LOOKING UP TONIGHT
Your daily, "What's Up" in the sky for backyard stargazing
Posted daily on Dean Regas's Facebook Page
July 3, 2020
Red, White and Blue Stars
Stars come in all colors: from ruby red to electric blue. Face south after dark tonight to see the red supergiant star Antares marking the heart of Scorpius the Scorpion. Then turn to the east to spot the three bright stars of the Summer Triangle. The faintest of the three stars is white in color and named Deneb. And at the top of the triangle is a blue star named Vega. Take a closer look at the bright stars tonight. You can see these red, white, and blue stars every July.
July 4, 2020
The Full Buck Moon
Watch a sunset and a moonrise tonight. After the Sun sets in the west-northwest, turn 180 degrees to the southeastern horizon and the full Moon will slowly emerge from the shadow of the Earth (sometimes called the Belt of Venus). The full Moon for July goes by many nicknames including the Full Buck Moon, the Thunder Moon, and the Hay Moon. Watch how the Moon arcs up into the sky, and if you stay out until 10:30pm you should see Jupiter and Saturn trailing behind it.
July 5, 2020
The Big Three
Tonight is the night! The Big Three, the Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn get together after dark. I call them the big three because they are by far the three best objects to wow people with views through a telescope. Face southeast after sunset and get ready. Jupiter rises first with the full Moon close behind. Then Saturn pops up last but not least. So get outside after dark or watch out for the Big Three shining through your windows all night!
July 6, 2020
The Cat’s Eyes
Face south after dark to find a fishhook shape of stars just above the treetops. This is the constellation Scorpius the Scorpion. At the end of the scorpion’s tail are the two stinger stars named Shaula and Lesath. They are so close together in the sky that they really stand out. Imagine a jungle cat peering at you through dense foliage. Shaula and Lesath are nicknamed “the cat’s eyes” since they seem to hover just above the horizon so close together.
July 7, 2020
The Star-Crossed Lovers
An old Korean myth links the stars Altair and Vega. Two star crossed lovers are banished to the heavens. Their love was so strong that they fell into the sky hand in hand. It looked as if they would finally be together until a flock of magpies flew in between the two. Their hands separated and glided away from each other, and struggled to reconnect. But it was no use. When they stuck to the heavens, one was on one side of the great river in the sky (The Milky Way) and the other fell on the opposite shore. They turned into the stars Altair and Vega, forever distant.
The couple could meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month. Only then could they cross the river. When the meeting occurs on July 7th, Altair and Vega shine in 5 colors to symbolize their happiness.
July 8, 2020
Double Your Cluster
On Monday we looked for the Cat’s Eyes, the stars Shaula and Lesath in the stinger of Scorpius. Tonight browse around those stars again with binoculars. Higher and to the left of them you will stumble upon two open star clusters named M6 and M7. M6 is nicknamed the Butterfly Cluster while M7 is Ptolemy’s Cluster. Under a dark sky, they are barely visible to the naked eye so they’ve been known since antiquity. See if you can spot the two clusters tonight!
July 9, 2020
The Planet Report
This is my 100th edition of Looking Up Tonight! I began this daily blog on April 1 to provide some practical astronomy info and encourage people to get outside to drink in the night sky. I hope you’ve enjoyed these and practiced some social distance stargazing with friends and family.
I’m going to take a hiatus from the daily Looking Ups to better focus on the reopening of the Observatory (there is a lot to do!) and continuing my online classes. But I’d love to get your feedback on these emails. And let me know what kind of info I can provide in the future. Drop me an email to share your thoughts. I’d definitely appreciate it.
And so without further ado…
Let’s find the planets tonight (and tomorrow). Face southeast after dark and you can’t miss the two largest planets in our solar system: Jupiter and Saturn. They look like suspiciously-bright stars and are right next to each other. Jupiter is the brighter one on the right with dimmer, distant Saturn to the left. The waning gibbous Moon rises late tonight – after 1am - and with it, in the east, comes the planet Mars. The two will be in conjunction late tomorrow night and the following morning. Then right before sunrise, face east to see dazzling Venus gracing the skies at dawn. Just below it is the Bull’s Eye star Aldebaran. You can find these four planets all month in these spots so make sure to get outside, share the planets, and “Keep Looking Up!”