June 10 – The Moon and Planets

June 10 – The Moon and Planets

Evening Highlights:
  • Jupiter is the brightest object in the night sky at magnitude -2.0 (smaller number means brighter), find it in the south-western sky.
  • Mars is the second brightest object in the southern sky at magnitude -1.86, and is almost directly south.
  • Ringed Saturn is the dimmest of the planets at magnitude 0.03, and can be seen just left and above Antares (the heart of Scorpius the scorpion) in the south-east.
  • Finally, the setting moon to the west, is a waxing crescent (meaning  expanding in illumination) and will be 32% illuminated.  See the moon first because it sets early!

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June 24 – Constellations

Evening Highlights:
  • Jupiter is still the brightest object in the night sky at magnitude -1.9 (smaller number means brighter), find it in the western sky.
  • Mars is the second brightest object in the southern sky at magnitude -1.54, and is almost directly south.
  • Ringed Saturn is the dimmest of the planets at magnitude 0.12, and can be seen almost directly above Antares (the heart of Scorpius the scorpion) to the south.
  • Learn the major constellations of the night sky, such as the Big Dipper/Ursa Major, Little Dipper/Ursa Minor, Scorpius, Sagittarius and Cassiopeia, and and how to find them.
  • Video: TBD.  Starts at 8:45PM.
  • Presentation: Following the video, Jim will present how to find the common summer constellations using a planisphere, using markers to hop between constellations, and software that can help locate constellations throughout the year.

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July 8 – Double Stars

Albireo

Albireo in the constellation Cygnus (The Swan)

Evening Highlights:
  • Albireo: Appearing as a single star in the constellation Cygnus, through a telescope it resolves to a beautiful double system of gold and blue.
  • Alcor and Mizar: Found in the handle of the Big Dipper/Ursa Major, it’s one of the few naked eye double stars.  Even more interesting – it’s actually a sextuple system!
  • Epsilon Lyrae: Found in Lyra, if looking through binoculars you’ll see two widely separated stars.  Look through a telescope, and you’ll find that each ‘star’ is actually a double!
  • Saturn: With its rings tilted to over 26 degrees this year (the maximum of 27 degrees is reached in 2017), it will be tonight’s focus for planetary viewing.  Jupiter and Mars will also be visible.
  • Video: NASA’s Juno probe entered orbit around Jupiter on July 4.  The video will discuss Jupiter, Juno and what we hope to learn from the mission.  The video starts at 8:45 PM (bring a chair!).
  • Presentation: Following the video, Jim will present how to find common summer constellations with a planisphere, how to move between constellations using star-hopping, and software that can help you locate constellations and other astronomical objects throughout the year.

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July 29 – Galaxies

M81 in the constellation Ursa Major (Big Dipper)

M81 in the constellation Ursa Major (Big Dipper)

Evening Highlights:
  • M51: The Whirlpool Galaxy, which is actually two galaxies colliding – M51A and M51B – is a beautiful grand-design spiral galaxy found in Ursa Major, and is over 23 million light years away.
  • M81: A spiral galaxy in Ursa Major, over 12 million light years away.
  • M82: A starburst galaxy in Ursa Major, over 12 million light years away.  M81 and M82 can often be seen together in a single field of view.
  • M31: The Andromeda Galaxy, a spiral galaxy and only 2.5 million light years from Earth.  M31 is also the only galaxy that can be seen with the naked-eye.
  • Five planets are visible in the sky tonight.  Don’t know which ones or how to find them?  You will after tonight.
  • See the International Space Station cross the night sky twice, as well as two iridium flares.
  • Video: A video on the formation of galaxies will be shown at 8:45 PM (bring a chair!).

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August 27 – Nebulae

NGC6960, The Veil Nebula, in the constellation Cygnus (The Swan)

UPDATE: DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER FORECASTS, THIS WORKSHOP HAS BEEN POSTPONED TO SATURDAY, AUGUST 27
Evening Highlights:
  • The Ring Nebula (M57) , a planetary nebula nearly 2300 light years from Earth.
  • The Veil Nebula (NGC6960), a supernova remnant, approximately 1470 light years from Earth.
  • The Dumbbell Nebula (M27), a planetary nebula, approximately 1360 light years from Earth.
  • The North America Nebula (NGC7000), a very large emission nebula, approximately 1600 light years from Earth.
  • Four planets are visible in the sky tonight.  Don’t know which ones or how to find them?  You will after tonight.
  • One iridium flare will be visible at 21:17:23 (9:17:23 PM).
  • Diane Knutsen will give a short talk at 8:00 PM about forming a local chapter of the International Dark Sky Association.
  • Video: A video on nebulae will be shown at 8:15 PM (bring a chair!).

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September 9 – Globular Clusters

m13

M13 in the constellation Hercules

Evening Highlights:
  • M13 – First discovered by Edmond Halley (of Halley’s Comet fame) in 1714, and one of the oldest and most densely populated globular clusters with nearly one million stars.
  • M15 – 32000 light years distant, may have a 4000 solar mass black hole at its core.
  • M3 – First discovered by Charles Messier in May 1764.  Thought to contain over 500,000 stars, and is 190 light years across.
  • M80 – Several hundred thousand stars, 32000 light years distant, and one of the densest clusters.
  • Four planets are visible in the sky tonight- Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn (Venus and Jupiter set very early, shortly after dusk).
  • One iridium flare will be visible at 20:17:17 (8:17:17 PM).
  • Video: A video will be shown at 7:30 PM (bring a chair!) with observing starting by 8:15PM.
  • Unlike most deep sky objects, all of the globular clusters listed above are visible through both telescopes and  binoculars.  Please feel free to bring a personal pair of binoculars to tonight’s workshop.

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