Night Sky Viewing – A Review


Written by Anthony Morelli

On May 21, 2018

Night Sky Viewing – A Review and What’s Still to Come! (by Paula Becker & Steve Shank)

Back on April 14th, 2018, members of the Lake Holiday community joined Jim Chen and Steve Shank of Shenandoah Astronomical Society at the old golf pro shop site (a vacant area with no light pollution) on Country Club Drive. Also sharing their telescopes were Jake and Kendall Looney. Jake is a fourth-grade student with a Celestron Astro 90 mm telescope. Views from Steve Shank’s 10” Meade LX200 Schmidt-Cassagrain telescope with computerized go-to function were as follows:

Viewing began with Venus (a bright disk through the eyepiece) in the western sky. Venus appears as the brightest object in the night sky, second only to the moon, and is visible just after sunset or just before sunrise depending on the time of the year. Moving on to M42, the Orion Nebula, we saw the trapezium, a grouping of four very young stars born within the nebula. Returning at a later time, the full breath of the gas cloud surrounding the four very young stars could easily be seen spreading across the eyepiece view.

The brightest star in the western sky is Capella, located in the constellation Auriga. The brightest star in the eastern sky is Arcturus in the constellation Bootes. With darkening skies, the telescope was turned to M3, a bright star cluster near the constellation Canes Venatici. M3 is a tight grouping of stars some 34,000 light years away containing 500,000 stars.

The Whirlpool Galaxy, M5, is two galaxies colliding, as one is drawing the contents from the other due to its stronger gravitational pull. The clear sky allowed us to see the lanes of the material connecting the two bright cores of the galaxies.

Our sincere thanks to the generous guest for loan of a battery pack!

We are hopeful that our review of the April event will excite you for the next night sky viewing event closer to fall! Shenandoah Astronomical Society is currently scheduled to return on Friday, September 14th, 2018.

The Shenandoah Astronomical Society (SAS) is a volunteer organization. The astronomers share telescopes and knowledge of the night sky with no reimbursement. SAS will return to Lake Holiday Community on September 14, 2018. Viewing occurs at the site of old golf pro shop on Country Club Drive (elevated area with minimal tree blockage and no light pollution). Viewing begins a half-hour before dark. Assistance with your own telescope is provided if desired. The fall sky will differ from the spring sky, so be prepared to see what new and wondrous celestial bodies the night sky has to offer.

Contact: Paula Becker 540-533-3164

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