Scheduled time for Public Observing: 8pm – 10pm
Solar System Objects:
The Moon: will be 60° high in the SW at 9pm, and 69% illuminated (First Quarter phase, 9.3 days old). The craters Tycho, Copernicus, and Plato are near the terminator, and all have diameters in the 50-60 mile range, but have different appearances. The site of the first lunar landing, Apollo 11, is also shown below, but any details are far too small to be visible in a telescope.
Image copyright (c) Virtual Moon Atlas / http://ap-i.net/avl/en/start ,with thanks to Christian Legrand & Patrick Chevalley.
Planets: no planets will be available for observation tonight.
Listed below are some possibilities of what may be observed tonight, different objects may be chosen by the telescope operators.
Double Stars: Castor is a bright binary star in Gemini. It will be high overhead tonight, 73 degrees in altitude at 8pm. Castor can be seen as a double star in the 20″ scope, and the orbital motion of its components is visible within a human lifetime. Some years ago it was difficult to “split” as a double, now it’s easier because their separation has increased. This article from Sky and Telescope magazine gives information on other interesting stars in the area.
Nebula and Star Clusters: There are a few open clusters of stars and a couple of nebulae that wouldn’t normally be too difficult to see from Middletown, but they all will appear fairly close to the moon tonight, reducing their visibility even more than light pollution does. The open clusters are M35 in Gemini and M36, M37, and M38 in Auriga. The nebulae are the Eskimo Nebula (NGC 2392), a planetary nebula with high surface brightness, and M42 the Orion Nebula. The image of M42 (left below), taken with the author’s 8″ scope and video camera, shows only the central core region, and is more representative of what can be seen visually than dramatic long-exposure images are. M37 is on the right.
There won’t be any flyovers of the International Space station or flares from Iridium satellites during tonight’s observing session.