This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2019 September 28 – October 5
~by Curt Nason
Small constellations tend to get overlooked unless, like Delphinus the Dolphin, they have fairly bright stars or an eye-catching pattern. Aries the Ram and cleverly named Triangulum aren’t quite as pretty as Delphinus but they do get noticed. Okay, Triangulum isn’t pretty but it is acute, situated below Andromeda in mid-evening. Below it is brighter Aries, which resembles a somewhat squashed triangle.
In mythology, the god Hermes sent a flying, golden ram to rescue a prince who was being sacrificed to end a famine. The prince showed his gratitude by slaughtering the ram and giving its fleece to a man in exchange for his daughter’s hand in marriage. The Golden Fleece later became the quest of Jason and the Argonauts. Over 2000 years ago the Sun was in Aries on the first day of spring, and the vernal equinox is still called the First Point of Aries despite having moved into the constellation Pisces long ago.
Triangulum is not associated with an exciting tale from mythology but at times it had been regarded as a tribute to both the Nile Delta and the island of Sicily. I use the tip of the triangle as a reference for locating the Triangulum Galaxy, also called M33. It is almost halfway and a tad to the right of a line from the tip to orange Mirach in Andromeda. Smaller and slightly more distant than the nearby Andromeda Galaxy (M31), this face-on spiral galaxy is dim but attainable with binoculars in a reasonably dark sky.
This Week in the Solar System
Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 7:13 am and sunset will occur at 7:05 pm, giving 11 hours, 52 minutes of daylight (7:18 am and 7:10 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 7:22 am and set at 6:52 pm, giving 11 hours, 30 minutes of daylight (7:27 am and 6:57 pm in Saint John).
The Moon is new and at perigee this Saturday, so expect extreme high and low tide levels this weekend. Jupiter and Saturn remain as the favourite targets in the early evening, with the Moon paying both a visit late in the week. Venus and Mercury set a half hour after the Sun this weekend. Venus can be seen with binoculars soon after sunset, but Mercury will be a more difficult target a binocular-field to its left. The slim crescent Moon will be a bino-field above them on Sunday, with the bright star Spica being a challenge to spot just below Mercury.
There will be public observing at the Irving Nature Park in Saint John and at the Moncton High School observatory at dusk on Friday, October 4. The Saint John Astronomy Club meets in the Rockwood Park Interpretation Centre on October 5 at 7 pm. All are welcome.
Questions? Contact Curt Nason.