Skywatch Line for Wednesday, September 14th and Thursday, September 15th 2016

This is the Dudley Observatory Skywatch Line for Wednesday, September 14th and Thursday, September 15th written by Louis Suarato.

The 95% illuminated, waxing gibbous Moon rises at 5:57 p.m. in the constellation Aquarius Wednesday. As the sky darkens, you’ll be able to locate the globular cluster, M2, about ten degrees above the Moon. Discovered in 1746 by Jean-Dominique Maraldi, M2, at 175 light-years in diameter, is one of the largest known globular clusters, and contains 150,000 stars. M2 is 37,500 light-years from Earth, and is estimated to be about 13 billion years old, making it one of the oldest globular clusters in the Milky Way Galaxy. M2 can be seen with the naked eye under optimal conditions, but better viewed through binoculars or a small telescope. Larger telescopes will resolve individual stars within this cluster.

Mars and Saturn are now separated by 13 degrees, and can be found over the south-southeastern horizon between the constellations Scorpius and Ophiuchus. If you look 20 degrees above Saturn, you’ll find globular cluster M10 in Ophiuchus. Look four degrees to the right of M10 for globular cluster M12. Both globular clusters were discovered by Charles Messier in 1764, M10 on May 29th, and M12 on May 30th. Ophiuchus is also the home of the Summer Beehive open star cluster. Look about 15 degrees above M10 for this open cluster. The Summer Beehive, or IC 4665, is a large cluster that can be viewed through binoculars.

The nearly Full Moon rises at 6:34 p.m., Thursday, a half hour before sunset. Use the Moon on this night to find Neptune. Look for Neptune 2 degrees to the right of the Moon. At an average distance of 30.1 astronomical units, Neptune is the eighth, and farthest known planet from the Sun. One astronomical unit is equal to 93 million miles. Neptune is not visible to the naked eye, so, use binoculars or a telescope to view this planet.

The Albany Area Amateur Astronomers invite you to join them for their monthly meeting this Thursday beginning at 7:30 at miSci in Schenectady. This month’s speaker is Albany Physicist Dr. Vivek Jain. Dr. Jain is part of the team that manages the ATLAS instrument, one of two general-purpose detectors at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Dr. Jain will be discussing the link between particle physics and Cosmology. The directions to miSci can be found at