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Astronomy: The Basics

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posted on Oct, 19 2009 @ 01:40 AM
With 2012 just over 3 years away, the whole Nibiru/Planet X/Brown dwarf star thing is no doubt going to heat up (if not already), this is why I have decided to start this thread as a go to source.

Two things I would like to make clear from the get go.

1. I do not subscribe to Sitchin's Nibiru theories at all.
2. This thread is intended as Layman's astronomy for Laymen, to keep it simple.

So, where to begin?

Firstly there are a couple of sticky threads that are found in the Space Exploration forum, with plenty of links, some of which I will link to again later on.

These sticky threads can be found here:

Astronomy: So You See a Bright Light?

FSME: Space Exploration - Reference Library

These threads are handy but are quite out of date, dating back to 2005/6.

Ok, now that the housekeeping is out of the way, let's move onto the thread.

As mentioned at the top, ATS has and will get an influx of new members (and old members) who spot a bright celestial object in the sky and then start a thread asking about what it could be, this is where they get bombarded with "It's Venus" "It's Planet X" etc etc.

This can be very frustrating for all involved because the thread gets filled up with misinformation and any correct information get's lost amongst the rubbish.

The best way to avoid this is to educate yourself on what you're seeing, there are literally hundreds of sources out there that you have access to, so why not use them?

But where to start?

This is where I hope to help out by giving tips to the basics of celestial body identification.

First up is a free down-loadable program called Stellarium.

Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope.
It is being used in planetarium projectors.
Just set your coordinates and go.

It really is that simple, it even allows the user to take a screen shot.

Second is a free site called Heavens Above, this site allows you to again input your location so it can tell you when satellites, the ISS and shuttles will be overhead.

With these two tools alone you should be able to identify 99% of what you see in the sky.

Another useful site is, full of information about astronomy including a monthly skyguide.


October will be a good month for you early risers out there. (That's not me.) You'll only find Jupiter in the night skies before midnight this month, but it will still be spectacular. The Red Planet, Mars, will rise around 1 AM and should provide a great viewing opportunity. A bit later, our sister planet, Venus comes up in all her beauty. If you look just below Venus you should be able to spot Mercury early in the month, especially when it reaches greatest elongation on the 5th and 6th. Even lower and harder to spot will be Saturn. If you capture it with your telescope, don't be surprise if you don't see any rings as they are mostly edge-on right now. Finally, for a new treat, look for the asteroid Vesta on the 22nd.


November brings the usual suspects of plante, but more on that in a moment. November also brings the Leonids Meteor Shower.

The Leonids Meteor Shower occur when the Earth encounters debris left from comet Tempel-Tuttle and have been described as "the cosmic equivalent of bugs hitting the windshield of an automobile." The Leonids are expected to peak on the 17th.

Jupiter is still well placed for viewing with your telescope. Mars is now rising before midnight and visible through most of the night. Saturn climbs higher in the morning sky while Venus sinks lower. Another treat this month could be the asteroid Vesta in the early morning hours of the 24th.


The Geminids Meteor Shower should peak around the 13th or 14th.

Jupiter is setting earlier, but Mars is coming into its glory. Saturn is starts to rise before midnight around the 15th though Venus is getting harder to see.

The real star will be the Moon. Not only are there two full moons, December 2 and 31 (yes, that means a Blue Moon on the 31st), we'll also see a partial Lunar eclipse on December 31. The last eclipse of 2009 occurs on New Year's Eve when a minor partial lunar eclipse takes place in Gemini, and is visible primarily from the Eastern Hemisphere. Greatest eclipse takes place at 19:23 UT when the eclipse magnitude will reach 0.0763.

And the last site is Astromony for beginners

Pretty self explanatory and a good resource to further your knowledge.

I hope these resources will be of use for when you spot that mystery object in the sky.

[edit on 19/10/09 by Chadwickus]

posted on Oct, 19 2009 @ 07:56 AM
Nice, I'd like to thank you for the heads up on the astronomical events.

I have an interest in 2012 but unfortunately well... the noise is deafening.
I've looked at the astronomy and would like to add some of the astronomical facts.

Firstly the connection with Nibiru is nothing but an internet Chinese whisper it seems, a mixing of myths.

Galactic alignment, yes the Sun and Earth does align approximately with the centre of the galaxy. However it does this every year, twice really. What is significant to sun worship is having the alignment on solstice. The closest alignment on solstice was actually in 1998 I believe. However due to the movement of the solar system up and down through the galactic plane, our current position does not allow a perfect alignment it misses by about 5 or 6 degrees.

And no we are not passing through the galactic plane, the alignment is along the galactic plane if that makes sense.

Astronomically speaking this is what happens In southern Mexico on the day 2012. I could find the exact times but you'll get the idea.

Just before the Sun rises it begins to cross into the galactic plane (from the perspective in Mexico). At 11.11 (we all know that one) The Sun is aligned (approximately) with galactic centre. Throughout the day the Sun appears to cross from one side of the galaxy to the other, It completes the crossing only minutes before the Sun sets.

Every day was the birth of the Sun, every year the annual rebirth on solstice and every great year, 26000 years a galactic rebirth symbolized by the crossing of the galactic plane on solstice.

All three on solstice 2012.
If this is true the Mayans new it to the day, more so than that they most likely knew it occurred across the entire length of the day so perfectly and perhaps maybe just maybe they even knew of the changing rate of precession.

It's all symbolic, I think it is like a marker. Regardless of the speculation I find these facts to be astonishing.
Still this is just an interpretation, Although a believable one I think courtesy of Thomas Razzeto. But astronomically speaking that is what happens from the perspective at southern Mexico on solstice 2012.

People may think this is dismissall of the significance, not exactly.
Just the facts.

posted on Oct, 19 2009 @ 05:02 PM
reply to post by squiz

Thanks for weighing in, your post is probably one of the more concise I've read on the 2012 subject.

posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 04:28 PM
I'd like to add to your Astronomy: The Basics, if I may, that planets have this neat thing called apparent magnitude

From Wiki:

The apparent magnitude (m) of a celestial body is a measure of its brightness as seen by an observer on Earth, normalized to the value it would have in the absence of the atmosphere. The brighter the object appears, the lower the value of its magnitude.

I've read here of some people startled from a bright object as well, thing is they did not realize that the brightness often changes. Jupiter's brightness tonight will be quite different in magnitude compared to a few weeks ago.

posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 08:02 PM
reply to post by Juston

Yes that is a good source too.

It came in handy when I was chasing iridium flares, they could be at a magnitude of -1.8 over my house but if I went 30km to the east it would be -8.0, which is extremely bright and quite the sight!

posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 08:13 PM
With Venus at her brightest (ranging from −3.8 to −4.6) numerous authorities receive reports of UFO's

I also feel that a lot of people don't realize just how quickly we move underneath the celestial sphere either, often adding to the assumption that they may be viewing a "bright moving object".

Really like this OP, it would be neat if it could be expanded upon, and perhaps referenced in order to help others who may not be aware of the wonders of Astronomy.

posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 08:48 PM
Nice thread hope some "what's that" people read it !

posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 08:52 PM
I’ve got good idea. Because I know in a few days/weeks time no-one will remember your article name and will not be able to find the links.

I suggest going into the links then saving them as Favorites !

posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 09:18 PM
reply to post by Juston

To add to this: normally the faintest object that can be seen by the human eye alone is +6.

posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 11:00 PM
reply to post by SharkBait

All the links above are in my favourites, very handy for when I need a quick reference for something.

SpaceWeather is another favourite of mine too.

posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 11:31 PM
reply to post by Chadwickus

Well maybe this will calm some overactive nerves about 2012 (prolly' not Good thread Chadwickus, S/F...

Here is another helpful thread on basic astronomy, although it does not go into the relatively basic celestial mechanics and star types that pretty much preclude Nibiru, it should come in handy as a layman's type of directory.

Astronomy 101

posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 11:39 PM
reply to post by jkrog08

I don't know how I missed that thread Jkrog, Awesome stuff as well!

There really is no excuse to plead ignorance on ATS is there?

Most bases are covered.

posted on Oct, 27 2009 @ 12:19 AM
Hi Chadwickus

Awesome idea thanks for starting this thread, you will be hearing from me as im about 6 weeks away from getting my new 12" dobsonian at which point i will be photographing everything !

Im going to need some advice as its a massive step up from my current telescope! im glad to have you as a ATS friend and reallife 'neighbour' as a resource!


Have the best day

posted on Oct, 27 2009 @ 12:28 AM
reply to post by themuse

Hiya buddy, do you have a good spot to set up the telescope? Where there's no light pollution?

Look forward to the pics!

posted on Oct, 27 2009 @ 12:41 AM

Yes I do I am lucky enough to live with minimal ambient light in my own yard (im in Kalg) I have some great shots of the moon already i took from across my road under street lamps thru my telescope, thankfully the street lamps arnt that great out here. Plus I have a mate who owns a gold mine here with a little hill on it just out of town the night sky is awesome from there its like its almost on top of you!! but basically pitch blackness isnt far from reach here, its just the edge of town.

Buying my Dob from BTOW in Malaga. These guys seem great. Once its here I will be gathering folk for an astronomy course, bringing up a guy from Perth who does them there currently and hopefully i will have ppl to share stuff with irl instead of always online! lol

I am a photog by trade so im expecting great things to come from the new telescope! I have a infrared cam as well, i've had the filter removed from my old Nikon d70s and its now infrared. Cannot wait to start with the big scope.. SIZE matters. lol

Have the best day


posted on Oct, 27 2009 @ 12:50 AM
reply to post by themuse

I didn't realise you were in Kalg! I'm just down the road from you...sorta

Out there in the desert the sky would be brilliant. Even moreso with a good telescope!

I'll come say g'day if I'm ever out that way

posted on Oct, 27 2009 @ 06:30 AM
reply to post by Chadwickus

Yes you did tell me you were south-ish of me a while back if i recall correctly. You are more than welcome if you're in the area ever I will U2U my details to you.


posted on Nov, 1 2009 @ 12:49 PM
reply to post by Chadwickus

Well next spring when Wormwood looks bigger than the moon in the sky and Stellararium still tells you its not there maybe you will believe that Nibiru is there as well.

Don't you realize the governments would keep that info off of programs like that so people don't freak out.

P.S. The Mayans, Egyptians and Assyrians all say they are there. They still have more accurate star charts than we do.

posted on Nov, 3 2009 @ 05:18 AM
reply to post by Sky watcher

Do you have any more info on this Wormwood?

What is it supposed to be?

A planet? Asteroid?

posted on Nov, 7 2009 @ 10:12 AM
great thread chadwickus
it is nice to have all of these resources in one place, keep up the good work and thanks again

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