Observing With Webb July 2009

No incredible events this month, however there are plenty of conjunctions (when two objects in the sky are very close to one another...from our perspective.)   In particular, Venus, Mars, the Pleiades (Seven Sisters), and the Hyades are all together in the east before sunrise.  So if you get up before the sun rises for whatever reason, make the wake up worth it by checking out the conjunction in the east.  The audio version this week will be delayed - the laptop I usually use is in the "shop".

Have a question that you've always wondered about?  Want to hear about a certain topic on the next podcast and in the next email?  Send me a question either by replying to this email or sending me a message on podbean and I will include it next month.


5th - Conjunction - Venus near the Pleiades star cluster in the AM sky.  Find the very bright "star" of Venus and look to the upper left for the "mini-dipper" of the Pleiades.  Binoculars bring out many more stars than the 6/7 you can see with your naked eye.  Also, Mars will be to the upper right of Venus, and the Hyades or Taurus' head will be to the lower left of Venus.  They'll be hanging out together all month, with Venus leaving toward the end of July.

7th - Yes, there is a lunar eclipse that we would be able to see the beginning of in the morning today.  However, it is a penumbral eclipse (the outside, dimmer portion of the earth's shadow) and hence it is pretty much undetectable by the naked eye

Full Moon - 7th (Thunder Moon, Hay Moon) - also happens to be when the moon is at apogee, or the farthest away from earth in its orbit, making this full moon appear slightly smaller than other full moons.

9th - Conjunction - Jupiter will be only 0.6° SSE of Neptune.  Neptune is VERY dim, and probably even difficult to find in binoculars.  A telescope might get you a few of a dim bluish "star."  The moon is also very close to these two.

10th - Conjunction - Jupiter will be close to the Moon.

14th - Venus becomes Taurus' second eye, pairing with Aldebaron (a red star)

18th-19th - Conjunction - A beautiful crescent moon will join the morning party in the east of Venus, Mars, the Pleiades, and Hyades (Taurus' head).  Check it out early in the morning between 4am (if you have a clear view of the horizon) and 5:30 (sunrise, though you may be able to spot them even as the sun rises).

New Moon - 22nd (darkest skies)

22nd - Yes, there is a total solar eclipse, but it's only visible in China, India, and the Pacific Ocean.  Spaceweather.com should have some updates and pictures from the event.


Mercury - Not really visible - VERY close to the sun.  On the 14th it is at superior conjunction which means it is passing behind the sun and will start to be visible in the evening from now on.

VENUS - Visible in the AM in the east around 30° above the horizon around sunrise.  Lower than 30° before sunrise. Again, hanging out with Mars, the Pleiades, and the Hyades in the AM.

Mars - Hanging out up and to the right of Venus for this month, too. Look to the east, find Venus, then find the reddish "star" up and to the right about 5-10° away.

Jupiter - Rises between 11pm and 9pm and is visible low on the horizon in the south and southeast until sunrise.

SATURN - Visible until about 11pm.  Look in the southwest after sunset (about halfway between the horizon and the zenith), and watch it track toward the west until it sets between midnight and 10pm.  Check out the rings and moons with good binoculars or a telescope!  On the 25th/26th the Moon will be pretty close to it, making a pretty sight.

CONSTELLATIONS... (see sky map link at the bottom for a Star Map for this month - or ask Mr. Webb)

Look straight up and you'll see...

Sunset (around 8:30pm) - Bootes, Corona Borealis, Hercules

Midnight - Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila (a little to the south) - The Summer Triangle (see general constellation finding tips below)

Early Morning - Andromeda, Pegasus, Lacerta (if you're really good)

GENERAL CONSTELLATION FINDING TIPS: Look to the east at night (or straight up around morning) and you'll be able to see Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila, (and Delphinus.)  These three constellations have the three brightest stars of the summer constellations (Vega, Deneb, Altair - respectively.)  Those bright stars create the summer triangle, which will be seen earlier and earlier as the summer goes by.

Use a sky map from www.skymaps.com to help you out.

A lot of credit for this information goes to:

SkyMaps.com - Download the monthly sky map here in many formats including Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere, and Equatorial

Sky & Telescope Magazine

...and various sky programs such as Starry Night.

Other great sites to find more information and multimedia are in the links section of this site.