Scheduled time for Public Observing: 8pm – 10pm
Solar System Objects:
The Moon will not be visible tonight.
The planet Venus will be 32° high in the West at 8pm, and 56% illuminated. Venus is Earth’s twin in size. Closer to the Sun than us it shows phases in the telescope, tonight it will look like a small and very bright First Quarter Moon. Since it’s orbit is inward toward the Sun, it orbits in a shorter time than the Earth, and catches up and passes us on the inside. So, when Venus first appears as an “Evening Star” it’s just coming around the far side of the Sun. As weeks go by it gets closer to us and goes through gibbous, first quarter, and crescent phases, growing larger in the telescope as it does.
When it’s closest to us and a very thin crescent, very sharp-eyed observers have reported that they could see the crescent without optical aid.
Photo below by the author using an 8-inch telescope.
Without the Moon in the sky several nebulae, star clusters, and double/multiple stars will be available for viewing through the telescope. M42, the Orion Nebula is one of the brightest and most well known nebula in the sky. It is about 1350 light years away.
M42 photo courtesy Al Johnson Jr, ASGH member.
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”.