Sky at a Glance 2020 August 1 – 8

Photo showing the house-shaped constellation Ophiuchus the Serpent Bearer and some of the viewing treasures in that area.

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2020 August 1 – 8 ~by Curt Nason

After twilight look for orange Antares in the heart of Scorpius to the right of Jupiter. High above the scorpion is a large house-shaped constellation called Ophiuchus the Serpent Bearer. If your area isn’t light polluted you can see two lines of stars rising up and outward from the bottom of the house. The line on the right is Serpens Caput and the one on the left is Serpens Cauda. Together they comprise Serpens the Serpent, the only constellation that is in separate parts. Globular clusters contain many tens of thousands of stars and they orbit the centre of our galaxy, which is in the direction just above the spout of the Sagittarius Teapot asterism. Therefore, these clusters abound in the Sagittarius-Scorpius-Ophiuchus region of our sky and many can be seen in binoculars as fat, fuzzy stars.

Ophiuchus represents Asclepius from mythology, who became interested in the healing arts after killing a snake and watching another snake bring it back to life with a leaf. Asclepius brought many people back from the dead, including Orion after he was killed by the scorpion. Hades, god of the Underworld, complained to Zeus about a decrease in business so Zeus sent his pet eagle to kill Asclepius with a thunderbolt. The constellation of Aquila the Eagle is east of Serpens Cauda.

This Week in the Solar System

Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 6:01 am and sunset will occur at 8:48 pm, giving 14 hours, 47 minutes of daylight (6:09 am and 8:50 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 6:10 am and set at 8:38 pm, giving 14 hours, 28 minutes of daylight (6:17 am and 8:51 pm in Saint John).

The Moon passes below Jupiter this Saturday and it is full on Monday. Both Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeastern sky during evening twilight. Telescope users might see Jupiter’s Red Spot around 10 pm Wednesday, while Saturn’s rings are a memorable sight. Mars rises around 11:30 pm and offers telescopic views of its south polar ice cap. Mercury rises an hour before the Sun and can be picked out with binoculars. Venus, the brightest planet, dominates the morning sky. Binocular (maybe) comet NEOWISE passes near M64, the Black Eye Galaxy, on Monday and near globular cluster M53 on Thursday.

With astronomy meetings and outreach activities on hold, you can watch the local Sunday Night Astronomy Show at 8 pm and view archived shows.

Questions? Contact Curt Nason.

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