Sunday, August 31, 2008

Starry Splendour over Prince Albert

- Hans Daehne -

In September, according to the calendar, Spring should start in the Southern Hemisphere with the Equinox on the 22nd .

This is manifested by a look into the night sky where the prominent Spring Constellation of Pegasus high up in the north gives the same seasonal indication. On earth longer and warmer days already become evident together with the characteristic flowers and blossoms at eye-level.

Pegasus, the flying horse (reminding us how fast time is flying), can easily be identified by four bright stars arranged in a huge square, the Square of Pegasus, representing the body of the horse with its neck extended to the left, westwards. It is one of only a few northern constellations that is in the upright position for us and you should have no difficulty in finding it.
The fast planet Mercury is an evening object until the end of the month but because of its closeness to the Sun, is best observed from Gordon’s Koppie after sunset.

Venus has become the splendid evening star again and will proceed to shine brighter and brighter towards the end of the year.

Mars in Virgo sets soon after sunset and thus also becomes a Gordon Koppie object.

Saturn is moving to morning visibility but the bright Jupiter is still close to the handle of the teapot in Sagittarius; at magnitude -2.5 it is still brighter than any star.

Full Moon is on the 15th and New Moon is on the 29th September after it moved to the end of the month with the two New Moons in August.

News from beyond Earth:
After having detected ice water, an analyzer aboard NASA’s Phoenix Mars lander has detected perchlorate in the soil of the red planet’s northern latitudes. Perchlorate is chlorine with four oxygen atoms and is found on Earth in the Atacama Desert in Chile.

Space shuttle Atlantis will be sent up to catch the Hubble Space Telescope in early October to service and upgrade the observatory.

The European spacecraft Venus Express is placed in a lower orbit around Venus for more detailed investigation of our neighbouring planet’s atmosphere.

The International Space Station can regularly be observed over Prince Albert, to find out when, visit:

Keep the stars (and spacecrafts) in your eyes!

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