Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Ellensburg sky for the week of 10/4/08

Today: Venus is about a half a fist held upright and at arm’s length above the southwest horizon at 7 p.m.

Sunday: Look up in the sky. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a dolphin. A dolphin? The constellation Delphinus the dolphin is nearly six fists above due south at 8:30 p.m. The constellation’s two brightest stars are called Sualocin and Rotanev, which is Nicolaus Venator spelled backwards. Venator worked at the Palermo Observatory in Italy in the mid nineteenth century. He slipped these names into Giuseppe Piazzi’s star catalog without him noticing.

Monday: Jupiter is about a half a fist above the first quarter Moon at 9 p.m. Look for them in the southwest sky.

Tuesday: The Draconid meteor shower peaks tonight and tomorrow night. The meteors appear to come from a point in the head of Draco, the dragon constellation. This point is about five fists above the northwest horizon at 10 p.m. tonight. This point remains near the trapezoid-shaped head of Draco throughout the night. Typically, this is a minor shower. However, this year’s late night visibility is aided by the fact that the moon sets at about midnight. Draconid meteors are slow moving which means you will have a easy time differentiating true Draconid meteors, from Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner, from stray grains of dust that happen to enter the Earth’s atmosphere near where we see the constellation Draco. As your Mother might say, dress warm and sit in a comfortable chair for maximum enjoyment.

Wednesday: Saturn is about two fists above the east horizon at 6:30 a.m.

Thursday: What time is tea time? Certainly not during an autumn evening. The constellation Sagittarius the archer, with its signature teapot shape, is sinking into the south-southwest horizon by 9 p.m. The handle is on top and the spout is touching the horizon ready to pour that last cup of tea.

Friday: The southernmost bright star visible from Ellensburg, Fomalhaut (pronounced Fo'-mal-ought) is one fist above the south horizon at 10 p.m. Fomalhaut is the brightest star in the constellation Pisces Austrinus, the southern fish. This fish is said to be the parent of Pisces, the two zodiacal fish. The parent fish must have moved south to get away from the cold weather.

The positional information in this column about stars and any planet except Mercury is accurate for the entire week.

No comments: