Mars and the Lagoon Nebula

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   From my northern mid-latitude backyard this time of the year the Milky Way arcs nearly overhead stretching from north to south. Above my southern horizon is not only a view toward the center of the galaxy, it is also a view toward one of the most scenic parts of the Milky Way. In the sky just above the handle of the teapot-shaped asterism for Sagittarius are several ‘deep sky’ objects visible to the unaided eye and binoculars.
   Over the next several days the planet Mars will be moving through this area and passing within 1-2o from the Lagoon Nebula. The waxing Moon will also be passing through this area as well.
   In the slideshow below watch a small red dot, Mars, to be moving from west to east (right to left) as each day passes.

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Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

On the 4th Night

              Happy   4th of   July!!                     

jul4-aphelion   Friday 4 July is not only the day we in the United States of America celebrate our country’s Independence Day, it is also the day that the Earth reaches aphelion, its greatest distance from the Sun. For the record we are closest to the Sun, perihelion, around the beginning of January.
   So despite the summer heat, humidity, and a late sunset there will be more in the skies this 4th than just fireworks.
 At around sunset look low toward the western horizon for 3 stars arranged in a short diagonal line. No it is not Orion’s Belt. The one on the lower left side is the planet Jupiter near the Gemini Twin stars.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

 The nearly first quarter Moon is over the southwestern horizon and is just to the west (right) from the planet Mars and the bluish-white star Spica.
 Both Mars and Spica are close enough so that they fit within the field of view of 7×50 binoculars.
 Look left from this pair and higher above the southern horizon for the planet Saturn, one of 4 planets in our solar system with rings.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   If your viewing area is under dark enough skies, away from the light-polluted metropolitan area, then look toward the eastern horizon for the glow of the Milky Way as it rises. The teapot shape asterism for Sagittarius is above the southern horizon throughout this month and if the Milky Way is visible it looks like steam rising from the teapot’s spot. This graphic shows the location of Dwarf Planet Pluto. Pluto is also at opposition. Opposition for an outer planet is an arrangement of objects like a full Moon in that at opposition an outer planet is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun.
   While it is too dim to see with the unaided eye or even binoculars it is a neat idea to think about what Pluto looks like. I say this (actually write) because around this time next year NASA’s New Horizon spacecraft will be flying past Pluto sending back our first truly good look at this very distant solar system object.

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Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Moon and Antares

Click on image to see full size

Click on image to see full size

   This evening after sunset look southwest for the now past first quarter Moon. The waxing gibbous Moon will be above and somewhat to the left from a reddish star called Antares. This is the heart of the constellation of Scorpius the Scorpion. The Moon and Antares will be just within the field of view when using 7×50 binoculars. To the east from the stinger of the Scorpion is the teapot asterism, the brighter stars making up the constellation of Sagittarius the Archer. Over the next several days the waxing gibbous Moon will pass by the teapot.
Click on image to see full size

Click on image to see full size

   On nights when the Moon light does not brighten the sky and your sky is dark enough the glow of the Milky Way appears like steam rising from the teapot. And if you have never ‘cruised’ the Milky Way with a pair of binoculars, and especially just above the spout of the teapot then you are missing some amazing celestial sites. Click here to see a black/white rendition of the area just above the spout of the teapot within the field of view of 7×50 binoculars.

   
   
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.