Sky at a Glance 2021 August 21 – 28

Photo showing location of the diamond-shaped constellation Delphinus the Dolphin.

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2021 August 21 – 28 ~by Curt Nason

One of the prettiest constellations can be seen halfway up in the southeastern sky around 10 pm. Delphinus the Dolphin is composed of a small diamond-shaped asterism with a star tailing off to the right, and it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to picture a dolphin leaping out of the sea. Although its stars are not bright, its compact shape is eye-catching. Below it are the watery constellations of Capricornus, Aquarius, Piscis Austrinus and Pisces. In mythology, Poseidon had designs on the sea nymph Amphitrite but she hid on him. A dolphin kept track of her and eventually convinced her that the sea god was an okay guy, and it was rewarded with a place of honour in the sky. The diamond part of the constellation has also been called Job’s Coffin but the origin of this is unknown.

Above Delphinus, and within the Summer Triangle, are two other small constellations called Sagitta the Arrow and Vulpecula the Fox. Like Delphinus, Sagitta does resemble its namesake but apparently the fox is too sly to give itself away readily. Sagitta is supposedly the arrow shot by Hercules to kill an eagle (Aquila), which had been commanded by Zeus to peck out the liver of Prometheus each day to punish him for giving humans the secret of fire. Binoculars might reveal the tiny gaseous remnants of an expired star, called the Dumbbell Nebula or M27, above the arrowhead, and the Coathanger cluster is to the upper right of the fletching.

This Week in the Solar System

Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 6:26 am and sunset will occur at 8:17 pm, giving 13 hours, 51 minutes of daylight (6:32 am and 8:20 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 6:35 am and set at 8:04 pm, giving 13 hours, 29 minutes of daylight (6:41 am and 8:08 pm in Saint John).

The Moon is below Jupiter this Saturday evening and it is full on Sunday morning, the Mi’gmaw Ripening Moon. You will need binoculars and a clear sky to see Mercury low in the west midweek, setting about 40 minutes after sunset, and Mars is a tougher target setting seven minutes sooner. Venus is an early evening beacon in the west while Jupiter and Saturn climb higher in the southeast. Jupiter’s Red Spot can be seen with a telescope around 9:30 pm Tuesday and 11 pm Thursday.

Questions? Contact Curt Nason.

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