| Observatory |
Some observing hilights
to look forward to...
The following tips on exciting 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.
The pictures are from Jim Failes' photo collection. Hope you enjoy them!
Sat. March 1 - Al Fishler of the Penticton meeting group was the one who remarked on March having two New Moons this year. While some refer to the second Full Moon in one month as a 'Blue Moon', Al has found out that the second occurrence of a New Moon in one month is referred to as a 'Black Moon'.
Sat. March 1 - Another reminder that the Zodiacal light continues to be its most available to early evening observers for most of March. Under dark sky conditions, look for an arch of faint, hazy light stretching up from the western horizon. You will be looking at light being scattered by the leftover dust in the Sun's equatorial plane.
Fri. March 7 - The rapidly waxing Moon will be seen four Moon widths above bright Aldebaran in the evening sky. At home, Aldebaran is an orange giant star about 65 light years from us. Having exhausted its hydrogen fuel it is waiting until it is hot enough to move to its auxiliary Helium tank. In the meantime it is continuing to expand and it is now over 44 times the size of our Sun, shining 425 times brighter than Sol.
Sat. March 8 - A reminder that Daylight Saving Time begins tomorrow so clocks, watches and microwave ovens should be 'sprung ahead' one hour before you retire for the night. The event will be marked by the First Quarter Moon in the evening sky.
Sun. March 9 - Things to look for tonight include the waxing Moon shining just below brilliant Jupiter in the night sky. Below is a picture of a similar scene which was taken by Jim Failes.
Sun. March 9 - This would be a perfect opportunity to watch the 'demon star' in action. The dimmer of the two close components of Algol, the second brightest star in Perseus, will move in front of its primary making the star as we see it become noticeably dimmer from around 7.30pm to 9.30pm this evening. A good idea would be to compare its brightness to neighbouring stars before 7pm and then watch what happens when it enters its minimum phase. This do si do occurs just less than every three days, however tonight's performance will be perfectly timed for convenient viewing. Algol actually has a third component C, but it doesn't dance. Following is a picture of the constellation Perseus and Algol which was taken by Jim Failes.
Mon. March 10 - The dark limb of the waxing gibbous Moon will occult a fairly bright star around 7.53pm this evening. The target star is 4th magnitude Lambda Geminorum. Always interesting to watch a star in binoculars or a telescope suddenly wink out of sight as the Moon overtakes it.
Fri. March 14 - The inner planet Mercury is at its greatest elongation west of the Sun this morning, however the low angle of its orbit will keep it close to the eastern horizon. Below is a picture of elusive Mercury which was taken by Jim Failes.
Sun. March 16 - This is Full Moon night when our neighbour will rise almost due east from behind the valley mountains. Below is a picture of the Full Moon rising above the trees which was taken by Jim Failes.
Mon. March 17 - For the next two nights the bright star Spica (pronounced 'SPEE ka') in Virgo will form changing triangular patterns with ruddy Mars and the just past full Moon. A picture of an earlier meeting of the Moon and Spica which was taken by Jim Failes can be seen below.
Thurs. March 20 - A nice sight for early risers will be the star Alpha Librae which will form a line with Saturn and the waning Moon in the dawn sky. We refer to the star in this way since its personal name is Zubenelgenubi which can be difficult to get your tongue around first thing in the morning.
Thurs. March 20 - This is a big day since it marks the first day of Spring in the northern hemisphere. Watch for news of a Spring Equinox observance at Pen Henge in Penticton. The actual time of the equinox is 9.57am our time.
Fri. March 21 - The Moon is continuing to wane, not fast enough for deep sky observers, sketchers and imagers, but moving along just the same. Tonight bright Saturn will be seen just to its right.
Sat. March 22- Venus is now at its greatest elongation west of the Sun in the morning sky. A true 'Morning Star'. Check out this picture of bright Venus which was taken by Jim Failes:
Sun. March 23 - This is Last Quarter Moon night which will whet the appetites of deep sky observers, sketchers and imagers for the coming dark moon period.
Tues. March 25 - Mars and Spica have been having a great time together in the morning sky since New Years. Tonight the red planet will be only the width of your three middle fingers above Spica in the late evening sky as our outer neighbour prepares for its main stage performance during its closest passage to Earth coming in April.
Thurs. March 27 - The Moon is waning fast, and in the early morning hours its thin crescent will complement that of brilliant Venus in the eastern sky. A picture of the Moon and Venus taken by Jim Failes in September of 2012 can be seen below.
Sun. March 30 - This is New Moon night again, and as Al Fishler has found out, a 'Black Moon' since it is the second occurrence in one month.