This Session's Targets and How to Find Them

  • Waxing Crescent (lunar phase)
    • Visible October 19th. Sets about 2 hours after sunset (sunset is around 6:30), so will be visible in those 2 hours after sunset.
  • Waxing Gibbous (lunar phase)
    • Visible October 26th. Sets around 2:30am, so visible after sunset for a long time.
  • Perseus (constellation)
    • Andromeda / the legs of Pegasus point directly at the brightest star, Mirfak. Two legs continue towards the Pleiades and a little piece sticks up from the bright star too. Perseus is shaped a bit like a wishbone. Visible all year long but part of it is below the horizon starting in April.
  • Aries (constellation)
    • Aries is right along the ecliptic (hello Zodiac constellations!) and around this time you'll be able to find the Ecliptic relatively easily with the Moon and Mars. Aries will be to the left/east of Mars, just above the Pleiades. If you draw a line from the Pleiades to Mars, Aries will be right above it. Looks like a slightly bent line of stars. Visible until about March, but Mars will have moved by then.
  • 16 Cyg (double star)
    • Tricky. Find the cross that makes up Cygnus and look for the two extra stars off of its right hand branch (western arm). If you draw a line that returns towards cygnus through those last two stars, just slightly less than the distance between them, you should be able to find a really tight double star. There should be a less tight double star below it (theta Cyg). There'll be almost a little circle of stars with theta cyg in the middle. 16 cyg is the topmost star in that little circle. Visible until about February.
  • Melotte 20 / Alpha Per (deep sky object)
    • This is right by Alpha Persei, which is what you'll have to search in Stellarium to find it. Alpha Persei is the brightest central star in Perseus, so look for that. There's a loose cluster of stars around it which is Melotte 20.
  • NGC 869/884 (deep sky object)
    • A double cluster of stars, both open so looks a bit more scattered. About halfway between the bright star in Perseus and the bottom of the W in Cassiopeia. A little over the width of your closed fist, and a little to the north of the line between them. Technically visible all year long but best in fall/winter.
  • Zodiacal light (solar system optional)
    • This is maybe the most unusual target included in Explore the Universe. You need a dark site to be able to see it, and it's best visible in spring and fall when the ecliptic forms a right angle with the horizon. It may look a bit like light pollution from a city, but it should be white, extending a maximum of 45º above the horizon, and right through to the Zodiac constellations. Head out about 2 hours before Sunrise (oof) to be able to see it. Look to the east, in the direction of the rising Sun!

 

Author: 
jennahinds
Last modified: 
Monday, October 5, 2020 - 10:46am