This Week’s Sky at a Glance, September 29 – October 6
~by Curt Nason
Major League Baseball playoff season kicks off, or rather throws out the first pitch, on Tuesday and they always arrange to have the Great Square of Pegasus form a diamond in the eastern sky for evening games. At home plate is Algenib, the third brightest star of the constellation. Who’s on first? Yes, that is Markab, the brightest star of Pegasus. On second base we have its second brightest luminary, Sheat, which is probably what he mutters when he makes an error. On third is a star brighter than the other three, Alpheratz, who was traded to Andromeda but still likes to whip the ball around the horn with his former teammates.
Trailing off toward the dugout from third is a string of stars that forms the left side of Princess Andromeda. The second in the string is no second string player. Mirach is as bright as Alpheratz and shows a distinct orange colour in binoculars. Raising your binoculars above the string from Mirach will bring M31, the Andromeda Galaxy, into your view, and from a dark sky that is a view you don’t want to miss. It might resemble a pool of champagne on the clubhouse floor of the World Series champions. Go Expos!
This Week in the Solar System
Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 7:15 am and sunset will occur at 7:03 pm, giving 11 hours, 48 minutes of daylight (7:19 am and 7:08 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 7:24 am and set at 6:49 pm, giving 11 hours, 25 minutes of daylight (7:28 am and 6:55 pm in Saint John).
The Moon is at third quarter on Tuesday and makes a binocular pairing with M44, the Beehive star cluster, before twilight on Thursday morning. Venus is stationary on Friday, preparing to make its sunward plunge toward inferior conjunction three weeks later. Jupiter’s Red Spot is facing our way shortly after 7 pm on Tuesday, and with the giant planet getting lower after sunset our chances of seeing the Red Spot again this year diminish rapidly. Saturn and Mars will be the main targets for stargazers over the next two weeks.
The Saint John Astronomy Club meets in the Rockwood Park Interpretation Center on Saturday, October 6 at 7 pm. All are welcome.
Questions? Contact Curt Nason.