J U L Y S K Y W A T C H
by Maya del Mar
Moon is the highlight of Julys skies. None of the planets are spectacular in the night sky now, and only Venus in the morning skyif you rise before dawn.
Moon is always closer to the horizon in summer. It thus appears bigger, yellower, and generally softer than its sharp, white, winter visage above us. Think about it. Moon is opposite Sun when it is full, and in the northern hemisphere the sun never gets very far below the northern horizon during summer. Thus full moon is not very far above the southern horizon. Moon can make a spectacular path as it glistens across water now, and a great summer pleasure can be canoeing or kayaking down that shining golden path.
The moon is closest to earth now, and pulls together with sun to create the highest and lowest tides of the year. This wont occur again until next June. If you can, get out to a rocky shore during low tide (usually in the very early morning) and appreciate the fascinating intertidal life.
This full moon beauty graces us doubly, for we have two full moons this month, on July 2 and on July 31. A second full moon is often called a Blue Moon. So three cheers for our Lady Moon!
Jupiter is the one visible planet in the evening sky. It is low in the west just after sunset, and is getting more and yellow as it too is seen close the horizon, filtered through a greater thickness of atmosphere. To the right and below it is the bright star Regulus, of Leo, the Lion. Crescent Moon and Jupiter appear close together on the nights of July 20-21, a lovely sight.
Brilliant Venus rises with dawn on July 1. It is then close to the giant reddish star Aldeberan, the "Eye of the Bull." By the end of the month Venus rises at 3 a.m., about an hour before golden Saturn breaks the horizon. They are both in the midst of that huge and awesome star complex now risingTaurus, Auriga, Orion, and Gemini, with the Pleiades nearby. Look for the waning crescent moon near Venus on July 13-14.
The two comets should also be visible with binoculars, one of them moving through the two pointer stars of the Big Dipper, and the other nearby, in the constellation Bootes, marked by the bright star Arcturus off the end of the Big Dipper'shandle. Look early in the evening, in the northwest.
Fill yourself with Moonshine this month!