Thursday, June 26, 2008

Weekly Stargazing Tips

Beautiful Spica is shown above

Fantastic tips from Stardate.Org.
Applicable to the entire lower 48.

June 26, 2008
The constellation Hercules passes high overhead this evening. One of its star systems, 14 Herculis, has at least one planet. The star is a lot like the Sun, while the planet is at least five times as massive as Jupiter, the giant of our own solar system.

June 27, 2008
The constellation Virgo scoots across the southwestern sky tonight. Look for its brightest star, Spica, which shines white with just a hint of blue. The color indicates that its surface is thousands of degrees hotter than the surface of our own star, the Sun.

June 28, 2008
The crescent Moon stands in the east at dawn tomorrow. The dark portion of the Moon is bathed in earthshine -- sunlight reflected from our planet's surface. With binoculars, you can make out many of the Moon's craters and dark "seas" of volcanic rock.

June 29, 2008
The planet Mars and the star Regulus, the leading light of Leo, the lion, line up side by side tonight, with orange Mars to the right. They are separated by about the width of a finger held at arm's length. The planet Saturn stands a little to their upper left.

June 30, 2008
Mars will pass within about one degree of Regulus, the brightest star of Leo, the lion. Mars, which is the brighter of the two, is to the right. The golden planet Saturn stands to their upper left.

July 1, 2008
July is an "imperial" month. Originally, it was the fifth month of the year, and was named Quintilis. But Julius Caesar reworked the calendar and made Quintilis the seventh month. In his honor, the Roman senate changed its name to Julius -- the modern-day July.

July 2, 2008
The Moon is new at 9:19 p.m. CDT as it crosses the line between Sun and Earth. Darkness engulfs the lunar hemisphere that faces our way, so the Moon is hidden in the Sun's glare. It will return to view as a thin crescent low in the western sky shortly after sunset on Friday.

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