September 2020

Asterisms – Fish Hook in Taurus

By: Steve Goldberg

Asterism: a grouping of stars that form a recognizable pattern.

Constellation: Taurus
Right Ascension:  04h 25m 00.0s
Declination: +21° 15' 00"
Magnitude:  +5 to +8
Size: 2.5o

This asterism is located in Taurus, the Bull. Starting with Aldebaran, Alpha Tau, cross over to the other side of bull’s horns, and locate stars Kappa 1 and Kappa 2. These are a close pair of stars. In the picture they are just below the space in “Fish Hook.”
Locate star 72 Tau. This is the top of the Fish Hook, where the fishing line is attached. Follow the line of stars to the left, going thru Kappa 1 & 2, around to 53, 51 and end at 56 where the hook ends.
Since this is a large object, the Fish Hook is better seen in the finder or a pair of binoculars. To give you an idea of the size, the circle is a 40mm eyepiece at 29X on a 10” scope. The circle is 1.5 degrees across.

Shallow Sky Object of the Month: Theta Ser/Alya—Double Star

Theta Serpens Cauda

By Bill Pellerin, GuideStar Editor – Originally published in October 2015

Object:  Theta Ser / Alya (SAO124068)
Class:  Double Star
Constallation:  Serpens (Cauda)
Magnitude:  4.6
R.A.:    18 h 56 m 13 s
Dec:    4 deg 12 min 13 sec
Size/Spectral:  A5V, Separation 22”
Distance:   132 ly
Optics needed: Binoculars or small telescope

Serpens is the only constellation in the sky that is split into two pieces, Serpens Cauda (the tail of the serpent) and Serpens Caput (the head of the snake). Neither Serpens Cauda, nor its other half, Serpens Caput get much love from amateur astronomers. Serpens Cauda hosts M16, the Eagle Nebula, and Serpens Caput hosts M5, a nice globular cluster.

Visually, this is a terrific double star to observe. I happened on in as the result of an article by Sue French in Sky & Telescope magazine. Nice and bright, with two stars of similar magnitudes. The brighter star is only slightly brighter at magnitude 4.62 and the dimmer star is at 4.98 magnitude. These are knock-your-eyes out A class main sequence stars, with diameters twice that of our Sun and luminosities (intrinsic brightnesses) of 18 and 15 times the Sun...

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Messier Objects for October 2020

by Jim King

This is a series of columns primarily revolving around observing the Messier Catalogue.  The intent is to provide the reader a sampling of the Messier objects each month that are most visible in the time frame the column is published.  Hence, these deep sky objects should be easily identifiable in and around the month of October.  Some months may have a special treat in addition to the Messier Objects.  Check the trailer. 

M22: Globular Cluster

Without question, M22 should be called “The Great Sagittarius Cluster.” It is a bonfire of 500,000 stars that blazes at magnitude 5.2 and measures 32’ across – about the apparent diameter of the full Moon.  Among globulars, it ranks third only to Omega Centauri and 47 Tucanae in brightness and apparent size.

Messier notes: (Observed June 5, 1764) Nebula, below the elliptic, between the head and bow of Sagittarius, close to the seventh-magnitude star Flamsteed 25 Sagittarii.  This nebula is circular, does not contain any stars, and is clearly visible in a simple refractor. 

NGC note: Very remarkable globular cluster, very bright, very large, round, very rich very much compressed, stars from 11th to 15th magnitude.

Data: Messier 22, AKA: NGC 6656

Con: Sagittarius                                            Mag: 5.2

RA: 18h 36.4m                                               Dec: -23.54

Dist: ~10,400 ly

Field of View - September 2020

Original article appears in GuideStar September, 2020.

Pandemic Impact on Amateur Astronomy

By Don Selle – Guidestar Editor

comet NEOWISE.jpg

By this stage in the Covid pandemic, no one would argue that we have all changed what we do and how we do it.  The question that is being asked now, is what changes will stick and become the new normal? 

For HAS this question becomes, what will amateur astronomy look like going forward? Will we adapt and grow, and foster new and younger members or will we suffer because of the pandemic. These are certainly not life and death issues for us as individuals, but an organization like HAS must change with the times in order to stay relevant to our members.

So what are HAS members doing during the doing differently now that may carry beyond the pandemic? Results of a recent nationwide poll I heard indicate that 35% of Americans have taken up a new hobby. Whether due to changes in how (or if) we are working, for many of us the lack of a commute means we have more free time than before. It makes sense that we would use it on astronomy.

The pole only confirmed what we already knew. You are joining HAS at a record rate! Fortunately, HAS leadership had been discussing and trying out new ways to engage our members, especially those just joining, so it did not take us too long to adapt. Rene Gedaly and the Membership Committee have increased our engagement with new members. We have also made several changes to make it easier for new members to become active members.

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