Celestial events in the skies for the week of August 15-21, 2017 as compiled for The Loafer by Mark D. Marquette.
A New Moon total eclipse of the Sun on Monday leaves the evenings with moonless nights and a great time to learn the dot-to-dot patterns of the constellations. Use a planisphere that dials in the sky for any time of year, or download a star chart from Sky Maps.com and begin learning the familiar patterns known since ancient time. Enjoy the Great American Eclipse!
Tuesday, August 15
Looking west in the early evening you’ll see a yellowish star dominating—Arcturus in Boötes the Herdsman. The third brightest of all the stars we see, this beautiful star is 37 Light Years away, fairly close to Earth: that’s why it appears so bright. Arcturus will set around midnight.
Wednesday, August 16
Don’t forget Jupiter high in the western sky and Saturn directly south as darkness grips our Summer nights. Any telescope will thrill the observer as the moons of Jupiter and rings of Saturn are clearly visible.
Thursday, August 17
My daughter, Jessie, turns 21, and she’s had a rich experience about the influence of astronomy in our world history. I hope Jessie remembers that no matter what the changes of human affairs on Earth, both personally and globally, the same starlight in tonight’s sky has shown down for millions of years, and will be the same stars millions of years from now. I also remind Jessie that just because silly astrology says she’s a Leo, she’s really a Marquette!
Friday, August 18
After a long day’s work, it’s relaxing to sit under the twilight sky and watch the stars come out. The brightest ones overhead and east will be first, and look for Vega directly overhead. Deneb to the north and Altair to the south will pop out of the twilight and form a giant Summer Triangle with Vega. as it gets darker in the west, bright Arcturus will appear.
Saturday, August 19
Scorpius looks like a giant fishhook with red star Antares in the creature’s heart. To the left is Sagittarius the Archer, though the outline is that of a Teapot. Out of the spout is steam in the form of the Milky Way. Above the spout is the center of our Galaxy, and looking in that direction—unseen by all the stars blocking our view—is a tremendous Black Hole! Astronomers have discovered that most other galaxies have a Black Hole in the center…and they are not sure why.
Sunday, August 20
Dark skies mean the Milky Way will be easy to see from a dark site free of light pollution. Spanning from north in Cygnus the Swan to south in Sagittarius, a pair of binoculars will provide lots of entertainment. Dark nebula, star clusters and star after star after star are revealed in this long arm of our Milky Way Galaxy.
Monday, August 21
IT’S HERE! Great American Eclipse! If traveling, leave early, be prepared for delays everywhere, and have patience. Remember, today may be the largest mass movement of humanity to witness any natural, scientific event. AND don’t forget, people will be driving back to their homes Monday afternoon and night, so drive respectfully and arrive safe.