n

``` LONG TIME FOR ASTRONOMY

John Pazmino
NYSkies Astronomy Inc
nyskies@nyslies.org
www.nyskies.org
2015 April 21

Introduction
----------
My colleagues in astronomy know that I am in the profession 'for
decades' or 'for a long time'. They figure this usually by hearing
stories about events and episodes in my astronomy from deep in the
20th century.
These folk are right.
I'm in astronomy for many decades, a long time. I also tell you
that I'm in astronomy for two years and for five years. Is there a
connection between two, five, many tens of years?

What is a year?
-------------
What is a 'year'? For most it's the interval between the same date
after one round of the calendar, say, 2013 July 4 to 2014 July 4 is
one year. Others may say it's 365-1/4 days, a rounded figure, to show
In astronomy a 'year' is the time it take sfor one lap of a planet
in its orbit around the Sun. For Earth this is in fact the 365.25
days, rounded, the count of Earth rotations while she orbits the Sun
once.
Stricta mente we mean one lap against the stars, as seen from the
Sun. Earth at the start of a given round lines up with some star
beyond it, assumed permanently fixed in space. We watch Earth
circulate thru the stars until it again lines up with the star. The
count of some  time unit, like Earth days, is the length of Earth's
year. This is the 'sidereal year'.
Other planets have their own proper years because they orbit in
Sun greater or lesser time than Earth. Mercury and Venus have years
shorter than Earth; Mars and out have longer years.
For simplicity sake we measure the length of the year for a planet
in units of Earth days or years. We do NOT use the rotation of the
planet, its own day, to state its year.

Entering astronomy
----------------
My first step into at astronomy was in 1954. I watched a solar
eclipse from my house. I freaked out that some dark thing could
actually hide part of the Sun from view! It was a total eclipse in the
US Midwest but in New York it was a large partial.
To view this eclipse my father, doing photography at the time,
piled several dense B&W negativesand taped them together around the
edges. This was the filter to look thru. Altho this method is thoroly
deprecated today, if you can even find photograph negtives!, but back
then it was a common way to observe the Sun. Some observing guides
suggested it.
While I was amazed at the time, I didn't quite get the astronomy
bug. I did read books and news articles about astronomy but didn't
treat the discipline as a special interest yet.
In the 1950s astronomy news reached the public from magazines like
Lokk, Life, Natonal Geographic, and occasional items in newspapers.
There were only a few astronomy pieces on the radio and television.
My father once in a while brang home a library book from the NY
Pyblic Library near his office or a tear-out from his office's copy of
the NY Tiumes.

Zero-age point
------------
It was 1956 when I with my father first seriously inspected the
sky. I made some smple telescopes from magnifying glasses, mounting
them in cardboard tubes and cans. These were wonderful for walking
thru the constellations and seeing the texture of the Moon.
Stargazing by eye was tough in the 1950s due to air pollution. The
energy source was dominated by coal. My house and most others in the
nabe burned coal for heat and hot water. The exhaust went into the air
thru the chimneys of each house. A factory district on the next block
threw its spent coal into the air also.
The air was filled with smoke and soot, ruining not only views of
the stars, but laundry druing outdoor, car surfaces, windows, even
plants. The soot clogged pores in the leafs.
In spite of this situation, I with my father first cognizantly
identified planets in the sky. Jupiter was standing near Regulus. We
found Saturn near Antares. I totally forget which planet we found
first. I cna only recall that we on separate instances spotted a one
and then othe other.
In fall of 1956 we found Mars in Aquarius. I think there was some
public news about Mars being close to Earh, at opposition, that got us
to look for him. Oppositon was a phaenomenon I only until then read
about. This one of Mars was my vry first to personally witness.
There were no obvious stars near Mars. Mars was quite brilliant in
a lonely part of sky, allowing no mistake to recognize him. We later
figured out he was in Aquarius, a constellation of dim stars masked by
air pollution.
Let's be fair. Altho I first was shown into astronomy in 1954 by
the solar eclipse, I actually began my practice of it in 1956, the
zero-age year. I'll allow that my active, not including the latency,
astronomy life is 'only' 59 years.
The locations of Jupiter and Saturn are important: Jupiter near
Regulus and Saturn near Antares. Remember them.

Other planets
-----------
I could mark my life by the years of any planet, not just in Earth
years. Mercury is a bit silly. It comes out to anout 242 Mercury
years. Venus yields a life of about 96 Venus years. Mars is not so
This way of stating my life doesn't have much punch. Most
astronomers, even newer ones, can relate to the rapid movement of
Mercury, Venus, Mars thru the zodiac. The return of one of these
planets to a given place in the zodiac is too frequent and doesn't
suggest an endurance in the profession. To these astronomers I'm in the
profession for just a nfew more of these rounds.

Time markers
----------
Mercury, Venus, and Mars are not suuitable for marking intervals
of time by swccessive rreturns to a given place in the zodiac. Their
orbits are in size of the order of Earth's, from 4/10 radius for
Mercury to 1-1/2 for Mars. When therse planets occupy a point in their
orbits as, Earth's line of sight to the planet swings thru tens of
degrees from one instance to the next. Kepler exploited this swing,
parallax, to map out the sspatial path of mars and develop his laws of
planet motion.
This makes the actual lineup in the sky occur at irregular
interval s dispersed by many months. This is not a good clock
mechanism.

Venus
---
I compiled the conjunctions of Venus with PolluX from 1956 thru
2015 to show how badly that planet acts as a reliable clock. Venus was
in conjunctio with Pollux in summer of 1956 but I have utterly no
recollection of recognizing her in the sky in that year. I definitely
recall identifying Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn in 1956.
I did know Venus by 1959. I saw her in the morning sky while
watching the solar eclipse of October 15959 with other local
astronomers.
The table here gives a range of dates for each conjunction. The
start and end of the realization are when to a casual observer the two
bodies are 'associated' or 'tegether' or 'paired' rather than two
separate ones.
Astronomers generally note only on the geometric conjunction, in
this artic it's equality of ecliptic longitude, without taking in the
kinetics of the planet and star during the date range. It's the
MOVEMENT of the planets that MAKES these bodies 'planets'! The
geometric conjunction is midway within the date range.
The software shifts the hour for EDST by a hardwired older on-off
rule. And there ws no uniform rule for EDST bvefore 1964.

------------------------------------------
CONJUNCTIONS OF VENUS AND POLLUX, 1956-2015
------------------------------------------
Realization intervals (begin - end):
---------------------------------------
31.08.1956 20:00 (GMT-4) -  1.09.1956 20:00 (GMT-4)
24.06.1957 20:00 (GMT-4) - 25.06.1957 20:00 (GMT-4)
9.08.1958 20:00 (GMT-4) - 10.08.1958 20:00 (GMT-4)
30.05.1959 20:00 (GMT-4) - 31.05.1959 20:00 (GMT-4)

9.07.1960 20:00 (GMT-4) - 10.07.1960 20:00 (GMT-4)
22.08.1961 20:00 (GMT-4) - 23.08.1961 20:00 (GMT-4)
10.06.1962 20:00 (GMT-4) - 11.06.1962 20:00 (GMT-4)
25.07.1963 20:00 (GMT-4) - 26.07.1963 20:00 (GMT-4)
31.08.1964 20:00 (GMT-4) -  1.09.1964 20:00 (GMT-4)
24.06.1965 20:00 (GMT-4) - 25.06.1965 20:00 (GMT-4)
30.05.1967 20:00 (GMT-4) - 31.05.1967 20:00 (GMT-4)
9.07.1968 20:00 (GMT-4) - 10.07.1968 20:00 (GMT-4)
22.08.1969 20:00 (GMT-4) - 23.08.1969 20:00 (GMT-4)

10.06.1970 20:00 (GMT-4) - 11.06.1970 20:00 (GMT-4)
31.08.1972 20:00 (GMT-4) -  1.09.1972 20:00 (GMT-4)
8.08.1974 20:00 (GMT-4) -  9.08.1974 20:00 (GMT-4)
30.05.1975 20:00 (GMT-4) - 31.05.1975 20:00 (GMT-4)
8.07.1976 20:00 (GMT-4) -  9.07.1976 20:00 (GMT-4)
22.08.1977 20:00 (GMT-4) - 23.08.1977 20:00 (GMT-4)
9.06.1978 20:00 (GMT-4) - 10.06.1978 20:00 (GMT-4)
24.07.1979 20:00 (GMT-4) - 25.07.1979 20:00 (GMT-4)

31.08.1980 20:00 (GMT-4) -  1.09.1980 20:00 (GMT-4)
23.06.1981 20:00 (GMT-4) - 24.06.1981 20:00 (GMT-4)
8.08.1982 20:00 (GMT-4) -  9.08.1982 20:00 (GMT-4)
8.07.1984 20:00 (GMT-4) -  9.07.1984 20:00 (GMT-4)
21.08.1985 20:00 (GMT-4) - 22.08.1985 20:00 (GMT-4)
9.06.1986 20:00 (GMT-4) - 10.06.1986 20:00 (GMT-4)
24.07.1987 20:00 (GMT-4) - 25.07.1987 20:00 (GMT-4)
31.08.1988 20:00 (GMT-4) -  1.09.1988 20:00 (GMT-4)
23.06.1989 20:00 (GMT-4) - 24.06.1989 20:00 (GMT-4)

7.08.1990 20:00 (GMT-4) -  8.08.1990 20:00 (GMT-4)
29.05.1991 20:00 (GMT-4) - 30.05.1991 20:00 (GMT-4)
7.07.1992 20:00 (GMT-4) -  8.07.1992 20:00 (GMT-4)
21.08.1993 20:00 (GMT-4) - 22.08.1993 20:00 (GMT-4)
23.07.1995 20:00 (GMT-4) - 24.07.1995 20:00 (GMT-4)
31.08.1996 20:00 (GMT-4) -  1.09.1996 20:00 (GMT-4)
22.06.1997 20:00 (GMT-4) - 23.06.1997 20:00 (GMT-4)
7.08.1998 20:00 (GMT-4) -  8.08.1998 20:00 (GMT-4)
29.05.1999 20:00 (GMT-4) - 30.05.1999 20:00 (GMT-4)

7.07.2000 20:00 (GMT-4) -  8.07.2000 20:00 (GMT-4)
8.06.2002 20:00 (GMT-4) -  9.06.2002 20:00 (GMT-4)
23.07.2003 20:00 (GMT-4) - 24.07.2003 20:00 (GMT-4)
31.08.2004 20:00 (GMT-4) -  1.09.2004 20:00 (GMT-4)
22.06.2005 20:00 (GMT-4) - 23.06.2005 20:00 (GMT-4)
6.08.2006 20:00 (GMT-4) -  7.08.2006 20:00 (GMT-4)
29.05.2007 20:00 (GMT-4) - 30.05.2007 20:00 (GMT-4)
6.07.2008 20:00 (GMT-4) -  7.07.2008 20:00 (GMT-4)
20.08.2009 20:00 (GMT-4) - 21.08.2009 20:00 (GMT-4)

8.06.2010 20:00 (GMT-4) -  9.06.2010 20:00 (GMT-4)
22.07.2011 20:00 (GMT-4) - 23.07.2011 20:00 (GMT-4)
30.08.2012 20:00 (GMT-4) - 31.08.2012 20:00 (GMT-4)
21.06.2013 20:00 (GMT-4) - 22.06.2013 20:00 (GMT-4)
6.08.2014 20:00 (GMT-4) -  7.08.2014 20:00 (GMT-4)
29.05.2015 20:00 (GMT-4) - 30.05.2015 20:00 (GMT-4)
---------------------------------------------------

I grouped the instances by decade.
The interval between conjunctions is irregulr year to year by a
several months. Many years in this span have no conjunction. If I
counted 'Venus years' I would short-count an astronomy life.

Constrained conjunctions
----------------------
A curious feature of this table is that all conjunctions occur in
the months May thru September. There are none in months October thru
the following April! This may at first be peculiar but it's really
quite simple to understand. Venus can stand only within 47 degrees of
Sun due to her confined range of elongation as a planet orbiting
closer to Sun than Earth. With Venus nailed to Pollux, Sun can stand
only within 47 degrees east or west of Pollyx.
Pollux is at ecliptic longitude 113 degree, where the Sun stands
on/about July 15 each year. This is the mean longitude of Venus each
year since her motion is centered on the Sun.
47 degree west and east of Pollux are 66 degree and 160 degree.
This is the extreme range on the ecliptic the Sun can stand when
Venus, at any where in her orbit, conjuncts Pollux.
The corresponding dates are on/about May 24 and September 2. The
earliest and latest Pollux conjunctions in this table are May 29 and
August 31, close to the extreme limits.
This constraint means that Venus-Pollux conjunctions after July
15 are dawn events. Those before July 15 are dusk events.

Mars
--
I did the same exercise for Mars in the 1956-2015 span. I
identified Mars in Aquarius near his opposition in fall of 1956. There
are no obvious stars in Aquarius. For conveninece sake I use here a
4th magnitude star more or less lined up with Mars at opposition in
1956. It's phi Aquarii at ecliptic longitude 346 degree.
The aspect finder software didn't have phi Aquarii in its
database. I wxplicitly put Mars at 346 degree longitude.

---------------------------------------------------------
CONJUNCTION OF MARS WITH LONGITUDE 346 DEGREES, 1956-2015
------------------------------------------
3.07.1956 20:00 (GMT-4) -  5.07.1956 20:00 (GMT-4)
19.09.1956 20:00 (GMT-4) - 22.09.1956 20:00 (GMT-4)
27.10.1956 20:00 (GMT-4) - 30.10.1956 19:00 (GMT-5)
17.05.1958 20:00 (GMT-4) - 18.05.1958 20:00 (GMT-4)

21.04.1960 19:00 (GMT-5) - 22.04.1960 19:00 (GMT-5)
31.03.1962 19:00 (GMT-5) -  1.04.1962 19:00 (GMT-5)
10.03.1964 19:00 (GMT-5) - 11.03.1964 19:00 (GMT-5)
18.02.1966 19:00 (GMT-5) - 19.02.1966 19:00 (GMT-5)
28.01.1968 19:00 (GMT-5) - 29.01.1968 19:00 (GMT-5)

4.01.1970 19:00 (GMT-5) -  5.01.1970 19:00 (GMT-5)
2.12.1971 19:00 (GMT-5) -  3.12.1971 19:00 (GMT-5)
29.05.1973 20:00 (GMT-4) - 30.05.1973 20:00 (GMT-4)
1.05.1975 20:00 (GMT-4) -  2.05.1975 20:00 (GMT-4)
8.04.1977 19:00 (GMT-5) -  9.04.1977 19:00 (GMT-5)
18.03.1979 19:00 (GMT-5) - 19.03.1979 19:00 (GMT-5)

25.02.1981 19:00 (GMT-5) - 26.02.1981 19:00 (GMT-5)
5.02.1983 19:00 (GMT-5) -  6.02.1983 19:00 (GMT-5)
13.01.1985 19:00 (GMT-5) - 14.01.1985 19:00 (GMT-5)
17.12.1986 19:00 (GMT-5) - 18.12.1986 19:00 (GMT-5)
15.06.1988 20:00 (GMT-4) - 16.06.1988 20:00 (GMT-4)

11.05.1990 20:00 (GMT-4) - 12.05.1990 20:00 (GMT-4)
16.04.1992 20:00 (GMT-4) - 17.04.1992 20:00 (GMT-4)
26.03.1994 19:00 (GMT-5) - 27.03.1994 19:00 (GMT-5)
5.03.1996 19:00 (GMT-5) -  6.03.1996 19:00 (GMT-5)
13.02.1998 19:00 (GMT-5) - 14.02.1998 19:00 (GMT-5)

23.01.2000 19:00 (GMT-5) - 24.01.2000 19:00 (GMT-5)
29.12.2001 19:00 (GMT-5) - 30.12.2001 19:00 (GMT-5)
18.11.2003 19:00 (GMT-5) - 19.11.2003 19:00 (GMT-5)
21.05.2005 20:00 (GMT-4) - 22.05.2005 20:00 (GMT-4)
25.04.2007 20:00 (GMT-4) - 26.04.2007 20:00 (GMT-4)
3.04.2009 20:00 (GMT-4) -  4.04.2009 20:00 (GMT-4)

14.03.2011 20:00 (GMT-4) - 15.03.2011 20:00 (GMT-4)
21.02.2013 19:00 (GMT-5) - 22.02.2013 19:00 (GMT-5)
31.01.2015 19:00 (GMT-5) -  1.02.2015 19:00 (GMT-5)
--------------------------------------------------

I gain grouped the events by decade. See that conjunctions can
occur in nay month because Mars, an exterior planet, can stand at any
elongation from the Sun. When the conjunction is in September, Mars is
near 180 degree from the Sun at opposition.
The spacing of conjunctions is very irregular. There are three of
them within 1956 and none in many other years. Mars is no uniform
counter of time by his returns to the same place in the zodiac.

Jupiter and Saturn
----------------
These two planets are far beyond Earth's orbit. The swing of
Earth's line of sight to wither is small compated to the planet's
annual advance along its own orbit. Juipter procedes some 1/12 of his
orbit each year, or about 30 degrees on the ecliptic. Saturn notches
1/29 of his orbit annualy, about 12 degrees on the ecliptic. Returns
of either to a given ecliptic longitude should occur at uniform
intervals, 12 years for Jupiter and 29 for Saturn, with discrepancy of
only a couple weeks at most.
From a planetarium software I simulated the sky for 1956. I don't
recalll when during 1956 I pointed out Jupiter and Saturn. I wanted
both to fit within one chart. Jupiter was a bit west of Regulus and
Saturn was a bit west of Caput Scorpii. Both are in the night sky in
summer, altho I likley first saw Jupiter in spring.
I have dear memories of seeing Jupiter round the zodiac, sitting
in the same constellation at 12 year intervals. Same for Saturn, 30
years apart. In 2015 Saturn will complete TWO laps of the zodiac in my
astronomy life and Jupiter will finish FIVE laps. They should stand
near the same stars they did in 1956.
Will they?

59 yrars later
-----------
Setting the planetarium to 2015 summer, I see almost the SAME
SCENE I first gazed at quite 59 years ago!! The timing is off by one
month, forcing me to slide the hour a bit earlier in 2015 into late
dusk. Yes, there's Saturn a little west of Caput Scorpii and Jupiter
just west of Regulus.
Neirher planet is in actual conjunction with a bright star. I
looked for crossing of ecliptic longitudes 145, about 5 degrees west
of Regulus, and 240 degrees, about 5 degrees west of Graffias. Lo here
the resulting tabulation of conjunctions.

-----------------------------------------------------------
CONJUNCTION OF JUPITER WITH LONGITUDE 145 DEGREE, 1956-2015
-----------------------------------------------------------
28.02.1956 19:00 (GMT-5) -  6.03.1956 19:00 (GMT-5)
29.05.1956 20:00 (GMT-4) -  5.06.1956 20:00 (GMT-4)

17.09.1967 20:00 (GMT-4) - 21.09.1967 20:00 (GMT-4)

31.08.1979 20:00 (GMT-4) -  4.09.1979 20:00 (GMT-4)

15.08.1991 20:00 (GMT-4) - 19.08.1991 20:00 (GMT-4)

30.07.2003 20:00 (GMT-4) -  3.08.2003 20:00 (GMT-4)

13.07.2015 20:00 (GMT-4) - 17.07.2015 20:00 (GMT-4)
----------------------------------------------------------
cONJUNCTION OF SATURN WITH LONGITUDE 240 DEGREE, 1956-2015
----------------------------------------------------------
2.01.1956 19:00 (GMT-5) - 11.01.1956 19:00 (GMT-5)
14.05.1956 20:00 (GMT-4) - 26.05.1956 20:00 (GMT-4)
29.09.1956 20:00 (GMT-4) -  9.10.1956 20:00 (GMT-4)

8.11.1985 19:00 (GMT-5) - 16.11.1985 19:00 (GMT-5)

14.12.2014 19:00 (GMT-5) - 22.12.2014 19:00 (GMT-5)
15.06.2015 20:00 (GMT-4) -  2.07.2015 20:00 (GMT-4)
1.09.2015 20:00 (GMT-4) - 17.09.2015 20:00 (GMT-4)
---------------------------------------------------

I banded the events by lap, there being too efew vents for a
decadal grouping. See how Jupiter rounds the zodiac five times and
Saturn twice? Mulitple hits in the same year are when the longitude
was crossed during the planet's retrograde loop.
Five rounds of Jupiter thru long 145 degree just about equal two
rounds of Saturn thru long 240 degree. The spans differ by only ONE
MONTH, May 1956 to June-July 2015. The cycles are:

(5) * (11.86y) = (59.3y) for Jupiter's 5 laps
(2) * (29.46y) = (58.9y) for Saturn's 2 laps

Being that both planets move slowly thru the stars, the 0.4 year
disparity allows a close match of the 1956 and 2015 sky.

Jupiter & Venus
-------------
A special feature of the 2015 scene is that Jupiter gets iinto a
really close conjunction with Venus. This is a tight proximity of the
planets, they on June 30 thru July 1 standing only 20 arcminutes
apart! To the bare eye they are touching with only a narrow space
between them! They both fit in a low-power eyepiece field!
Venus is a 34% lighted disc, a fat crescent, of 32 arcsecond
diameter. Jupiter is 42 arcsecond diameter. The two make a stunning
gorgeous pair in evening twilight!
I explained that Venus was an evening star in  1956 and that I
have no recollection of ever recognizing her then. I recall
identifyinh Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.
With so propitious an aspect among the planets coming in 2015,
Venus will not be passed over again! She's snuggling against Jupiter
to make sure I notice her!

Conclusion
--------
59 years is one hell of a long endurance in a one discipline, any
discipline, not just astronomy. Most with such lengthy service have
only a pile of torn off calendat pages to remind them of their tenure.
We astronomers can turn to the very stars to mak off the years of
our professional life.
Each time i saw Jupiter back in Leo ner Regulus, I sigh, I rounded
the next Jupiter year of astronomy. And i recall in 1985 how I felt
when I observed Saturn, after his first round of the zodiac, in Caput
Scorpii.
I probably will see one more Jupiter year if I stay healthy but
I will pass on during my thrid year of Saturn. ```