Skywatch Line for Wednesday, January 20th and Thursday, January 21st, 2016

This is the Dudley Observatory Skywatch Line for Wednesday, January 20th and Thursday, January 21st written by Louis Suarato

Celebrate Buzz Aldrin’s birthday by viewing the 88% illuminated, waxing gibbous Moon which rises at 2:04 Wednesday afternoon. After sunset, the Moon will be high over the eastern horizon between the constellations Taurus and Orion. The bright star to the upper right of the Moon is Aldebaran, and the bright star below the Moon is Betelgeuse. Shining at magnitude 0.45, Betelgeuse is the ninth brightest star in the night sky and the second brightest in the constellation Orion. This red supergiant is estimated to be about 640 light-years from Earth, and its diameter is 700 times that of our Sun, or 600 million miles. Betelgeuse is at the center of the winter hexagon asterism, and along with Sirius, in Canis Major, and Procyon, in Canis Minor, form the Winter Triangle.

Comet C/2013 US10 Catalina reached its closest approach to Earth last weekend and is estimated to be as bright as 6th magnitude. Wednesday night, look for the comet by using the innermost stars making up the Big Dipper’s bowl. At around 9 p.m., Comet Catalina will be about 20 degrees above the north-northeastern horizon. The two stars of the Big Dipper’s bowl closest to the handle point northward towards the comet. Look about 15 degrees from the northern most star, Megrez, to find Comet Catalina.

The Albany Area Amateur Astronomers hold their January meeting this Thursday night beginning at 7:30 p.m. at miSci in Schenectady. The topics for this month’s meeting include a discussion by Alan French for making a light shield for a laser pointer. Chunyu Wang will give a presentation on observing and photographing Comet C/2013 US10 Catalina. Alissa and Scott Johnson will share their experience refurbishing an 8-inch Meade Starfinder Dobsonian telescope and Dr. Willie Lee of the Mid-Hudson Astronomical Association, will lead a discussion on “Why Does Anything Exist?”, about the first milliseconds of the Universe. Members and non-members are welcome. Directions to miSci can be found at misci.org/info

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