The sky this week from September 2 to 9

monday september 5
Comet C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS) is still the brightest comet in the sky, currently observed around magnitude 9 – slightly fainter than expected, although of course comets are notoriously UNpredictable. Still, you can catch it with a telescope under good skies, and you’ll want to start early: about 15 minutes after nautical twilight if possible. This is because the comet moved from Ophiuchus towards Scorpius, closer to the southwestern horizon.

Tonight, the comet lies almost between Pi (π) and Delta (δ) Scorpii, at the center of a small triangle formed by three 5th magnitude field stars. Drop just 2.2° south-southeast of Delta to find it. Compare the comet’s round, fuzzy coma to M80, a globular cluster located 2.7° north of Sigma (σ) Scorpii. The light from the globular cluster, full of ancient stars, should appear slightly warmer than that from the comet.

While you’re in the area, be sure to enjoy the warm ruby ​​glow of Antares, the famous heart of Scorpio. This star is so named because its nickname means “rival of Mars” – both appear similar in color to the human eye, although Antares’ light comes from within, while Mars’ is only sunlight reflecting on rusty ground.

Sunrise: 06:31
Sunset: 7:25 p.m.
Moonrise: 4:35 p.m.
Moon setting: 00:29
Moon phase: Waxing Gibber (72%)

tuesday september 6
A gibbous moon tonight sits right in the middle of the teapot handle, a famous asterism in Sagittarius the Archer. Nevertheless, we will try our luck to find the Dumbbell Nebula (M27), not far from Vulpecula the Fox. The easiest way to locate this planetary nebula is to look about 3° north of magnitude 3.5 Gamma Sagittae, the brightest star in nearby Sagitta the Arrow.

Normally you could see the Dumbbell well with binoculars, thanks to its apparent size and brightness: about 8′ by 6′ and its magnitude 7. But with the Moon nearby, a telescope might be better to bring out this target this evening. So called because of its apparent hourglass or dumbbell shape in a larger, more diffused spherical glow, M27 may appear simply rectangular with hints of tapered waistline, depending on the size of your aperture and, temporarily, the l glare of the Moon. If you want to bring out more detail, just be patient and wait for the Moon to move away and start to wane again, then come back to revisit that area of ​​the sky and then compare the view.

Sunrise: 06:32
Sunset: 7:24 p.m.
Moonrise: 5:31 p.m.
Moon setting: 1h35
Moon phase: Waxing Gibber (82%)

Wednesday, September 7
Asteroid 3 Juno reaches opposition at 1:00 p.m. EDT in Aquarius, which means it’s visible all night from dusk to dawn. The main-belt world lies 4° northwest of 4th magnitude Phi (ϕ) Aquarii and shines at magnitude 7.7. It’s bright enough to be picked up with binoculars or any small scope. It is just over half the distance between two field stars, one of 7th magnitude and the other of 9th magnitude. (Juno is closer to the fainter star.)

If you want a slightly brighter target, you don’t have to go far: 4 Vesta is now 6th magnitude and also swims through Aquarius, albeit on the southern side of the constellation and much closer to it. current location of the Moon. Descend about 7.2° directly to the horizon from Deneb Algedi in Capricorn to find it. Again, the nearby Moon can make it difficult to spot this brighter asteroid, so if you’re feeling frustrated, wait about half a week and the Moon will have moved, although both asteroids have also moved a bit. See September’s Asteroid Locations section sky this month for a chart showing how to find Vesta all month.

The Moon reaches the closest point to Earth in its orbit, called perigee, at 2:19 p.m. EDT. At that time, our satellite will be 226,485 miles (364,492 kilometers) from us.

Sunrise: 06:33
Sunset: 7:22 p.m.
Moonrise: 6:16 p.m.
Moon setting: 02:48
Moon phase: Waxing Gibber (90%)

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