Consider a planetarium program to help you plan your observations. There are many commercial products available, and a very good program (Cartes du Ciel) is available free at http://www.ap-i.net/skychart/en/start.
This week the Moon is waxing toward Full Moon phase, which occurs on Saturday, August 29th. Can you spot the “rabbit” in the Moon? Below is the same photo, but in the one on the right I used my meager artistic skills to outline the “rabbit.” Some cultures see the rabbit as a symbol of fertility as the gestation period of these fruitful creatures is about the same as the Moon’s period. More than one source considers this as the source of the “Easter bunny” – did you ever wonder why a rabbit traditionally brings eggs on Easter?
Monday (August 24):
Look for bright Vega high overhead just after dark. Vega is in the constellation Lyra (the Lyre), shines at apparent magnitude 0.03 (it is the “standard” for magnitude measurements), is about 25 light-years away, and is a white main sequence star. Yellow-orange Arcturus is in the west, about 37 light-years away.
Tuesday (August 25):
The gibbous Moon is above the Sagittarius “teapot” in the south.
Saturday (August 29):
The Full Moon occurs at 12:35 p.m. MDT. September’s full moon will include a total lunar eclipse. Plan t join SCAS at the Nature Center for this event and our annual party – this eclipse occurs in the early evening! More details later.
Mercury (in Virgo): Visible on the western horizon about 20 minutes after dusk. Bring binoculars or a small telescope for the best chance of spotting it! Don’t point your instrument near the Sun, though!
Venus (in Cancer): Should be visible in Saturday’s dawn sky.
Mars (in Cancer): Rises in the east about an hour before sunrise.
Jupiter (in Leo): Out of sight now – in conjunction behind the Sun.
Saturn (in Libra): In the southwest as darkness falls. Look for it to the right of Scorpius.
Uranus (in Pisces): Well up in the southeastern sky by midnight.
Neptune (in Aquarius): Well up in the southeastern sky by midnight.
Iridium Flares and International Space Station (ISS):
Sorry – these are too numerous to list here! If you’re serious, load the ISS DETECTOR app on your smart phone or tablet. Alternatively, refer to Chuck Percival’s column in the Sunday Pueblo Chieftain.