Draco the Dragon is at its best visibility of the year tonight. From northern Europe and Canada, the constellation never sets below the horizon and is, therefore, known to be circumpolar. In other words, if you could see the stars throughout the entire day, you’d see Draco spin about the pole star like the planets orbiting the Sun.
Draco is home to a fine double star, Nu Draconis, also known as Kuma. If you have a good pair of binoculars or a small telescope, you should be able to split the star into a pair of equally bright, white stars that some call “the eyes of the dragon.” Located about 100 light years away, one of the stars is actually double itself, although its companion is too close to be seen with amateur telescopes.
The view above represents the sky from North America at 1:00am; observers in the United Kingdom will see a similar view but the constellation will be a little higher in the sky. If you can’t stay up that late, try looking for the dragon earlier in the evening. It should be visible once twilight comes to an end, about an hour and half to two hours after sunset.
(Click on an image to enlarge.)
Images courtesy of Mobile Observatory.
06:31 UT – The waxing crescent Moon passes Jupiter. (Jupiter: magnitude -2.0, diameter 35.3”. Naked eye, Cancer, evening sky. See yesterday’s post.)
06:39 UT – The waxing crescent Moon passes asteroid 3 Juno. (Juno: magnitude 10.0. Cancer, evening sky.)
The constellation Draco (the Dragon) culminates at midnight tonight. (Naked eye, all night. See image above.)
Events in bold involve objects and/or events that are visible with the naked eye.
All times are in Universal Time (UTC). To convert the time to your timezone, click here.
2015: An Astronomical Year
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The Amateur Astronomer’s Notebook
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