| 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.
Sun. 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 with the new crescent Moon well out of the way. Aurigids typically produce only a handful of meteors per hour, but there have been outburst years.
Tues. 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.
Thurs. Sept. 5 - The First Quarter Moon will join up with Jupiter to try to stir up some early fall magic in this evening's sky. Look for the pair in the low southeastern sky before they set.
Thurs. 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.
Fri. Sept. 6 - Fall is a great time to catch ‘the Demon Star’ in one of its blinks. Algol will reach its minimum brightness in a two hour time period centered at 11.05pm tonight. Compare its brightness with neighbouring stars in Perseus in the north-northeast sky early in the evening and then check it out again around 11pm to see the difference in brightness.
Fri. Sept. 6 - Seeing the tiny blue disk of the outer ice giant Neptune is a challenging as well as an interesting observation. In the early hours this morning it will be made easier to locate thanks to a very close conjunction with the 4 magnitude star Phi Aquarii located south of the circlet of Pisces. Neptune will reach opposition from the Sun next Tuesday.
Sat. Sept. 7 - The sky above the southern horizon will be an exciting place tonight as the waxing gibbous Moon approaches Saturn above the 'teapot' asterism in Sagittarius while Jupiter looks on from further west.
Sun. Sept. 8 – The waxing gibbous Moon will interfere somewhat with the dark sky opportunity to spy another minor meteor shower. This group of ‘shooting stars’ are called the Epsilon Perseids and they offer a handful of streaks per hour, emanating from the vicinity of the ‘devil star’ Algol which climbs up the eastern sky toward the zenith after midnight. The Moon, which will be in deep in the southern sky, moves off the scene about this time to improve observing chances.
Mon. Sept. 9 – There will be another opportunity to see Algol do its slow blink tonight. This time ‘the Devil Star’, as it was known before it was revealed as an eclipsing binary star, will reach its minimum brightness in a two hour time period centered around 10.54pm tonight. By comparing its brightness with neighbouring stars in Perseus several hours before its minimum, its much dimmer appearance around 11pm will be revealed.
Sat. Sept. 14 - Tonight celebrates the bounty of the fall season with the annual 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 year it started last night). This is because in fall our satellite is moving higher along the ecliptic which compensates somewhat for its eastwardly movement each night.
Tues. Sept. 17 - Tonight the Moon will pass less than the width of three fingers below the faint green disk of the ice giant Uranus embedded in the stars of Pisces in the southern fall sky.
Fri. Sept. 20 - Those who are up in the wee hours this morning will be treated to a beautiful sight high in the southeastern sky. The waning gibbous Moon will be in the company of the Hyades open star cluster.
Sat. Sept. 21 - This is Last Quarter Moon night. Just after midnight look for the neatly divided sphere rising over the eastern mountains to add ornament to the wee hours and into the new day.
Mon. Sept. 23 - 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. Now, the second half of the current year is half over! The official moment of autumnal equinox will be early this morning at 12.50am.
Thurs. Sept. 26 - The waning crescent Moon will be only about the width of two fingers from Regulus in Leo in the pre-dawn hours this morning. It gives pause that the Lion's familiar reverse question mark of stars are stalking higher into the early morning sky each night, continuing an inexorable quest which will culminate in this familiar pattern dominating the night sky scene for us next spring.
Sat. Sept. 28 - Another reminder for those up in the pre-dawn hours about the Zodiacal Light which can be seen at its fall best at this time of year. The Sun-illuminated dust particles in the equatorial plane of the solar system manifests itself as a faint elongated triangle of light extending up into the pre-dawn eastern sky with a bit of a tilt to the right.
Sat. Sept. 28 - This is New Moon night when Luna will be totally out of the way and unable to interfere with deep sky observing, imaging and sketching.