This month’s constellation plays a role in the famous mythological story called the “Royal Family of Constellations”. As the fable went, King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia sacrificed their daughter Andromeda to the Sea Monster, Cetus. Our hero Perseus happened by with his slain prize - the Medusa’s head, stowed in a potato sack.
Rob Cardinal, an astronomer at the University of Calgary's Rothney Astrophysical Observatory, is the second Canadian observer to discover a comet using a Canadian telescope this decade. The discovery was made on 1 October 2008 with the observatory's 0.5m f/1.0 Baker-Nunn telescope. Cardinal was using this wide-field instrument to search for asteroids at the time of the discovery. Observatory director Phil Langill credits the local community's light-pollution abatement efforts for keeping the skies dark just 35 km outside of Calgary.
Alas, short, warm, humid, buggy summer nights are now behind us, only to be replaced with longer, cooler, drier, autumn observing sessions without the hum of mosquitoes. This is the perfect time of year to enjoy the Milky Way high overhead when the sky darkens as well as many summer objects. As the last few months of 2008 tick on by, we will eventually lose sight of the galactic arms. This will also be the final curtain all to view Scorpius and Sagittarius in the south. The heart of our Milky Way Galaxy lies between these two southern icons.
Here's how it came to be, in the words of Regina Centre President, Alden Foraie:
When discussing how to kick off the fall observing season combined with a public-observing session, Regina Centre Secretary, Shane Ludtke, mentioned that the Regina Symphony Orchestra (RSO) was having its season-opening concert in a few weeks with a show entitled “Out Of This World” that would end with Holst’s symphony, The Planets.
In mythology times, the winged horse Pegasus carried its master Perseus and rescued Andromeda to safety after Perseus saved her from the sea monster Cetus. This is a classic tale of heroism in the night sky. But for backyard astronomers and stargazers, The Great Square of Pegasus spells fall observing. This giant baseball diamond in the sky is quite easy to locate. With the splendid Milky Way perched straight up after sunset, the winged beast ascents in the east.
Weather permitting, astronomers from different parts around the world will be broadcasting the moon, Jupiter and other celestial objects from their observatories over the internet. The WorldWide Star party 2008 will take place on Saturday September 6, 2008. I am scheduled to start broadcasting at 8 p.m. eastern time. Other time zones include a few stations across the USA as well as Australia to name a few. Looks like Sweden will be clouded out. In fact a few of the stations might suffer the same cloudy fate. Come join us in this unique event at:
One highlight on clear moonless nights is not a faint nebula or even a single constellation but our majestic Milky Way Galaxy. From a dark site, the familiar veil of light stretches from Perseus in the North East, up through Cygnus overhead and down to the heart of our galaxy – just to the right of Sagittarius.
August nights are now getting a bit longer and cooler to a certain extent. This is a plus when it comes to observing the night sky. No matter if you are hunting down your favourite objects with a telescope or pair of binoculars, to see the arms of the galaxy in all its glory, cannot be put into words.
Over the course of the past few months, I have pointed out one or two globular clusters associated with a particular constellation. However as the months tick by, we come to that time of year where these starry blobs containing tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of stars are seen in greater number. One reason why summer time is best for viewing globular clusters is they tend to populate in most part, around the heart of our galaxy, near the nucleus.