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Archive for July, 2019

07/31/2019 – Ephemeris – Looking at the bright planets on this last day of July

July 31, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Wednesday, July 31st. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 42 minutes, setting at 9:10, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:28. The Moon is new today, and won’t be visible.

Let’s look at the planets for the last day of July. Mars, Mercury and Venus are all too close to the Sun to be seen. Mars is still on the evening or east side of the Sun. Mercury and Venus are on the west or morning side of the Sun. Bright Jupiter will be in the southern sky as it gets dark. It will pass the meridian, due south at 9:58 p.m. With steadily held binoculars a few of the 4 largest satellites of Jupiter can be seen. Three of Jupiter’s largest satellites can be spotted in telescopes tonight. One, Ganymede will be passing in front of the planet tonight. Jupiter will set at 2:26 a.m. Saturn, the ringed planet, will be lower down in the southeast in the evening, the brightest star-like object in that direction, but significantly dimmer than Jupiter. It will set at 4:40 a.m.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Evening planets

Jupiter and Saturn with the constellations of the southern summer sky at 10:30 p.m. July 31, 2019. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic planets

Jupiter and Saturn with the same magnification at 11p.m. July 31, 2019. Jupiter’s moon Ganymede is about to transit the face of Jupiter. The transit starts at 11:11 p.m. and ends at 1:32 a.m. Despite how they appear here Jupiter’s moons are dimmer than the planet. The same is true for Saturn’s moons, however Titan is much brighter than the other moons. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Planets and the Moon on a single night

Planets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on July 31, 2019. The night ends on the left with sunrise on August 1st. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

07/30/2019 – Ephemeris – Finding the Little Dipper

July 30, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, July 30th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 44 minutes, setting at 9:11, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:27. The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 5:37 tomorrow morning.

11 p.m. is the best time now to spot the Little Dipper. It is difficult to spot, being much smaller and dimmer than the Big Dipper. However it is the Big Dipper that points to it, by the two stars at the front of the bowl of the Big Dipper to point to the North Star, Polaris, the star that doesn’t appear to move. That is the tip of the handle of the Little Dipper. The handle is seen in a curve of the stars upwards and a bit to the left to a small box of stars that is its bowl. The two brighter stars at the front of the bowl are called the Guard Stars because they guard the pole. The Little Dipper is not an official constellation, but is Ursa Minor the lesser bear. To the Anishinaabe native peoples of this area it represents a loon.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Little Dipper finder animation

Little Dipper finder animation. The Little Dipper is also Ursa Minor and the Loon. Polaris is the Pole Star and North Star. The Guard Stars are Kochab and Pherkad. Except for the named stars, the Little Dipper stars are quite faint and require moonless skies away from the city to spot. Chick on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

The loon image constellation art is part of the latest versions of Stellarium. Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) constellation art by Annette S Lee and William Wilson from Ojibwe Sky Star Map Constellation Guide, by A. Lee, W Wilson, C Gawboy, J. Tibbetts.  ISBN 978-0-615-98678-4.

07/29/2019 – Ephemeris – The South Delta Aquariid meteor shower is at peak now

July 29, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, July 29th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 47 minutes, setting at 9:12, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:26. The Moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 4:30 tomorrow morning.

The South Delta Aquariid meteor shower is at its peak now. It’s not that great of a meteor shower. If its radiant were at the zenith we might expect 25 meteors an hour. The radiant will be highest low in the south at 3 a.m. However along with meteors appearing to radiate from the south from this meteor shower we expect growing numbers of meteors coming from the northeastern sky because the Perseid meteor shower that peaks around August 13th is beginning to be seen. The Perseids will be visible all night, but the South Delta Aquariids will be best seen after midnight. I suggest that you look for the Perseids before peak this year because the bright Moon will interfere at its peak.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

South Delta Aquariid meteor shower at peak and Perseids

South Delta Aquariid meteor shower at peak and Perseids firing up at 3 a.m. July 30 2019. PerR and DAqrR are the radiants.

07/26/2019 – Ephemeris – Scorpius the starry scorpion crawls over the southern horizon

July 26, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, July 26th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 53 minutes, setting at 9:15, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:23. The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 2:11 tomorrow morning.

There’s a large constellation located low in the south at about about 11 tonight. It’s Scorpius the scorpion. Its brightest star is Antares in its heart, a red giant star, that I get calls about from time to time as being a UFO. With bright Jupiter above and left of it, it won’t be as noticeable. From Antares to the right is a star then a vertical arc of three stars that is its head. The Scorpion’s tail is a line of stars running down to the left of Antares swooping to the horizon before coming back up and ending in a pair of stars that portray his poisonous stinger. There is a beautiful star cluster seen in binoculars at that first bend in the tail that is unfortunately too low to appreciate from this far north. I was very impressed with it when spotting it from the Florida Keys when I was down there in 1986 observing Halley’s Comet.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Animated finder chart for Scorpius the scorpion for 11 p.m. July 26, 2019. A year from now Jupiter will be just pass where Saturn is, and Saturn will be just off the frame of this image. Also note the “Teapot” asterism of Sagittarius just left of the scorpion with the Milky Way as steam rising from its spout.

07/25/2019 – Ephemeris – Finding the second bird in the summer sky: Aquila the eagle

July 25, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, July 25th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 55 minutes, setting at 9:16, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:22. The Moon, 1 day past last quarter, will rise at 1:40 tomorrow morning.

Aquila the eagle is a constellation that lies in the Milky Way. It’s in the southeastern sky as it gets dark. Its brightest star, Altair is one of the stars of the Summer Triangle, a group of three bright stars dominating the eastern sky in the evening now. Altair, in the head of the eagle, is flanked by two slightly dimmer stars, the shoulders of the eagle. The eagle is flying northeastward through the Milky Way. Its wings are seen in the wing tip stars. A curved group of stars to the lower right of Altair is its tail. Within Aquila the Milky Way shows many dark clouds as part of the Great Rift that splits it here. The other summer bird is Cygnus the swan above and left of Aquila, flying in the opposite direction.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Aquila finder animation

Animated Cygnus finder chart. Created using Stellarium.

Great Rift in the Summer Triangle

The Great Rift finder animation as seen in the Summer Triangle, also showing the constellations of Cygnus the swan and the the northern part of Aquila the Eagle. This image a stack of 5 30 second exposures taken the morning of the Perseid meteor shower last year in a vain attempt to capture some meteors.

07/24/2019 – Ephemeris – Jupiter and Saturn dominate the evening sky

July 24, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Wednesday, July 24th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 57 minutes, setting at 9:17, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:21. The Moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 1:14 tomorrow morning.

Let’s look at the planets for this week. Mars, Mercury and Venus are all too close to the Sun to be seen. Mars is still on the evening or east side of the Sun. Mercury has crossed over and has joined Venus on the west or morning side of the Sun. Bright Jupiter will be in the southern sky as it gets dark. It will pass the meridian, due south at 10:27 p.m. With steadily held binoculars a few of the 4 largest satellites of Jupiter can be seen. All four of Jupiter’s largest satellites can be spotted in telescopes. Jupiter will set at 2:55 a.m. Saturn, the ringed planet, will be lower down in the southeast in the evening, the brightest star-like object in that direction, but significantly dimmer than Jupiter. It will set at 5:10 a.m.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Jupiter and Saturn with the constellations

Jupiter and Saturn with the constellations of the southern summer sky at 10:30 p.m. July 24, 2019. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

Binocular Moon

The waning Moon one day past last quarter at 5 a.m. July 25, 2019. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic Planets

Jupiter and Saturn with the same magnification at 11p.m. July 24, 2019. Jupiter’s moon Ganymede transited the planet earlier in the evening, but its shadow will cross the face of Jupiter from 11:25 p.m. to 1:53 a.m. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Planets and the Moon on a single night

Planets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on July 24, 2019. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 25th. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

07/23/2019 – Ephemeris – Finding Cygnus the swan in the stars

July 23, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, July 23rd. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 59 minutes, setting at 9:18, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:20. The Moon, 1 day before last quarter, will rise at 12:50 tomorrow morning.

High in the east at 11 p.m. Is the constellation of Cygnus the swan, flying south through the Milky Way. It is also called the Northern Cross. At the left, the tail of the swan or the head of the cross is the bright star Deneb, one of the stars of the Summer Triangle. The next star right is Sadr the intersection of the body and the wings of the swan seen in flight, or the intersection of the two pieces of the cross. There are two or three stars farther to the right that delineate the swan’s long neck or upright of the cross, that ends with the star Alberio in the beak of the swan or foot of the cross. The wings of the swan span a couple of more stars on each side than the crosspiece of the cross.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Cygnus finder animation

Animated Cygnus finder chart. Included also are, beside Deneb, the other stars of the Summer Triangle: Vega and Altair and their constellations Lyra the harp and Aquila. See if you can find them. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.