Happy 4th of July!!
Saturday July 4th the United States of America celebrates its Independence Day. Regardless of your location that evening take a look at the skies for not only fireworks but also for three of the brightest planets. Off to the east is the planet Saturn rising just ahead of the Scorpion’s claws. Over the the western horizon are Jupiter and Venus, still close enough to see in the field of view of binoculars. Nearby is the heart of Leo the lion, the star Regulus.
And if you have a level and low enough horizon there is a chance that you could see Comet PANSTAARS (C/2014 Q1). The comet is a few days away from it perihelion, closest to the Sun, and is estimated to have an apparent magnitude of 5-6 making it just bright enough to be seen with the naked-eye under good dark sky conditions. With binoculars it may resolve into showing a tail. This graphic is from the Sky Live web site and it shows the comet near the ‘Twin Stars’, however note how close this is to the Sun. Once the sky gets dark enough the comet and the ‘Twin Stars’ may be too low to be visible.
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.