|Ryukyu Astronomy Club Newsletter
|Volume 3, Issue 4||July/August 2004|
Next Club Meetings
- August 14th and September 11th
Conference Room B at the Camp Lester Naval Hospital
and July Meetings
The June 12th meeting was held at the Naval Hospital and saw about a half dozen participants. Mike Swanson made a presentation on planning observing sessions (available in the Downloads section of our web site). After the presentation we had a nice discussion on a variety of topics, most of them focused on cosmology. The weather was bad, so there was no viewing.
The July 10th meeting was held at the Naval Hospital but only 4 were in attendance. Mike Swanson gave a presentation on "Discovering the Expansion of the Universe". The presentation is available for download from our web site. The sky was partially cloudy, but a few members ventured up to Alivila. Though haze remained, the clouds cleared for about 2 hours and permitted some nice views of brighter objects.
to See in the Night Sky
The solar system highlight for August is the annual Perseids meteor shower. For several nights centered around the 11th and 12th of August, the Earth will be passing through the trail of small dust particles left by the comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. Swift-Tuttle orbits the Sun once every 130 years, with the last pass through our neighborhood occurring in 1992. As we plough through the dust stream, the meteors will appear to originate from the constellation Perseus which gives them their name. To get the best views, go out the nights of the 11th/12th and 12th/13th a bit after midnight. The show should begin about 1AM. Look towards the northeast and you should see a fair number of meteors as the night rolls on. If those night are not good for you, there will still be meteors to be seen on the 13th/14th and 14th/15th, though the numbers will be less. To keep comfortable, don't forget the bug spray and you might want something comfortable to lie on, like an air mattress or lounge chair. One final suggestion - most meteors are relatively faint - you will see many more from a dark site with a clear view to the northeast.
Other objects well placed for viewing:
The Summer Milky Way - Stretching from the southern horizon, overhead, on to the northern horizon, the Milky Way is a splendid sight to the unaided eye in the evening hours of summer. If you can get to a dark site on a clear night this month, be sure to spend some time enjoying the view.
The Ring Nebula (M57) - Though Lyra is one of the smallest constellations, it is home to one of the best planetary nebula in the sky. Small scopes will show this failed star as a fuzzy oval shape, while telescopes 6" or larger will display the hollow center that gives the oval its name.
The Hercules Cluster (M13) - Considered by most as the best globular cluster in northern skies, this dense collection of hundreds of thousands of stars is a distinct fuzzy patch, even in binoculars. Scopes 8" or larger can easily resolve stars across its core. Located high overhead in the constellation Hercules.
Globular Cluster M22 - This cluster is actually larger and brighter than M13, but due to its position much further south in the sky, it gets less attention than M13. From Okinawa we get very nice views of M22 and other deep sky showpieces located in the constellation Sagittarius off towards the south.
M6 and M7 - Two wonderful open clusters found in the area between Sagittarius and Scorpius. Binoculars and small scopes are the best instruments for viewing these.
M11 - Perhaps the greatest of the open clusters, M11 displays many stars in small scopes and binoculars and with a 6" or larger telescope, the field of view comes alive with more stars than you can count.
Lots, lots more! Many of the brightest of the Messier objects are best viewed in July and August.
For more objects of interest and the locations of those listed above, download the latest chart from www.skymaps.com or visit www.SkyandTelescope.com and customize the online star chart for Okinawa's general location of 128 degrees East longitude and 26 degrees North latitude.
Ryukyu Astronomy Club
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