Mark Alan Lovewell

Where is Venus?

The brightest planet in our western sky for most of spring and into this summer, appears to have disappeared. Venus has slipped so low in the western sky you almost can't find it. The planet used to be high in the sky, a beacon at twilight. Now it is just too close to the sun to be visible, though still possible to see.

Venus is closer than you think. Venus is about to be precisely between the Earth and the Sun, thus not visible to us.

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Meteor Shower Season

We are approaching the best time of year to watch for meteors, also known as shooting stars. We've got both mild summer nights and at least two meteor showers to look for. This weekend marks the radiant period of the Delta Aquarid meteor shower. And mid-August we've got the ever so popular Perseid Meteor Shower. There are enough meteors in both to fill the sky every night ahead.

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Mars, Venus and Mercury

Three planets hover close together with a bright star in our western sky this weekend. Venus, the brightest, appears in the middle between red Mars on the viewer's left and Mercury on the extreme right. The fairly bright star Regulus appears right above Venus. As close as they appear to each other, their distance from us is extreme.

Venus is the closest at only 33 million miles away. No celestial object other than the moon gets close.

Mercury is 108 million miles away and Mars is a distant 213 million miles away.

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Crescent Moon and Three Planets

The solar system's three innermost planets, together with Earth, will be low in the southwestern sky this weekend. They are Mars, Venus and Mercury. And if you are looking for a fourth planet, look down and see the Earth. They'll be joined by a thin waxing crescent moon next Thursday night.

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A Month of Venus

July is the last month we have Venus in the western sky after sundown. The Earth's closest and bright neighbor is appearing lower in the western sky each night. We watched Venus on Tuesday night, the night of the fireworks and noted the planet no longer commands the height in the western sky of just a few weeks ago. Venus is sinking in our western sky. Each night ahead, Venus appears closer where the setting sun, set previously. Venus is also closer to the Earth. Right now Venus is only 45 million miles away.

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Fourth of July Night

The night of the fireworks, July 4, offers a show far and beyond. For those looking up, take a close look at Venus setting in the west. You may have to look carefully to see the bright red planet Mars near Venus. The two are only a few degrees apart. With Venus being so brilliant it is easy to miss the second closest planet to us. Mars is about as far from the Earth as it gets and still be visible. Mars is over 200 million miles away. It is no wonder the planet is so dim. Compare it to the much closer Venus. Venus is 37 million miles away.

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Disease Threatens Great Pond Oysters

An insidious disease that afflicts oysters but is not harmful to humans is widespread in Edgartown Great Pond. While there are not yet any reports of die-offs, there is concern that at least a portion of the oysters in the pond will die.

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Killing Disease Hits Oyster Fisheries

A serious oyster disease that has afflicted Edgartown Great Pond for years is now in Tisbury Great Pond and it is expected to cause a major die-off in the months ahead.

The disease known as Dermo is not harmful to humans in any way but it is responsible for having caused the collapse of the oyster fisheries from Cape Cod to the Gulf of Mexico. The only cure, according to Rick Karney of the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group would be a frigid winter. The parasite that causes the disease can’t stand bitter cold water.

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There is a new supernova in the night sky, too dim to see even with most astronomical telescopes. The nova was spotted back in May and it continues to gain the interest of astronomers. The nova is in Ursa Major, a constellation overhead, more familiarly known as the Big Dipper. The nova is in an area of the constellation, just above the Big Dipper's handle. Astronomers named it Supernova 2023ixf and it was discovered by a Japanese amateur astronomer Koichi Itagaki on May 19.

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Night of Summer Solstice

The night of summer solstice could be memorable for those who have clear skie. If you take the time after sunset look towards the west for two planets and a thin crescent moon hugging close to the horizon. Venus is the brightest of the two planets, a treasure and alone a memory. But when the sky gets dark enough look for the ruby red planet Mars nearby. The two planets and the crescent moon form a tight triangle. The three are in the zodiacal constellations Cancer and Leo.

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