Dr. Rolly Chiasson
Hi Sky Guys and Gals, it’s your Sky Guy back for another month.
Last month we began on a trip among some brighter stars and we looked at Deneb in Cygnus the Swan.
For this month, I’m going to find a lonely star. Now almost all stars are lonely for that matter because they are almost all separated from each other by multiples of light years, a very great distance. But as we look up in the night sky, many bright stars are relatively close to others, as we see them. Deneb was a good example of that.
But this month’s star looks lonely. It has no near friends or companions. So, let me introduce you to Fomalhaut, my lonely star.
Fomalhaut is the Alpha or brightest star in the constellation Piscis Austrinus. So – how do we find this lonely star?
Well, everyone knows the Big Dipper. If you go to the two stars of the pot away from the handle, follow the path through then upwards from the Dipper, a distance five times that between the two stars, you will arrive at Polaris, the North Star.
If you continue the same line twice the distance you already came from the Dipper, you will arrive at the corner of the rather large square, the Great Square of Pegasus, notable because there are no bright stars inside the square.
Go to the opposite side of the square from where you arrived. This time you proceed downwards along the line of the two stars on that side. Now proceed downwards four times the distance between the two stars, and you will arrive at Fomalhaut. This was the first star with an extra solar orbiting object (another star) imaged at visible wavelengths.
While Fomalhaut looks lonely as we’ve said, it is actually “fairly close” to us at 25 light years if you consider each light year to be trillion miles!! But, it truly is closer to us than the majority of other stars and so, goodbye, lonely star.
So, what is in our sky this month?
First, a reminder - comet Ison that we’ve discussed before, is not visible to the naked eye yet, it is getting closer. We will discuss it in more detail next month. I can scarcely wait.
In the evening, Venus is visible low in the southwest all month. Bright as it is, it gets a little brighter as the evening passes. Jupiter will rise at just about midnight on Oct. 1, in the east south east, and rises two hours earlier by the end of the month. Saturn is still there but very low just after sunset far to Venus’ lower right. Mercury is there but too difficult to find. Not that much to see in the morning before dawn this month.
Well that ‘s about it for another month. Don’t forget to let us know if you have questions.
See you next month.
Your Sky Guy
Dr. Rolly Chiasson of Summerside is "Your Night Sky Guy."