Skywatch Line for Wednesday, March 13th, and Thursday, March 14th, 2019

This is the Dudley Observatory Skywatch Line for Wednesday, March 13th, and Thursday, March 14th, written by Louis Suarato.

The 42% illuminated, waxing crescent Moon rises at 11:09 a.m. Wednesday. As the sky darkens, you’ll see the Moon is in the constellation Taurus, above the Hyades star cluster. The Moon reaches its First Quarter phase at 6:27 Thursday morning. Thursday night, the Moon will be at the head of Orion and at the feet of Gemini. Shining below the Moon and Taurus is Mars, the only easily visible planet before midnight. Jupiter rises in Ophiuchus at 2:26 a.m., followed by Saturn at 4:12 a.m. in Sagittarius, and Venus at 5:37 a.m. in Capricornus.

The term nebula was once used to describe any large cloud-like astronomical object. Before the development of more powerful telescopic tools used to see its detail, the Andromeda Galaxy was known as the Andromeda Nebula. True nebulae can be formed by the concentration of molecular clouds in space, or from the explosion of a supernova, such as the Crab Nebula. Emission nebula are formed when a molecular cloud collapses under its own weight and creates a star-forming region. The Great Orion Nebula is an example of an emission nebula. The Great Orion Nebula, or M42, is the brightest nebula in our sky. At 4th magnitude, the Great Orion Nebula can be seen with the naked eye, even under some light-polluted skies. At the distance of about 1,344 light-years, M42 is the closest star making region to Earth. You’ll find the Great Orion Nebula in the middle of the “sword” of stars hanging from Orion’s belt.

Every Thursday, rain or shine, join miSci, the Museum of Innovation and Science, for “Evenings at the Dudley Observatory”. Educators from the Dudley Observatory at miSci will operate their 14-inch telescope inside the roll-top roof observatory, allowing visitors to see stars, planets, galaxies, and more each night. In the event of poor weather, there will be hands-on activities indoors.

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