This Week’s Sky at a Glance, August 28 – September 5 – Sky & Telescope

Betelgeuse is dimming once more. . . considerably. After its historic fade final winter to magnitude +1.6, Orion’s crimson supergiant Betelgeuse absolutely recovered, to +0.4, earlier than it disappeared into the sundown for the season. But now because it emerges low within the east earlier than daybreak, it appears to have light again right down to about +0.9. However, correct measurements are onerous to make when a star is seen at low altitude by means of thick atmospheric extinction that needs to be corrected for. Betelgeuse and its comparability stars are getting a little greater each morning. Stay tuned!


■ Jupiter this night shines simply a couple levels above the gibbous Moon for North America; see the twilight view under. To their left, Saturn waits its flip.

The waxing gibbous Moon passes under Jupiter and Saturn.■ Ceres, the primary asteroid found (in 1801) is simply previous opposition this week, at magnitude 7.7 in southern Aquarius. It’s about 6° north-northeast of 1st-magnitude Fomalhaut, which is your straightforward start line late these evenings for a cautious star hop to determine Ceres utilizing the finder chart within the August Sky & Telescope, web page 50. Good binoculars might do. Ceres stays that vivid all this week because it creeps alongside.


■ Now the eastward-marching Moon shines nearer to Saturn than to Jupiter, as proven above. The three are, after all, at very totally different distances: The Moon is 1.Three mild-seconds from you, Jupiter is presently 37 mild minutes distant, and Saturn is 77 mild-minutes away.

■ Jupiter’s Great Red Spot ought to transit the planet’s central meridian (the road down its heart from pole to pole) round 9:28 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. It ought to be seen for about an hour earlier than and after in a good 4-inch telescope if the atmospheric seeing is sharp and regular. A light-weight blue or inexperienced filter helps. The Red Spot transits about each 9 hours 56 minutes.


■ Whenever vivid Vega crosses nearest your zenith, because it does proper 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-formed Capricornus down under to face at their highest due south.


■ Action at Jupiter: Io, Jupiter’s quick-shifting internal moon, ought to emerge out of eclipse from Jupiter’s shadow round 9:53 p.m. EDT. Watch for it to glimmer into view a little east of the planet, between Jupiter itself and Europa farther out. First there will likely be one moon there, then, regularly, two.About an hour later, Io and Europa will cross one another in conjunction at 10:56 p.m. EDT. And a couple of minutes later, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot ought to transit the planet’s central meridian round 11:10 p.m. EDT.


■ Full Moon tonight (actual at 1:22 a.m. EDT). The Moon shines in dim Aquarius. During night in North America, the Moon is nearly on the road from the west aspect of the Great Square of Pegasus right down to Fomalhaut.


■ The coming of September implies that Scorpius, which was the proud starring constellation of the southern sky in July, is now tilting over and mendacity down within the southwest after darkish, making ready to mattress down and drift off for the season.


■ The extensive W sample of Cassiopeia is tilting up within the northeast these nights. Look under the W’s final section, the one on the decrease left, by a little farther than the section’s size. Can you see an enhanced little spot of the Milky Way’s glow right here? Binoculars will present it to be the Perseus Double Cluster — even by means of a honest quantity of sunshine air pollution.

■ Jupiter’s Great Red Spot ought to transit round 8:40 p.m. EDT.


■ The waning gibbous Moon rises across the finish of twilight this night. Once it is up, look ahead to fiery Mars, now unusually vivid at magnitude -2.0, to rise about a fist-width or a little extra to the Moon’s decrease left. They climb excessive as night grows late.

The waning gibbous Moon passes vivid Mars late these evenings. But no, the Moon will not occult Mars on Saturday the fifth! The Moon right here is all the time drawn about thrice it precise obvious measurement, so that they’ll miss (until you are in components of South America or, after dawn, northern Africa or southernmost Europe. Map and particulars in case that is you.) Seen from the center of North America at 11 p.m., Mars will likely be standing off about one Moon diameter (½°) from the Moon’s northern limb.SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 5

■ The Moon and Mars rise collectively within the east about a half hour after the very finish of twilight. For skywatchers in North America, they will be solely about 1° aside or much less. By daybreak Sunday, they will stand excessive within the southwest 2° or 3° aside.

■ Jupiter’s Great Red Spot ought to transit Jupiter’s central meridian round 10:18 p.m. EDT.


This Week’s Planet Roundup

Have you caught Venus at daybreak? It’ll be there for the remainder of 2020, however decrease every month.Mercury is hidden deep within the sundown.

Venus (magnitude –4.3, in Gemini) rises in deep darkness two hours earlier than daybreak begins, a bizarre UFO of a factor within the east-northeast. By the time daybreak will get underneath means, Venus blazes brightly excessive within the east as proven above.Venus stands simply a little decrease every morning, whereas the background stars transfer quickly to the higher proper as the times progress. Venus will cross the road from Pollux to Procyon on September 1st.

In a telescope Venus continues to shrink (it is now 20 arcseconds in diameter) whereas changing into barely gibbous (59% sunlit).

Mars rises within the east solely about a half hour after the top of twilight. It emerges orange and vivid (magnitude –1.8), far under the Andromeda-Pegasus constellation complicated.Mars climbs greater by means of the evening. It shines at its highest and telescopic finest by round 4 a.m. daylight-saving time, lording over the world from excessive within the south. It’s close to the dim Knot of Pisces.In a telescope this week Mars grows from 18½ to 19½ arcseconds in obvious diameter. That’s already as large because it seems at its common opposition, nevertheless it’s nonetheless bought a methods to go. When Earth lastly catches as much as and passes Mars at opposition in early October, it will likely be 22.6 arcseconds extensive and can shine at a Jupiter-bright magnitude –2.6.

Mars continues to be gibbous, 92% sunlit. Look for its white South Polar cap, potential clouds particularly close to the limb, and dusky floor markings. To get a map of the aspect going through Earth at the date and time you will observe, use our Mars Profiler. The map there may be sq.; keep in mind to mentally wrap it onto the aspect of a globe. (Features close to the map’s edges turn into very foreshortened.)

Mars on August 20th, imaged at very excessive decision by Enrico Enzmann and Damian Peach with a 76cm (30-inch) telescope. South is up. Dark Sinus Meridiani is simply decrease left of heart, “with the outline of Schiaparelli crater well defined” simply to its left, writes Peach. “Novus Mons is the bright detached piece of the South Polar Cap as the cap continues to recede in the southern summer on Mars. North polar cloud hood present, which looks somewhat bluish.” Jupiter and Saturn (magnitudes –2.6 and +0.3, respectively) shine within the south in early night. Jupiter is the brightest; Saturn is 8° to its left.They’re completely horizontal proper across the finish of twilight, like some nice pair of eyes. Lower proper of Jupiter after darkish is the deal with of the Sagittarius Teapot.Follow the telescopic interaction of Jupiter with its moons and their shadows, and discover all of the transit instances of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, within the Celestial Calendar part of the present month’s Sky & Telescope, web page 50.

Jupiter on August 23rd, imaged by Christopher Go at 11:28 UT. South right here is up. Note the darkish “eyeliner” that now outlines the north aspect of the Red Spot Hollow; the broad, bluish festoon bases alongside the south fringe of the reddish, chaotic North Equatorial Belt, and the big “white whale” of an upwelling outbreak stemming from the sting of the North Temperate Belt. Saturn on July 27th, a week after opposition, imaged by Damian Peach and Enrico Enzmann. South is up.Uranus (magnitude 5.8, in Aries) is fairly nicely up within the east by midnight daylight-saving time, east of Mars.

Neptune (magnitude 7.8, in Aquarius) is greater within the southeast by that point. 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 rely upon longitude (primarily Moon positions) are for North America.

Eastern Daylight Time, EDT, is Universal Time (also called UT, UTC, GMT, or Z time) minus Four hours.

Want to turn into a higher astronomer? Learn your means across the constellations. They’re the important thing to finding all the things fainter and deeper to hunt with binoculars or a telescope.

This is an outside nature interest. For a simple-to-use constellation information protecting the entire night sky, use the massive month-to-month map within the heart of every problem of Sky & Telescope, the important journal of astronomy.

Once you get a telescope, to place it to good use you will want a detailed, massive-scale sky atlas (set of charts). The primary customary is the Pocket Sky Atlas (in both the unique or Jumbo Edition), which exhibits stars to magnitude 7.6.

The Pocket Sky Atlas plots 30,796 stars to magnitude 7.6, and tons of of telescopic galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae amongst them. Shown right here is the Jumbo Edition, in onerous covers and enlarged for simpler studying outdoor at evening. Sample chart. More concerning the latest new editions.Next up is the bigger and deeper Sky Atlas 2000.0, plotting stars to magnitude 8.5; practically thrice 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 learn tips on how to use sky charts with a telescope.

You’ll additionally need a good deep-sky guidebook, akin to Sky Atlas 2000.0 Companion by Strong and Sinnott, or the larger (and illustrated) Night Sky Observer’s Guide by Kepple and Sanner.

Can a computerized telescope exchange charts? Not for rookies, I do not suppose, and never on mounts and tripods which can be lower than high-high quality mechanically, that means heavy and costly. And as Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer say of their Backyard Astronomer’s Guide, “A full appreciation of the universe cannot come without developing the skills to find things in the sky and understanding how the sky works. This knowledge comes only by spending time under the stars with star maps in hand.”

Audio sky tour. Out underneath the night sky with yourearbuds in place, take heed to Kelly Beatty’s monthlypodcast tour of the heavens above. It’s free.

“The dangers of not thinking clearly are much greater now than ever before. It’s not that there’s something new in our way of thinking, it’s that credulous and confused thinking can be much more lethal in ways it was never before.”            — Carl Sagan, 1996

“Facts are stubborn things.”            — John Adams, 1770

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