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What's Up...
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.

Tues. Aug. 2 – This is New Moon Night, the heart of the dark sky period which is made for deep sky observing, sketching and imaging.

Wed. Aug. 3 – Jupiter is steadily moving lower in the evening sky. As one of its curtain calls, the banded planet and its four Galilean attendants will appear low in the western sky at nightfall. To its lower right will be Mercury and lower still (a very low horizon will be needed) Venus can be spied entering the stage for its next performance as the evening star.

Thurs. Aug. 4 – The thin crescent Moon will be seen in the company of Mercury early this evening. The innermost planet will be about the width of two fingers above the waxing curved lunar sliver.

Fri. Aug. 5 – Tonight the restless crescent Moon has moved eastward in the evening twilight sky to meet up with Jupiter which can be spied just above it.

Sun. Aug. 7 – Our satellite companion can be found in the company of two stars in Virgo tonight. Look low in the southwest to spy Spica and Gamma Virginis flanking the lunar crescent.

Wed. Aug. 10 – This is First Quarter Moon night with the half slice of orange placed high in the south to assist in celebration of the joys of the latter part of the Okanagan summer.

Thurs., Fri. Aug. 11, 12 - This is a very exciting time of the year as one of the most prominent meteor showers, the Perseids, arrives. The peak will be at dawn on Friday, so it would be a good idea to get out and give it a try on Thursday night. A waxing gibbous Moon will not help the post-peak meteors on Friday evening, however it will be low in the western sky and will have set by 2am leaving the field clear for the second half of the big annual show.

Thurs. Aug. 11 – To give you something to look at while you await the darkening sky for Perseids, there is the bonus of having the just past quarter Moon posing equidistant from Saturn to the east and Mars below. The separations will be about the width of three fingers.

Sat. Aug. 13 – This was a big time in ancient Egypt when astronomers and presumably agriculturists looked for the first sign of Sirius rising in the east – southeast about 20 minutes before sunrise. For them it was the signal for the coming annual flood of the Nile. If you should wake early and spy the helical rising of the sky’s brightest star, it could mean the start of this year’s early Okanagan apple harvest.

Tues. Aug. 16 – There is a chance to spot Mercury tonight as it reaches the greatest angular distance from the Sun in its current evening apparition. Keeping company low in the western evening sky will be Jupiter as it advances toward its exit, stage west.

Thurs. Aug. 18 – This is Full Moon Night as our companion performs its late summer warmup for next month’s Harvest Moon.

Sun. Aug. 21 – There is nothing very special about it, but you may notice the waning gibbous Moon looking rather pleased with itself as it rises early this evening. This is because our companion is at perihelion, its closest to Earth, and therefore a bit larger in diameter than it was around August 9th.

Tues. Aug. 23 – After its showy opposition performance in May, Mars is moving eastward in the sky and will rendezvous with its nemesis, red Antares, as well as yellow Saturn in the southwest evening sky. Tonight Mars will be about one finger width above Antares and the width of two fingers below Saturn, forming a great binocular view.

Wed. Aug. 24 – This is Last Quarter Moon night, signaling the approach of the next dark sky period for deep sky adventures. The reverse half orange will rise over the eastern horizon around midnight and will be high in the Okanagan sky to see the new late summer day started next morning.

Thurs. Aug. 25 – The waning Moon can be found in the midst of the Hyades open star cluster in Taurus in the hours before daybreak.

Sat. Aug. 27 – A dramatic meeting will take place low in the western sky after sunset tonight. Bright Venus and Jupiter will come only about one third of the width of the Moon from each other, forming an unlikely ‘double star’ best seen in binoculars.

Tues. Aug. 30 – You can tell we are nearing fall when word spreads that the Zodiacal Light is becoming visible in the pre-dawn sky. While the ZL is  most often mentioned in the spring months when it appears in the western sky, the same applies in fall except that the triangular glow is seen in the pre-dawn eastern sky. The ghostly Zodiacal light arises when the Sun illuminates dust particles in the equatorial plane of the solar system.