Saturday, August 6, 2011

Events for the Week 8/6 to 8/13

Astronomy is back...please excuse no events last week...and her to stay! We have a multitude of exciting things happening in these coming weeks so stay tuned for them all! Beside stellar occultations and planetary conjunctions, it's just an ordinary week, with extraordinary astronomy finds.

Events for Saturday, August 6, 2011:

Tonight, the first-quarter moon lights the night sky in Libra, directly due-south after sunset and one-third of the way to the zenith. 7:08 am EDT is when the moon is at the fullest first-quarter possible, but the moon doesn't rise until approximately 2:15 pm, later that day. Our moon will appear more than half-lit, but this isn't uncommon, the moon's phases are unique - every one of them!

As you can see in the picture above, the moon just misses passing through the celestial gateway, as it will in 2014. The 'celestial gateway event' is a very rare event that occurs when the moon passes between the stars Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali, or Alpha & Beta Librae. It's such a rare sight! Because of how much this celestial gateway is on the ecliptic, the moon may eclipse before this event in 2014? I don't know...just a comment.

Events for Sunday, August 7, 2011: 

The moon shines around Antares, near the head of Scorpius, this night. But, enough of the moon! Don't we see it every night - try watching something else, like Pluto. Pluto reached opposition last June, so the peak time for observation is over, but you can still manage to see it with your telescope (10+ inch). It will conjunct this week with star Y Sagittarii, just passing 0.1 degrees south of it, making spotting Pluto a step up. If you have an extremely strong telescope, try viewing Pluto's new moon?

So, if you don't have a telescope wider than 10 inches, try searching for stars in the sky, and familiarize yourself with the constellations. Constellation guide. Also try downloading astronomy programs like Celestia, Stellarium, etc.

Events for Monday, August 8, 2011

Before the sun rises (4 am): The east-northeast sky brings us Mars, glowing at magnitude 1.4 in western Gemini. (Mars has moved a lot since it was in Taurus last). Be careful not to confuse it with surrounding stars. This week, try not to locate Betelgeuse (star in Orion about fifteen degrees to the lower right of Mars) and say you've found Mars."This morning, Mars lies slightly more than 1° north of 3rd-magnitude Eta (η) Geminorum. On Thursday morning, the planet slides a similar distance north of 3rd-magnitude Mu (μ) Gem." (

After the sun sets: You too can still view asteroid 4 Vesta! Opposition occurred the 5 of August, but you can still see the protoplanet. What about Dawn? If you have a strong enough telescope, look away! (Don't forget Ceres as well...)

Vesta, as seen by Dawn
Events for Tuesday, August 9, 2011:

As we return to the beautiful mini-solar system of Jupiter, watch out! Ganymede will eclipse around 3:24 am, with the transit of the Great Red Spot later, at 4:08 am.  Ganymede, Jupiter's biggest satellite, will disappear into eclipse by Jupiter's shadow around 3:24 a.m. Detailed list of Jovian Phenomena here, just click 'now' for most recent events.

Simulation of Jupiter's moons, August 10, 2011 at 00:00 UT; l-r, Callisto, Europa, Io, Ganymede

Events for Wednesday, August 10, 2011:

"In late afternoon or early evening, the dark edge of the gibbous moon occults the 2.9-magnitude star Pi Sagittarii (in the Teaspoon) for the eastern half of North America." (Sky&Telescope). Make sure to see our article! (Will be published August 8, 2011). Also, it may be best to view the Perseid meteor shower this morning. The Perseids are here!

A Perseid in 2009
Events for Thursday, August 11, 2011:

The beautiful Big Dipper shines north tonight, with Polaris at straight north. If you can manage, try looking for Cassiopeia farther northeast, abut the same height as the big dipper. (Persieds peak tonight).

Credit: Akira Fujii
Events for Friday, August 12, 2011:

The Persieds keep oncoming watch out for them!

Events for Saturday, August 13, 2011

Tonight the full moon will shine upon the earth, at 2:57 pm EDT. It will between Aquarius and Capricornus.

Solar System Calendar

06 Aug 2011 11:08:19 First Quarter
07 Aug 2011 04:46:57 Max. South Declination of Mars, 23.7°
07 Aug 2011 08:47:24 Min. South Declination of Mercury, 7.1°
08 Aug 2011 23:19:55 Min. North Declination of the Moon, -23.2°
09 Aug 2011 06:34:41 Ascending Knot Passage of the Moon
09 Aug 2011 08:50:08 Perihelion of Venus, 0.71846 AU from Sun
12 Aug 2011 13:48:13 Conjunction of Pallas with the Moon, 32.7°
12 Aug 2011 23:00:46 Conjunction of Vesta with the Moon, 10.5°
13 Aug 2011 00:08:31 Min. North Latitude of Mercury, -4.8°
13 Aug 2011 08:48:35 Farthest Distance of Venus, 1.73085 AU from Earth
13 Aug 2011 18:55:31 Closest Approach of Mercury, 0.60525 AU from Earth
13 Aug 2011 18:57:32 Full Moon

Planet Viewing

I have located a wonderful resource for viewing the planets and other events in August 2011. Here is the link - it has it all. I highly recommend spending time to look at this.

Have a great viewing this week!

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