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ASTRONOMY CLUB: Touring the August 2006 Sky

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    Touring the August 2006 Sky Bright Jupiter, easy to spot in the southwest, forms the starting point for a guided tour circling all around your sky. By ALAN
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 2, 2006
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      Touring the August 2006 Sky
      Bright Jupiter, easy to spot in the southwest, forms the starting
      point for a guided tour circling all around your sky.
      From "Night Sky Magazine" http://nightskymag.com/NSM_home.html


      Check out the AOL Research & Learn website for more information on:
      • The diagrams in this article
      • Backyard astronomy for everyone
      • Astronomy Basics
      • Space News & Features
      • Full Archive of Astronomy Articles

      See the end of this article for links to astronomy forums and

      First Quarter: Aug. 2, 4:46AM ET
      Full Moon: Aug. 9, 6:54AM
      Last Quarter: Aug. 15, 9:51PM
      New Moon: Aug. 23, 3:10PM
      First Quarter: Aug. 31, 6:56PM

      Aug. 1: Jupiter shines above the moon in the southwest at dusk.
      Aug. 2: Jupiter is to the right of the moon.
      Aug. 3: Orange-red Antares shines left of the moon after dusk, and
      right of the moon tomorrow.
      Aug. 7: Mercury is at greatest elongation, its greatest separation
      from the sun, in the dawn sky. Look for it just one or two finger-
      widths under much brighter Venus, low in the east-northeast.
      Aug. 9: Full Moon, called the Fruit Moon or Green Corn Moon.
      Aug. 11: The Perseid meteor shower should peak late tonight and
      tomorrow night, but the light of the waning gibbous moon will flood
      the sky and hide all but the brightest of the shooting stars.
      Aug. 21: Venus shines below the waning crescent moon low in the east-
      northeast before dawn. As dawn brightens, use binoculars to look
      below Venus (and perhaps a bit left) for Mercury and dimmer Saturn
      closely paired.
      Aug. 26: Venus and Saturn have a close conjunction (about 1/2 degree
      apart) very low in the dawn this morning and tomorrow morning. Bring
      binoculars; Saturn is only 1/50 as bright as Venus.
      Aug. 28: Jupiter shines upper left of the waxing crescent moon at
      Aug. 29: Jupiter shines to the moon's upper right.

      Finding Planets by the Moon
      On the evenings of Aug. 1 and 2, the first-quarter moon shines near
      bright Jupiter. The faint star plotted to Jupiter's left is Alpha
      Librae, a fine double star for binoculars.

      As the starry sky moves westward through the changing seasons, old
      constellations sink into the sunset and new ones arise in the east.
      So here are descriptions and charts to keep up with summer's advance.

      Mercury, Saturn, and Mars are now gone; of the naked-eye planets,
      only Jupiter remains in the evening sky. Jupiter is getting lower in
      the southwest than it was last month, but it's still the evening's
      brightest point of light. You can't miss it.

      Face Jupiter and turn right. Due west, brilliant Arcturus shines much
      higher up. Continue turning. In the northwest, the Big Dipper is
      dipping lower, oriented as if to hold water. The Big Dipper is the
      brightest part of the large constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear.
      Turning farther around, to the northeast, look for the fall
      constellation Cassiopeia already on the rise. Cassiopeia is a wide,
      tilted W with its right side (the brighter side) tilted up.

      Midway between the Big Dipper and Cassiopeia, due north, stands
      Polaris , the North Star. Polaris is dimmer than a lot of people
      expect the North Star ought to be. But even so, it's one of the
      brightest two stars of the notoriously dim Little Dipper, which
      arches back in the Big Dipper's direction. The North Star, of course,
      always remains due north as Cassiopeia and the Big Dipper revolve
      around it throughout the night and throughout the year.

      Look east and you'll see that the Great Square of Pegasus , a symbol
      of autumn, has already risen into view. It's balancing on one corner,
      as it always does when either rising in the east or setting in the
      west. The Great Square represents the boxy body of Pegasus, the
      Flying Horse. We see the horse upside down; the string of stars
      forming its neck, head, and nose runs to the Great Square's upper
      right, and its prancing forefeet extend upward from the Great
      Square's top corner.

      Off the Square's left corner extend the brightest stars of the
      constellation Andromeda, still quite low in the northeast under
      Cassiopeia. I like to picture these as Pegasus's extended hind legs —
      making the horse a gigantic leaper, if you can twist around so it
      appears right-side up.

      Much later in the month, on Aug. 21 and 22, you can go out before
      sunrise and use the waning crescent moon as your guide to bright
      Venus and fainter Saturn and Mercury low in the east-northeast. Bring
      binoculars to see through the brightening glow of dawn.
      Continue turning right to face southeast, and you'll be looking
      toward Aquarius and Capricornus. These dim star patterns can be tough
      to trace out (or see at all!) if you've got much light pollution in
      your sky, but they're a fine pair of additions to your constellation
      repertoire if your sky is dark enough.

      Keep turning, and you come to two much brighter landmarks: the
      Sagittarius Teapot and Scorpius in the south.

      Continue around and you're back at bright Jupiter, having made a
      complete circuit of your sky.

      Tonight's Hidden Planets
      The evening sky this summer actually holds four planets of the solar
      system, not just bright Jupiter. But the other three, Uranus,
      Neptune, and Pluto, are very, very dim. The reason is their extreme
      distance both from us and from their source of light, the Sun.
      Uranus is in the constellation Aquarius, and Neptune is in
      Capricornus. Using binoculars and a good finder chart, you can locate
      Uranus pretty easily (it looks like a faint star), and Neptune with
      more difficulty (it's only a sixth as bright as Uranus).
      Pluto, on the other hand, is a real challenge even for experienced
      amateurs with telescopes of 10 inches aperture and up. Located in
      Serpens Cauda, Pluto is only about {1/250} as bright as Neptune and
      fainter than literally millions of stars. It requires not just a big
      scope but a special, very deep map — and excellent map-using skills!

      Talk About It
      Will you be watching the sky this month?
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      Night Sky Tour Audio Podcast: August

      In this month's tour, Night Sky editor Kelly Beatty helps you find
      Jupiter and the Summer Triangle -- and he previews the Perseids.
      Listen to August Tour
      Subscribe to Podcast
      Directions: How to Subscribe

      © 2006 Reprinted with permission from Sky Publishing Corp.

      2006-07-31 11:46:19
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