Adrian Dening's
Stars Over Somerset

 

 

Monday 9th to Sunday 15th August 2021
 
Just after sunset on Tuesday 10th or Wednesday 11th, look towards the west and you will see a thin waxing Crescent Moon with planet Venus a little to the left of it.
 

Please remember that if you are using binoculars or a telescope to get a better view, never ever point them towards the setting Sun!  Wait until it has totally disappeared below the horizon.

 
 
 

Thursday 12th sees the peak of the Perseids meteor shower around 11pm.  Look towards the north east, a little below the constellation of Cassiopeia and above Perseus.  Cassiopeia is easy to spot as it has an obvious "W" shape.

 
 
 

The meteors will appear to originate from a single area of the sky and this is called the radiant point.  Meteor showers are named after the constellation where the radiant point is located, so no prizes for guessing why this shower is called the Perseids!

 

Meteor showers occur at the same time every year - as the earth orbits the Sun, it passes through the debris left by a comet and in the case of the Perseids, it is comet Swift-Tuttle that takes 133 years to orbit the Sun - it last swept in from the outer reaches of the Solar System in 1992 so it will be a while before we can see the actual comet again!

 

 

Monday 2nd to Sunday 8th August 2021
 

If you stay up into the early hours of Thursday morning 5th August, you will see a 12% lit Crescent Moon rise above the horizon to the east north east.  To the right of the Moon, almost due east will be the constellation of Taurus with the bright star Aldebaran.

 

Above Aldebaran will be the open cluster of stars known as the Pleiades or M45.  As the Pleiades is only 400 light years away from us, it is quite bright with a magnitude of 1.6, so is easy to spot with the naked eye.

 
 
 

At the same time, if you have your telescope handy, another open cluster of stars known as M35 will be a little to the right of the Moon.  This cluster is much fainter as it is over 3800 light years away.

 
 
 

Immediately to the south west of M35 is another open cluster known as NGC2158 - it doesn't have an "M" number as Charles Messier never discovered it.

 

Unfortunately NGC2158 is even harder to see because it is actually 9000 light years further away than M35 - the two clusters only appear close together because you are looking at everything in two dimensions - this occurs due to them being so far away from Earth that there is no depth perception.

 

 

Archived Articles
 
July 2021

 

 

Screenshots courtesy of Stellarium

 

Copyright Adrian Dening and Radio Ninesprings 2021

 

To enquire about local astronomy talks and star parties
please contact Adrian Dening
 
07545 641068
info@starsoversomerset.com

 

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