August, 2016 Programs

#1 —  THE SUMMER CONSTELLATIONS

Locate the mythical figures in the current sky above Lincoln, and learn their legends.  Then, weather permitting, take a guided tour of the sky on the terrace behind the observatory with one of our volunteers who will show you how to locate the important stars and objects in the current night sky.  Running time:  19 minutes.

#2 — RING WORLD

Saturn is now in our night sky, putting on its usual grandly spectacular show of rings.  This program details some of the scientific findings about the ringed planet from the Cassini space probe.

As time permits, we will also show JUNO AT JUPITER

On July 4th, the NASA Jupiter probe Juno arrived at Jupiter and successfully went into orbit around the Solar System’s largest planet.  This NASA/JPL program describes some of what we know about Jupiter — and what we hope to learn from Juno.

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August Objects in the Hyde Telescopes

All five of the “naked eye” (visible without a telescope) planets are on view in the evening sky.  But the two closest to the sun, Mercury and Venus, are very low in the west at sunset, so you have to act fast to see them and it’s best to be on a high hill to do it.  Venus is easy to spot because it is very bright, even though it might be buried in Earth’s hot, boiling August atmosphere close to the horizon.  But Mercury, which is actually a little higher up, is a challenge because it is smaller and dimmer.  Neither planet is high enough for us to pick up from the Hyde observing deck.  Next highest in the sky, south-southwest is Jupiter, which is slowly moving westward.  In fact, on August 27, Venus, crawling eastward during the month, will come within less than 1/2 degree of Jupiter, a very close “conjunction.”  Higher in the south are Mars, and east of it, Saturn.  Mars is very close to the reddish star Antares this month.  We call them red, but they’re actually orange-ish.  Which one is the star and which the planet?  Hint:  Mars is brighter, and from night to night, it moves against the background stars.  Saturn is still putting on a spectacular show of its rings all during August.

The Moon will be seen best in telescopes after its New phase on the 2nd.   The optimum time to view the moon in the Hyde telescopes this month will be on the nights of August 6 and the 13th (about 3 days after First Quarter).  Full moon occurs on August 18, making Saturday the 20th the last night it will be visible during the observatory’s operating hours this month.

Deep sky objects (stars, galaxies and nebulae) will be on full display in August, particularly on the nights of August 6 and 27 when the moon is not bright in the evening sky.