Saturn and Some Messier Objects


   In the early morning hours before the Sun rises the summer (northern hemisphere) Milky Way arches across the sky from the southern horizon toward the northern horizon. Over the southern horizon is the constellation Sagittarius the Archer and the direction toward the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. In this direction is the planet Saturn and within the field of view of binoculars are several nebula, some of which are visible to the naked eye.
    Despite the use of optical aids like binoculars or telescopes we do not see the colors of these object that you may see in photographs. Regardless, this part of the sky is filled with many objects visible to the naked eye and certainly with binoculars. And assuming the local skies are relatively dark then viewing this area of the Milky Way will provide many viewing rewards.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

Duck! Said Scorpius to Sagittarius

   Over the next several mornings, before the Sun rises, the Moon, as it wanes from gibbous to last quarter phase, glides past the stars of Scorpius the Scorpion and Sagittarius the Archer and the ringed planet Saturn.
   Apparently Archery is so loud that Sagittarius didn’t hear the warning and gets a face full of the Moon on the 21st.
   In the background is the Milky Way, but for the most part it will be difficult to see due to the bright reflected light from the Moon.
   Off to the west is Jupiter and Spica. Jupiter has been in retrograde motion since last month and is gradually moving west away from Spica.
   
   
   
   
   
   
   In the background is the Milky Way, but for the most part it will be difficult to see due to the bright reflected light from the Moon.

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Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

Venus and the Lagoon Nebula

venus-m_8-ani   Over the next few days the inner planet Venus will be traversing the width of the Milky Way near the Teapot-shaped asterism of Sagittarius the archer. On Friday and Saturday evenings November 11th and 12th Venus will pass within a few degrees from M-8, the Lagoon Nebula. This should provide for some interesting viewing as well as for taking pictures. This animated graphic shows a daily view starting with the 10th and ending on the 14th.
11nov-bino   The Lagoon Nebula is a star forming region of space about 5,000 light years away. With an apparent magnitude of around 5.0 The Lagoon Nebula is visible to the naked eye as a grayish colored fuzzy patch of light,and with binoculars a little more detail is visible. A telescope shows even more detail but still no color.
m8However with a camera and the appropriate settings the Lagoon Nebula shows a pink to reddish color.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

A Steamed Moon

   Saturday March 14th the waning crescent Moon will be centered within the Milky Way as that part of the sky rises. While in reality the reflected light from the Moon will have brightened the sky too much to allow the Milky Way to be seen nonetheless the Milky Way is still there. And when one pictures the constellation as its teapot-shape asterism suggests then it is not hard to imagine that the Milky Way is the steam rising from the teapot.

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Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Mars and the Lagoon Nebula

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   From my northern mid-latitude backyard this time of the year the Milky Way arcs nearly overhead stretching from north to south. Above my southern horizon is not only a view toward the center of the galaxy, it is also a view toward one of the most scenic parts of the Milky Way. In the sky just above the handle of the teapot-shaped asterism for Sagittarius are several ‘deep sky’ objects visible to the unaided eye and binoculars.
   Over the next several days the planet Mars will be moving through this area and passing within 1-2o from the Lagoon Nebula. The waxing Moon will also be passing through this area as well.
   In the slideshow below watch a small red dot, Mars, to be moving from west to east (right to left) as each day passes.

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[centup]
Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

On the 4th Night

              Happy   4th of   July!!                     

jul4-aphelion   Friday 4 July is not only the day we in the United States of America celebrate our country’s Independence Day, it is also the day that the Earth reaches aphelion, its greatest distance from the Sun. For the record we are closest to the Sun, perihelion, around the beginning of January.
   So despite the summer heat, humidity, and a late sunset there will be more in the skies this 4th than just fireworks.
 At around sunset look low toward the western horizon for 3 stars arranged in a short diagonal line. No it is not Orion’s Belt. The one on the lower left side is the planet Jupiter near the Gemini Twin stars.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

 The nearly first quarter Moon is over the southwestern horizon and is just to the west (right) from the planet Mars and the bluish-white star Spica.
 Both Mars and Spica are close enough so that they fit within the field of view of 7×50 binoculars.
 Look left from this pair and higher above the southern horizon for the planet Saturn, one of 4 planets in our solar system with rings.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   If your viewing area is under dark enough skies, away from the light-polluted metropolitan area, then look toward the eastern horizon for the glow of the Milky Way as it rises. The teapot shape asterism for Sagittarius is above the southern horizon throughout this month and if the Milky Way is visible it looks like steam rising from the teapot’s spot. This graphic shows the location of Dwarf Planet Pluto. Pluto is also at opposition. Opposition for an outer planet is an arrangement of objects like a full Moon in that at opposition an outer planet is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun.
   While it is too dim to see with the unaided eye or even binoculars it is a neat idea to think about what Pluto looks like. I say this (actually write) because around this time next year NASA’s New Horizon spacecraft will be flying past Pluto sending back our first truly good look at this very distant solar system object.

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Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Scorpion Grabs the Moon

25 May - 11 pm CDT

25 May – 11 pm CDT

   This evening as the full Moon rises in the east it will be in the grasp of the Scorpion’s pincers as this graphic shows. Just below the Moon is the reddish ‘anti-Mars’, Antares, the heart of the Scorpion. I say ‘anti-Mars or more correctly anti-Ares as the name given to this reddish star was meant to distinguish it from the similarly reddish colored planet Mars. Ares is the Greek name for Mars.
   Over the next several evenings the Moon will be rising about an hour later each evening and will be further east from where it is today. Were it not for the bright reflected light coming off the Moon it would be possible to appreciate this area of the starry skies as this is where the Milky Way is very visible arcing down toward the south horizon from nearly overhead. aug25Looking toward the tail of the Scorpion is looking toward the center of our galaxy, some 20,000-30,000 light years away. It is also in this part of the sky where there are many nebula and star clusters visible to the naked-eye and binoculars. Best views of this part of the sky will come later during northern hemisphere summer months as this sneak peek at this part of the sky during August shows.

   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.