Southern Colorado Skies / August 5-11, 2018

Consider a planetarium program to help you plan your observations. There are many commercial products available; an excellent program (STELLARIUM) is available free at http://www.stellarium.org/.

THIS WEEK

Look for M13 almost directly overhead shortly after dark, in the constellation Hercules about 1/3 of the way from Vega to Arcturus. This Messier object is about 145 light-years in diameter and is located about 22,000 light-years from Earth. It is a globular cluster, consisting of several hundred thousand stars gravitationally bound to each other. Although it may be visible in very dark skies to the unaided eye, binoculars or a telescope are required to observe it in all its glory. (For more information about Messier objects, see my short article in the June 2018 SCS at http://scaspueblo.com/blog/2018/05/27/southern-colorado-skies-june-2018/.)

Friday (August 10)

Although the Perseid meteor shower doesn’t peak until late Sunday night, the number of meteors has been increasing steadily over the past couple of weeks. This year there is no Moon to interfere with viewing. As with all meteor showers, the best viewing is after midnight, as the Earth turns into the shower. During its peak, a couple of meteors per minute is predicted on average.

Saturday (August 11)

New Moon at 3:58 a.m. MDT.

DAYLIGHT

 

PLANETS

Mercury (in Cancer)

Mercury is at conjunction and therefore lost in the glare of the Sun this week.

Venus (in Virgo)

Look for Venus in the west shortly after sunset. Venus is dropping a bit lower every day.

Mars (in Capricornus)

Last week Mars was the closest it’s been to the Earth in 15 years, but it remains big and bright.

The red planet is in the southeast during twilight, and is in its best telescopic viewing position in the south about midnight.

Jupiter (in Libra)

Jupiter appears in the southwest during twilight. The best views through a telescope or binoculars are soon after dark. Jupiter is at quadrature this week (90 degrees east of the Sun).

Saturn (in Sagittarius)

Look for Saturn just above ‘spout’ of the Sagittarius ‘teapot.’ The ringed planet will rise before dusk, and its rings are still tilted near their maximum angle.

Uranus (in Aries/Pisces)

Look in the east about 1 a.m.

Neptune (in Aquarius)

Look in the southeast about 1 a.m.

BRIGHT IRIDIUM FLARES

The following data are based on my location in Pueblo West, Colorado. If you live well outside this area, you should consider checking this information for your location in order to be assured of accurate times, elevations, etc. If you’re unfamiliar with Iridium flares, check out my short article at: http://scaspueblo.com/blog/2017/02/25/iridium-flares/.

Monday (August 6) 10:30:51 p.m. / Magnitude -5.1 / ENE / Elevation 30 degrees

Tuesday (August 7) 10:24:52 p.m. / Magnitude -1.0 / ENE / Elevation 30 degrees

INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION (ISS) and TIANGONG2 (CHINESE SPACE STATION)

These are too numerous to list here! If you’re seriously interested, load the ISS DETECTOR or HEAVENS-ABOVE app on your smart phone or tablet.

Carpe noctem

Dave Furry
Pueblo West, Colorado

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