October 2021

• October 3rd, 2021

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         An annual meteor shower, three great planets all visible right after sunset, with visits from the Moon, a space launch, and a night where many people are out make October of 2021 a wonderful month for getting out with or without your telescope.

         Welcome to Observing With Webb, where a high school astronomy teacher tells you what you’re looking at, why it’s so cool, and what you should check out later this month…at night. 

 

Naked-eye PLANETS...

Sunset – Venus

  • Venus (W) – Staying about 10˚ above the horizon all month, Venus is a glorious sight for those looking West after sunset.
  • Saturn, Jupiter – Throughout October, Saturn and Jupiter will appear in the SE right as it gets dark. Jupiter will be the brightest point of light, with Saturn about 15˚ to the right.   

Throughout the night – Saturn, Jupiter

  • Saturn, Jupiter - Both gas planets rise from the SE and move S and SW throughout the night. In the beginning of the month Saturn sets at 2am, with Jupiter trailing at 3am.  By the end of the month, Saturn and Jupiter set in the SW at about 11pm and 12am, respectively.

Morning – Mercury (last two weeks)

  • Mercury – Always a tough one to find, however you might catch it best and easiest on the morning of the 25th. By 5am, Mercury should be breaking above the horizon in the East. With sunrise being 6:23am, you have less than an hour before the dawn twilight makes it very difficult to find this fast and small planet.  Just look for the bright light low on the Eastern horizon.

 

EVENTS...

Morning Crescents (look East in the AM)

New Moon – 6th (darkest skies)

Evening Crescents (look West after Sunset)

First Quarter Moon – 12th (Visible until midnight)

Evening Gibbous (Mostly lit, after Sunset)

Full Moon – 20th (Visible all night)

Waning Gibbous (Mostly lit, rises later at night)

Last Quarter Moon – 28th (Visible from midnight into the morning)

 

9thClose Encounter – Moon, Venus – Get out there and watch the sunset (6:33pm) and hang out until you see bright Venus with a thin crescent Moon just 2˚ above it.  The following night, the Moon will move to the left and up from Venus.

 

13th – 15thClose Encounter – Moon, Saturn, Jupiter – Any time after sunset, get out there and look South to find the Moon, Saturn, and Jupiter.  On the 13th, they line up with Jupiter on the left, Saturn in the middle, and the Moon down and to the right.  The next night, the Moon passes below the two gas planets. Then, on the 15th the Moon moves down and to the left of Jupiter. All three move westward throughout each night, setting between 3am and 4am.

 

20th – 22ndOrionid Meteor Shower – Usually a decent meteor shower, producing around 15 meteors per hour.  However, the Moon is full this year, making it tough to see the faint ones.  Get out there whenever you can, let your eyes get dark adapted (don’t look at your phone), find a nice spot to lie down away from light pollution, be patient, and look at the whole sky, with an understanding that they will be coming from a spot in Orion’s club.  You won’t see a ton, but you might catch a couple good ones this year.

 

31st – Halloween – Halloween will be a moonless night this year, with Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter nicely visible.  If you have a telescope, this would be a FANTASTIC year for getting the scope out for some sidewalk astronomy (Covid-safe, of course).

        Also, Space X will be launching the Crew-3 mission on a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  It will carry 4 astronauts to the International Space Station.  It’s the third operational astronaut flight to the ISS, using a Crew Dragon Spacecraft.  This should be easily watchable on YouTube.

 

CONSTELLATIONS...

Use a sky map from www.skymaps.com to help you out.

After Dinner:

The Summer Triangle: Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila, Delphinus - Look straight up before 8pm and you’ll be able to see Lyra (the Harp), Cygnus (the Swan), Aquila (the Eagle), (and Delphinus the Dolphin.)  These three constellations have the three brightest stars of the summer constellations (Vega, Deneb, Altair – respectively.)  Those bright stars create the summer triangle.  Off to the east of this is the small but beautiful constellation of Delphinus. If you’re under dark skies (away from city lights) you may just catch a glimpse of the Milky Way passing through Cygnus and Aquila. 

Before Bed:

Fall Constellations: Pegasus & Andromeda - Look pretty much straight up before 10pm and you’ll be able to see the Great Square of Pegasus, with Andromeda curving off of one corner. If your skies are decently dark, you might catch the faint fuzz that is the Andromeda Galaxy.

Before Work:

Orion – Look south to find the vertical bow-tie that is Orion the Hunter.

 

Don’t forget this podcast is found on my Podbean page, Stitcher, and iTunes.  There’s also a video version on my YouTube Channel and I can be found on Twitter and Instagram as @mrwebbpv. The Pequea Valley Planetarium and its events and updates are on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as @pvplanetarium.


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September 2021

• September 7th, 2021

Observing With Webb September 2021

WATCH this on YouTube
LISTEN as a podcast on Podbean, Stitcher, or iTunes

Social Media: @mrwebbpv on Twitter and Instagram

@pvplanetarium on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

 

Three great planets all visible right after sunset, with visits from the Moon, make September of 2021 a calm, but convenient month for breaking out that telescope.

         Welcome to Observing With Webb, where a high school astronomy teacher tells you what you’re looking at, why it’s so cool, and what you should check out later this month…at night. 

 

Naked-eye PLANETS...

Sunset – Venus

  • Venus (W) – Staying about 10˚ above the horizon all month, Venus is a glorious sight for those looking West after sunset.
  • Saturn, Jupiter – Throughout September, Saturn and Jupiter will appear in the SE right as it gets dark. Jupiter will be the brightest point of light, with Saturn about 15˚ to the right.   

Throughout the night – Saturn, Jupiter

  • Saturn, Jupiter - Both gas planets rise from the SE and move S and SW throughout the night. In the beginning of the month Saturn sets at 4am, with Jupiter trailing at 5:30am.  By the end of the month, Saturn and Jupiter set in the SW at about 2am and 3am, respectively.

Morning – None

 

EVENTS...

Morning Crescents (look East in the AM)

New Moon – 6th (darkest skies)

Evening Crescents (look West after Sunset)

First Quarter Moon – 13th (Visible until midnight)

Evening Gibbous (Mostly lit, after Sunset)

Full Moon – 20th (Visible all night)

Waning Gibbous (Mostly lit, rises later at night)

Last Quarter Moon – 28th (Visible from midnight into the morning)

 

9th – 10thClose Encounter – Moon, Venus – Get out there and watch the sunset (7:22pm) and hang out until you see bright Venus with a thin crescent Moon directly to the right of it on the 9th.  The following night, the Moon will move to the left and up from Venus.

 

15th – 19thClose Encounter – Moon, Saturn, Jupiter – Anytime after sunset, get out there and look SE to find the Moon, Saturn, and Jupiter.  On the 15th, they line up with Jupiter on the left, Saturn in the middle, and the Moon on the right.  After this, the Moon passes by the two gas planets, being just below Saturn on the 16th, down and to the right of Jupiter on the 17th, and to the left of both planets on the 18th and 19th.  All three move westward throughout each night, setting between 3am and 4am.

 

22nd– Fall Equinox – When all locations on Earth experience a day of almost exactly 12 hours and a night of almost exactly 12 hours.  It is the astronomical first day of fall, even though meteorologically it typically starts in the beginning of September.

 

CONSTELLATIONS...

Use a sky map from www.skymaps.com to help you out.

After Dinner:

Sagittarius – Use binoculars (or even a telescope) and a star chart to scan through the southern constellation of Sagittarius.  There are at least 7 easily visible clusters and nebulas up and to the right of the “teapot” of Sagittarius.

The Summer Triangle: Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila, Delphinus - Look straight up before 10pm and you’ll be able to see Lyra (the Harp), Cygnus (the Swan), Aquila (the Eagle), (and Delphinus the Dolphin.)  These three constellations have the three brightest stars of the summer constellations (Vega, Deneb, Altair – respectively.)  Those bright stars create the summer triangle.  Off to the east of this is the small but beautiful constellation of Delphinus. If you’re under dark skies (away from city lights) you may just catch a glimpse of the Milky Way passing through Cygnus and Aquila.  If you’re looking past 10pm, they’ll be moving toward the West and lower in the sky.

Before Work:

Cassiopeia – Just a few degrees below the zenith, in the North, is the Queen. Just look North and tilt your head almost all the way up, and you’ll see the 5 bright stars that form an M or upside down W in the sky, depending on what font you normally use. The angle on the left will be ALMOST a right angle, with the one on the right being obtuse.

Don’t forget this podcast is found on my Podbean page, Stitcher, and iTunes.  There’s also a video version on my YouTube Channel and I can be found on Twitter and Instagram as @mrwebbpv. The Pequea Valley Planetarium and its events and updates are on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as @pvplanetarium.

 

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