This Week’s Sky at a Glance, February 25- March 4 ~by Curt Nason
As a kid, did you ever wonder where the Sun goes between rising and setting? Do the constellations have a dormitory where they sleep until their next evening shift? What would we see if the earth disappeared or became transparent? With the Stellarium program we have that option. Those of you reading this on the Nature NB list will have to visit the Nature Moncton blog, Saint John Naturalists’ Club Facebook page, or the Saint John Astronomy Club website in a couple of days to see the before and after pictures.
Facing northwest at 7 pm this weekend, about an hour after sunset, we see the Big Dipper standing on its handle to our right. The Pointers stars at the end of the bowl direct our attention to the North Star halfway up the sky, with the bowl of the Little Dipper swinging below. Draco is playing dead on the northern horizon with his feet in the air, waiting for someone to toss him a dragon biscuit as a reward for this trick. Cygnus and Pegasus are playing ostrich with their heads shoved below ground level. Except for part of the swan’s wing the rest of their bodies will soon disappear, or will they?
With our Superman X-ray vision in the second picture we lose ground to reveal the constellations on their off-time. Ground level is the bottom of the cardinal points W and N. There is mighty Hercules kneeling on the underside of the northern horizon, still having a tête-a-tête with Ophiuchus. Bright Vega won’t be kept out of sight for long. To the west the Sun still shines, with the Moon and Mercury biding time until they are dawning with Aquarius in twelve hours. What is this pace? Is it Middle Earth, or the mythological Greek Underworld ruled by Hades? Will someone turn out the light so they can sleep?
This Week in the Solar System
Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 7:05 am and sunset will occur at 6:00 pm, giving 10 hours, 55 minutes of daylight (7:08 am and 6:06 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 6:52 am and set at 6:10 pm, giving 11 hours, 18 minutes of daylight (6:56 am and 6:15 pm in Saint John).
The Moon is new on Sunday, giving dark skies for those seeking galaxies and comets this weekend. It will be lower left of Venus on Tuesday and left of Mars on Wednesday. Around spring the crescent Moon makes a Cheshire cat smile in the early evening sky. On Monday binoculars or a scope will reveal Uranus about one degree to the lower left of Mars. Jupiter and Saturn are well placed for early morning observing in the southwest and southeast, respectively.
Astronomy-Astronomie Moncton invites all to a public observing event at the Moncton High School Observatory on Friday, March 3 from 7:30 to 9:00 pm. The Saint John Astronomy Club meets in the Rockwood Park Interpretation Centre on March 4 at 7 pm. All are welcome.
Questions? You can contact Curt Nason here.