Sky at a Glance September 1 – 8

Photo showing the Summer Triangle of Vega, Altair and Deneb in the overhead sky.

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

The Summer Triangle is at its highest in early evening. Vega pokes through the twilight overhead, followed by Altair to the south and Deneb to the east. All three are the brightest stars of their respective constellations of Lyra, Aquila and Cygnus. Although it is the dimmest of the trio, Deneb is actually much brighter but it is about 60 times more distant. If it were as close as the other two it would be more than ten times brighter than Venus.

I occasionally sit out on the deck shortly after sunset and just look up at the blue sky, waiting for Vega to appear. Easily amused, the blue background gives me a three dimensional view of my eye floaters. Then, with a little concentration, I look for a Maltese cross of pale yellow and blue light. Haidinger’s Brush isn’t in the sky; it is a phenomenon of the eye caused by the polarized light overhead. If you are really keen to learn about this see Haidinger’s Brush.

This Week in the Solar System

Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 6:39 am and sunset will occur at 7:57 pm, giving 13 hours, 18 minutes of daylight (6:45 am and 8:01 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 6:48 am and set at 7:44 pm, giving 12 hours, 56 minutes of daylight (6:54 am and 7:48 pm in Saint John).

The Moon is at third quarter on Sunday, rising near the bright star Aldebaran just before midnight. Venus is low in the west after sunset, setting around 9 pm later in the week. Jupiter sets at 10:30 so it is observed best in twilight. Look for its Red Spot with a telescope at 9 pm on Monday. Saturn is the showpiece of the evening sky and it resumes its eastward motion relative to the stars late in the week. Mars still captures the eye with its bright orange glare but a dust storm continues to hide some of its features from telescope users. Mercury is brightening but also moving sunward; this is the last good week to pick it out of morning twilight. Neptune, a binocular object, is at opposition on Friday in case you are looking for something to celebrate.

The RASC NB star party at Fundy National Park takes place Friday and Saturday, August 31 – September 1. The Saint John Astronomy Club meets in the Rockwood Park Interpretation Centre on September 8 at 7 pm.

Questions? Contact Curt Nason.

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