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Star Talk for September 2022

By Astronomer Jim Higgs

Astronomer Jim Higgs was our special guest at Camp Blue Spruce this summer! As pictured below, he led a rocketry and propulsion interest group, he also brought in meteorites and minerals for campers to view. Campers and staff viewed a full moon as well as Saturn and its rings with a telescope at the star viewing party that he and his friends from Rose City Astronomers hosted. 

In The Evening Sky:

• As you can see from the below star chart, the Milky Way will be overhead, roughly arching from the southwest to the northeastern sky. The Milky Way is dim, seen best in a dark sky, but it is only observable as a faint glow. It is comprised of more stars than can be counted! By looking at the Milky Way, we are looking at our galaxy from the edge (where we live) in toward our galaxy’s center. The Milky Way is huge, comprised of about 250 billion stars. It’s length is about 100,000 light years (each light year is 6 trillion miles). All the stars that we can see all reside in the Milky Way—the stars that are in other galaxies are too dim and far away for us to see individually! Yet, with giant telescopes, we know that there hundreds of billions of other galaxies, and many of those are much bigger than the Milky Way!
• The summer triangle, visible last month, is still in the sky. At the “top” of the triangle and nearly straight up is the star Vega, a very bright star in the constellation of Lyra; Lyra is shaped like a rhombus (see the below chart). To the left (east) of Vega you’ll see Deneb, the brightest star in Cygnus. And the third star of the triangle, below the other two, is Altair, the brightest star in Aquila the Eagle.
• Saturn will be yellow-ish and bright, nearly directly due south. In a small telescope you can see the rings!
• This month Jupiter rises about sunset and will be spectacular. On the 26th , Jupiter will be in “opposition,” which means that Earth will be almost exactly between Jupiter and the sun. As a result, Jupiter will appear particularly “big” (through a telescope or even binoculars) and will be very bright. With binoculars and a very steady hand, you may be able to see as many as four of Jupiter’s moons!
• On the 7th, Saturn and the moon appeared very close.
• On the 9th, the moon was half-way between Saturn and Jupiter, making for a very bright trio!
• On the 15th, the Pleiades (a bright star cluster) rose late in the night, followed by the moon, and then followed by Mars.
• On the 30th, the moon will be only 1.5 degrees above Antares, the giant red star in the constellation of Scorpius!

In The Morning Sky:

• Venus will be the bright morning star, but is now once again getting closer to the sun.
• Mars will also be in the early morning sky.

Categories
General News

Star Talk for August 2022

By Astronomer Jim Higgs

The big deal in the sky for the month of August is the Perseid meteor shower! And it’s maximum typically occurs the night of August 11th every year. Meteors are best seen after midnight, but for Blue Spruce Campers on August 11th, we saw an occasional bright meteor that night! There have been a few meteors at camp this year.

In The Evening Sky:

  • All month, the “Summer Triangle” of three bright stars will be clearly visible in the southern sky. Vega is near “the top” (the zenith) of the sky and is the most brilliant. Off to the left will be the bright star Deneb and the most southern is the bright star Altair. You can find all three on the below star chart.
  • Anchored by bright Vega, we have the constellation Lyra, shaped like a rhombus. Can you find Lyra? See the below photo and star chart. Between the two stars in the bottom of Lyra’s rhombus is the “Ring Nebula.” Hopefully, we’ll be able to see the dim ring nebula with telescopes at Blue Spruce, but the bright moon may prevent that. 
  • One of the fun “binary stars” to see in the sky is Albireo, in the constellation of Cygnus. Albireo looks like a very normal, not very bright star with a naked eye. But through a telescope, you can see that Albireo is really two stars, one that is yellow and the other one is blue!

In The Morning Sky:

  • Throughout the month, Venus is still the brightest non-moon object in the sky, serving as the “morning star.”
  • On August 15th, the waning (decreasing in phase size) moon was very close to brilliant Jupiter in the morning sky.
     

Star Chart for August, from Orion Telescopes website:

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General News

Camp Blue Spruce’s 10 Year Anniversary Party

RSVP for Camp Blue Spruce’s 10-year Anniversary party!

Event: 10-year Anniversary Party
Date: Saturday, October 1, 2022
Time: 3 PM to 8 PM
Location: Willamette Park, 1100 12th Street, West Linn, Oregon

Dinner will be provided and free of the top 9 food allergens. Please bring a blanket or camp chairs for viewing the main stage.

Paddle Linn will be onsite, providing free kayaks, pedalboards, SUPS, and a large float mat. Life jackets are provided.

Get your 10 year anniversary party tickets here!

Reach out to events@campbluespruce.org for any questions or additional information.