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This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2021 October 23 – October 30

Mid-autumn is a time for late-evening whale watching while the large constellation of Cetus the Whale is approaching the southern sky. Many of its stars are not particularly bright so it can be elusive, but you can piece it together in a fairly dark sky. The eastern side of the square of Pegasus is a handy arrow that points down toward Diphda, the brightest star in Cetus. Also called Deneb Kaitos, “the tail of the whale,” it anchors a pentagram of stars forming the rear half of Cetus below dim Pisces. A circlet of stars to the upper left, west of Taurus, is the whale’s head.

A famous star in Cetus is Mira, perhaps the first star to be recognized as a variable or one that changes its brightness regularly. The name Mira translates as “wonderful.” It is a red giant star that expands and contracts, while brightening as it expands. At minimum brightness it cannot be seen with binoculars but every 11 months it brightens to easy naked eye visibility, which was reached in August. Midway on the western side of the circlet of the whale’s head is a star which anchors an asterism that resembles a question mark. Don’t ask why, just try it with binoculars. A scope or binoculars could reveal the galaxy M77 approximately midway between Mira and Menkar, the star at the bottom of the circlet.

In mythology Cetus represents the sea monster created by Poseidon to ravage the coastal area of Ethiopia as punishment for Queen Cassiopeia’s bragging. Her daughter Andromeda was chained to a rock at the seashore as a sacrifice to make the monster go away. Perseus was homeward bound on the back of Pegasus after slaying the Gorgon Medusa when he chanced upon Andromeda’s plight. He rescued the princess by using Medusa’s head to turn the monster to stone, winning the day and the hand of Andromeda.

This Week in the Solar System

Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 7:47 am and sunset will occur at 6:18 pm, giving 10 hours, 31 minutes of daylight (7:51 am and 6:25 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 7:57 am and set at 6:07 pm, giving 10 hours, 10 minutes of daylight (8:00 am and 6:14 pm in Saint John).

The Moon is at third quarter on Thursday, rising at midnight and setting at 3:10 pm. Mercury reaches its greatest elongation from the morning Sun on Monday, while Venus reaches greatest elongation from the setting Sun on Friday. Saturn and Jupiter are well placed for observing throughout the early evening. Jupiter’s moons put on a show for telescope users Friday evening, with Callisto entering the planet’s shadow at 6:27 and reappearing from the shadow at 10:47. Meanwhile, Io and its shadow can be seen crossing Jupiter, with the moon exiting at 7:05 and the shadow at 8:22. Finally, Ganymede emerges from Jupiter’s shadow at 9:31.

On Sunday evening at 8 pm, tune in to the 100th episode of the Sunday Night Astronomy Show via the Facebook page or YouTube channel of Astronomy by the Bay.

Questions? Contact Curt Nason at nasonc@nbnet.nb.ca.

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2021 October 16 – October 23

The Pleiades star cluster is rising now in the early evening. Also known as M45 or the Seven Sisters, and sometimes mistaken to be the Little Dipper, this compact eye-catcher represents the shoulder of Taurus the Bull. Over the next two hours the rest of the constellation clears the eastern horizon; in particular, the V-shaped Hyades star cluster anchored by orange Aldebaran, and the two stars marking the tips of the bull’s long horns.

In mythology, Zeus changed himself into a beautiful white bull to attract the attention of Europa, a princess of Sidon. She was taken by its gentleness and made the mistake of climbing on its back. Bully Zeus took off to the nearby seashore and swam all the way to Crete, where he changed back into his godly form and completed his conquest. The result was a baby boy who was named Minos, and he grew up to become the first King of Crete.

One of the horn stars of Taurus had been shared with the constellation Auriga. This star, Elnath, was officially assigned to Taurus when the constellation boundaries were set by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in the late 1920s.  Taurus is one of the zodiac constellations, as the ecliptic passes between the Pleiades and Hyades and also between the horn-tips. Since the Moon’s orbit is tilted to the ecliptic by about five degrees, at times it can be seen passing in front of the Pleiades and Aldebaran.

This Week in the Solar System

Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 7:37 am and sunset will occur at 6:30 pm, giving 10 hours, 53 minutes of daylight (7:41 am and 6:36 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 7:47 am and set at 6:18 pm, giving 10 hours, 31 minutes of daylight (7:51 am and 6:25 pm in Saint John).

The Full Hunter’s Moon occurs on Wednesday, a phenomenon similar to the Harvest Moon by which moonrises occur 20-30 minutes later over several days rather than the average 50 minute difference. Venus sets around 8:20 midweek, while Saturn is highest in the sky at 8 pm followed by Jupiter an hour later. Jupiter is stationary on Monday, resuming its eastward motion against the stars. On Wednesday telescope users might catch its moon Callisto begin to cross in front of the planet at 8:24 pm, followed by Io four minutes later. Speedier Io will soon overtake Callisto. Mercury begins its best morning apparition for the year this week, reaching a stationary position relative to the stars on Sunday. The Orionid meteor shower peaks Thursday morning but moonlight will hamper viewing somewhat.

Questions? Contact Curt Nason at nasonc@nbnet.nb.ca.

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AGM and Talks on October 16

The 2021 RASC New Brunswick Annual General Meeting will be held online via Zoom.

Agenda

11 am to 12 pm – Members-only business meeting

1 pm to 4:45 pm – Astronomy Talks

  • Welcome message
  • Talk by Dr. Phil Groff: Everything You Wanted to Know About RASC but Were Afraid to Ask
  • Talk by Curt Nason: Constellations and Cultures
  • 10-minute break
  • Announcements and President’s Award
  • Talk by Dr. Ted Gull: Astro 1 – A Perspective by the Mission Scientist

About the Speakers

Curt Nason

Curt has been a RASC member since the very late 1990’s and was part of the original group of amateur astronomers who established a RASC center in New Brunswick. He has been instrumental in the continuing development of our centre. He has won the RASC N.B. President’s Award, as well as the RASC Service Medal, which is awarded to those who have made a significant contribution to the life and vitality of the Centre or Society. He has held several positions within the centre: president, VP, secretary, councillor, chair of the LPAC, chair of the Education Outreach Committee (centre and national), and editor of our Horizon newsletter. Curt has been very involved in education outreach and has been a keen observer of the night sky. He has been known to haunt dark, deserted roads, mining quarries, fields and golf courses, late at night, in search of awe-inspiring sights in the sky.

Dr. Phil Groff

Phil has been the Executive Director of RASC since October 2019. He has a strong background of working in the non-profit organisation management industry. He has a strong experience in NFP organisations, event management, proposal writing, fundraising and leadership. He received his BA from the University of Waterloo, his PhD in Psychology from the University of Toronto and a certification in Financial Leadership for Charities and Not-For-Profit from CPA.

Dr. Ted Gull

Ted is an Astrophysicist Emeritus after working for NASA at the Goddard Space Flight Center for 44 years and is an Adjunct Astrophysicist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. He is a member of RASC, as well as several other professional astronomical organisations (AAS, IAU, ASP). Ted has been involved with many projects on planetary, astrophysics, heliophysics and earth sciences research and has been published many times. He continues to work on a project involving Eta Carinae and the Homunculus, which still surprises and amazes him. This year he was to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Malmo in Sweden, but the ceremony has been delayed until 2022. He was mission scientist of the Astro 1 system of space telescopes, his topic for today.

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Jupiter Moons Challenge

Curt Nason has tabulated this list of Jupiter moon events. You may use this as a guide for the challenge of observing the various moon events for each of the four Galilean moons (transits, occultations, eclipses, etc).

According to Curt, “this year Jupiter’s equator is aligned our way so Callisto’s events can be seen, and the document includes events when Jupiter is up for us and the Sun is down.”

Image Credit: Emile Cormier

Jupiter_Moons_Challenge_2021

Download as PDF.

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Photos of the Month – Year 2020

Click on any image to view a larger version. While viewing the larger version, click on the image to show/hide the description. You may also click on the left/right arrows to go to the previous/next image.

All images are copyright of their respective authors. You may not use or redistribute these images without their permission.

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

 

 


Links to contributors’ photo galleries:

If you’ve a RASC NB member and would like us to publish a link to your astrophoto gallery, please contact the webmaster.

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RASC NB and COVID-19

(Posted on April 6th, 2020)

Hi Everyone,

As you all know Covid-19 has disrupted everyone’s life.

We had cancelled the March meeting due to this issue. Now until further notice, and until the the State of Emergency is lifted by the N.B. government, there will be no face-to-face meetings of the RASC N.B… No one knows how long this situation will last, but it will continue into the summer months most probably.

The RASC N.B. council is discussing the feasibility of holding meetings for presentations/talks by some other means. Once a decision has been made all members will be notified by e-mail. RASC N.B. business, when required, will be conducted by e-mail. Any new information will be communicated to the members by e-mail as well.

Star Party weekends for this year are also on hold, until the public gathering ban is cancelled. Once again, members will be notified of any change in plans.

Please follow good hygienic practices – hand washing as prescribed by Public Health, do not touch your face, follow the 6 foot physical distance rule & stay home unless it is absolutely essential you go out. This will pass, but only when people keep their distance from others, thus stopping the spread of the disease.

Stay healthy, stay safe and keep looking up. You don’t need to be in a crowd to enjoy the night sky and wonder at it’s beauty and mystery.

June MacDonald, President, RASC New Brunswick

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Photos of the Month – Year 2019

[Featured image above by François Thériault]

Click on any image to view a larger version. While viewing the larger version, click on the image to show/hide the description. You may also click on the left/right arrows to go to the previous/next image.

All images are copyright of their respective authors. You may not use or redistribute these images without their permission.

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

 

November

December


 

 


Links to contributors’ photo galleries:

If you are a RASC-NB member, and have not received instructions via email about how to submit your photos, please contact the webmaster here (choose Concerning: Website).

If you contributed photos and would like us to publish a link to your photo gallery, please contact the webmaster.

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