September 4th, 2015
Now that the Moon’s almost at last quarter, its light is less of a hindrance and this makes it a good time for some deep sky observing. Fortunately there’s plenty to see in the summer sky and in particular, there’s one open cluster that’s often overlooked, can be easily found with binoculars and provides a nice view when observed through a small telescope: Messier 29.
A personal favorite, Messier 29 (aka M29) is a small group of six or seven stars that resembles the much more famous Pleiades. Unfortunately, it’s nowhere near as spectacular as it only contains about fifty stars, but don’t let that deter you.
It’s almost overhead at about 10 p.m. from the northern hemisphere and is located very close to Sadr, the central star in Cygnus the Swan. The cluster can be easily seen at 35x with each of the white stars appearing to be of equal brightness. Even after increasing the magnification to 150x, the whole cluster can still fit within the field of view.
Over the next few weeks there’ll be more to see before the Moon brightens the sky again. Take a moment to enjoy this little gem while you can!
All Astronomical Events for September 4th 2015
10:18 UT – Mercury is at Greatest Eastern Elongation. (55% illuminated, magnitude 0.2, diameter 7.1”. Virgo, not visible.)
10:58 UT – The waning gibbous Moon passes M45, the Pleiades open star cluster. (Naked eye, Taurus, pre-dawn sky.)
18:11 UT – Venus is stationary prior to resuming prograde motion. (12% illuminated, magnitude -4.4, diameter 49.2”. Naked eye, Cancer, pre-dawn sky.)
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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