Podcaster: Alice Enevoldsen aka Alice’s AstroInfo

Alices-Astro-InfoTitle: What’s Up Tonight! Southern Skies August 2015 Edition

Organization: Alice’s AstroInfo

Link :
Heavens-Above Starcharts for anywhere, anytime, not installation required
Stellarium Free planetarium-style program for your computer or tablet
7Timer – Clear sky charts (will it be clear enough for stargazing?). Input your location, then click on “ASTRO” in the pop-up.

Description: Presented as a counterpart to Awesome Astronomy’s Northern Hemisphere monthly forecast, Alice talks about what’s visible from the Southern Hemisphere. Focused at about 33°S, this forecast should work for anywhere between 25°S and 50°S

Bio: Alice Enevoldsen currently volunteers as one of NASA’s Solar System Ambassadors. She has been working in planetariums since 1996, has a B.A. in Astronomy-Geology from Whitman College, and a Masters in Teaching from Seattle University. Her fascination with the stars led her to try her hand at astronomy research in Boston and Walla Walla, where she realized that her calling in life was actually to work in outreach and be a translator for scientists. Now she works hard to share her love of the stars and excitement about astronomy with as many people as possible.

Today’s sponsor: This episode of “365 Days of Astronomy” is sponsored by — no one. We still need sponsors for many days in 2015, so please consider sponsoring a day or two. Just click on the “Donate” button on the lower left side of this webpage, or contact us at


Hello, I’m Alice Enevoldsen, coming to you not-so-live from Alice’s AstroInfo with a podcast about what’s up in the August 2015 skies … over the Southern Hemisphere.

How are you today?… I’m finally out checking out some dark skies where I don’t need a telescope to identify the Milky Way.

Top News this Month:

The Perseids are coming! This is perhaps the most famous of all meteor showers, though you could argue that meteors are always happening. Showers are more concentrated numbers of meteors, and certain years can get quite spectacular, like the Leonids of 2001 … or was it 1999/2000? Hmm, how time flies.

The Perseids are due to be pretty good this year, since we’ll be lacking the Moon until it rises crescent in the early morning.

Things you need to know:

You’ll be watching after midnight the night of August 12-13, between the hours of midnight and 3am-ish, as the Earth turns into the stream of debris that creates the meteor shower.

Go outside and find an open sky looking towards the North. You want to see as much sky as possible.

Look Northeast. These meteors seem to radiate from the constellation Perseus, which you can find if you face North, and look low in the sky to the East. It rises before the Milky Way, and is just below Taurus and Aldebaran, which are North and a little West of Orion. Once Capella rises in the East you’ll be able to see as much as possible of whole constellation of Perseus.

Just because the radiant is in Perseus doesn’t mean that’s the only place you should be looking. Meteors and specifically Perseid meteors happen all over the sky, but the ones that seem to “shoot” away from the constellation Perseus are the ones we know are from the Swift-Tuttle orbital debris.

Meteor showers are prime targets for viewers without equipment, because using telescopes or peering through camera viewfinders means you’ll miss meteors in other parts of the sky.

Let’s cover the Moon Phases, dates adjusted for Sydney, Australia.

The day of the new moon will be just before 1am on August 15th, you won’t see the Moon at all, but a day before or after you might see a tiny sliver of a crescent Moon as the Sun rises or sets, and a few days outside of that the Moon will be up all day.

The first quarter moon, August 23rd, is ideal for late afternoon and early evening observation

The next full moon will be August 30th. It rises around sunset, and sets around sunrise.

The last quarter moon on September 5th will be visible in the early morning sky.

Now, instead of going into Sky Objects and Events this month, I want to give you a few tips on night sky photography, in case you do want to try to catch one of those falling stars… a Perseid meteor… in a picture.

You’ll need a camera with a “B” or “bulb” setting, or at least some form of long exposure. Normally these are SLR, single-lens-reflex, cameras, but some mobile phones and point-and-shoot cameras have options as well.

A basic beginner set up is this: mount your camera on a tripod facing up, with as much sky as possible in the view. Use a remote, cable release, or timer on the shutter to eliminate the vibration from your finger bumping the shutter button. If you need to pick a direction, pick North. Try for 30-second to 1-minute exposures, use a wide-open aperture (which means a small number F-stop). Take a bunch, and then since almost everyone is digital these days, look at them and adjust.

If your image is too bright, close down the aperture a bit. If it is blurry, see if you can stabilize the camera more. If it is so dark you see nothing, take an exposure that it twice as long. Want more ideas? Check out The World At Night’s how-to article, “Capture the Cosmos” for more places to start.

Let’s say though, you’re trying to do this with your Mobile Phone Camera, because it’s in your pocket. First you must have a long-exposure setting or software at home to process the frames from a video into a single image.

To make it possible to take long exposures with your phone, search your preferred app store, be that iOS, Android, Windows, or somewhere else for “long exposure.” Once your mobile phone camera has a long exposure setting, put the phone on a stable surface facing the sky, and take some night sky shots. Tweak from there.

If you want to go the software processing route, set your phone down on a stable surface, lens pointing up, and take a long night video. When you get home start stacking up those images to see if you can put them together with astrophotography software. WARNING: this process will not result in instantaneous results, especially if you’ve never done it before. Be prepared for some failures along the way—though with dedication you’ll get there. The beginner application we’ve used for image stacking is Deep Sky Stacker. You might prefer Registax for stacking video images instead of individual shots.

While you’re out there keeping our eyes peeled, it’s time for “Hey, what’s that?”

Lately Saturn has been catching my eye in front of Scorpius and Antares, though up here I can’t see the whole constellation. You’ll see it directly overhead in the early evening.

As Perseus rises, the great baseball diamond in the sky, Pegasus, will be setting in the West.

You can download a nice starmap from the Sydney Observatory at

The lineup of early Evening Constellations gains Delphinus, Equuleus, Aquarius, and Phoenix.

If you have a Telescope or Bincoulars, watch the Pleiades and the Hyades in Taurus above Perseus.

Well! Thanks for tuning in: I hope I gave you some things for which to keep your eyes peeled.

For those of you who haven’t listened before, I’m here as a foil for Ralph and Paul with Awesome Astronomy and their monthly 365 Days of Astronomy, International Year of Light podcast about what’s up in the skies over the Northern Hemisphere.

This podcast is based at 33°S: times and dates are given for Sydney, Australia. Most information will be good anywhere from about 25°S to 50°S, though you may have to adjust the time zone. This will include major cities in Australia, New Zealand, countries in Africa south of Mozambique and Namibia, as well as the parts of South America south of Paraguay.

I’ll add some of my favorite planning links to the end of the transcript for you as usual. If you have suggestions, things that you’d like me to add to the “What’s up Tonight, Southern Skies Edition,” you can e-mail me from my website!

Once again, I’m Alice Enevoldsen. You can find me online as AlicesAstroInfo on Twitter, Facebook, and

Bye! See you later!

Useful Links:
Heavens-Above Starcharts for anywhere, anytime, no installation required
Stellarium Free planetarium-style program for your computer or tablet
7Timer – Clear sky charts (will it be clear enough for stargazing?). Input your location, then click on “ASTRO” in the pop-up.
Monthly Sky Guides from Sydney Observatory

End of podcast:

365 Days of Astronomy

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