Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Ellensburg WA sky for the week of 10/29/16

Saturday: Venus is about a half a fist held upright and at arm’s length above the southwest horizon at 6:30 p.m. Saturn is right above it.

Sunday: What do Justin Bieber and Betelgeuse have in common? Both are superstars. One will shine brightly for about a few hundred thousand more years. The other will only seem to be around for that long. “Sorry” Beliebers. “If you Love Yourself”, you and your “Boyfriend” need to learn more about Betelgeuse, the real super giant star that is big enough to hold about one million Suns. “What Do You Mean” you don’t know where to look? For more information about Betelgeuse, go to You’ll find it one fist above due east at 11 p.m.

Monday: Halloween. The pumpkins. The candy. The children going door-to-door dressed up as their favorite astronomer couple Elisabeth and Johannes Hevelius. At least they should because Halloween is, in part, an astronomical holiday. Halloween is a “cross-quarter date”, a day approximately midway between an equinox and a solstice. Historically, the Celts of the British Isles used cross-quarter dates as the beginnings of seasons. For the Celts, winter began with Halloween. So when all those little Hevelius’s come to your door tonight night, honor the Celts and give them a wintry treat. If they ask you for a trick, point out Mars, two fists above the south horizon at 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Happy Celtic New Year! Many historians think that November 1, known for the festival of Samhain, was the ancient Celtic New Year’s Day. Samhain, Old Irish for “summer’s end”, was a harvest festival that may have contributed to some of the customs of our current “holiday” of Halloween.

Wednesday: Jupiter is one and a half fists above the east-southeast horizon at 7 a.m.

Thursday: Lacerta, the faint lizard constellation, is straight overhead at 8 p.m. It was named by the Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius in 1687 to fill the space between the much brighter and well-defined constellations Pegasus, Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Cepheus, and Cygnus going clockwise from the constellation just south of Lacerta. Johannes

Friday: Tonight and tomorrow night is the peak of the Southern Taurid meteor shower. The meteors appear to come from a point in the constellation Taurus the bull. This point is about three fists above the east horizon at 9 p.m. This point remains one and a half fists to the right of the arrow-shaped snout of the bull throughout the night. This is not a very active metoeor shower, about seven per hour. But it is rich in fireballs, the bright meteors that leave a long streak in the sky. The moon will be in the waxing crescent phase, near the south-southwest horizon, at peak viewing time so this might be your lucky meteor watching time. For everything you need to know about the Taurid meteor shower, go to

The positional information in this column about stars and planets is typically accurate for the entire week. For up to date information about the night sky, go to

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