Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Tonight's Sky for August 25-31

I'm back, but still with no Internet of my own, which means having to rely on bumming off of others' free wi-fi wherever I can get on it. If that weren't a pain enough in itself, having to drive  6 miles to the nearest town (and hotspot) all while trying (and failing) to remember your laptop, doesn't help either. Hopefully I will soon have Internet of my own and the daily posts will resume. Until then, look for huge chunk posts like this. Clear skies!

Tonight's Sky for August 25: Moon Meets the Hyades

This morning, the Moon will be amongst one of the closest to Earth star clusters: the Hyades, located in the zodiac constellation of Taurus. To see the show, go out and find the Moon. Moon found, look around the Moon to spot a 'V' of stars, set off by bright orange Aldebaran, that constitute the brightest stars of the cluster and also the bull's nose. To see more stars, grab a pair of binoculars.
Tonight's Sky for August 26: Deneb at Zenith at Midnight
Tonight, Deneb, the brightest star in the constellation of Cygnus the swan, will be just about directly overhead (at zenith) tonight, which means that all one needs to do in order to see it is go out and look straight up at midnight. Besides Deneb and Cygnus, the whole Summer Triangle (consisting of Lyra's Vega, Deneb, and Aquila's Altair) is also straight up, as is the summer Milky Way. Trying to spot t he Milky Way straight overhead is a good test of how good (or bad) light pollution is in your area.

Tonight's Sky for August 27: Venus and Jupiter at their Closest
Tonight just after sunset, Venus and Jupiter, the two brightest planets in the solar system, will be making their closest pass, coming within 4arc minutes of each other, in half a century. To see the show, head out 30-45 minutes after sunset and look low in the Western sky, with optical aid being a good idea here as to appreciate the split. Without the optical aid, this is a great way to test your eyes as neither planet should be much of a struggle to spot in regards to the fading twilight. A good Western horizon, though, is a must!

Tonight's Sky for August 28: Venus and Jupiter, Take 2
If you missed yesterday's close pass of Venus and Jupiter, don't worry, they may not be quite as close tonight but they're still pretty close to each other, and still worthy of a look.

Tonight's Sky for August 29: Fading Sunlight
It's less than a month from the Autumnal Equinox, which means that the Sun is setting earlier and earlier each night, now at a very noticeable pace. Why? The Sun moves along the horizon nearest the equinoxes, resulting in the quickest shortening/lengthening of the day depending on the time of year. Needless to say, if you enjoy daytime outdoor activities, your time is starting to become very limited by now!

Tonight's Sky for August 30: Thin Crescent
While not as spectacular (for its lack of illumination) as tomorrow morning's less than 1% illuminated Old Moon, this morning's thin crescent (4% illumination) is still quite a sight and, to the relief of many, an easy one to see. Simply look East in the predawn sky for a thin crescent Moon, that's it, no optical aid needed!

Tonight's Sky for August 31: Old Moon
How thin of a Moon have you seen? How about one that's just barely a day before New and only 2% illuminated? Well, if you have never seen a Moon this thin, tonight's your chance to do so as such a Moon will be making an appearance in this morning's sky just before sunrise.

To see the Moon, you'll need a good Eastern horizon. How good? One with less than 3 degrees of obstruction. To simulate this, hold two fingers vertically at arm's length to simulate 3 degrees. Hint: if you can't think of a good location off-hand, scout out one during the day. Location found, arrive there about 15 minutes before sunrise and start looking, preferably with optical aid. The bad news: you'll have to hurry because, as soon as the Sun clears the horizon, you can forget about seeing the Moon.





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