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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Look At The Sky: July



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The Solar System in JULY 2015 :  http://www.arksky.org/index.php?pid=255    

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A very poor month for planet viewing, with SIX of the nine planets (yes, we still consider Pluto as a "planet"!) bunched in early evening twilight skies; only distant Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are placed for favorable viewing late at night!  .

Mercury - A very poor month for viewing our innermost planet; it starts out the month very close to the horizon at the start of evening twilight, very close to the also difficult planet MARS; however as the month progresses Mercury moves rapidly eastward and ultimately at month's end groups with Jupiter and Venus, both very bright by July 31.
 - In GEMINI
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Venus -  Very bright and in a spectacular very close conjunction with the also-brilliant JUPITER in western skies at sunset.  Watch as Venus glides by yellowish (but not as bright) Jupiter on June 30 and July 1 as the sky grows dark after sunset;  closest approach as we witness this conjunction will be on those two dates, after which Venus moves higher in the sky eastward night after night and attains a slightly higher position in the sky than Jupiter by month's end. Both planets are also grouped with the bright white star REGULUS throughout the month - in LEO.
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Mars - Mars is teamed up with another bright celestial object:  MERCURY at mid-month, but is deeply surrounded by bright twilight at dusk in western skies
 - in GEMINI
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Jupiter -  The mightiest of planets, Jupiter, is in a fantastic conjunction with much brighter VENUS the first of the month (see VENUS above).  Low in western skies after dark and not favorably placed for detailed observations - In LEO
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Saturn - As dusk ends, Saturn will be very high in the eastern sky, nearly overhead by 11 p.m. and will be the only large planet viewable by telescope this month - in LIBRA/SCORPIUS.
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Uranus -  Nearly overhead, but a bit east, by sunrise, Uranus is a scant 3.8 arc seconds this month, tiny even for its normal size.  This planet rises about 12 midnight local time nearly due east.  Typically Uranus' disk can be discerned (as a planet rather than a point of light like a star) in a good 8" or larger telescope; however at 3.8" arc, it will be difficult to tell that this tiny greenish orb is much different than a star.  High magnification is needed and steady skies.  6th magnitude - in PISCES.
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Neptune - This distant world rises slightly ahead of Uranus and will be south of overhead at 4 a.m. local time.  At 8th magnitude a telescope and good finder chart will be required to find this bluish world.; it appears star-like in all but the largest telescopes. - in AQUARIUS.
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Pluto - Our most distant world, PLUTO will be rising in the SE about 9 p.m. local time, and overhead about 1:30 a.m. local time, well south of the zenith for northern observers.  At 14th magnitude in early July, the planet is about as bright as it can be seen from Earth.  - In SAGITTARIUS.



Comet C/2012 K1 (PANSTARRS) - Continuing to brighten in the sky, this comet sets early (about 11 p.m.) in northeastern skies, so get out after dark to see our best comet this summer.  Just below naked eye brightness, this beautiful comet is in the constellation of LEO, setting just ahead of the bright star REGULUS.  The comet is magnitude 7.3 according to the predictions as this is being written, but may exceed that brightness; look for an eastward facing tail, nearly one degree in length.
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Comet 29P (Schwassmann-Wachmann) - a very fine comet in the constellation of Libra, recent observations suggest that this comet underwent outbursts in early months of this year.  Look for the comet far south of overhead about the end of twilight and setting about midnight in the SE sky.  Although this comet is predicted at 15th magnitude currently, you really never know when this one will undergo outburst.


JULY METEOR SHOWERS:  Nothing worth mentioning.





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