“Gateway to the Stars” September 3

Mike Murray

Our “Gateway to the Stars” show for September will feature numerous objects to see in and around the Milky Way. Summer may be coming to an end on the calendar, but the summer stars will continue to shine prominently for many weeks to come!

The Summer Milky Way is at its prime because this is when it will stretch high over the top of the sky from north to south as soon as evening twilight ends.  Traveling just a short distance from the city lights (say a small way up one of the nearby canyons) will reveal the Milky Way as a faint band of light, and you’ll be amazed at how much binoculars will reveal. We’ll give you some tips on how to view it and what other deep sky objects that can be found there.

The Ring Nebula in the constellation Lyra

The Ring Nebula in the constellation Lyra

One of the objects we’ll be featuring is called the Ring Nebula in Lyra. It is probably one of the finest examples of a “planetary nebula” in the entire sky.  In a telescope it looks like a small grayish smoke ring in the sky.  In reality it’s a site of star death – an expanding shell of gas and dust lit up by the dying White Dwarf star in its center.

What about the planets?  Most are in the same part of the sky as the sun and are thus lost in the sun’s glare, but if you’re willing to look to the east at around midnight, you’ll be treated to an incredibly bright “star” rising over the Wasatch Mountains.  It’s the planet Jupiter!  Even in binoculars you might be lucky enough to see some of its moons as tiny little stars hugging close to Jupiter’s disk.

So join us Saturday, September 3 at 6:45 p.m. in the Hansen Dome Theatre for another look at the summer’s best sky treasures! Tickets are just $1. Members are free.

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