Thursday, October 4, 2018
The Ellensburg WA sky for the week of 10/6/18
Saturday: The CWU Physics Department and the College of the Sciences is hosting its monthly First Saturday planetarium show today from noon to 1 p.m. STEM Teaching major Katy Shain will give a presentation about the nighttime sky called “The sky, what is it good for? Absolutely everything.” The sky can’t tell you who to marry. But Katy will tell you about different ways civilizations have used the sky throughout history. 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 CWU Lydig 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.
Sunday: The Draconid meteor shower peaks for the next three nights with tomorrow night being the best. The meteors appear to come from a point in the head of Draco, the dragon constellation. This point is nearly straight overhead at 7 p.m. tonight. This point remains near the trapezoid-shaped head of Draco throughout the night. Unlike most meteor showers, this one is best observed in the early evening rather than after midnight. Call this the “early to bed” meteor shower. Draconid meteors are slow moving which means you will have a easy time differentiating true Draconid meteors, from Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner, from the stray grains of dust that happen to enter the Earth’s atmosphere every day and night. Could this be the year for a great show by the Draconids? The Moon will be nearly new so there won’t be any natural light to obscure the dimmer meteors. Also, Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner just passed by the Earth leaving many “comet droppings” for the Earth to collide with. For everything you need to know about the Draconid meteor shower, go to http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/everything-you-need-to-know-draconid-meteor-shower.
Monday: At 8:30 p.m. Saturn is one fist above the southwest horizon and Mars is two fists above the south horizon.
Tuesday: The CWU Astronomy Club is coming up and getting the Star Party started tonight at 8 p.m. The party starts with a presentation in the CWU Lydig Planetarium called The Life Cycle of Stars. It continues on the roof with telescopes and observing the night sky. The CWU Lydig 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.
Wednesday: While you are resting after looking for Draconid meteors this past weekend, start thinking about the Orionid meteor shower. This shower, which consists of the earth colliding with pieces of the remains of Halley's Comet's tail, peaks on October 19 through the 21st but produces meteors from now until early November. These meteors appear to come from a point in Orion, the hunter. This point is about two fists above the southeast horizon at 1 a.m. tonight. You can follow this point throughout the night as it will remain near the prominent reddish star Betelgeuse (pronounced Bet'-el-jews). The Orionid meteors are fast - up to 40 miles per second. For more information about the Orionids, go to https://goo.gl/ikAodW.
Thursday: Jupiter is less than a half a fist below the moon, low in the southwest sky at 7 p.m.
Friday: Astronomers may have discovered the first exomoon, that is, a moon orbiting a planet outside of our Solar System. They didn’t directly observe the moon. Instead, they studied the light of its host star as the Jupiter-sized planet and then its Neptune-sized moon blocked it. This transit method is one of the most popular ways to observe exoplanets. And not it may work to find exomoons, as well. Read more about this, still somewhat tentative, discovery at https://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/hubble-boosts-case-first-known-exomoon/.
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.