Mark Alan Lovewell

Stars Tonight

Tonight is the night of the fireworks in Oak Bluffs. Take this moment to look beyond the nearby fireworks display and for there is a stellar showing going on over your head.

If the sky is clear enough, the stars will be brilliant tonight. There is no brilliant moon to compete for attention. You could see the Milky Way band as it runs from the northeastern sky to the southern sky.

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Saturn and Full Moon

Saturn and the Full Moon rise together tonight in the eastern sky. The two are in the zodiacal constellation Capricornus. Saturn is the brightest object nearest the moon.

The ringed-planet Saturn is now visible a short time after sunset, rising in the eastern sky. The planet reaches opposition on Sunday, which puts it closer to the Earth than at any other time in the year.

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Moon in Scorpius

Tonight’s gibbous moon appears low in the southern sky near Antares, the brightest star in the zodiacal constellation Scorpius.

Scorpius is a group of stars that depict a giant scorpion. It is one of the southernmost constellations in the zodiac.

Take a look tonight for Antares almost four degrees distant from the moon. The two are a pair. Use the moon as a guide to see this bright red star.

Antares is one of the largest stars in the summer night sky. It parallels in size the bright red star Betelgeuse in the winter constellation Orion.

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Perseid Meteor Show Now

The time is right to be thinking of the Perseid Meteor shower, though usually it is more than a week away.

The shower’s peak will combine with a full moon on August 12. A full moon will likely be the spoiler, brightening the sky so much that only the brightest meteors can be seen.

Don’t wait. Before the moon takes over, enjoy these beautiful summer nights and try and spot a meteor any night prior too and after the date of the shower.

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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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