July 2019

• July 2nd, 2019

July is the month of Jupiter and Saturn this year, with both gracing the skies all night, easily visible with the naked eye, and even better through binoculars or a telescope.

 

Naked-eye PLANETS...

  • Around Sunset – Jupiter (S), Saturn (SE)
  • Throughout the night – Jupiter (SàSW), Saturn (SEàSW)
  • Morning – Saturn (SW)

 

Mercury

  • Not really visible.

Venus

  • Not really visible.

Mars

  • Not really visible.

Jupiter

  • Already high in the sky as dusk turns to night off in the SE and will probably be the first point of light you can see. Throughout each night it’ll move toward the South, then set in the SW by 4am at the beginning of the month. Throughout the month it’ll start higher in the sky and set earlier, by 2am on the 31st.

Saturn

  • Saturn will trail behind Jupiter in the sky by about 30˚, rising just after sunset, and setting right around sunrise. Hence, this month it’s Saturn’s turn to reach opposition, giving us a lot of time to observe the planet and its rings.

 

EVENTS...

New Moon – 2nd (darkest skies)

First Quarter Moon – 9th (Visible until midnight)

Full Moon – 16th (Visible all night)

Last Quarter Moon – 24th (Visible from midnight into the morning)

12th – 16th – Close Encounter – Moon, Jupiter, Saturn – A great lineup for 5 days, with Saturn and Jupiter starting each night in the SSE, about 30˚ apart from each other. On the 12th, the Moon will be about 10˚ up and to the right of Jupiter. The next night it travels to just 3.5˚ to the left of Jupiter. Now the Moon starts heading closer to Saturn, being almost right between Jupiter and Saturn on the 14th, then just 2.5˚ to the right of Saturn on the 15th. On the 16th, the Moon bids adieu to the gassy outer planets and finishes the encounter 10˚ down and to the left of Saturn, creating a great evening lineup of the Moon, Saturn, and Jupiter for the remainder of the night.

16th – Partial Lunar Eclipse – If you live in South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, or Africa, you’ll be able to see this. Those of us in North America…nope.


CONSTELLATIONS...

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

After Dinner, Before Bed:

Spring Constellations: Big Dipper, Bootes, Virgo, Corona Borealis, Hercules – Gaze almost vertically as you face the NW, and you’ll easily find the Big Dipper: seven very bright stars that form a spoon shape. Now if you take the handle of the Dipper, follow its curve to the next bright star you see, about 30˚ away, which is Arcturus. “Follow the arc to Arcturus.” That’s the brightest star in Bootes, which looks like a kite. Take that same curve, and follow it about another 20˚ to “speed on to Spica”, the brightest star in Virgo, one of my favorite constellations, since it reminds me of the Dickinson Mermaid.  Now go back to Bootes, and just to the left of Bootes are seven stars that form the northern crown Corona Borealis, which looks more like a small bowl or a “C” in the sky. Continue a little further to the left and you’ll find the keystone asterism which is part of the constellation Hercules. Extra Challenge! Look for M13, the Hercules Cluster in between two of Hercules’ “keystone” stars.  It known as the best globular cluster in the northern skies.  It will be a fuzzy spot in binoculars and will be even cooler through a telescope

Summer Constellations: Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila – Look pretty much straight above you, and find the brightest star up there. You’ll notice a parallelogram attached to it. This is the brightest star Vega, part of the constellation Lyra, the harp. Directly above you will be Cygnus the Swan, with its brightest star Deneb. It will look like a large cross, or if you look out a little further, a swan flying above you. Below Cygnus and Lyra is the third constellation of the Summer Triangle, Aquila the Eagle, with its brightest star Altair. The three bright stars in this one can be easily confused for Orion’s belt, given their similar size, however they are not in line as straight, and are part of a bigger diamond shape.  Use a star chart to find small Delphinus and Sagitta in the area as well.

Before Work:

Pegasus, Andromeda – Look directly south and most of the way up the sky and you’ll find the very big and almost perfect square of Pegasus, the winged horse. Now if you look to the top left of the square, you’ll see three pairs of stars creating a neat double curve to the left and up from that corner star. That is Andromeda. If you have a little extra time, find the middle pair of stars, connect them with a line, and move toward the inside of the curve about the same distance as those stars are apart. There you’ll find the Andromeda Galaxy, which will be just a small faint fuzzy with your naked eye. The cool part is that you are looking at billions of stars that are 2.9 million light years away, that spread out about 150,000 light years across

Don’t forget to check out my Podbean page, YouTube Channel, and Twitter feed, or get my podcast feed on Stitcher, or iTunes.


Share | Download(Loading)

June 2019

• June 5th, 2019

Welcome to Observing With Webb, where a high school astronomy teacher tells you what you’re looking at, why it’s so cool, and what you should check out later this month…at night. 

June will be warmer, with shorter nights, but still some good events. Watch for Mercury and Mars in a conjunction mid-month, Jupiter up all night long, and some good lunar close encounters.

 

Naked-eye PLANETS...

  • Around Sunset – Mars (W) until 10:30pm – 9:30pm, Mercury (W) until 10pm
  • Throughout the night – Jupiter (SEàSàSW), Saturn (SEàSW)
  • Morning – Saturn (SW), Jupiter (SW)

Mercury

  • Makes something of an appearance this month, by starting out low on the Western horizon after sunset, setting itself around 10pm but getting a little higher each night until the last week. Make sure you have a clear horizon to the WNW, where Mars will also be making an appearance, with both planets closest together on the 18th.

Venus

  • Not really visible. You MIGHT catch it if you have binoculars pointing ENE an hour before sunrise, low on the horizon.

Mars

  • Mars is already in the W around sunset and setting a little after 10:30pm in the beginning of the month, getting lower each day until it sets around 9:30 at the end of the month. Mars will pass right by Mercury on the 18th. Bring some binoculars to help, but your naked eye should be sufficient to catch both of the planets in West after sunset until the last week of June.

Jupiter

  • Will be reaching opposition this month, meaning it’s off in the SE after sunset, passes by the South after midnight, and sets in the SW right around sunrise. Great time to get the telescope out to see the cloud bands and Galilean moons.

Saturn

  • Rising between 11pm and 9pm, Saturn will be about 30˚ to the left of Jupiter all month, hanging out in the top left of Sagittarius. If you’re up early, it’s a good time to observe its highly tilted rings, as it’s still above the horizon in the SW before sunrise.

 

EVENTS...

New Moon – 3rd (darkest skies)

First Quarter Moon – 10th (Visible until midnight)

Full Moon – 17th (Visible all night)

Last Quarter Moon – 25th (Visible from midnight into the morning)

4th/5thClose Encounter – Moon, Mars, Mercury – A VERY very thin crescent Moon will be technically visible just 5˚ to the left of Mercury and VERY low on the horizon, but you’ll probably need binoculars to catch either of them. The next night on the 5th, the Moon will be higher and a tad thicker and now 5˚ up and to the left of Mars, making a nice string of objects – Moon, Mars, Mercury.

16th – 19th – Close Encounter – Moon, Jupiter, Saturn – Get out after sunset on the 16th to find the Moon only 4˚ down and to the left of Jupiter.  Watch them travel together throughout the night to the West by sunrise. The next night, the Moon will move to be almost directly in the middle between Jupiter and Saturn. The 18th is when the Moon visits Saturn, only 1˚ below, starting around 10pm. Lastly, the Moon finishes off the left side of a Moon-Saturn-Jupiter lineup on the 19th.

16th – 19th – Conjunction – Mars, Mercury – Get out right after sunset with a pair of binoculars. Look W and a tiny bit to the right to find Mars and Mercury less than 1˚ apart, with Mars on the left and Mercury on the right before the 18th. Then, on the 18th, Mercury is directly above Mars. Then they switch positions and Mercury is moving to the left of Mars.

21stSummer Solstice – This is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.  There’s a bit of explanation as to why here.

 

 

CONSTELLATIONS...

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

After Dinner, Before Bed:

Big Dipper, Bootes, Virgo, Corona Borealis, Hercules – Gaze almost vertically as you face the NW, and you’ll easily find the Big Dipper: seven very bright stars that form a spoon shape. Now if you take the handle of the Dipper, follow its curve to the next bright star you see, about 30˚ away, which is Arcturus. “Follow the arc to Arcturus.” That’s the brightest star in Bootes, which looks like a kite. Take that same curve, and follow it about another 20˚ to “speed on to Spica”, the brightest star in Virgo, one of my favorite constellations, since it reminds me of the Dickinson Mermaid.  Now go back to Bootes, and just to the left of Bootes are seven stars that form the northern crown Corona Borealis, which looks more like a small bowl or a “C” in the sky. Continue a little further to the left and you’ll find the keystone asterism which is part of the constellation Hercules. Extra Challenge! Look for M13, the Hercules Cluster in between two of Hercules’ “keystone” stars.  It known as the best globular cluster in the northern skies.  It will be a fuzzy spot in binoculars and will be even cooler through a telescope

Before Work:

Summer Triangle – Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila – Look pretty much straight above you, and find the brightest star up there. You’ll notice a parallelogram attached to it. This is the brightest star Vega, part of the constellation Lyra, the harp. Directly above you will be Cygnus the Swan, with its brightest star Deneb. It will look like a large cross, or if you look out a little further, a swan flying above you. Below Cygnus and Lyra is the third constellation of the Summer Triangle, Aquila the Eagle, with its brightest star Altair. The three bright stars in this one can be easily confused for Orion’s belt, given their similar size, however they are not in line as straight, and are part of a bigger diamond shape.  Use a star chart to find small Delphinus and Sagitta in the area as well.

Don’t forget to check out my Podbean page, YouTube Channel, and Twitter feed, or get my podcast feed on Stitcher, or iTunes.

 

Share | Download(Loading)


« Older episodes ·