Saturday, July 2, 2011

Events for the Week 7/1 to 7/9

The sky is coming more alive every day! July has a lot to offer, like the eclipse on the first; Earth will be at aphelion the fourth; we'll celebrate Jupiter's 17th anniversary after being struck by Comet Shoemaker-Levy (or, more appropriately just 'remember'), as well as watching Mars occult on the 27th. July is the peak of summer, and all the winter-stars are fading; except for rebellious Castor and Pollux. They'll leave eventually... (all times EDT, unless marked not)

Events for Saturday, July 2, 2011

Although the eclipse yesterday wasn't at all a treat, nor the occultation just a day earlier, you can now view Mercury, without having to worry about your eyes. Mercury has no removed itself from the morning scene, next to the Sun, to the evening background, when the sky is dark. As the moon is now new, planetary (and other) observations are at their best, because of no prohibiting moonlight. If you would like to view Mercury, look for it about thirty minutes after sunset; it will be about eight degrees above the west-northwestern horizon, and five degrees north of the crescent moon. (The moon is now at a waxing crescent stage; New Moon was on July 1.) Mercury shines at magnitude -0.4, which is rather bright; it is about seventy percent lit. 


If you don't wish to view planets, tonight two rather 'peculiarly' named stars will be in view: Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali (I don't even try to pronounce them. But if you like, Zubenelgenubi is also referred to as Alpha Librae; and Zubeneschamali as Beta Librae. 'Libra' is the constellation these stars belong to.) From North America, you can view these stars high in the sky after astronomical twilight. If this helps, they lie between Spica and Antares, two familiar stars as well. Both Alpha and Beta Librae shine at magnitude one, which means, they are very easy to view.

Events for Sunday, July 3, 2011

Yes! Only thirteen more days until the predicted orbiting of Dawn around asteroid 4 Vesta! You too can view this beautiful protoplanet, glowing at magnitude six in the constellation of Capricornus. admitted, "In early July, Vesta forms the southern tip of an isosceles triangle with the 4th-magnitude stars Gamma (γ) and Iota (ι) Capricorni," proving where Vesta had been over the past few weeks; in the last two weeks of Astronomical Events
In August/September, Vesta will be at magnitude 5.6 and will be a stunning site; you will be able to see it with the naked eye. If you have a strong telescope, viewing Vesta may be even more exciting because you may be able to view Dawn, orbiting! 

After reading about Vesta and great arrival of Dawn, it's sad to hear that this will be the last week to view Venus (in the morning). Thirty minutes before sunrise, (around 3-4am) Venus will sit just three degrees over the horizon in the east-northeast of the sky. Notice to planetary observers: Venus will not return to us until autumn, when it becomes part of the evening planets. Until then, goodbye Venus!

Today, Saturn is at quadrature; which is, being ninety degrees east of the sun. Jupiter will be at quadrature soon as well.  
The first of August 2011 brings Jupiter to be at western quadrature. Quadrature is being ninety degrees from the Sun in earth's sky. Again, if you could look down on our solar system, Jupiter, the Sun and earth would look like a right angle, the Sun being the center. Around west quadrature, Jupiter rises beautifully in the east around midnight and shines high up at dawn. The moon is also at western quadrature at this time! (last quarter moon).
Events for Monday, July 4, 2011

Besides the fact that it's Independence day for us here in America, Earth is now the farthest from the Sun as it will be. It will be 1.017 Astronomical Units from the Sun; at aphelion, that is. Let me define terms. Aphelion: the farthest point of an object in orbit from a certain place, like the Sun, or Jupiter could be the center and either Io or Callisto could be at aphelion or perihelion, it's opposite. Astronomical Units: the distance, now used as a measurement, between the earth and the Sun, which is approximately 93 million miles. This is used as a very small measurement! If earth was the size of this period at the end of this sentence, our galaxy would be the size of Venus' orbit. An astronomical unit (AU) would be about the size of a millimeter or two. Read more about this in an article posted soon. 

Pluto, a beautiful, fourteenth magnitude dwarf planet that's been on display this past week, puts on a great show for viewers. After reaching opposition on June 27 (and 28), Pluto is an amateur's dream that can only be viewed with a ten-inch telescope or larger. (Pluto shined at mag 14.3 at opposition.) To help find the Kuiper-belt object: look in Sagittarius, about one degree west of Messier 25 (open cluster). "This week, it slides 0.1° south of the 9th-magnitude star SAO 161442," favors. More here.

Events for Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Rising four hours before the Sun, Jupiter is the crown of all the gems in the sky. If you look out around 1 or 2 am, Jupiter will be the magnitude -2.3 (very bright) planet about thirty degrees high in the east. Observe below.

Events for Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mars, the red planet, now lies in Taurus, five degrees north of Aldebaran. Because Aldebaran is a red-colored star, Mars resembles it, though being at magnitude 1.4. Mars is dimmer than the star. As time goes on, Aldebaran and Mars will conjunct in the morning, but Mars will sail through Messier 44 in Cancer. Read more about the Beehive Cluster here, in a previous Astronomical Events week. Date 6/5. If you wish to view them, you chances are slim. If you live farther south, they'll appear higher but visibility doesn't change.

Also, be watching the moon and constellations like the image below shows.

Events for Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tonight, the moon reaches perigee: 229,640 miles (369,570 kilometers) away. At 9:53 am, the moon will look rather larger than normal; but what can you expect for an almost-first-quarter moon? If you look about the moon, Saturn and Porrima will be in view, with Spica to the west.

Events for Friday, July 8, 2011

Tonight at 2:29 am, the moon will be at first quarter, appearing as a regular moon should. Amazing to note - if you look at the moon this evening, it will have waxed a good ten degrees a the day goes on, shining at around sixty percent lit.

Events for Saturday, July 9, 2011

Moon passes through celestial gateway! EarthSky writes:
Every July, you’ll find the moon at or near the same phase when it swings between Spica, and the stars Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali in the constellation Libra. These two Libra stars have been seen as a “gateway” on the sky’s dome by stargazers in times past. That’s because at certain times in the moon’s 18.6-year cycle the moon passes in between Libra’s two brightest stars. For the next few years, though, the moon rides too far south to travel the passage between Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali. The moon won’t start to pass through the celestial “gateway” until 2014!
Solar System Calendar

01 Jul 2011 08:38:11 Greatest Eclipse of Partial Solar Eclipse
01 Jul 2011 08:53:55 New Moon, lunation 1095 begins
02 Jul 2011 23:10:58 Conjunction of Mercury with the Moon, 4.9°
03 Jul 2011 00:16:56 Eastern Quadrature of Saturn
04 Jul 2011 14:54:01 Aphelion of Earth, 1.01674 AU from Sun
06 Jul 2011 11:02:21 Ascending Knot Passage of Venus
06 Jul 2011 16:35:08 Min. North Latitude of the Moon, -5.2°
07 Jul 2011 13:53:14 Moon at Perigee, 369570 km from Earth
07 Jul 2011 18:16:20 Max. South Declination of Venus, 23.4°
07 Jul 2011 22:41:51 Conjunction of Saturn with the Moon, 7.5°
08 Jul 2011 06:29:24 First Quarter
08 Jul 2011 07:56:31 Max. South Declination of Uranus, 1.1°
08 Jul 2011 08:51:34 Ascending Knot Passage of Mars

Planet Positions for this week

Mercury- (E)* magnitude -0.3; viewed west-northwest after sunset
Venus- (D) magnitude -3.9; viewed east-northeast, about thirty minutes before sunrise; last week to view!
Mars- (D) magnitude +1.4; viewed east-northeast early dawn in Taurus; lower-left of Jupiter
Jupiter- (D) magnitude -2.3; viewed in southern Aries; rises around 2 am local time
Saturn- (N) magnitude +0.9; viewed southwest in Virgo; look for Porrima beside it
Uranus- (D) magnitude +5.9; viewed south-southeast in western Pisces; best at first light of dawn
Neptune- (D) magnitude +7.9; viewed in Aquarius; viewing conditions same as Uranus
Pluto- (N) magnitude +14.0; viewed south in Sagittarius; rises 12am -1am local time

*(E) Evening, (N) Night, (D) Dawn, (NV) Not Visible. 

Have a great viewing this week! Sources can be found in two week's ago astronomical events.

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