Friday, October 26, 2018

The Ellensburg WA sky for the week of 10/27/18

Saturday:  Lacerta, the faint lizard constellation, is straight overhead at 9 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.

Sunday: Look for Jupiter and Mercury just above the southwest horizon after the Sun sets. Jupiter is the brighter and higher of the two, although it is still only about a half a fist above the horizon.

Monday: 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 7 p.m. The handle is on top and the spout is touching the horizon ready to pour that last cup of tea. Saturn is riding the teapot, about one and a half fists above the south-southwest horizon.

Tuesday: 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 supergiant 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 http://goo.gl/0MyfHT. You’ll find it one fist above due east at 11 p.m.

Wednesday: Halloween. The pumpkins. The candy. The children going door-to-door dressed up as their favorite radio astronomers: Vera Rubin and Abu Rayhan Muhammad ibn Ahmad Al-Biruni. 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 and a half fists above the south-southwest horizon at 7:00 p.m.

Thursday: 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.

Friday: The CWU Physics Department and the College of the Sciences is hosting its monthly First Saturday planetarium show tomorrow from noon to 1 p.m. CWU physics major Jessica Kisner will give a presentation about Solar System moon. Sure, you know about our moon. But what do you know about Europa or Enceladus? If the answer is “not much”, you better show up. The show is free and open to all ages. There will be a show at noon on the first Saturday of every month hosted by different CWU astronomers and astronomy educators. The planetarium is room 101 in Science Phase II, just off the corner of 11th and Wildcat Way, H-11 on the campus map found at https://www.cwu.edu/facility/campus-map.


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 https://nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/planner.cfm.

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