You Still Have Your Eclipse Glasses, Right?

Courtesy NASA/SDO

Although, yes, you should just keep them until the eclipse in the US in 2024 (or the one in the Andes in 2019, which I haven’t completely ruled out just yet, because I’ve become a crazy person), there’s another good reason to keep a pair or two handy:


More specifically: GIANT sunspots!

Right now, there are two fairly-large sunspot areas on the face of the sun. They’re so big, in fact, that they can be seen without magnification. Just put on your eclipse glasses and take a gander. Both of them are pretty close to the center of the solar disk, as seen by the picture above (which is from late yesterday). These will continue to rotate left-to-right across the face of the sun over the next several days.

Take a look; this is pretty cool (bonus points if you work in an office and go out and stand in the parking lot looking up at the sun for no apparent reason).

Space Weather

My favorite site to keep up on this sort of thing is Our “space weather” is almost-entirely affected by the sun, so most things on the site lean that way. If civilization as we know it is about to be ended by another Carrington Event, this will be one of the early places to hear about it.

Eclipse Glasses

Quick note about eclipse glasses. Although I heard a few mixed reports about whether or not eclipse glasses would degrade over time and therefore only be safe to use for the next few years, this appears to not be the case:

Such warnings are outdated and do not apply to eclipse viewers compliant with the ISO 12312-2 standard adopted in 2015.

So, keep track of those things, as long as you’ve got good ones.

Time to stare up at the night sky again

Well, so this didn’t take long for me to break from writing good, useful SQL posts to drop into general geekery.

Long story short, the Earth is as close as we will be to Jupiter until 2022. This makes it very bright in the night sky. If you go outside and look tonight (which you should), you will see a bright thing in the sky to the Southeast of the Moon. That’s Jupiter.

So, that’s fairly cool. But there’s more!

Get some binoculars and look again. Depending on how good your eyes are and how powerful your binocs are, you will see three or four of Jupiter’s four big “Galilean” moons. They’re running in a plane from lower left to upper right. Won’t be able to see any rings without a telescope, but the moons are pretty cool. At midnight it should be more-or-less overhead, which is when everything will be the brightest & easiest to see.

That's no moon...there's four of them (clicky for big)

The pic I took here was with Tammy’s Pentax K10D on a tripod with the crappy 200mm telephoto that we have. I wasn’t even going to do this until @CanSpice said that he had good results, so out I went. Focus ring doesn’t go far enough over to make this really sharp, so between that and, you know, the whole “we’re moving” part, this is as good as I can get with the equipment we have. has some ridiculous pictures posted from other people who have real equipment, along with some more info.

Uranus (heh*) is also in the vicinity (only one degree off), but I wasn’t able to find it–not enough power. All of us (Sun, Earth, Jupiter, Uranus) are all lined up in a row, which is why everything is so close together.

I would expect that there will be another few nights when Jupiter is really visible, so if you don’t see this tonight, all hope is not completely lost.

* I’m sorry, I still, and probably will always, snicker at this