Dean Regas

LOOKING UP TONIGHT

Your daily, "What's Up" in the sky for backyard stargazing

Posted daily on Dean Regas's Facebook Page

Red White and Blue Stars

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.

Full Moon

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.

Shaula and Lesath

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.

Altair and Vega

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.

M6 and M7

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!

Planets

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!”