West Seattle, Washington
5:51 PM: Skywatching expert/educator Alice Enevoldsen says the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn is visible from West Seattle right now, to the south/southwest, until 6:30 or so, though they’re not as close together as they were a few days ago, when clouds rendered it impossible to see.
ADDED: Bill Schrier tweeted this photo:
And Dan Ciske sent this one:
Two notes for winter’s official arrival Monday:
WEATHER ALERT: The National Weather Service says we’re in for heavy rain – up to two inches – tonight through tomorrow night, so it’s out with a Special Weather Statement alert, warning of increased landslide risk.
SOLSTICE SUNSET WATCH WITH ALICE: This is the fourth change of seasons since the pandemic began, and West Seattle skywatching expert/educator Alice Enevoldsen has continued to lead solstice/equinox sunset watches online, whatever the weather. Join her via Zoom 3:45 pm-4:15 pm Monday; go here now to preregister to get the link. Sunset is officially 4:20 pm but Alice notes that its actual disappearance behind our mountains/islands is earlier, likely around 4:05 pm tomorrow. The solstice moment is 2:02 am. P.S. Alice plans to talk about the big planetary conjunction, too.
Thanks to James Bratsanos for the photo of tonight’s peekaboo sunset. This gives us a reason to mention tonight’s milestone: This is the last night this year for the earliest sunset – 4:17 pm. Starting tomorrow, the sunset gets later, 4:18 pm, and on from there. So that’s some solace, though the days don’t stop shortening until the solstice on December 21st, and the sunrise doesn’t hit its latest moment until 7:57 am on December 26th (where it stays until January 6th).
Meantime, if we get any breaks in the cloud cover overnight, you may see what Susan Romanenghi saw at 7 am Saturday:
That’s Venus with the moon. P.S. Tonight’s the peak of the Geminid meteor shower, too!
After a gorgeous day, the full “Blue Moon” has risen. The photo above is from Carolyn Newman; (added) below, from James Tilley:
Not long before that, a swirls-of-pink sunset, photographed by Marc Milrod:
And this morning’s moonset, photographed by Dan Ciske:
Before the next moonset, sunset, and moonrise, we’ll be “falling back” an hour as Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 am Sunday – the next sunset will be at (sigh) 4:50 pm.
ORIGINAL NOTE, 3:42 PM MONDAY: Autumn arrives at 6:30 our time tomorrow morning. It’ll be the third change of seasons since the pandemic began, so once again, West Seattle skywatcher/educator Alice Enevoldsen plans an online presentation for her quarterly sunset watch. The event will be at 6:30 tomorrow night – always the sunset on the equinox/solstice date – and we’ll add the Zoom link here, and in tomorrow’s daily list, once we get it.
ADDED TUESDAY: Note a new time – 6:45 pm. Find the link to register by going here.
One more event for today: West Seattle skywatching expert/educator Alice Enevoldsen is planning an online viewing event for the SpaceX/Crew Dragon splashdown. It’s scheduled around 11:48 am our time, with Alice starting about half an hour before that. You need to register to get the link – info is on her site, here.
That’s Jeff Kaufer‘s view of Comet NEOWISE from just east of Alki Point earlier this week …
… and that’s the view Scott Nelson got from Alki last night, between 11 pm and midnight. So far it looks like the weather will be conducive for comet-watching tonight too. In addition to her general advice on watching from West Seattle, sky-watcher/educator Alice Enevoldsen made images with Stellarium to help you figure out where to look – this one is for 10:15 pm tonight:
And this one would be for a few hours later, 2 am Monday:
The mission during which the comet was discovered four months ago is explained here.
Seen Comet NEOWISE yet? Tonight should be another chance, with clear weather expected to continue. It’s Once it’s gone from view, that’s it for another 6,000+ years, so you might as well take advantage of it. Thanks to sky-watcher/educator Alice Enevoldsen for more images, made with Stellarium, on where to look in the sky – these two were for midnight last night/4 am this morning so the position should be close:
And just in case you don’t get out to see it – here’s another view from earlier this week:
You can read Alice’s overall comet-watching guidance here.
Looks like another clear night tonight, so that means another chance to see Comet NEOWISE. Following up on her earlier post, West Seattle sky-watching expert and educator Alice Enevoldsen has put together maps (with the help of Stellarium) – here’s one for tonight:
Alice says that map shows what should be visible around 10:15 pm on “the North-northwestern horizon. Comet NEOWISE is a speck almost directly below the Big Dipper, and to the upper left of the bright star Capella.” If you’d rather do your comet-watching early in the morning, here’s 2 am Thursday:
That one is “showing the North-northwestern horizon. (The comet) is a speck to the lower right of the Big Dipper, and nearly due North.” Or click here for the 4 am Thursday image. Weather permitting, the comet might be visible through late July.
It’s the first clear night since Comet NEOWISE came into view in the evening sky (as explained by Alice Enevoldsen) and many were out looking for it tonight. The photo above is from John Hinkey, who says it was visible to the west starting around 10:30 pm. The one below is by Jan Pendergrass, taken from Luna/Anchor Park:
And from Jamie Kinney, comet-watching from Alki:
(Added 2:31 am) Two from Jason Enevoldsen:
(added 10:22 am) From Larry Gilpin:
NEOWISE was discovered just four months ago. It should be visible again Tuesday night, with a clear sky forecast, but don’t procrastinate if you’re interested in seeing it … its next swing out this way isn’t expected for another 6,000+ years.
Back on Friday night/Saturday morning, clear skies meant Comet NEOWISE was visible to those who were up VERY late/early. (These photos were among the results.) Now the clear weather’s back and the comet is expected to be visible at a more reasonable (for most) hour – your West Seattle neighbor Kevin Freitas tweeted the invitation:
Join me tonight for some socially distant comet-gazing! (BYO binoculars — highly recommend — and masks) I'll setup 9:30pm on Alki Beach seawall just across from Cactus.#C2020F3 #c2020f3neowise #wawx pic.twitter.com/C92fzF70OX
— Kevin Freitas (@kevinfreitas) July 13, 2020
12:27 PM: Thanks to everybody who sent photos of Comet NEOWISE, which – as noted here Friday – is viewable in the early-early-early morning sky right now (and soon, after sunset). Above, that’s from James Tilley; below, from Greg Snyder:
From Nick Newhall:
And from John Hinkey:
John notes his was; “Taken from Hamilton Viewpoint this morning between 3:30 and 4am. There were something like a dozen people there with maybe half taking images.”
ADDED 2:15 PM: Via Twitter:
— Kevin Freitas (@kevinfreitas) July 11, 2020
(Comet seen from ISS, from NASA Photo of the Day)
With a clear sky forecast from tonight, you might be interested in trying to get a look at Comet NEOWISE. West Seattle sky-watcher/educator Alice Enevoldsen has published a post on exactly how to do that from here. You’ll have to be up REALLY early, though, and you might need to try a non-West Seattle vantage point. Or, wait a couple days and it’ll be visible earlier – after sunset. (Monday’s weather looks promising.)
Even if the clouds don’t lift, you’re invited to celebrate the change of seasons with West Seattle educator/sky-watcher Alice Enevoldsen (who’s also a volunteer NASA Solar System Ambassador). Six hours after the summer-solstice moment at 2:43 pm today, join Alice via Zoom, 8:45 pm-9:15 pm, for her quarterly sunset watch – all ages welcome. You need to register in advance – go here to do that now.
(WSB photo from June 2019 summer-solstice gathering. Maybe in-person again next year!)
For the second time this pandemic year, West Seattle educator/sky-watcher Alice Enevoldsen will be holding her change-of-seasons sunset-watch event online. The summer-solstice moment is 2:43 pm Saturday, so Alice invites you to join her via Zoom tomorrow night, 8:45 pm-9:15 pm, to celebrate and to learn – all ages welcome. You need to register in advance – go here to do that now.
Even if you aren’t in the Alki vicinity – as photographer Theresa Arbow-O’Connor was a few nights ago – you might be able to catch the full “supermoon” rising tonight just after 7:30 pm. The local moment of moonrise is also just a few minutes short of when the moon is completely “full.” You can also watch online; Space.com notes this will be the year’s closest full moon.
6:34 PM: At 8:49 pm, spring officially arrives – that’s the equinox moment. Right now, a West Seattle change-of-seasons tradition is happening as it has, four times a year for the past decade – West Seattle astronomy educator Alice Enevoldsen is leading her change-of-seasons sunset-watch event. But because of social distancing, it’s online this time – 6:30-7:30 pm, webcast via Zoom – click here to join. (Read more about her sunset watches here.)
7:20 PM: The webcast just wrapped up. We monitored the second half; about 20 others tuned in, and the sunset was spectacular. No recording but we added a screengrab above – her daughters assisting as always. If this had been a “normal” season-change sunset watch, Alice would have been at Solstice Park, explaining the equinox/solstice.
— Alice's AstroInfo (@AlicesAstroInfo) March 20, 2020
ADDED: Photos, courtesy of Jason Enevoldsen:
At the end of a gray day that was part of 49 consecutive hours of rain, suddenly and quickly, a splash of pink spread across the southwest sky. And that’s how Alice Enevoldsen‘s Winter Solstice sunset watch concluded, with the ~20 in attendance admiring the surprise show.
Until then, it was a gathering much like the dozens of others over which Alice (above with her 8- and 3-year-old daughters) has presided over her decade as a volunteer NASA Solar System Ambassador. As always, she explained what the solstice and equinox are – specific points in the Earth’s annual orbit around the sun. Here’s how part of it went:
But no two sunset watches are exactly alike, depending on who shows up and what they ask about; this one morphed into a discussion of systems of timekeeping.
This gathering, like Alice’s others, was at Solstice Park, just northeast of Lincoln Park, highlighted by stone markers and paths lining up with where the sun sets on the solstices and equinoxes, when you can see it:
The actual winter-solstice moment is at 8:19 pm our time this evening. From here, the days start getting longer -a whole second more tomorrow between sunrise and sunset! P.S. The sunset was so beautiful (see our Instagram video recorded as the color deepened), here’s a bonus photo courtesy of Kanit Cottrell in Gatewood:
11:57 AM: If the sky stays clear – a “legendary meteor shower,” explained here, might be visible tonight. Here’s what West Seattle’s longtime skywatching expert Alice Enevoldsen says:
Ok, West Seattle. 8pm-9:30pm LOOK EAST. There might be a meteor outburst (100s of shooting stars) for 15 minutes in that window. Highest probability is 8:50pm.@westseattleblog
I'm still sorting out my stargazing plans for tonight. https://t.co/gSFQ2ZtWde
— Alice's AstroInfo (@AlicesAstroInfo) November 21, 2019
And some bonus advice added by @WestSeaWx: “Might I add, get as high in elevation as possible w/an unobstructed view.” The absolute highest elevation in West Seattle – the entire city, in fact – is in Myrtle Reservoir Park (35th/Myrtle), though its eastward view is NOT unobstructed. Forecast, meantime, looks clear and cold.
ADDED 4:02 PM: Alice will be out watching and you’re invited to join her:
I'll be at the "Observe here" red star.
(Ignore the yellow star)@westseattleblog @SouthSeattleCC
8:15pm-9:30pm tonight 11/21/2019#UnicornMeteorShower (potential meteor outburst) pic.twitter.com/f2AMd8xzaV
— Alice's AstroInfo (@AlicesAstroInfo) November 21, 2019
The sunset was a no-show. But several hardy people showed up to join Alice Enevoldsen‘s change-of-seasons sunset watch tonight at Solstice Park anyway. When turnout’s a bit bigger, Alice gathers everyone into a circle for a grand demonstration of what exactly happens in the solar system at the time of equinox or solstice. Tonight, things were a little more casual. Mark your calendar for the next sunset watch; this year’s winter solstice is on Saturday, December 21st.
This year’s autumn-equinox moment is just under seven hours away – 12:50 am our time Monday. You can celebrate the change of seasons tomorrow night at Alice Enevoldsen‘s Solstice Park sunset watch – a West Seattle tradition! Get to the park (7400 Fauntleroy Way SW, upslope from the tennis courts) around 6:30 pm; don’t let clouds daunt you – sometimes the sun will break through, and even if it doesn’t, Alice’s explanation of the equinox is always memorable. All ages welcome, as always. See you there!
Story and photos by Jason Grotelueschen
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
Clear skies and an impressive Friday night sunset treated visitors at West Seattle’s Solstice Park for a summer solstice watch hosted by local volunteer and NASA Solar System Ambassador Alice Enevoldsen (pictured above at center-left, holding her trusty globe-on-a-stick and explaining with youth volunteers how the Sun and Earth are positioned at various times of the year).
Enevoldsen, who said she has been organizing these quarterly change-of-seasons gatherings for “10 years — plus one sunset!” talked with attendees about the solstice.
The unique park, uphill from the tennis courts by north Lincoln Park, has paths and markers that were built to align precisely with the sunsets on solstice/equinox days. Prior to sunset just after 9 pm, Enevoldsen showed visitors where to stand to best experience the event.
Several younger attendees were equally happy to run around the markers and burn off some welcome-to-summer energy.
In Seattle, the exact moment of the summer solstice occurred at 8:54 a.m. on Friday, and during the day the sun’s position in the sky was at its highest point of the year (66 degrees).