Archive: » 2014 » July

August Night Sky

The nights are beginning to get longer again, and with this year's warm summer we can do our observing in shirtsleeves! My first aim in August  is to make the most of our limited opportunities this far north to see the wonderful nebulae in Sagittarius, which is looking directly  towards the galactic centre. Sagittarius is very low in the south as it gets dark, so a good southern horizon with minimal light pollution is needed. Transparent conditions will of course help; good seeing (ie steadiness) is less important for these objects. The 3 highlights are M17 (the Swan or Omega Nebula); M 20 (the...

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July Night Sky

I've never taken much interest in the minor planets, because even the largest of them cannot be seen as more than a starlike point in amateur telescopes. However this year two of the brightest of them, Ceres and Vesta, are very close in the sky -  for the next few days only about 10 minutes of arc apart -  and are therefore easily visible together in the same telescopic field of view. They are in Virgo, a few degrees east of Mars, best seen at about 10pm, when they will be low in the west. A local finder map is here. Meanwhile the summer triangle (Deneb, Vega, and Altair) is rising in the east,...

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