8 Comments

(Photo by Jason Ayres Gift Enevoldsen – click image for larger view)
11:30 PM: Just got word from Alice Enevoldsen, our Skies Over West Seattle correspondent, that aurora – aka “Northern Lights” – activity is happening out there right now. Alice’s advice: Look north. Let us know if you see it! Her recommended info source: softservenews.com.

12:35 AM: It faded fast, says Alice. We couldn’t see anything by the time we got to Alki to look. (But note that Alice says it’s possible again Saturday night.)

Skies Over West Seattle: First summer edition of 2013

June 22, 2013 at 12:12 am | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

EDITOR’S NOTE: What a difference a night makes – between Friday night’s sunset and Thursday night’s official Summer Solstice Sunset Watch with jackets and umbrellas:

If you haven’t met her, that’s Alice Enevoldsen at center, photographed by WSB’s Katie Meyer. A handful of people joined her in braving the Thursday night rain. Now, as for what else is happening over us in the weeks ahead – here’s her latest in a series of WSB features:

By Alice Enevoldsen
Special to West Seattle Blog

Welcome to summer! School’s out, the nights are warm, the skies are less cloudy. It’s wonderful. It also doesn’t get decently dark until after 10 pm, unless it is cloudy.

Hey! What’s That?

Well, before I get into solar effects and sundogs, let’s look at what you might have seen recently in the night sky. If you were seeing a stationary object in the night sky, it could have been a number of bright stars, but the prime suspects are Arcturus, Vega, or maybe Antares. Otherwise it was likely Saturn.

Arcturus: directly overhead

Vega: high in the East

Antares: very low in the Southeast

Saturn: medium-high in the Southwest (Watch carefully, there are two objects there. Saturn is the one that doesn’t twinkle and is slightly yellower)

Sun Effects

We saw a beautiful halo around the Sun last week.

Click to read the rest of Skies Over West Seattle: First summer edition of 2013…

Skies Over West Seattle: Mid-May 2013 edition

May 17, 2013 at 7:41 pm | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ever wish for advance alert of an upcoming meteor shower/eclipse/etc. – and/or wonder “What’s that bright ‘star’ up there?” Here you go! Fourth edition of our monthly feature by West Seattle’s own Solar System Ambassador Alice Enevoldsen, famous for her solstice/equinox sunset watches among other things.

(April crescent moon, photographed by Trileigh Tucker)

By Alice Enevoldsen
Special to West Seattle Blog

We’re coming into some reliably clear skies as summer approaches, and better than that, it’ll be warm enough some nights to go stargazing without layering jackets, hats, and long underwear.

Unfortunately, with this warmer weather comes more unstable air, so the seeing isn’t as good as it was in winter. Seeing is all about how easy it is to see the objects in the night sky: how much twinkle is in the stars, or how much the atmosphere blurs what you can see.

Hey! What’s That?

There are fewer bright objects in the sky than the last few months, but what you noticed most recently was probably one of these three: the stars Capella, Arcturus, or the planet Saturn.

If you saw it in the Northwest: it was Capella.

If you saw it in the Southeast: it was either Arcturus or Saturn. Arcturus is higher in the sky, Saturn is nearer the horizon.

Click to read the rest of Skies Over West Seattle: Mid-May 2013 edition…

Skies Over West Seattle update: Northern Lights tonight

April 13, 2013 at 6:26 pm | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news, West Seattle weather | 1 Comment

If there’s a break in the clouds – or if you decide to drive to somewhere you can find one – our Skies Over West Seattle contributor Alice Enevoldsen says the Northern Lights should be out there somewhere:

A big solar wind “gust” just passed over the Earth, so tonight is prime aurora viewing. Check spaceweather and softservenews but it could even be worth driving somewhere out from under these big clouds.

Skies Over West Seattle, April 2013 edition: Astronomy Month; some planets…

April 11, 2013 at 4:03 pm | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 14 Comments

EDITOR’S NOTE: For everyone who’s wished they had advance alert of an upcoming meteor shower/eclipse/etc. – and/or wondered “What’s that bright ‘star’ up there?” – this is for you – the third edition of our new monthly feature by West Seattle’s own Solar System Ambassador Alice Enevoldsen, famous for her solstice/equinox sunset watches and for the recent bout of Comet PanSTARRS watching. Speaking of which …

(Comet PanSTARRS’ ‘last hurrah,’ from WSB reader John Hinkey)
By Alice Enevoldsen
Special to West Seattle Blog

We had some amazing nights last month, despite it being March. Now that it is officially spring, it’s started raining again. This month we have two planets in the night sky, and solar activity continues to ramp up towards Solar Maximum in November. It’s Global Astronomy Month, according to Astronomers without Borders, as well as Astronomy Day and Astronomy Week towards the end of the month as declared by the Astronomical League.

Hey! What’s That?

Did you see something in the sky recently, and wonder what it was? There are several options, but I’m betting you probably saw Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. It twinkles and flashes like anything in the mid-low sky between southeast and southwest. You probably will even think it is an airplane at first, until you realize it isn’t moving.

The other prime options are Jupiter and Saturn, depending on when and where you’re looking. Both of them will appear extremely bright, but Jupiter is in among a number of similarly bright stars, and Saturn will be rising later in the evening.

Planets (and the rest of the Solar System)

What a nice segue into the planets visible now, if the skies clear.

Click to read the rest of Skies Over West Seattle, April 2013 edition: Astronomy Month; some planets……

Comet-watching alert: Another south Lincoln Park session tonight

March 23, 2013 at 7:53 pm | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

7:53 PM: Just got last-minute word from expert skywatcher Alice Enevoldsen that the prospects look good for Comet PanSTARRS viewing again tonight, so she’ll be at south Lincoln Park beach around 8 pm. If any comet photos result, we’ll add them here later. Here’s WSB coverage from last night, with infolinks that might help even if you’re watching from elsewhere.

11:12 PM: Thanks to John Hinkey for the photos (above and below) of Comet PanSTARRS from tonight.

He says they watched from a northwest West Seattle home, but “Could not have found it without Alice Enevoldsen’s directions!” Meantime, as for the Lincoln Park watch, we got to Lincoln Park minutes too late for the comet – Alice says it vanished behind the cloud shelf over the Olympics around 9:10 pm. We arrived around 9:15; thanks to Alice and husband Jason for sticking around for a little guided stargazing with one of their telescopes – Jupiter and star cluster Pleiades, If there’s a chance of visibility again tomorrow, they’ll be back, but that might be the last time for a while, so if you’re interested, make (tentative) plans to be there!

West Seattle skygazing scenes: Comet PanSTARRS seen again

March 23, 2013 at 2:48 am | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

(Photos by Nick Adams for WSB)
Another beautiful night for comet-watching at Lincoln Park. This time, WSB contributing photojournalist Nick Adams was watching the comet-watchers – like Donovan Huhner, above. He and others came to south Lincoln Park in hopes of spotting Comet PanSTARRS:

The park’s south beach is where Alice Enevoldsen of Alice’s Astro Info and WSB’s monthly Skies Over West Seattle has been holding court on clear(-ish) nights, along with her husband Jason Gift Enevoldsen:

If you can’t make it to Lincoln Park, Alice has an online guide for where/how to look for Comet PanSTARRS, which she calls a “cute little comet.” As she wrote on WSB earlier this month, this is considered to be the “Year of the Comet,” so there’s a lot more viewing to come.

Keep an eye on Alice’s Twitter feed (and ours) for updates on viewing opportunities while PanSTARRS is still in sight. (Here’s how it looked last weekend.)

First sunset of spring, seen while shivering at Solstice Park

March 20, 2013 at 10:49 pm | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 1 Comment

A small but hardy group of skywatchers gathered at Solstice Park this evening for Alice Enevoldsen‘s quarterly equinox/sunset viewing, part of her public event schedule as a NASA Solar System Ambassador. A biting wind swept over the slope – that’s Alice, bundled up in blue – but the sun remained in view:

In addition to the globe she totes to explain the meaning of equinox or solstice, whichever applies, this time Alice brought a book she’s written:

This is the one and only copy of the book she’s written for young children, including her own daughter – but she’s looking for a publisher (any suggestions? you can reach her through her website alicesastroinfo.com).

After sunset, she was off to Lincoln Park to comet-watch, and reported via Twitter that PanSTARRS was visible again!

West Seattle comet-watching: Tonight’s views, plus Jupiter

March 18, 2013 at 11:16 pm | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 9 Comments

The sky cleared enough for Comet PanSTARRS viewing again tonight – and we have photos to share in case you missed it. Above, from Trileigh Tucker – click the image for a larger view. The remaining images are from WSB contributing photojournalist Nick Adams:

To help answer the question of “where to look?” check out his wide view:

That’s Blake Island, with the comet off in the center right – click that image for a larger view. And to get a step-by-step tutorial on where to look for it any time the sky clears in the nights ahead, here’s what local astro-expert Alice Enevoldsen has written about that – she was out with comet-watchers on the south shore of Lincoln Park, and they also viewed Jupiter – Nick sent in this photo as a result:

P.S. Along with comet-viewing any upcoming night it’s clear enough, you’ll find Alice at Solstice Park this coming Wednesday night for her traditional equinox/solstice sunset viewing – 7:13 pm, full details here.

P.P.S. From the archives in case you missed their original appearances – nice comet photos from Saturday night; also, the Northern Lights, seen from Alki!

Another sky show: Northern Lights from West Seattle

March 17, 2013 at 7:37 am | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 10 Comments

(Click image for larger view; photo by Nick Adams for WSB)
Hours after Comet PanSTARRS made another appearance in the western sky (photo here and more to come), the Northern Lights were visible from West Seattle. WSB contributing photojournalist Nick Adams says this image is from Alki Beach at 3:12 am. Depending on cloud conditions, the aurora might be visible again tonight – it’s from a coronal mass ejection on Friday. Skies Over West Seattle correspondent Alice Enevoldsen of Alice’s Astro Info recommends spaceweather.com for updates.

SUNDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: If there’s a significant break in the clouds, Alice plans to be out at the south end of Lincoln Park beach around 7:45 tonight for aurora and comet watching. You can also watch her Twitter account for updates.

Photos: More West Seattle comet-watching tonight

March 16, 2013 at 7:38 pm | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 10 Comments

(Photo by Paul, added 9:45 pm)
ORIGINAL REPORT, 7:38 PM: Last night, Comet PanSTARRS was briefly visible in a gap between the clouds – and that might be the case again tonight, reports Alice Enevoldsen of Alice’s Astro Info fame and author of “Skies Over West Seattle” updates on WSB – so she’s planning to be on the south end of Lincoln Park at 8 pm. We’ll update if there’s a sighting! (And if you can’t join Alice at the park, the graphic in her March SOWS report shows you where to look.)

9:48 PM UPDATE: Sightings reported! First photo in is courtesy of Paul – added atop this story.

ADDED SUNDAY MORNING: Two photos from Alice’s husband Jason Gift Enevoldsen:

Jason reports that Alice couldn’t get to the beach so he led the comet-viewing there instead:

I took a couple scopes and some binoculars and set up at the south end of the beach again. There was soon a small crowd and we all enjoyed the significantly-improved views tonight – fewer clouds and steadier air (despite the wind). … Many of us were even able to make out the comet without optical aid. The effect was very similar to the second photo below near the top-center, sort of like a tiny speck of dust stuck to your glasses – difficult to see at first and fuzzy, but once you’ve spotted it, it was hard to ignore. I think we probably had about 15-20 people total who stopped by, all ages, and took a chance to view it. We had fun while it lasted; the clouds came in quickly around 8:45 pm, only about 10 minutes before the comet would have set behind the mountains anyway.

What about Sunday night? We’ll see how things look when sunset approaches!

SUNDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: If there’s a significant break in the clouds, Alice plans to be out at the south end of Lincoln Park beach around 7:45 tonight for comet- and Northern Lights-watching. You can also watch her Twitter account for updates.

Comet-watching: PanSTARRS briefly visible from West Seattle

March 15, 2013 at 10:29 pm | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 1 Comment

(Click picture for a larger image showing Comet PanSTARRS; photo by Jason Ayres Gift Enevoldsen)
10:29 PM: As also seen on her site Alice’s Astro Info, that photo shared by Alice Enevoldsen shows Comet PanSTARRS as it could be seen for a few minutes from West Seattle earlier this evening. Alice’s monthly “Skies Over West Seattle” report here on WSB shows its projected trajectory across the western sky this month – but of course the catch is that there has to be at least a patch of clear evening sky in the right place so it can be seen, and tonight, that happened.

4:05 PM: Alice and Jason processed an even-clearer image – see it here.

Skies Over West Seattle update: Where to comet-watch tonight

March 9, 2013 at 3:50 pm | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

3:50 PM: Hoping to comet-watch tonight, with Pan-STARRS in the western sky? Above, that’s a new graphic from local skywatching expert Alice Enevoldsen, updating the one originally featured when we published her second “Skies Over West Seattle here last Sunday. We see some clouds gathering to the west right now, so hard to tell how things will look post-sunset, but now you know where to look if there’s a clearing.

5:12 PM UPDATE: Alice says via Twitter that if there aren’t too many clouds, she’ll be at the south end of Lincoln Park around 6:20 to be on the lookout for the comet. Even if it doesn’t show, she says, Jupiter and Sirius will be worth watching.

6:18 PM UPDATE: Update from Alice (in case you haven’t looked outside lately) – we won’t see the comet tonight; the clouds are thickening.

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