Sky's Up July-September 2017 - Page 6

what ’ s up in the sky

what ’ s up in the sky

Late July - Delta Aquarid
Meteor Shower With a radiant point in the Aquarius Constellation , the Delta Aquarids begin their annual amble across the sky in mid- July , bloom in late-July and fade out in the third week of August . They can be seen almost everywhere but favor observers in the Southern Hemisphere and the tropics region of the Northern Hemisphere . This year , the Delta Aquarids ’ loosely-defined peak will occur around July 29th . During the peak , the shower can produce 15-20 meteors per hour . Like other meteor showers , the Delta Aquarids are the result of Earth ’ s passage through debris left behind by a comet . However , the exact source comet for this shower has been a matter of debate . The most likely candidate is Comet 96P / Machholz , which was not discovered until 1986 .
Aug . 12-13 - Perseid Meteor Shower Peak Although the waning gibbous moon will present some significant interference , the always-anticipated Perseid meteor shower should still produce some real stunners when it peaks around Aug . 12th . Caused by the Earth ’ s passage through debris left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle , the Perseids have been known to produce 80- 100 meteors per hour during their peak , and many of these display impressive persistent trains . The shower does favor Northern Hemisphere viewers and occurs in the perfect season for a long night of languishing under the stars . The best time to view will be in the predawn hours well after the moon has set . Because the Moon will already be presenting a significant light battle , observers will want to take extra care this year in choosing where to view because a dark sky will be vital .
Aug . 21 - Total Solar Eclipse The last total solar eclipse to touch any part of the contiguous U . S . happened on February 26 , 1979 , and cut a narrow path across five states in the country ’ s northwest corner . Now , 38 years later , the contiguous U . S . will once again witness a total solar eclipse but this time the path of totality will stretch from coast to coast and cross through 14 states ! The eclipse begins in the Pacific Ocean and wraps up in the Atlantic Ocean , and the U . S . is the
4 only place where the narrow path of totality will actually cross over land . More information on where and when you can see this epic event is spread throughout this issue of Sky ’ s Up !
Sept . 5 - Nepture at
Opposition The fact that Neptune was first found by mathematical prediction rather than actual observation reveals how elusive our planetary sibling can be . But in the weeks leading up to Sept . 5th , amateur astronomers will be getting their telescopes ready for the planet ’ s move into a prime viewing position . On Sept . 5th , the blue-hued Neptune will reach opposition , which means it will sit directly opposite of the Sun when viewed from our planet . Around the same time , it also will be making its closest passage to Earth . These circumstances translate to an excellent observing opportunity . Located in the Aquarius constellation , Neptune will be highest in the sky at midnight local time and will have an apparent visual magnitude of 7.8 . Although it is the fourth largest planet in our solar system , Neptune is not a naked eye object . To see it as more than a brilliant point of light , you will need to use at least a moderate-size telescope , which will hopefully render the planet as a steady blue disk . COURTESY OF Babak Tafreshi , TWAN ( The World at Night )
A meteor appears next to the Milky Way during the Perseid Meteor Shower above ancient Native American petroglyph in the Owens Valley of the Sierras in Bishop , Calif ., on Aug . 11 , 2016 . Oct . 19 - Uranus at Opposition On Oct . 19 , our solar system ’ s third largest
planet , Uranus , will be at opposition , which means it will essentially be at a position directly opposite of the Sun when viewed from Earth . At the same time , it will also be at its closest approach to Earth . For sky watchers , the combination of these factors means the planet will be in a prime viewing position almost all night , peaking at midnight local time . Even though Uranus , which will be located in the Pisces constellation , will appear at its brightest and largest in the night sky during this event , naked eye observations will reveal little more than a star-like point . To really see this remote planet manifest as a pale aqua disk , you will need a moderate-sized telescope , and a larger scope may reveal some of the planet ’ s many moons .
Sky ’ s Up
constellation corner Sagittarius’ offerings are sure to stun Home to our Milky Way’s galactic center, the Sagittarius constellation offers a feast of notable stars, nebulae, clusters and more that can keep your eyepiece filled for nights. Covering an 867 square degree area of sky, the loaded Sagittarius is the 15th largest constellation and is visible from 55° North to 90° South. Before you delve into the bounty of deep sky treasures, a star tour is always a good way to get acquainted with a constellation. Sagittarius is commonly identified as the “Archer,” so it is fitting that the constellation’s brightest star – Kaus Australis — anchors the celestial character’s bow. COURTESY OF Ray Bureau The Lagoon Nebula is one of the standout deep sky treats in the Sagittarius Constellation. It covers an area Although it will take a larger that is about 110 by 50 light years in size and is one of only a few star-forming nebulae that can be seen by scope to resolve it, Kaus the unaided eye. Astrophotographer Ray Bureau used an Explore Scientific ED127 f/7.5 refractor telescope Australis (Epsilon Sagittarii) and an unmodded Canon EOS 70D to get this image. is a binary star system that has spout lies Gamma Sagittarii, a binary SETI researcher Jerry Ehman circled a blue giant with an apparent system with an orange giant that also the evidence on a computer printout visual magnitude of 1.79 as its main acts as the tip of the archer’s arrow. and wrote “Wow!” next to it in big red component. The two other stars that The two stars that outline the handle letters. define the bow are Kaus Media (Delta of the teapot are Sigma Sagittarii, a Sagittarius is also the home of the Sagittarii), which is a multi-star fast rotating dwarf that is the second Pistol Star, which is one of the most system made up of a giant and three brightest star in the constellation, and luminous stars known. Obscured to dim companions, and Kaus Borealis the orange giant Tau Sagittarii. the naked eye by the interstellar dust (Lambda Sagittarii), an orange giant About 120 light years away, Tau of the Pistol Nebula, this variable with an apparent visual magnitude of hypergiant will pop out as a bright 2.82 that lies very close to the ecliptic. Sagittarii’s fame extends beyond its place in the teapot. It is actually the blue stunner when viewed through a In addition to rendering the Archer’s closest visible star to the origin of telescope. Other stellar sights include bow, these three stars are part of the the Wow! Signal, which was the first Eta Sagittarii, a multi-star system eight that form the constellation’s and only narrowband radio signal famous Teapot Asterism. Kaus with a red giant irregular variable, ever received that met the criteria Borealis marks the point of the Alpha Sagittarii, a blue dwarf with an teapot’s lid, while Kaus Australis and for possible communication from an apparent visual magnitude of 3.96, Kaus Media define the body of the extraterrestrial intelligence source. Beta Sagittarii, which is actually a pair teapot along with Zeta Sagittarii, a Detected on August 15th, 1977, at the of star systems, and Ross 154, a red binary star system with a white giant Big Ear Radio Observatory in Ohio, dwarf flare that is one of the closest primary, and Phi Sagittarii, a giant the signal lasted for 72 seconds but stars to our Sun. with an apparent visual magnitude In addition to its bounty of stars, has not been detected since. It got its Sagittarius is rich in deep sky targets of 3.17. At the tip of the teapot’s name because when he discovered it, 6 Sky ’ s Up COURTESY OF Chuck Kimball Above, astrophotographer Chuck Kimball of Julian, Calif., captured this beautiful image of Barnard’s Galaxy – a barred irregular galaxy in Sagittarius. To get this image, Kimball used Explore Scientific’s ED127 f/7.5 refractor telescope and a Canon XT/350d camera modified with a Baader type 1 filter. 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