Home / Space force / This Week's Sky at a Glance, August 14 – 22 – Sky & Telescope

This Week's Sky at a Glance, August 14 – 22 – Sky & Telescope

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■ How early in twilight can you see Jupiter after which Saturn glimmering into view? Search for them within the south-southeast, as proven under. (To their proper, you will want binoculars to select the Sagittarius Teapot stars till twilight is almost over.)

Later the Jupiter-Saturn pair turns completely horizontal, just a little earlier every evening. How effectively are you able to choose when this occurs? The precise time will depend upon the place you reside in your time zone. However anticipate it to occur about 4 minutes earlier with every passing day.

Jupiter, magnitude –2.6 this week, outshines Saturn, magnitude +zero.2, by 13 instances. (The components, for many who have requested: If DeltaM is the distinction between two magnitudes, the brightness distinction between them, when it comes to the precise quantity of sunshine, is 2.512DeltaM .)

Double shadow on Jupiter. Late tonight, Jupiter’s moons Ganymede and Io each forged their tiny black shadows onto the planet’s face without delay from 12:08 to 1:54 a.m. EDT. The central and western states have probably the most handy view of Jupiter throughout the occasion; subtract three hours from these instances to get PDT.

And, Jupiter’s Nice Crimson Spot ought to cross the planet’s central meridian earlier than then, round 11:26 p.m. EDT.

■ In early daybreak Saturday morning, look east for Venus paired superbly with the waning crescent Moon, as proven under. They’re solely three° or four° aside for the Americas, shining within the dim toes of Gemini.

Search for Castor and Pollux to their decrease left. Orion is farther to their proper or decrease proper.


■ August is prime Milky Means time! After darkish, the Milky Means extends up from low within the the south (the place it runs between the tail of Scorpius and the spout of the Sagittarius Teapot), up and left throughout Aquila and thru the large Summer time Triangle very excessive within the east, and on down by means of Cassiopeia to Perseus rising low within the north-northeast.

■ Here is a little-known Milky Means sight: In southwestern Scorpius close to Lupus, off the deep-sky observer’s overwhelmed monitor, is the modest open cluster NGC 6124. It is sixth magnitude in whole, however its stars are scattered throughout about zero.7°, so it isn’t a lot to have a look at in binoculars or a wide-field scope.

Nevertheless it must be. As Matt Wedel remarks within the August Sky & Telescope‘s Binocular Spotlight (web page 43), this cluster is comparatively close by at only one,700 gentle years, however it’s darkened by no less than three completely different clouds or sheets of interstellar mud alongside our line of sight to it, in addition to mud inside the cluster itself. Have been the view dust-free, he says, NGC 6124 would shine “as brilliant and outstanding as a few of the showier Messier clusters.”

Use his chart there to seek out it. Look instantly after darkish; it is fairly low and shortly to get decrease. The farther south you’re the higher.

■ Early within the daybreak of Sunday the 16th, Pollux and Castor shine left of the waning crescent Moon, as proven above.


Each time brilliant Vega crosses nearest your zenith, because it does quickly after darkish now, you understand that the Sagittarius Teapot is at its highest due south.

Two hours later when Deneb crosses closest to the zenith, it is the flip of little Delphinus and boat-shaped Capricornus down under to face at their highest due south.

■ In early daybreak Monday morning the 17th, you will discover the skinny crescent Moon means down beneath Pollux and Castor, as proven above.


■ The brightest star excessive within the southeast these evenings, excessive to the higher left of Jupiter and Saturn, is Altair. Search for little orange Tarazed above it by a finger-width at arm’s size. Altair is barely 17 light-years away. Tarazed (Gamma Aquilae) is a pink big about 400 light-years within the background.

Hardly greater than a fist-width to Altair’s left is delicate Delphinus, the Dolphin, leaping left: towards the east.

Barely much less far above or higher left of Altair, search for smaller, fainter Sagitta, the Arrow. It too factors east.


■ As August proceeds and nights start to show chilly, the Nice Sq. of Pegasus looms up within the east, balancing on one nook. Its stars are solely 2nd and third magnitude, and your fist at arm’s size matches inside it. Down under it, glary Mars rises lower than an hour after darkish.

From the Nice Sq.’s left nook runs the primary line of the constellation Andromeda: three stars (together with the nook) about as brilliant as these forming the Sq.. The road extends left and a bit down.

This entire big sample was named “the Andromegasus Dipper” by the late Sky & Telescope columnist George Lovi. It is formed form of like a large Little Dipper with an extra-big bowl, and it is at the moment lifting its contents upward.

■ New Moon (precise at 10:42 p.m. EDT).


■ The precise Little Dipper, in the meantime, is tipping over leftward within the north. It is solely 40% so long as the Andromegasus Dipper, and most of it’s a lot fainter. As at all times, you will discover that it is oriented greater than 90° counterclockwise in comparison with Andromegasus. It is dumping its contents out.


■ As summer time progresses and Arcturus strikes down the western sky, the kite determine of Bootes that sprouts from Arcturus tilts to the appropriate. The kite is slim, barely bent with its prime leaning proper, and 23° lengthy: about two fists at arm’s size. Arcturus is its backside level the place the stubby tail is tied on.

Off to the Kite’s proper within the northwest, the Huge Dipper slants diagonally.


■ Spot the skinny crescent Moon low within the west in twilight. Look to its left by about 16° for Spica twinkling into view. Spica, often thought of a star of spring, is heading down and out for the 12 months.

A lot nearer to the Moon (for the Americas) is fainter Gamma Virginis, proven on the plot under. They’re only a diploma or two aside as seen on the instances of nightfall for North America.

The Moon on the 21st poses close to Gamma Virginis, magnitude 2.7. On the 22nd the Moon hangs over Spica, magnitude 1.zero. The Moon right here is at all times drawn about 3 times its precise obvious dimension, so do not choose the celebrities’ distances from the Moon by the Moon’s dimension right here.

One other double shadow transit on Jupiter. On Friday evening Io and Ganymede are each casting their tiny black shadows onto the face of Jupiter, this time from 11:32 p.m. to 1:20 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time. This occasion is for westerners.


■ Late these evenings Fomalhaut, the Autumn Star, makes its inevitable look above the southeast horizon. Its rising time will depend upon the place you reside. However by 10 or 11 p.m. now, you shouldn’t have any bother figuring out it low within the southeast when you’ve got an excellent view in that course. No different 1st-magnitude star is wherever close by.


This Week’s Planet Roundup

Mercury is hidden at the side of the Solar.

Venus (magnitude –four.four, within the toes of Gemini) rises in deep darkness about two hours earlier than daybreak begins, a bizarre UFO of a factor within the east-northeast. As daybreak will get beneath means, Venus blazes brightly up within the east. You may discover Castor and Pollux off to its left and Orion farther to its proper. The brightest star excessive higher left of Venus is Capella.

In a telescope Venus is close to dichotomy, half lit.

Mars rises within the east about an hour after the top of twilight. It emerges Sirius-bright (magnitude –1.four) and strongly orange, like a far-off bonfire. The place will it come up? Watch the horizon far under the Nice Sq. of Pegasus.

By early daybreak Mars shines grandly excessive and brilliant within the south, now a high-blown firespark. It is close to the dim Knot of Pisces.

In a telescope this week Mars grows from 16½ to 17½ arcseconds in obvious diameter. That is greater than at some oppositions, however we’re nonetheless approaching Mars as we pace alongside our quicker orbit across the Solar. Once we catch as much as and move Mars at opposition in early October, it’ll seem 22.6 arcseconds huge and can shine at a Jupiter-bright magnitude –2.6, 3 times as brilliant as now.

Mars remains to be gibbous, 89% sunlit. Search for its white South Polar cap, attainable clouds particularly close to the limb, and subtler darkish floor markings. To get a map of the facet going through you on the date and time you will observe, use our Mars Profiler. The map there may be sq.; bear in mind to mentally wrap it onto the facet of a globe. (Options close to the map’s edges turn into very foreshortened.)

Mars on August 12th, imaged by Enrico Enzmann and Damian Peach with a 76cm (30-inch) telescope. South is up. The South Polar Cap has shrunk vastly with the advance of summer time in Mars’s southern hemisphere. The mud within the Martian ambiance that hazed the view a month in the past appears gone. The big, darkish spherical function close to the terminator higher left of heart is Solis Lacus and its environment. The big, wavy darkish band working towards the appropriate limb is Mare Sirenum. In from the underside proper limb, low-contrast Olympus Mons is clearly recorded. The one signal of cloud is the refined fringe of the North Polar Cloud Hood alongside the underside limb.

Jupiter and Saturn (magnitudes –2.6 and +zero.2, respectively) shine within the south-southeast in twilight. They’re highest within the south, for sharpest telescopic viewing, round 10 or 11 p.m. daylight-saving time. Jupiter is the brightest; Saturn is eight° to its left.

Decrease proper of Jupiter after darkish is the deal with of the Sagittarius Teapot, as proven on the prime of this web page.

Observe the telescopic interaction of Jupiter with its moons and their shadows, and discover all of the transit instances of Jupiter’s Nice Crimson Spot, within the Celestial Calendar part of the August Sky & Telescope, web page 50.

Jupiter with Callisto in transit, imaged by Christopher Go on August 11th at 13:22 UT. South right here is up. Callisto has the darkest floor of Jupiter’s 4 main moons, and its darkness is exaggerated by the distinction enhancement on this picture. However even visually, Callisto in transit (a reasonably unusual sight) is usually mistaken for a satellite tv for pc’s shadow.

Writes Go, “That is the area [following] the Nice Crimson Spot. The North Equatorial Belt could be very energetic on this area; complicated rifts and [white] outbreaks. The South Equatorial Belt could be very pale on this area.” Callisto is seen in entrance of the slim, white North Temperate Zone.

Saturn on July 27th, only a week after opposition, imaged by Damian Peach and Enrico Enzmann. South is up. The ring tilt has modified simply sufficient that solely a hint of the globe peeks up from behind the rings’ south edge.

Uranus (magnitude 5.eight, in Aries) is effectively up within the east by midnight or 1 a.m. daylight-saving time, almost 20° to the celestial east of Mars.

Neptune (magnitude 7.eight, in Aquarius) could be very excessive within the southeast by then. Finder charts for Uranus and Neptune.

All descriptions that relate to your horizon — together with the phrases up, down, proper, and left — are written for the world’s mid-northern latitudes. Descriptions that additionally depend upon longitude (primarily Moon positions) are for North America.

Japanese Daylight Time, EDT, is Common Time (also referred to as UT, UTC, GMT, or Z time) minus four hours.

Need to turn into a greater astronomer? Study your means across the constellations. They’re the important thing to finding every thing fainter and deeper to hunt with binoculars or a telescope.

That is an out of doors nature interest. For an easy-to-use constellation information overlaying the entire night sky, use the large month-to-month map within the heart of every challenge of Sky & Telescope, the important journal of astronomy.

When you get a telescope, to place it to good use you will want an in depth, large-scale sky atlas (set of charts). The essential commonplace is the Pocket Sky Atlas (in both the original or Jumbo Edition), which reveals stars to magnitude 7.6.

Pocket Sky Atlas cover, Jumbo edition
The Pocket Sky Atlas plots 30,796 stars to magnitude 7.6, and tons of of telescopic galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae amongst them. Proven right here is the Jumbo Version, in laborious covers and enlarged for simpler studying outdoor at evening. Sample chart. More about the recent new editions.

Subsequent up is the bigger and deeper Sky Atlas 2000.0, plotting stars to magnitude eight.5; almost 3 times as many. The subsequent up, as soon as you understand your means round, are the even bigger Interstellarum atlas (stars to magnitude 9.5) or Uranometria 2000.0 (stars to magnitude 9.75). And browse how to use sky charts with a telescope.

You may additionally desire a good deep-sky guidebook, comparable to Sky Atlas 2000.0 Companion by Sturdy and Sinnott, or the larger (and illustrated) Night Sky Observer’s Guide by Kepple and Sanner.

Can a computerized telescope exchange charts? Not for newcomers, I do not suppose, and never on mounts and tripods which might be lower than top-quality mechanically, which means heavy and costly. And as Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer say of their Backyard Astronomer’s Guide, “A full appreciation of the universe can’t come with out growing the talents to seek out issues within the sky and understanding how the sky works. This data comes solely by spending time beneath the celebrities with star maps in hand.”

Audio sky tour. Out beneath the night sky together with your
earbuds in place, hearken to Kelly Beatty’s month-to-month
podcast tour of the heavens above. It is free.

“The hazards of not pondering clearly are a lot higher now than ever earlier than. It isn’t that there is one thing new in our mind-set, it is that credulous and confused pondering might be way more deadly in methods it was by no means earlier than.”
            — Carl Sagan, 1996

“Details are cussed issues.”
            — John Adams, 1770

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