Skywatch: Go galaxy hunting and look for meteors this week

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If you’re out and about this week in the evening in a dark place and you look up in the night sky you may catch a glimpse of the Andromeda galaxy. If you do so, in essence, you’ll be looking back in time. The galaxy is about 2.5 million light years away which means that the light we’re seeing from it left the galaxy 2.5 million years ago and it’s just reaching our eyes now. To find it look for Cassiopeia, which looks a little like a “W”. Just below and right of it will be Andromeda (also known as M31 on star charts). If you have a decent set of binoculars you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the galaxy’s spiral form.

Look for a nice half-moon late Monday and early Tuesday. The First Quarter Moon to arrive at 4:13 A.M. on Tuesday morning. It will continue to brighten through the week.

On Tuesday night the aforementioned moon will be in the southern sky at sunset. As the sky darkens, look to the left of the moon at what appears to be a bright star. That would be the ringed planet of Saturn. If you have a small telescope point it at the planet and enjoy the show, it’s breathtaking!

A minor meteor shower will also peak late in the week. The Aurigid meteor shower will peak Friday morning and while it’s not a well-known meteor shower the moon should cooperate. Caused by debris from Comet Kiess only about six meteors an hour are possible. The radiant of this shower is from the Charioteer or Auriga which gives the shower its name. If you can get to a dark place, far away from city lights look up in the ENE after 3:00 A.M. for the best show. Happy hunting!