Skip to comments.Planet watching
Posted on 07/09/2017 5:36:22 AM PDT by SandRat
Planet watchers have plenty to occupy themselves this month. Mars, being too close to the sun, is the only naked eye planet that is not observable. Jupiter will be the first star that becomes visible after sunset. It will be low in the southwest. It is so very bright that it can be seen in twilight, but how soon can you detect it? It can be fun to test just how early you can see it. The moon passes close to Jupiter on July 28 making for a pretty grouping.
Saturn is up all night this month. It doesnt get very high in our sky this year; its orbit has taken it pretty far south, but it is still easy to see above the tail of the Scorpion. Dont miss any opportunity to look at Saturn in a telescope; its beautiful rings are tilted almost to their maximum this month making for a spectacular view.
The dawn sky is dominated by Venus. It rises a couple of hours before the sun among the stars of Taurus the Bull, and will be close alongside the Pleiades on July 5. A rendezvous with a thin crescent moon on the morning of July 20 will be striking. The planet will dim a bit this month as it speeds away from us, and in the telescope, it will shrink in size even as its shape becomes more gibbous.
The end of the month affords an opportunity to spot Mercury just after sunset. It will be very low and fleeting; youll only have about 30 minutes to spot it before it sets. Look for it on July 24 and July 25 when it will be alongside the bright star Regulus, the brightest star in Leo the Lion, and paired with a thin crescent moon.
Youll need optical aid to catch Uranus or Neptune, but both are above the horizon on July nights. Uranus is in Pisces and rises in the middle of the night. Neptune is in Aquarius, high in the south just before sunrise.
Binoculars should easily reveal an icy visitor to our inner solar system. Local astronomers have been watching comet (C/2015 V2) Johnson for months now and in July, the comet should be about 6th magnitude and visible in our evening sky. It will start the month in Virgo to the east (left) of the bright star Spica and move south through Hydra and into Centaurus by months end. Look for a fuzzy star in your binoculars. If you use a telescope, see if you can detect its faint greenish tail.
Astronomers are at the mercy of the monsoon this month, but one astronomical activity that wont be affected by the clouds is the meeting of the Huachuca Astronomy Club on Friday July 14. This months program features a talk by Dr. Emilio Falco of the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory on Mt. Hopkins. He will be joined by Ms. Alexandra Terry who is the public relations specialist at the observatory. They will discuss the history of the observatory and report on current projects being done there. The meeting will be held in the Student Union building at Cochise College in Sierra Vista at 7 p.m. All are welcome and admission is free.
Astronomers all over the world are gearing up for next months total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, the first to cross the continental United States in a century. Time is running short if you intend to travel to the centerline to see the sun completely eclipsed by the moon. Accommodations along the path of totality will be difficult to find now, but if you can manage it, it is worth the effort. A total eclipse is a particularly remarkable experience and one you wont soon forget. Many local astronomers will be traveling to the centerline, a large group will convene in Casper Wyoming where there will be an Astronomical League convention the week leading up to the eclipse.
Here in Sierra Vista, well experience a partial eclipse. The moon will cover about 57 percent of the sun. Members of the Huachuca Astronomy Club will, weather permitting, have telescopes set up outside of the Sierra Vista library and will distribute free solar eclipse glasses while supplies of them last. The eclipse will start about 9:18 a.m. and will be over just after noon. Maximum eclipse occurs around 10:38 a.m. So, mark Aug. 21 on your calendar!
I plan on being in the middle of South Carolina hoping for clear skies.
September 23rd is also interesting...
The path of totality and almost the greatest duration is only 30 minutes from my Ozark hideaway.
Going to be on a boat on SC Lake near Clemson for the eclipse.
If not for Jupiter, we wouldn’t be here.
Lake Jocassee or Lake Keowee? Gorgeous spot regardless of eclipse or not. South Carolina doesn’t have too great of an extent of mountains but what they have are beautiful.
I’d imagine nearby Asheville just up the escarpment will be a veritable Mecca of wackiness, it pretty much is under normal circumstances but add in a total solar eclipse and whoo-wee, probably very amusing new age and witchy goings-on.
Both lake are awesome. Yes looneytoons Asheville should really be something probably full of witch's and earth worshipers sacrificing & dancing for their pagan gods. LOL
Are you happy with your relocation? Quite different from Kansas City I'd imagine. If I were looking to relocate into a southeastern red state, you're exactly where I'd go, have recommended it many times here on FR. I'm in northwestern NC near the VA border, beautiful country, too. I have nothing against my home state, it's probably the most geographically varied and varied in climate on the east coast, from palm trees and alligators down at Wilmington to alpine atop the higher mountains around Boone and Asheville, some stunning country and scenery. But, the politics are a bit of a worry, we've had such an influx from the northeast. We're fighting back, won the Legislature for the first time since Reconstruction, but lost the Governorship, sort of shady that, Trump winning NC but Democrats taking Governor. Durham and Durham County again, such a cesspit of corruption.
The clearest night skies I’ve ever witnessed were when I was out in N.W. Kansas on pheasant hunting trips. The small farm house was out in the farming country and no significant city within 50 miles......Every single star in the sky was visible....
Yes moved to Greenville area in 2005 and would never go back... Feel like a local and hate to see the area growing so fast.
Between being just a nice midsize town with a pretty downtown in a geographically appealing place, and being halfway between Charlotte and Atlanta on the I-85 corridor basically guaranteed that. I’d be practically on the NC border if I were there, completely removed but close enough for shopping and evenings out, maybe a distant skyline view.
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