Title: July Skywatch Highlights
Location: Hawaiian Islands
Date / Time: July 2013
Comments: Behold our spectacular summer skies! Glorious bands of Milky Way stars illuminate our dark Hawaiian sky with a rich, "milky" haze. High in the northern sky, the three bright stars of the Summer Triangle are easy to spot: ALTAIR, in Aquila the Eagle; VEGA, in Lyra the Harp; & DENEB, in Cygnus the Swan. Scorpius, the giant Scorpion, & Sagittarius, the Archer, display boldly toward the south. As the sky starts to darken, VENUS appears as a brilliant "evening star." (Hoku Kauahiahi). Currently at magnitude minus -3.8, it is spectacular high in the western sky at sunset! Despite its increasing elongation from the Sun, Venus moves mostly southward along the horizon & not higher in the sky each night. (Sets around 9PM throughout the month). On July 12th, Venus crosses from Cancer into Leo, making a beeline toward Regulus, the Lion's brightest star. On July 21st, the two lie just 1.2? from each other. Venus reigns supreme in the evening sky, until reaching peak visibility in early December, when it shines brightest (mag. minus - 4.7) & appears highest in the southwest as darkness falls. As twilight starts to fade, SATURN becomes prominent in the southwestern sky. The ringed planet shines at magnitude 0.6, far brighter than the surrounding background stars of eastern Virgo. Saturn continues to form a triangle with the bright stars Arcturus (Hokule'a) to the NE, and Spica, 13? degrees to the west. Saturn appears noticeably brighter than Spica, & slightly dimmer than Arcturus. Notice Saturn's golden hue compared to blue-white Spica, & yellow-orange Arcturus. Saturn's rings open wider than they've been since 2006, tilting at 17? to our line of sight from Earth, & afford impressive views through even a small telescope. MARS is the only planet visible in the dawn sky in early July. It rises in the east at 4:30AM although, at magnitude 1.5, will be hard to spot as the eastern sky brightens. Prospects for finding Mars improve by July 9th, when blazing Jupiter rises below Mars in the east at 5AM. Find Jupiter, then look for Mars about 5 degrees above it. Mars crosses from Taurus into Gemini around mid-July. Giant JUPITER rises earlier each morning, and will pass within 1? of Mars on July 22nd; (with yellowish Jupiter on the right, many, MANY times brighter than ruddy Mars). From July 23 ? 31, looking east from around 4:45AM to dawn, brilliant Jupiter appears higher & higher above Mars each morning. MERCURY joins the morning planet gathering during the final week of the month. On the 25th, the tiny innermost planet lies 7? below Mars, & just 5? above the horizon, 45 minutes before sunrise. Mercury remains very low on the eastern horizon, and brightens substantially, reaching magnitude 0.18 by the end of the month. The 3 morning planets all reside in Gemini the Twins, to the right of Castor & Pollux, and to the left of the rising stars of Orion the Hunter. On July 31st, a waning crescent Moon enhances the scene, just a few degrees to the right of the Pleiades star cluster (M45) on the back of Taurus the Bull. For a July Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

Maintained by Roz Reiner - Kauai, Hawaii

 

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