| 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.
Thurs. 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, and fortunately there will be no Moon to interfere. Aurigids typically produce only a handful of meteors per hour, but there have been outburst years.
Thurs. Sept. 1 – This is New Moon night with our bright neighbour hiding in front of the Sun, leaving the night totally dark for deep sky activities.
Sat. 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.
Sun. Sept. 4 – The waxing crescent Moon has company tonight low in the western sky with the star Spica only the width of three fingers to its lower left.
Mon. Sept. 5 - 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.
Thurs. Sept. 8 – There is a lot of action in the evening sky tonight as the almost half Moon poses just above Saturn with Mars about twice the distance to the left and ruddy Antares to the left of Saturn.
Thurs. Sept. 8 – As the almost first quarter Moon sets before midnight tonight, it provides a 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 Friday daybreak.
Fri. Sept. 9 – This is First Quarter Moon night with our neighbour brightening the evening sky with its perfectly symmetrical half lit sphere.
Thurs. Sept. 15 – The waxing gibbous Moon provides a fingerpost to blue ice giant Neptune tonight. Look for the remote blue planet the width of your little finger south of the bright globe.
Fri. Sept. 16 - 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.
Sat. Sept. 17 – Tonight Venus will cruise the width of two fingers north of Spica in Virgo low in the western sky.
Sun. Sept. 18 – Though the Moon is only two days past full, if it appears a bit robust it is because it is at perigee, the closest point of its orbit from Earth and thus a bit larger in size.
Sun. Sept. 18 – For those who would like to add Uranus to their observing list, the Moon will make that a bit easier tonight since it will pass less than half its width below the green ice giant planet.
Thurs. 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 7.21am.
Fri. Sept. 23 - Algol the Devil Star will put on a performance this evening. The eclipsing binary star will be at minimum brightness from 6.15 pm to 9.19pm. The onset and recessional periods are gradual, so you might compare its brightness with neighbouring stars in Perseus again late in the evening to see the difference.
Fri. Sept. 23 – This is Last Quarter Moon night. If you are not up to see the reverse half Moon rise over the eastern horizon after midnight, it will still be high in the sky to greet you next morning. Our companion is backing out of the night sky, leaving increasing time to enjoy deep sky observing, imaging and sketching.
Tues. Sept. 27 – The diminishing crescent Moon will ornament the pre-dawn sky accompanied by Regulus in Leo to its lower left.
Wed. Sept. 28 – Mars continues to grow fainter as the Earth speeds ahead of it in its faster inner orbit. Tonight the red planet will be only two Moon widths from the Lagoon Nebula low in the south-western sky. A great sight in a telescope!
Wed. Sept. 28 – Mercury reaches its greatest western elongation in the pre dawn sky. This will be its best morning performance of the year.
Thurs. Sept. 29 – For early risers able to observe about a half hour before sunrise, a thin crescent Moon will appear just below fleet Mercury in the pre dawn sky.
Fri. Sept. 30 – This is New Moon night, the heart of the dark moon period for deep sky frivolity.