Star Diary: 22 to 28 August 2022

This week is a great opportunity to take a look at Orion, or hunt out the asteroids Pallas and Vesta.

Published: August 22, 2022 at 8:00 am
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What's in the night sky in the week of 22nd to 28th August, 2022.



Chris Bramley Hello and welcome to Star Diary, the podcast from the makers of BBC Sky at Night magazine. You can subscribe to the print edition of the magazine by visiting, or to our digital edition by visiting iTunes or Google Play.

Ezzy Greetings, listeners, and welcome to Star Diary, a weekly guide to the best things to see in the Northern Hemisphere's Night Sky. In this episode, we'll be covering the coming week from the 22nd to the 28th of August. I'm Ezzy Pearson, the magazine's features editor and I'm joined on the podcast today by reviews editor Paul Money. Hello, Paul.

Paul Hello there. As we look forward to some more events again.

Ezzy And can you tell us a little bit about what those events might be this week?

Paul Well, last week, the week we had the opposition of Saturn and we got another opposition! Get excited. Yeah.... sort of it is the minor world 4 Vesta. And this happens on August 22nd so the very first on the on the Monday, in actual fact. So, you know, it lies to the left of Saturn. So it's actually quite convenient having a bright planet not too far away to help guide you to it. And the thing about Vesta is that technically it is actually a naked eye object. This is a minor world, but it's one of the few that can actually reach naked eye visibility. So it's actually magnitude 5.6. Now, we say magnitude 6.0 is the general limit. If you've got a very dark sky and good eyesight, I have known people see magnitude 7.0 Stars. I've got down to nearly magnitude 7.0, but that's before I have to wear glasses. Now it's a lot less than that. But so those days, all those days when I could see fainter. But you do need a dark sky to figure out and a good chart, admittedly, to find something like that. But binoculars, it's easy. I mean, magnitude 5.6 is an easy object in 10x50 or 7x50 binoculars. Indeed. So bear in mind though, it will just look like a star. And William Herschel coined the term asteroid, which is how they were first described. Because asteroid means star-like and they are all all of them are star-like. The key that takes you into thinking that it's actually an object in the Solar System is each motion. It moves because the stars don't move. That's why we get planet wandering star. But in this case, these actually move as well. And the only way knowing from night to night for unless you've got a really good star chart, you know, and I have to say with Vesta, you should better pick it out. It's a very bland area of sky, so you shouldn't have any difficulty identifying Vesta in this particular area. It's in the southern part of Aquarius, in actual fact. So quite bland, in actual fact. But it's the motion. So you'll see moving night after night against the background stars. So it's always one of those little task. And it's a nice little project, you know, to have a star chart and a market position night after night showing the motion of Vesta itself. What I say is at its best, it's at opposition on 27th August, magnitude 5.6. So this is the time. And if you've got dark skies, you know, it's well worth having to go, if you've got keen eyesight, to see if you can see it you're looking towards the southeast roughly about 11:00pm in the evening. So we have got an evening object at the moment sort of thing. It is. And again, like Saturn, once it reaches opposition, it moves into the evening sky. So it will become a lot easier to see. But of course, we then got the opposite effect. It starts to slowly fade, but it will be a binocular object for the vast majority of its time. It's actually visible, so that's actually good news. So Vesta is the one to look out for now as its at opposition. Now I do like the minor worlds. They are dots, but following them and ticking them off your list, you know, is great. But we've got another one from the 22nd of the 23rd. You have to be up in the early hours of the morning and it's about 4 a.m. now, August the 22nd, the sky... There'll be a hint of twilight just beginning at this stage. But we're looking for 2 Pallas, the second asteroid to be discovered. Now it's a challenge. It's 9.0 magnitude. But the reason why I'm highlighting it is that it's actually putting directly below the Sword of Orion. Now, that is arguably, along with the Pleiades, one of the most popular targets because you've got the Orion Nebula. You've got the whole sword where you've got Iota Orionis to the south, which actually is between the Orion Nebula and Pallas. So that gives you a clue as to where it is. So you'll be able to watch Pallas. So he's a good guide because again you've got a nice bright deep sky, well known deep sky object that will help you, guide you, to find this fainter small asteroid so well worth having a look at. Yes, you have to be up in the early morning on these low down as well. But because the Sword of Orion is so well known, you should be able to pick it out and again over a couple of nights, watch it. Moving from the right to the left on 22nd to 23rd as it passes below, south of Iota Orionis. and the Sword of Orion. And of course, the sort of variety is great to look at anyway.

Ezzy I have to confess that Orion is one of my favourite constellations. It's just... It's really easy to see in the night sky. Pretty much everybody knows how to find Orion's belt, and it's got a little bit of everything in it. You know, you've got different coloured stars from different points in their lifecycles and you've got Nebula and all kinds of things going on there. So any opportunity to have an excuse to look at Orion is a good excuse for me.

Paul There you are. And that's worth getting up at 4 a.m. in the morning, isn't it? But it is low down. So again, we have the proviso you do need a good clear rise. And for me, sadly, I have a lot of clutter in that region. So I've got a bank. The Hides is from the industrial estate and it's that area that it will be in. So I won't be able to see it sort of thing. So ahh, woe is me. Come on, everybody. The sympathy vote, please. No, I didn't think so. Typical. But we're not done yet with minor worlds because comets are minor worlds. And we mentioned Comet PAN-STARRS, this is C 2017 K2 Panstarrs earlier this month. Well, on the 22nd, right next to the star Graphius, Beta Scorpii. Again, I mean yeah you handed it on a plate, it's right next to a very bright star, you know. Again I love Scorpius as well. So Scorpius is one of those constellation is going to be roughly in the solar south southwest and you're looking now, gosh, it's been a while since I mentioned this time roughly about 9:30 in the evening. Good grief. Hey, basically tea time, isn't it? YIt you have late teas, that is. But he's very easy to find, Beta Scorpio. Omega Scorpio is nearby, a wide naked eye double star as well. But you've got this comet, which should be around about 7.0 Magnitude. It's dropping down. And over the next week to the end of the week, it is heading towards Deschuba. So I think Delta Scorpio won't reach it until the following week, so it won't deal with that then. But you'll be able to watch this motion of this comet as it drops down, because it won't be too long. In a few weeks time it'll be gone. Completely. It'll be too low for us. So grab it now whilst it's passing a bright star, say on the 22nd, it's right next to Graphius, Beta Scorpii. So a great guide to being able to find this fuzzy blob. And I have seen pictures with a tail, but I can't promise you get a tail with binoculars, but certainly photographically you might pick out a tail actually with that. Okay, so back to the morning sky. Yes, there has to be something in the morning sky. On 24th, looking around 3am and 4am. Look for... I love the crescent moon. I must admit I don't observe enough in the morning sky, mainly because of my horizon, but well worth having a look at because we've got the return of Gemini, the Constellation. And the twins, Castor and Pollux. And the thing about the moon is it's almost exactly in a line if you take Castor through to Pollux and then straight to the moon. So you've got almost a straight line. And I love little things. I mean, I know these little things, sort of thing. Little things Please me, don't they?Clearly in the sky. But well-worth this. I love line ups sort of thing. You know, it's got catch in that moment when it's almost a perfect line up with the Moon, obviously the Moon in the morning... and that brings us back to our final object for this week in the morning sky around about 25th. And what we're looking for, we're back to Venus again. And the Moon gets closer to Venus now on 25th, well above Venus. So you've got this thin crescent Moon. Look for Earthshine, as well. It's not too far away from the Beehive cluster. Which should have improved a little bit now. It'll move slightly higher up in the sky, so you never know. You might be able to pick out the Moon and the Beehive Cluster, Messier 44 in binoculars. But Venus is lower towards the horizon. And then on the 26th, the Moon, this really slim crescent Moon is to the left of Venus. Now, Venus itself will have moved down. It is slowly dropping back towards the Sun. But at the moment we've got a bit of a nice balancing act. It's just about keeping right and keeping in the twilight. It will eventually lose that race, of course. So we are. I love that shot. You've got this thin, ephemeral, slim crescent moon hanging there with this brilliant star, which we know as Venus, the planet. Absolutely gorgeous, but you need a clear horizon for this sort of thing. Well, we're having a look out around about east northeast and about 5:00... we're talking about 5 a.m. now. So you can tell we've had quite a change haven't we? We've been talking about three and four and now we're into five. Our moon, we're still able to observe. So you. It shows that the Knights are actually pulling in. Yippee. That's a nice way of, I think of ending the week, looking in the morning sky and catching the moon next to Venus. So there we are, Ezzy another week done?

Ezzy And thank you very much for taking your time to talk to us about it. Well, it sounds like there's a lot of things to be looking out for this week. Hopefully some of our listeners will be able to get out to see some of them, whether it's Venus next to the crescent Moon or Pallas passing by the end of the Sword of Orion. Hopefully there's something for everybody. If you want to find out even more spectacular sights that will be gracing the night sky throughout the month. Be sure to pick up a copy of BBC Sky at Night Magazine. Well, we have a six page pullout Sky Guide with a full overview of everything worth looking up for. Whether you like to look at the Moon, the planets, or the deep sky, whether you use binoculars, telescopes on neither our Sky Guide has got you covered with the detailed star charts to help you track your way across the night sky. From all of us here at BBC Sky at Night Magazine. Goodbye.


Chris Bramley Thank you for listening to this episode of Star Diary, our podcast from the makers of BBC Sky at Night Magazine. For more of our podcasts, visit our website at Or head to Acast, iTunes or Spotify.


Elizabeth Pearson
Ezzy PearsonScience journalist

Ezzy Pearson is the Features Editor of BBC Sky at Night Magazine. Her first book about the history of robotic planetary landers is out now from The History Press.


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