This Hump’s No Chump

Moon, Saturn and Regulus corralled by last night’s halo — Bob King / News Tribune

Not that I need an excuse but walking the dog always gives me reason to see what’s up in the sky. Last night the nearby creek and its veiny tributaries roared in the distance while the gibbous moon eased its way westward. It was surrounded by a halo from passing cirrostratus clouds, and joined by Saturn and the star Regulus (to the left and above in the photo.)

A high flying jet and its contrail sliced the halo in two, which imparted a 3-dimensional quality to the scene. High clouds around the region today and tonight could mean more halos so keep an eye out.

Use the moon and Saturn to find Alphard tonight – created with Stellarium

For the next few days, the moon will be in its gibbous phase — more than half but less than full. The word derives from Latin and means hump. You can use our humpbacked friend along with Saturn tonight to point you to Alphard in the constellation of Hydra, the Sea Serpent.

Alphard derives from Arabic and means "solitary one." Once you spot it, you’ll agree on the name, as there are no other bright stars anywhere in the area. If you have good color vision, you should also be able to detect the star’s reddish hue.

When the moon is out of the evening sky next week, use Alphard to as your starting point to find the long, winding figure of the serpent.

3 Responses

  1. Joy Illikainen

    WOW…what a night!!! Last night we actually got to SEE Saturn…and all it’s glorious rings!! I will always remember looking thru your lens and seeing it for the first time….’just like a picture’. My 14 year old son and I are taking your class…and feel especially lucky to have seen such a wonderous sight last night!! Thank you for taking the time to set up and share your equipment with our class! It was a night to remember!!

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