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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.
 

Mon. Aug. 1 – The early part of August will offer more early morning opportunities to see a pre-dawn planetary lineup arcing into the sky from the east. Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will be taking part.

Wed. Aug. 3 – For those looking for something interesting in the evening sky, tonight the waxing crescent Moon will be near Spica in Virgo. While alpha Virgo appears as just a bright blue-white star to us, at home about 250 light years away it would be quite a spectacle… two large suns which orbit each other so closely that their mutual gravity distorts them into egg shapes. In fact they orbit each other in only four days!

Fri. Aug. 5 – This is First Quarter Moon night. The ecliptic path in the early evening is still low in the southern sky in August, and neatly divided Luna will look down on late summer Okanagan scenes from near Antares and the stars of Scorpius.

Thurs. Aug. 11 – For those looking forward to seeing planets in the evening sky for a change, tonight the Full Moon will be close to Saturn as they rise around midnight, the time depending on your southeast horizon. Adding to the interest will be Jupiter looking on from the upper left.

Fri. Aug. 12 – One of the main annual meteor showers, the Perseids, will peak tonight, however unfortunately since it’s Full Moon night Luna will wipe out fainter shower members. The radiant in Perseus climbs up into the northeast sky as the night progresses. Since the Perseids is an extended shower, it would be worthwhile to look for members throughout August. The Perseids are produced by particles released from comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle burning up in the atmosphere.

Sun. Aug. 14 – Planets really move along. After a long stretch performing in the morning sky this spring, the ringed wonder Saturn will be at opposition tonight, positioned directly across the sky from the Sun. At this point in its orbit, the tilt of Saturn’s rings is about 14_ with the north face exposed.

Mon. Aug. 15 – Luna, now in waning gibbous mode, finds herself in the company of brilliant Jupiter in the wee hours as the gas giant planet prepares its entry further into the evening sky.

Tues. Aug. 16 – It was an important time in ancient Egypt when astronomers, and presumably agriculturists, looked for the first sign of Sirius rising in the east–southeast. In the epoch of the Egyptian empire it was the signal for the coming of the annual flood of the Nile. In our time and location Sirius’ appearance takes place about 20 minutes before sunrise around mid August.  If you should wake early and spy the helical rising of the sky’s brightest star, it could be taken as signaling the coming approach of our Okanagan apple harvest.

Thurs. Aug. 18 – The morning sky is still celebrating a planet show. As the eastern sky begins to brighten this morning, our inner companion Venus will rise near the dim open star cluster M44, the Beehive Cluster. Binoculars will enhance the view of the busy scene.

Fri. Aug. 19 – A last quarter Moon will be in illustrious company in the pre dawn hours this morning. To Luna’s left will be the small dipper asterism of the Pleiades open star cluster and just below her will be Mars which is starting to brighten as it rises in the eastern sky toward its next opposition on December 8. Below them will be the beautiful Hyades open star cluster. Taken together it will be a wonderful naked eye scene which will be enhanced with binoculars.

Sat. Aug. 20 – In the wee hours this morning the waning crescent Luna will be placed between two beautiful open star clusters. The Hyades will be to her lower right, the Pleiades to the upper right and ruddy Mars will complete a diamond pattern.

Tues. Aug. 23 – Before daybreak this morning the waning crescent Moon will be seen in the constellation Gemini with the star twins Castor and Pollux just to the left.

Thurs. Aug. 25 – It will be a tricky observation, but if you have a low eastern horizon, and the weatherman gives us a break, the very thin crescent Moon will be poised just above brilliant Venus as they rise just as dawn is breaking this morning.

Sun. Aug. 28 – 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. A dark sky location with a low eastern horizon will be needed, and with the just past New Moon out of the way the next few mornings should offer an early opportunity to see the phenomenon.

Tues. Aug. 30 – As we near the end of August, a scene of things to come can be seen after midnight as Mars climbs into the sky just above Aldebaran and just below the Pleiades open star cluster. Come December a similar scene will be located high in the southern night sky.