Adrian Dening's Stars Over Somerset

    Monday 21st to Sunday 27th November 2022

    Any evening next week, look high up towards the south east and spot the constellations of Cassiopea (the famous "W" shape) and Perseus. Half way between the two constellations is a pair of open star clusters known as the Double Cluster.



    The clusters have a magnitude of around +3.8 so should be visible to the naked eye if you are in a nice dark location, but binoculars or a small telescope would be better. They are 7500 light years away and in astronomical terms, they are youngsters, being only 14 million years old! By comparison, the Pleiades open cluster is between 75 and 150 million years old!

    Time for a quick astronomy lesson.....the Double Cluster is known as a "circumpolar" object. This means that from high latitudes here in the northern hemisphere, it can been seen all through the hours of darkness, all through the year. Or if you prefer it in simple terms - it is just very high in the sky, like the pole star that everything appears to rotate around.

    Last week I spoke about an opportunity to witness one of Jupiter's moons - Ganymede - disappearing behind the planet while another of its moons -Europa - casts a shadow on the planet's surface as it passes in front of the gas giant. If you miss that event on Sunday 20th, don't worry because the exact same scenario repeats on the evening of Sunday 27th, but slightly later from 9pm.

    Aim your telescope towards the south west and Jupiter will be very obvious, shining at a magnitude of -2.6 while further to the west, Saturn will be getting close to the horizon and appearing a little dimmer.



    Screenshots courtesy of Stellarium
    Copyright Adrian Dening and Radio Ninesprings 2022
    www.starsoversomerset.com

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