Due to the COVID-19 virus, Wesleyan University has officially CANCELED ALL CLASSES AND GROUP ACTIVITIES FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE SEMESTER, which includes Public Observing.

Currently the March, April, and May sessions are canceled, but please check back with us for updates.

Scheduled time for Public Observing: 8pm – 10pm

Solar System Objects:

The Moon will not be visible tonight.

The planet Venus will be 25° high in the West at 8pm, and 40% illuminated. It’s very bright at magnitude -4.5, nothing in the sky except the Sun and Moon can ever become brighter. It’s crescent phase will become thinner over the next several weeks as it catches up to us in it’s orbit, and it will appear to grow larger. By the end of May, Venus will pass by the Earth and re-appear in the morning sky.

Deep-Sky Objects:

Nebula and Star Clusters: There are several open star clusters (M35, 36, 37, and 38), and a planetary nebula (NGC 2392, the Eskimo Nebula) that should be visible without the moon to brighten the sky.

Open Cluster: M35 in Gemini

Photo copyright Joe Roberts, an ASGH member. Used with permission. See Joe’s website here.

M35 is the large cluster filling the center of the image, it’s about 2,800 light-years away. The smaller appearing cluster to the lower right is NGC 2158. It’s four times more distant than M35, older, and more compact. M35 is visible as a small round glow in binoculars.

Planetary nebula, such as the Eskimo Nebula, are not directly related to planets. They acquired that name because of their appearance; in a telescope they are seen as small, round bluish-green objects that in some cases have a high surface brightness. Without knowing ahead of time what you’re seeing, some could easily be mistaken for a small planet.

Double Stars: A couple of the brightest this time of year are Castor in Gemini and Gamma Leonis in the constellation Leo.

Star Charts and other Information:

A very useful monthly star chart can be downloaded here from SkyMaps.com, giving information on objects visible with the unaided eye, binoculars, or telescope.

For current astronomical events see Sky and Telescope Magazine’s “This Week’s Sky at a Glance”.