Heads UP for early July! Lonely Planets Awaiting Your Company

Get our your telescope – Saturn is a lovely sight in your (or a friend’s) telescope. Look out for two moderately bright dots, all by themselves, almost halfway up in the southern sky – the one on the left is Saturn. It’s hard to tell the difference between Saturn on the left and the star Spica on the right, except in the telescope. In the warm, hazy summer evenings, the sky is often very steady and makes for great viewing of planets like Saturn.

This month, a small slice of the shadow of Saturn is visible to us, projected on the rings. We see the shadow because Saturn is off to the side, in its orbit around the Sun, relative to the Earth. That makes Saturn look 3D, and you don’t even need the special glasses you need at the movies.

Venus is also lonely low in the western sky, trying to get attention, so bright in the sky right after dark. Once you find Venus, you can track it all summer, hanging out right there in front of you,low in the dusk sky. No wonder Venus is lonely, since Jupiter and Mercury split for the morning sky.

If you have a good solar filter, more sunspots have been showing up on the Sun for you to find. Perhaps the Sun is rebounding toward a second peak of activity that might last into early 2014.

If you’re up early, the morning sky is where it’s happening, low down in the east above where the Sun makes its grand entrance every morning. Mars is not the brightest of the bunch, holding at magnitude +1.5. It’s as bright as one of the brightest stars, but it will be harder to find in the bright morning twilight. Find Mars with binoculars and compare with reddish Aldebaran ten degrees to Mars’ upper right. Later in the month, Jupiter and Mercury will join Mars and they’ll all be easier to find.

The full month’s story will be up soon on the Westchester Astronomers’ site
http://www.westchesterastronomers.org/

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