This is the Dudley Observatory Skywatch Line for Monday and Tuesday, August 26th and 27th, written by Joe Slomka.
The Sun sets at 7:40 PM; night falls at 9:23. Dawn begins at 4:31 AM and ends with the Sun rising at 6:14.
Jupiter and Saturn continue as the only easily visible planets in the evening sky. Still in Ophiuchus, the giant planet continues its slow march eastward. Although it is quite low, it is still worth observing the four Galilean
moons through binoculars or telescope. Jupiter sets shortly after Midnight.
Saturn follows about 2 hours after Jupiter. The Ringed Planet is found in Sagittarius, to the upper left of the Teapot shaped constellation in another asterism that is nicknamed “The Teaspoon.” Saturn is highest and best observed at 9:37 PM, and sets at 2:10 AM..
Dwarf Planet 1Ceres continues to inhabit the head of Scorpius, but that is changing. Like Jupiter, 1Ceres is also slowly moving east against the stars, and will soon be outside the Scorpion’s head. At nightfall on Monday and Tuesday, the 8th magnitude speck will be about 16º high and very close to the famous globular star cluster M 80, greatly assisting first time observers. It sets shortly after Midnight.
Neptune rises in Aquarius at 8:10 PM, glowing with 8th magnitude and about 12º above the southeast horizon. Uranus rises in Aries at 9:55 PM, shining with 5th magnitude and presenting a moderately large 3 arc-seconds in size. It is best observed shortly before Dawn begins. Finder charts for 1Ceres, Neptune and Uranus are available from astronomy magazines and websites.
The 26-day-old Moon rises in Gemini at 2:31 AM, Tuesday, appearing about 13% lit and blazing with minus 6th magnitude. Wednesday, the Moon moves into Cancer as a 6% thin crescent 20º high and rises at 3:40 PM. If the observer has an unobstructed eastern, he will see the Moon occulting some of the stars of the Beehive star cluster.
The Beehive is the 44th entry of Charles Messier’s list of comet imposters. It is also known as the Praesepe (Latin for Manger, another name). M44 is a naked-eye object as a haze and, with a telescope, a cluster of stars. It is so large that it is best observed with binoculars or low power telescope. Referring to the nickname “Manger”, two of Cancer’s stars, Gamma and Delta, are called “The Donkeys”, which are trying to eat at the manger.. This “cloud” was well known to ancient sky watchers, who used the Beehive as a weather predictor; when the Beehive was not visible, stormy weather was predicted. Galileo, using his new telescope, revealed 36 stars; more were discovered as newer telescopes became available. Astronomers estimate the age at between 600-900 Million years.