Mark Alan Lovewell

Meteor Shower Season

The best time of year for scouting for shooting stars, meteors, is about to begin in the week ahead. Late July and early August is the best time to go outside at night and look for these fast moving shooting stars. There are three fun reasons why the time is right.

There are two meteor showers that will command attention ahead. The meteor shoer Delta Aquarids is about to peak on Thursday, July 28. The shower produces a good number of meteors that you will see late at night. We’ve seen forecasts as high as 20 meteors in an hour, but we are happy just to see half the number.

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Moon and Planets

Tonight’s gibbous moon rises late in the evening, but take note. If you are outside later than 10 p.m. look for the moon rising in the east with what appears to be a bright star nearby.

That star in close proximity to the moon is the ringed-planet Saturn. The two are only six degrees apart. They are in the zodiacal constellation Capricornus. It is easy to see the moon above the horizon this evening, but wait awhile so that it gets some height in the sky. Saturn is easier to see late.

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Gibbous Moon

Tonight’s gibbous moon begins its trek through the southern most zodiac constellations: Libra, Scorpius and Sagittarius.

Tonight the moon is in the nondescript constellation Libra. The stars in the constellation are faint and scattered. Yet in mythology, Libra is the sign of scales, used often in the story of law and balance. It is referred to as the orderly, equal scale.

Tomorrow night, the moon begins its journey through the constellation Scorpius, marked by a bright red star, called Antares.

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Fourth of July Moon

A waxing crescent moon appears high in the southern sky on the evening of July 4. Enjoy the fireworks and also look for the moon, residing in the zodiacal constellation Virgo.

The brightest star, Spica, is nearby, below and to the left of the moon. Spica is the constellation’s brightest star.

There are no planets in the evening sky. They are all in the morning sky and you have to be up around 3 o’clock to see them. The brightest Venus is in the extreme eastern sky, above the hard to see Mercury, which is nearly too close to the rising sun to see on the horizon.

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Moon and Five Planets

Tomorrow morning offers a big event, a thin crescent moon near the planet Mercury and Venus. Add to that, a line up of the planets Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

If weather doesn’t cooperate try again on Sunday morning, when the show continues. The crescent moon will be closest to Venus, the brightest planet of them all.

The hardest part of the show is the hour. You need to get up early in the morning, 4 a.m. to see it.

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First Morning of Summer

Our astronomical summer arrives at 5:14 a.m. on Tuesday morning, about seven minutes after sunrise. There has been plenty of evidence already that summer is here. But that precise moment makes the rest easy.

If you were up earlier in the morning and looked to the east you’d see the bright last quarter moon shining right next to the bright planet Jupiter. The two are in the zodiacal constellation Pisces. Look slightly to the east of the two for the red planet Mars. A good deal farther to the east you’ll see the brightest of planets, Venus.

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Constellation Scorpius

Scorpius, one of the southern-most constellations in the zodiac, is a symbol to us of summer. In mythology the stars depict a life-threatening scorpion. It was put in the heavens by Zeus after it had killed Orion, the Hunter.

Orion and Scorpius are opposite each other in our sky. The constellations will never appear in our night sky at the same time. Orion stands erect in Winter. Scorpius poses threatening in summer.

Use the gibbous moon on Monday night to find Scorpius. The moon will be full on Tuesday night.

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All the Visible Planets Together
Tomorrow morning all the visible planets will line up for viewing in the predawn sky. As dawn arrives it will be harder to see the fainter of them.
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Jupiter and Mars
The two distant planets Jupiter and Mars will be less than a degree apart on Sunday morning.
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Moon and Planets

In the wee hours of Sunday morning the last quarter moon appears only a few degrees from the ringed-planet Saturn. The two are in the zodiacal constellation Capricornus.

The two rise together around midnight and take charge of the predawn morning sky.

The moon advances two mornings later into the zodiacal constellation Pisces and appears near both Mars and Jupiter. If you miss it, you’ll get another chance early on Wednesday morning. Jupiter is the brighter of the two planets. Mars appears as a dull red.

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