Skylights: March 18 thru March 24, 2013

Mar 18

Written by:
3/18/2013 11:05 AM  RssIcon

What's up in the sky this week?  The spring equinox occurs on the 20th, so you can see the sun set directly in the west that evening.  It will be slightly further north each evening after that.  The Moon hits First Quarter phase early in the week, limiting what we can see for deep sky objects.  But not all is lost!  A "Lunar S" is visible to those with small telescopes, outlined by the crater Kant and some nearby features.  Look for the larger crater Cyrillus, and spot the "S" nearby.

Comet PANSTARRS gains a bit of elevation each evening, putting it slightly higher each night.  Try looking about 45 minutes after your local sunset - by Sunday the 24th, the magnitude will have dropped to about 3.0, but it will be about 5 degrees away from the also 3-rd magnitude star Pi Andromedae.  You should be able to find this star fairly easily from Almaak and Mirach, higher up.  Eyes on the Sky will have a chart later in the week for this.

The double star 27 Hydrae in Hydra the Water Snake is the largest constellation in the sky - but, it is also one of the dimmest.  However, the 2nd magnitude star Alphard sits below Regulus and Procyon, and an easily-split double star, 27 Hya is less then 2 degrees away.  Despite the Moon, you should be able to see and observer this double star this week.  And try aiming a telescope for the dimmer, 7th magnitude companion of 27 Hya - it too is an even tighter double.

Lots to see!  Check back all week for updates on where and how to see these objects, and more.

UPDATE: Crater Gassendi and the surrounding region is nicely lit / shadowed this weekend - see it any small telescope!

Skylights for March 18 thru 24, 2013


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The Nightlight

This blog includes what to see in the night and daytime skies, thoughts on telescopes, binoculars, and other astronomy observing accessories and equipment, plus my own occasional notes on objects I've seen and observed. Oh, and the random theater or other "my take on life" post. In other words, there is always something interesting. Check it out.