Astronomy From Your Back Yard - 7/14 to 7/20 2010

Wednesday, July 14 2010 @ 07:22 pm EDT

Contributed by: dgrosvold

By Dave Grosvold

Wednesday evening will be a good time to look for a thin crescent Moon below Venus in the fading western sky. At 9:00 PM CDT, the waxing crescent Moon will be about 7° to the lower left of brilliant Venus. Also on Wednesday evening, look for the International Space Station (ISS) to make a fairly bright overhead pass starting at 9:31 PM CDT. Look for it low in the NW, and then watch it swing up to an altitude of 57° in the SW before fading into the horizon in the SSE.

On Thursday evening, July 15th, the Moon is farther left of Venus. Now they both appear to be close to the same altitude above your horizon. Also on Thursday, Saturn's largest satellite, Titan, is at its eastern elongation from the planet this evening, and should be easy to pick out in a small telescope at high power. By Friday evening, the Moon has moved far to the left of Mars and Saturn.

Iridium 25 makes a bright pass overhead on Saturday evening at 9:41 PM CDT. Look for it to flare to magnitude -6 at an altitude of only 14° above the horizon in the NNW. There are several more Iridium Flares occurring this week, all in the early morning hours. You can find out the times and directions of Iridium Flares and ISS passes at Heavens Above.

Look for the bright stars Vega, Deneb, and Altair, the apices of the Summer Triangle in the eastern sky soon after dusk. This week, the Summer Triangle asterism will slightly higher in the sky than it was at the same hour last week. There are several Messier objects to be found within the Summer Triangle. These are wonderful jewels that can be captured by a pair of binoculars or a small-to-medium (6” - 10”) telescope.

If you want to learn more about these jewels of the night sky, check out this Astronomy From Your Backyard PDF file. If you want to actually see these objects in a telescope, come to the AOAS Star Party this Saturday, July 17th at Lake Fort Smith State Park, weather permitting. We will be holding a presentation in the Visitor Center at 8:00 PM, CDT, and then we'll move to the boat ramp area where we will have club members and their telescopes set up for public viewing. Come on out and enjoy the night sky!

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