This weeks round-up of celestial events.
Sky & Telescope senior editor Alan MacRobert writes a weekly blog about celestial events as well as other aspects of astronomy. Check out his original content at This Week’s Sky, August 1 – August 6. Here’s a quick take on what you can expect this week.
Monday, August 1
• Shortly after sunset, Jupiter, Mercury, faint Regulus and Venus form a diagonal line in the west. Look early in twilight and bring binoculars, because Venus is only about 4° high even just 20 minutes… after sundown (for observers near 40° north latitude). Regulus may be impossible. Good luck.
Tuesday, August 2
• Explore faint little Lacerta, the Lizard tucked between Cygnus and Andromeda. Can you make out the little arrowhead of NGC 7243?
• New Moon (exact at 4:45 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time).
Wednesday, August 3
• As the stars come out, Vega shines near the zenith (if you’re in the mid-northern latitudes), and Arcturus shines in the west.
Thursday, August 4
• Venus-Regulus conjunction. Shortly after sunset this evening and tomorrow evening, Regulus is hardly more than 1° from much brighter Venus. About 15 or 20 minutes after your local sunset time, scan for Venus very low above the western horizon with binoculars or a wide-field telescope. Tonight Regulus is to Venus’s lower left (for North America), as shown above. On Friday it’s below Venus.
Friday, August 5
• The crescent Moon poses with Jupiter low in the west in twilight.
• The Big Dipper hangs diagonally in the northwest after dark. From its midpoint, look to the right to find Polaris (not very bright) glimmering due north as always.
Saturday, August 6
• Today is the midpoint of astronomical summer: halfway between the June solstice and the September equinox (even though August 1st, Lammas Day, is generally celebrated as the “cross-quarter” day). The exact midpoint of summer is at 2:28 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (18:28 UT).
• Accordingly, the “Spring Star” Arcturus now shines only moderately high in the west after dark, heading down — while the Great Square of Pegasus, emblem of autumn, is low in the east coming up. Look for the Great Square balanced on one corner. It’s about 15° on a side, larger than your fist at arm’s length.
So, there you have it. There’s much more at This Week’s Sky, August 1 – August 6.
Be sure to check it out. Here in southern Pennsylvania the weather has been relentless with dew points in the 70’s, temps in the upper 90’s and pop-up thunderstorms for the past few weeks, So far this dark window there has been only one night good enough for observing and even that night had it’s share of cloud cover.
Clear skies everyone.