| Observatory |
Some observing hilights
to look forward to...
The following tips on current and upcoming astronomical events
have been gathered from magazines and other sources by Dave Gamble
with the objective of giving OC RASC members a heads-up on
special personal astro-experiences to look forward to.
Fri. Sept. 1 - For meteor shower fans who enjoyed August's Perseid meteor shower, there will be a more modest treat in the pre-dawn hours this morning. 'Aurigid meteors' are definitely in the minor league, but this morning they will peak in the northeast sky before dawn. Unfortunately there will be a waxing gibbous Moon to interfere and wash out faint members. Aurigids typically produce only a handful of meteors per hour, but there have been outburst years.
Sun. Sept. 3 - With the earlier arrival of dusk, those wishing some serious fun observing might consider the 'Milky Way Marathon'. In the same way that the maximum number of Messier objects can be seen in the course of a night in March, it is possible to see virtually all of the Milky Way that is visible from Canada during September. The idea is to begin in the evening with Sagittarius on the southern horizon, and work your way up the Milky Way through Scutum, Cygnus and overhead. As the night wears on the perspective changes as the Perseus arm begins to swing overhead and more and more of the 'other side' of the Milky Way rises, culminating with the appearance of Taurus and Orion and the outside view of our galaxy during the pre-dawn hours. Our Okanagan Observatory with its excellent Milky Way dark sky view would be a perfect place for this all night campaign.
Mon. Sept. 4 – Jupiter is approaching a close pass with Spica. Look for the pair low in the western sky just after nightfall. On the other side of night for a couple of days will be a pre-dawn meet-up of Mars and Regulus in Leo.
Wed. Sept. 6 - Tonight celebrates the bounty of the fall season with the Harvest Moon. In earlier times the Moon performed a useful and important function by adding light to late evening harvest operations, not just for one night, but several in a row. This is because in fall our satellite is moving higher along the ecliptic which compensates somewhat for its eastwardly movement each night. The Moon will be less than the width of three fingers below Neptune for telescope users who are tempted to find it.
Fri. Sept. 8 – The just past full Moon will again play spoil sport for the dark sky opportunity to spy another minor meteor shower. These are called the Epsilon Perseids, and they offer the prospect of seeing a handful of ‘shooting stars’ per hour emanating from the vicinity of the ‘devil star’ Algol which climbs up the eastern sky toward the zenith in the hours before daybreak.
Sat. Sept. 9 - Tonight the Moon will cozy up to the ice giant Uranus. Look for the pale green planet less than three finger widths above the waning gibbous Moon.
Sun. Sept. 10 – For early risers, fleet Mercury will pass just over a Moon’s width below bright Regulus in Leo in the pre-dawn sky.
Mon. Sept. 11 – An interesting program is lined up for tonight’s sky. After nightfall Jupiter and Spica will form a close pair low in the southwest. During the middle night hours the waning gibbous Moon will tour through the Hyades open star cluster. And to top things off for those staying up all night, the Moon will occult Aldebaran just at dawn.
Tues. Sept. 12 – For those up early for the Aldebaran occultation mentioned above, something else to keep an eye out for will be Mercury which reaches its greatest western elongation from the Sun low in the pre-dawn sky. This will be its best morning show in 2017.
Wed. Sept. 13 – This is Last Quarter Moon night with our half lit companion rising around midnight and hanging around to ornament the morning sky. The next dark sky period is just around the corner!
Fri. Sept. 15 - The Zodiacal Light is something that is most often mentioned in the spring months when the Sun illuminates dust particles in the equatorial plane of the solar system, producing a faint triangle of light extending into the western evening sky. The same applies to fall, however in this case the glow is seen in the pre-dawn eastern sky. The coming weeks will offer an opportunity for early risers to view and identify the fall Zodiacal light extending upward through the stars of Leo, Cancer and Gemini.
Sat. Sept. 16 – The two smallest inner planets will have an early morning meet-up today. Look for them low in the eastern sky before sunrise.
Sun. Sept. 17 – The waning crescent Moon participates in another early morning viewing event, passing just south of Venus.
Tues. Sept. 18 – An impressive celestial congo line will form low in the pre-dawn sky this morning. Venus, Mars and Mercury will anchor the luminaries that will also include Regulus in Leo and a waning crescent Moon. A favourable western elongation will enable Mercury to take part in the festivities.
Wed. Sept. 20 – This is New Moon night with our companion tucked safely away in the Sun’s direction, leaving dark skies for observing, sketching and imaging.
Fri. Sept. 22 - Where did the time go? It seemed only weeks ago we observed the Summer Solstice with the Sun setting at its northernmost point on the horizon. The official moment of autumnal equinox will be at 1.02pm.
Fri. Sept. 22 – The fingernail pairing crescent Moon will pass just north of Jupiter low in the southwest sky after nightfall.
Tues. Sept. 26 – Tonight the Moon will pass close to Saturn in this evening’s sky.
Wed. Sept. 27 – This is First Quarter Moon night with the half slice of orange surveying the early signs of fall in the Okanagan.