Podcaster: Shane and Chris
Title: Objects to Observe in the August 2022 Night Sky
Organization: Actual Astronomy
Description: The Actual Astronomy Podcast presents Objects to Observe in the August 2022 Night Sky and places a focus on events to help you find the planets as well as the Moon. This month we have several pairings and some occultation events with the Moon and Planeta. We also talk about when and how to observe the Lunar Straight Wall, Curtis Cross as well as what comets and asteroids to look out for this month plus an AAvSO variable star to watch.
Bio: Shane and Chris are amateur astronomers who enjoy teaching astronomy classes and performing outreach where they help the eyes of the public to telescope eyepieces.
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You know it’s getting dark that a decent time, and the you know the temperatures are still nice so it’s relatively comfortable to observe I love August observing.
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Perfect. Yeah, me too.
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You know, maybe before we get going. We’ll just see some helpful hints for getting started in summer stargazing so yeah what are some of the things that people can do if they if they want to start you know just really looking up and enjoying astronomy,
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maybe a little bit more than they have in years past, we’re going to begin.
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Um, well just your eyes or even a pair of binoculars is really all you need to enjoy the night sky, certainly having like a star chart, something like Terrence Dickinson’s Night Watch, or the sky and telescope pocket and sky Atlas are really helpful to
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navigate around the night sky help you identify constellations help you locate objects within constellations. And, you know, if you’re new to astronomy, some objects to, you know, take note of would be any of the Messier objects.
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A number of those under a dark sky You can see with just your eyes, and certainly with binoculars, you can see a number of the Messier objects. So, you know, that’s a great place to start.
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Yeah, I think sky maps.org, or sorry, used to be sky sky maps. com, make these really handy free star charts that are basic like naked I start star charts with, you know with with some guidance on the left hand column that says when the moon be close
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to stars and planets and were stars and planets are going to be and just sort of has the general layout of the nighttime sky in a very easy to follow star chart format with, with some basic instructions.
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I think that’s also a great resource and top of binoculars and, and the parents Dickinson book that you recommend.
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Yeah, for sure. Alright, so we’re going to talk about some conjunctions so yeah so what is what is a conjunction.
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Basically it’s when two objects appear to be close to gather in the night sky.
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They’re typically not but like, for example like Saturn and the moon may be really close together, and we would call that a conjunction so typically to I think fit the definition of conjunction they have to have the like roughly the same right ascension.
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Yeah. And then be fairly close to each other.
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Yeah. And so the term kind of gets loosely thrown around.
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So yeah, like generally a conjunction if you’re seeing like a conjunction. Often, it’ll just be sort of a more common definition of, to, to celestial objects that are close together and typically they’re going to be like the moon in a planet or a couple
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planets or maybe all three or something like that.
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All right, and then we’re going to have double shadow transits on Jupiter so so what are the double shadow transits on Jupiter, changing only.
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So, there’s a number of shadow transits on Jupiter. And basically what it is is it’s one of the four Galilean moons is transiting somewhere kind of in front of Jupiter and casting a shadow from the sun.
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On to the surface of Jupiter and we can observe that with telescopes and a double shadow transit means to have those Galilean moons just happened to be projecting their shadow onto the surface of Jupiter so super cool.
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And when you get into the double and triple transits those start to become more rare those don’t always happen so they’re neat ones to observe.
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Yeah. Cool. So, yeah, let’s get started. August 1, August starts with a conjunction of Mars which will be about a degree and a half, maybe as close as 1.4 degrees for some folks.
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So Mars is going to be just under three and a half north of Uranus. So that’s a great opportunity to actually track down Uranus which otherwise can be a little bit difficult to track down because it’s only about magnitude 5.75 point which is just barely
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discernible to the naked eye in a dark site.
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Yeah, yeah, no that’s that’ll be a really good opportunity if you’ve never seen Uranus before.
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Yeah, I think that’s going to be something you’ll need to track down with binoculars, but basically what you’ll see is, is Mars rising in the morning sky it’s bright red, and then you can just google like star chart for marathon August 1, and then God’s
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going to be basically very very close to Uranus and through a telescope, of course many telescopes will will have a low power field that will be able to take in a better degree and a half even pretty big telescopes can take an improvement degree and a
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half with low power Wide Field optics. And, yeah, be able to see both, you know, our next door neighbor, and are not so next door neighbor will be out in the outer solar system, where Uranus lives.
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All right, August 4 Mercury is going to be point seven degrees north of Regulus. And now, this I think is is going to be too tough for us to see Shane here in the Northern Hemisphere because Mercury is very close to the sun, which means it hangs out in
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Twilight for for everybody, when they’re, they’re going to observe it, but because here we’re experiencing summer, it’s, it’s like relate still, but I know like we have weighed and we have Phillippi have other folks that are in the southern hemisphere
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so August 4 could be a good opportunity for those listeners to be able to to go down and take a look at, at mercury just just almost three quarters of a degree, north of Regulus, you know, in the nighttime sky yeah should be should be kind of a great,
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a great set of observations there for those in the southern hemisphere to see.
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Mars and Uranus, and then just a few nights later. People see mercury and M Regulus.
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Yeah, yeah great opportunity. Yeah, August 5 we have the first quarter moon and when the moon is that first quarter.
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You can see the straight wall. So, what is the street wall and what would people need to see a chain.
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So every month when we do this we often talk about these effects or these things to see on the moon it’s not an actual object, so to speak, it’s more of a play between how the sun illuminate some parts of the moon and then cast others into shadow.
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So the straight wall, basically looks like a big long straight black line on the moon and it’s quite noticeable at the right time when the shadow is just right.
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So this is known as a clear obscure effect, and for this one.
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I’ve never tried it with binoculars. It might be visible you would certainly need some stronger binoculars, like maybe 12 or 15 times, but certainly through just about any aperture telescope.
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This is a fairly easy thing to see.
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Yeah, maybe like a pair of like, like a lot of folks get those 15 by 70s, like it should be visible and those for sure yeah I think that would work. Yeah.
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August 9 we’re going to have a double shadow transit on Jupiter, for the moon I’m just gonna say planet, but Jupiter has these four moons. These Galilean moons that are almost like planets and themselves and this one is Europa is going to be going across
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the Oh sorry. Yeah, and and it’s going to be visible in eastern North America, this double shadow transit for for two of the moon’s passing over the cloud tops of Jupiter, and then their shadows will be cast on to the cloud deck and you’d be able to see
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those. I think you really need to have about a 60 to 70 millimeter telescope to start seeing these and then an 80 millimeters scope they start showing up pretty darn good as these little black dots on on the cloud deck on Jupiter they’re actually pretty
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easy to see.
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to see. Yeah, yeah. Once you know the first time I saw one of the shadow transits on Jupiter, you know I struggled to see it but then once I did it, it just really jumps out, huh.
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Yeah, they do, they do jump out it’s, yeah it’s just one of those things I’ve seen them just just randomly over the years and certainly they’re worth getting out to see on on those nights, especially since August 9 it’s only a couple days before Full
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Moon so might not be doing too much deep sky observing so August 11 is going to give us the full moon, which typically there isn’t too much to see because the moon, when it’s full kind of washes out the night sky sort of for the period of a few days and
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out of sight of full moon, and yet unfortunately oftentimes people get pretty excited about the full moon because it’s the thing that most people can see in the nighttime sky but unfortunately it does wash out.
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You know the finger stars as well the surface of the moon just kind of gets totally washed out kind of like, you know, walking out into your backyard if it’s covered in snow on a, on a noon on a bright sunny day will look up like a very flat light can
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be difficult to, to see much detail you want to wait until it’s later in the day if you’re going to do some photographs, just like with the moon. You want to wait until it’s a few days before passed a full moon to, to look at the moon and be able to see
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some of the features on there.
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Yeah, yeah. The moon Does, does change things a little bit for us.
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In, like you said, nebulas galaxies fainter objects. You know, we really can’t observe all that well during full moon.
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Double stars variable stars some open clusters. You know remain on the list, and certainly planets are great objects during that time.
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Yeah. The next date, August 12 Saturn is going to be just four and a half degrees above the moon so that could be worth, you know, Taking a look at if people so wish.
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Yeah, yeah, that’s pretty close and some Whitefield telescopes will be able to encapsulate both but most binocular should be able to get those.
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And then August 13, it’s sort of a bit sad because we have just past Full Moon by a couple days, the preceded meteor shower peak, and that’s going to be too close to the full moon, my friends so you won’t be seen too many preceded meteors that night.
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No, but you’ll, you’ll see Perseids all month. So it’s not uncommon for, you know, both like two weeks on both sides of the pinnacle.
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You know, you’re going to see more meteors and you normally would. It’s just will miss out on the real peak, which is unfortunate but August is always preceded month.
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Yeah, I think during that first week of august if people get up early and they go out and look towards the eastern horizon.
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They would certainly start to start to see some of the Perseids coming in and the early morning hours. Yeah, for sure.
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Alright August 14, we’re looking at Neptune, three degrees north of the moon. So, here again you have a nice pairing of one of the outer planets the most outer official planet Neptune which is the three degrees north of the moon, meaning that you’d be
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able to pick it up in a purpose doctors, typically Neptune is a little bit difficult to see because it’s getting close to the eighth magnitude, which means you can’t see it with your unaided I, but either magnitude is something that you can see with a
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good pair of binoculars. And so, that needs.
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Also on the 14th Saturn is an opposition so that means that Saturn is going to rise.
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When the sun goes down, and it’s going to set. When the sun rises so this means that as well pleased to take a look at the rings on it I was actually looking at the Saturn a little bit last night through my five and a half inch telescope have, have you
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taken a look at it recently saying, No, no I haven’t Not recently.
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Yeah, it’s starting to get to the point where it’s rising at a convenient hour You know, I was so round 1130 last night and it was getting high enough to take a look at, of course, before this point in time we’re recording this in the middle of July,
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before now, it wasn’t getting high enough to take a look that until after midnight she had to get up into the early hours to take a look at it but now it’s becoming an evening object to take to take a peek at through the telescope, with binoculars you
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won’t be able to see the rings or anything but if you have a little telescope. Now you can start getting into the evenings and and taking a gander at those beautiful ring systems on Saturday.
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What is your favorite thing to look at when you look at Saturn. Well, certainly the rings and really just trying to find or see the subtle changes of detail, both within the rings, but also on the disk of Saturn on the desk there’s some cloud bands they’re
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kind of subtle, but you can see some variation there. And then within the rings, you know, you’re always looking for the Cassini division.
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But there’s there’s other features that you can see sometimes in the rings, if the, you know, the seeing is night are really good and you have some larger aperture.
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There’s a lot of detail that you can tease out of that planet.
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Yeah, I’m like with, you know, like with Jupiter there’s actually moons around the center as well so of course the rings are great but then also really fun to try to pick out like Titan which is the brightest moon around Saturn, and then some of the other
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fainter ones are and sell it as minutes DNA evidence toughest Rhea.
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These means do tend to stick out a little bit so if you have like five or six inch telescope or larger you can start to see several of the moons and use the, I think you can even see Titan through a good pair of binoculars so you can always try to hunt
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that down as well, usually gonna look like a bright star right next to it, and then come out a couple nights later and still sitting in are both the same position that’s, that’s going to be taking
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August 15 Jupiter’s just going to be about two degrees north of the moon so nice pairing there. And so that’s going to be getting towards the morning sky though you’re going to get up early and take a look for Jupiter in the moon is paired together so
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easy to find because you find the moon and then take your binoculars or just even looking naked eye Jupiter’s pretty bright.
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Be curious to see if people be able to see Jupiter sort of separated from from the moon there but that should be possible for sure.
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I guess 16th we have another double shadow transit on Jupiter so if you missed the one earlier in the month I think that was on August 9 then you can go take a look for the two shadows on top of the climax of Jupiter, and then on August 17 asteroids 704
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into ram Nia is going to be an opposition at 92 9.9 so that’s a, an object that you would be able to hunt down and a good pair of binoculars from a dark site.
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And it’s a large f type asteroid and it’s the fifth largest asteroid after series. Step. Alice and i.
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So, have you ever taken a look at that I hadn’t taken a look at this into ram Nia before I go to try to take a look I’ve seen the other ones.
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No, I’ve never seen this one. Yeah, so it was discovered October second in 1910 by Vincenzo throughly and named after the Latin name for Rambo in Italy where it’s really worked.
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So, anyway, yeah, I want to try to hunt that down sometime in August because they’ll be hovering around 10th magnitude and feel like that should be a pretty good one to hunt down in the comic catcher from my reasonably dark site and yeah so what you do
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is you need to quote and sort of find that thing that looks like a star in the right position, I probably need to use your astronomy software to do that.
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And then you need to go to a couple nights later and see if that’s the best way to do it isn’t it. Yeah, yep, for sure. Very good. August 18 Uranus is going to be a co opted by the moon so that means the moon in the past.
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actually can see that here in Saskatchewan and in anywhere in sort of North America and then it’s going to be a close call for a lot of other folks around the world, be very very close to Uranus and the moon, that’s a good opportunity there.
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August 19, we get into the last quarter moon, these are going to be in my opinion to the best weeks for observing throughout the year for us here in the Northern Hemisphere because hopefully the bustle of quieted down by then, but still that summer sky
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but skies be darkness early Saturn is going to be nice and high, and you can observe that for a while then Jupiter is going to rise and next Milky Way overhead if you’re at a dark site so it’s all good.
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On August, 22, the minor planet Vesta is going to be an opposition and yeah what would what would that look like you’ve looked at tested before I imagine.
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Yeah, so it’s stellar, you know it’ll look like a star, and you know if you observe it over a period of time and note the background stars you should see some movement there, huh.
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Yeah. So, again, it just the sort of pleasure of hunting down a minor planet, and you just sort of look that up in your astronomy software or some sort of chart online.
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And then when you point your binoculars out, you’ll be able to to follow that over the course of a couple nights and, and then get the sense of motion in amongst the stars.
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August 20 25th, the minor planets series is going to be posted by the moon for its so.
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America is where that one’s going to take place, and also on August 25. That’s the date William Herschel died 200 years ago on that. Oh, yeah.
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So maybe there’s a connection there, I’m just kidding. Okay, August 26, look for the old 20 hour moon so the moon is gonna be very very old in the East just before sunrise, at least for central portions of North America.
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And then on August 27, the new moon and mercury.
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Mercury is going to be at greatest elongation and visible in the evening sky but that’s going to be best for those so with the quatre. So that’s it for sort of our object list comic key to pan-starrs continues to put on a reasonable show I’ve heard from
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people saying that they’re able to get it in binoculars. And guess I kind of saw it but if there’s last night but maybe, maybe the moon was interfering a bit much I get it in the telescope.
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It’s certainly subtle, even in a five and a half inch telescope So, have you been able to see it from the city saying, No, I haven’t.
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No, I haven’t. I haven’t been using big aperture though either, or at least big aperture for me I’ve really just been messing around with my 71 millimeter board, so maybe I should take out the four inch, this week and see what I can see.
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Yeah. Yeah, sounds good. I think people will will be able to see that throughout August, it’s going to pass them off you kiss into Scorpius there, and right now they’re saying it’s mandated seven, I think, maybe, maybe seven and a half for me last name.
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It’s, it’s large and diffuse, and I did see an image of it the images make it look a little bit better than it did last night, although again wasn’t completely dark when I was looking at it.
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So I’m kind of hoping to get another look. perhaps another four or five days.
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Once the moon is is totally out of the sky, and it will be in a dark sky. So with that, Shane did you want to talk about the moon we look at the AV so variable stars for the month.
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And this month we’re talking about the variable star quickly, do you want to talk about that for a moment and then we’ll stop on.
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So if you’re interested in variable star observing this is the recommended one for this month from the AVSO.
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So it’s located just off the trailing edge of the Western wing of Akila the eagle. So that’s about five degrees south of Zelda quill a and This marks the wingtip.
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So our Aquila is a red giant star and about the same mass as our son. But like many of us has expanded as it age.
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If it were located in place of our Sun Earth would be orbiting inside its outer atmosphere so not good news for us if that was the case.
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But at its brightest are equally is visible to the naked eye as a DM Red Star but it dims over 600 times from its brightest making it just visible in binoculars.
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So it’s period. So the period from you know kind of maximum brightness to minimum is 270 days. Now, this period has been decreasing though about nine hours per year since it was discovered to be variable in 1915.
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The reason for the decrease is unknown at this time and this is one of those things that kind of makes observing variables, interesting, you know there’s there’s still, you know science to be done here so that’s pretty cool.
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Yeah, really need.
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All right, anything else to add to this episode Shane.
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No that’s everything Chris. All right, well thanks Shane thanks everybody for listening, be sure to subscribe if you haven’t already, we’re always putting out a couple podcast every week it seems. For the past 27 months since the beginning of the pandemic and seems like we’re gonna keep going at that rate.
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