Translate this page ►►
Manchester Astronomical Society
Established 1903

Manastro Journal for August

With the country still in lockdown and social distancing, unfortunately the Godlee Observatory is closed for the forseeable future.

In the Sky for the next few weeks:-









The Moon

Full Moon on 3rd

3rd Quarter on the 11th

New Moon on 19th

1st Quarter on the 25th

Planet of the month: Venus

Diameter: 12104 km, 0.9488 Earths
Mass: 0.8150 Earths
Density: 5.26 g/cc (water=1)
Gravity: 0.905 G
Rotation Period: 243.01 days 243d 00h 14m


© NASA/JPL-Caltech

Venus will reach its greatest separation (furthest separation) from the Sun in its 2020 morning apparition. It will be shining brightly at mag -4.3 on 13th August. On these occasions, Venus is so bright and conspicuous that it becomes the third brightest object in the sky after the Sun and Moon. The Moon and Venus will also make a close approach on 15th August, passing within 3°59' of each other. The Moon will be 26 days old.

Venus, the legendary "morning star" and "evening star", has been a symbol of love, beauty, and material security for thousands of years. Perhaps this is due to her brilliant appearance and consistent celestial motions.

As the "lady of love", Venus was the Roman goddess of beauty, love, and sex. Medieval skywatchers in Persia and the Middle East, along with their European counterparts, kept this ancient notion alive. The result today is a worldwide association of Venus, the planet of consistency and brilliant light, with femininity and love.

Constellation of the Month: Cassiopeia (shown 15th August 22:00)


Cassiopeia is one of the most well known and easily recognisable constellations in the northern sky. The telltale 'W' (or 'M') is a permanent companion in the northern hemisphere, lying on the spine of the Milky Way and provides a handy pointer to astro favorite the Andromeda Galaxy,

Cassiopeia is famous for its distinctive W shape, an asterism formed by five bright stars in the constellation. The stars, from left to right, are Epsilon, Delta, Gamma, Alpha and Beta Cassiopeiae.

It was named after Cassiopeia, the vain and boastful queen in Greek mythology. Cassiopeia was the wife of King Cepheus (represented by the neighbouring constellation Cepheus in the sky) of Ethiopia. Once, she boasted that she was more beautiful than the Nereids. The Nereids were the 50 sea nymphs fathered by the Titan Nereus. They were enraged by Cassiopeia’s comments and appealed to Poseidon to punish Cassiopeia for her boastfulness. Poseidon was married to one of the nymphs, Amphitrite.

The sea god obliged and sent Cetus, a sea monster represented by the constellation Cetus (the Whale), located in the same region of the sky, to ravage the coast of Cepheus’ kingdom. Cepheus turned to an oracle for help and the oracle told him that, in order to appease Poseidon, he and Cassiopeia had to sacrifice their daughter Andromeda to the sea monster. Reluctantly, they did so, leaving Andromeda chained to a rock for the monster to find. However, she was saved in the last minute by the Greek hero Perseus, who happened to be passing by, saw Andromeda and rescued her from the monster.

Perseus and Andromeda were later married. At the wedding, one of her former suitors, named Phineus, appeared and claimed that he was the only one who had the right to marry Andromeda.

It was Poseidon who placed Cassiopeia and Cepheus in the sky. Cassiopeia, the myth goes, was condemned to circle the celestial pole forever, and spends half the year upside down in the sky as punishment for her vanity. She is usually depicted on her throne, still combing her hair.

There was a fight and Perseus, desperately outnumbered, used the head of Medusa, the monster he had recently slain, to defeat his opponents. One look at Medusa’s head turned them all into stone. In the process, however, the king and queen were also killed because they did not look away from the monster’s head in time.

The constellation contains several notable deep sky objects, among them the open clusters Messier 52 and Messier 103, the Heart Nebula and the Soul Nebula, the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A, the star-forming cloud popularly known as the Pacman Nebula, and the White Rose Cluster.


M52 © Mike Oates

Heart Nebula

IC1805 Heart Nebula © Bray Falls

Meteor Showers

August hosts one of the meteor shower highlights of the year, the Perseid meteor shower which occurs in August every year as the earth passes through the debris left by comet Swift Tuttle.

This year the main shower runs from 17th July – 24th Aug 2020, with a peak on 12th August.

If you want to look for these find a nice dark bit of sky, sit back and look up. The meteors will originate from NE in the constellation Perseus.



Comet Neowise

One of the main talking points of July was the spectacular Neowise comet gracing our skys during July. Here is a selection of images, from both Society members (MAS) and our Facebook Group (FB)


Comet Neowise © Alan Beech (MAS)


Comet Neowise © Antoine Mangiavacca (FB)


Comet Neowise © Bob Stuart (FB)


Comet Neowise © Kevin Kilburn (MAS)


Comet Neowise © Dave Walker (MAS)

MAS Society & MAS Facebook members' recent images

Here is a selection of some of the recent images from our members


M16 - ©Alan Griffiths - 22/07/20 (MAS)


M27 - ©Bob Stuart - 09/07/20 (FB)


Saturn - ©Michael Hassell - 23/07/20 (FB)


NLC - ©Dave Walker - 20/07/20 (MAS)




NWGAS logo   BAA logo   Lottery logo   University of Manchester logo   FAS logo   SHA logo   MAS Facebook   Share on Twitter