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We had a look for Uranus and Neptune on the last day of August during an
observing session at Pearson College. Even though both planets were near
opposition, we couldn't be certain that we captured them if it weren't for Joe's
goto scope. Both planets were mere specks and the air was so unsteady that we
couldn't be certain that we were looking at planetary disks. Give it a try with
your binoculars while they're still nicely placed.
September 7 to 13
Drink in the downtown Milky Way while you still can. In a few short weeks
we'll be looking out of our galaxy into its suburbs. Take your binoculars and
see how many Messier and other objects you can identify-you might surprise
Cygnus is still overhead and the Andromeda Galaxy is climbing higher. The
stretch of our galaxy that makes up Cygnus' contrail is another binocular
delight. In fact, some of the star groupings here are best enjoyed in binoculars
or can't even be seen in a telescope.
September 14 to 20
Saturn's baaaack ... and our Moon hovers 5� above him. Try to estimate the
distance with your hand. Hold your hand out at arm's length, hold your little
finger down with your thumb and make sure that you hold your remaining fingers
upright and tightly together-the three finger span 5� in the sky.
September 21 to 27
The Earth's tilted posture brings another equinox on the 23rd. Now you won't
have to stay up as late when you observe, but you'd better dress warmly.
Notice how the summer's constellations seem to hover in the sky. You're just
viewing them earlier and earlier in the evening. At least you have the illusion
that summer won't crystallize into winter.
Remember how you found the 'distance' between the Moon and Saturn? Use the
same technique to find Mercury below the Moon on the 24th. You'll have to have
insomnia and be prowling the dark at 3 or 4 in the morning.
September 28 to October 4
Venus graces Virgo's sheaf of wheat on the 3rd in the early evening.
You've probably noticed Jupiter in the dawn. It's still too low for a decent
telescopic view, but you can still do your Jupiter Glad You're Back dance.
October 5 to 11
Even though we're leaving Mars behind in the Solar System dust, it's still
an impressive sight. Plus, it's high in the sky earlier in the evening so you
don't have to stay up half the night to enjoy a steady view.
October 12 to 18
You may be in for a treat! Be on the look-out for this year's apparition of
Comet 2P/Encke through late November. The comet will cruise through Triangulum,
past M31 (between October 21 and 28), and fly quickly below Cygnus and then above Aquila in November. Your sketch or image could be on our newsletter cover!
Check out the following web site for orbital elements and a sky chart:
http://www.aerith.net/comet/catalog/0002P/2003.html There's lots of other
information on this web site to help guide you to your favourite comet. This
one's a must to see AND to use!
There are also two meteor showers to add sparkles to this comet's fireworks
and the Milky Way's autumn icy glitter. The Orionids peak October 22th and the
Leonids on November 18th
Don't forget to watch Saturn. Which way is it travelling against the star?
Got insomnia? Don't fret about it, watch for the Moon rising above Saturn in
the middle of the night.
October 19 to 25
Get out before dawn on the 21st and 22nd and enjoy the sight of a thin
crescent Moon near Jupiter.
The Orionids peak on October 22nd. There won't be many meteors, but you'll
enjoy every one because the Moon won't be a problem. These dust motes left
behind by Comet Halley reveal themselves as very fast streaks radiating from
Go out around supper time on the 26th and catch the Moon and Venus flirting.
October 26 to November 1
Have you been tracking Saturn's path across the stars? Keep watching. Notice
Treat yourself and try some astrophotography-take a picture of the moon and
Venus on the 26th. Find a nice foreground setting for these jewels.
November 2 to 8
See if you can spot Mars just above the Moon in the morning.
We get to enjoy another totally eclipsed Moonrise at sunset on the 8th.
Here's your chance to take a stab at estimating the Moon's brightness. Is this
one deeper than the last one? Check out page 140 of the RASC 2003 Observer's
Guide and give your estimate a scientific edge. Join RASC Victoria at
Cattle Point at 4:30pm on the 8th to observe this eclipse (weather permitting).
More info: Lunar Eclipse