Adrian Dening's Stars Over Somerset

    Screenshot courtesy of Stellarium

    Monday 5th to Sunday 11th April 2021

    It's been a while since we've been able to see Jupiter and Saturn in the evening sky. Things have moved on and they are now visible again, but as "morning objects".

    Around the middle of next week, take a look towards the southeast just before sunrise.  You will be able to see a waning Crescent Moon, with Saturn a little to the left of it and Jupiter a bit further left again.

    They will be close to the horizon, which is not ideal as the light being reflected from them has to pass through a thick layer of our atmosphere and this distorts everything for telescope users.  

    Above them, you should see the bright star Altair in the constellation of Aquila "The Eagle".  Altair is the twelfth-brightest star in the sky and is unusual in that it rotates extremely fast - its velocity or speed at its equator is around 300 km/s and scientists have estimated that the star would break-up if it reached 400 km/s!  Also, the star is not spherical, but slightly flattened due to the effects of its rapid rotation.  By comparison, Altair takes 9 hours to rotate where our Sun, which is about half the size, takes 25 days.

    Altair marks one corner of the "Summer Triangle" which is an area of the night sky we will look at another week.

    Screenshot courtesy of Stellarium
    Copyright Adrian Dening and Radio Ninesprings 2021

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