June 27th: Summer Night Sky Viewing Highlights

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Date: June 27, 2012

Title: Summer Night Sky Viewing Highlights

Podcaster: Katie Peterson

Organization: Adler Planetarium

Links: www.adlerplanetarium.org and www.adlerplanetarium.org/podcasts

Description: There’s a whole lot happening in the night sky over the next few months. Larry and Katie of the Adler Planetarium talk about what to look for and how to find it. Of particular note, the Perseids in August!

Bio: The Adler Planetarium – America’s First Planetarium – was founded in 1930 by Chicago business leader Max Adler. The museum is home to three full-size theaters, including the all-digital projection Definiti Space Theater, the Grainger Sky Theater featuring a ultra-high resolution digital planetarium, and the Universe 3D Theater. It is also home to one of the world’s most important antique instrument collections. The Adler is a recognized leader in science education, with a focus on inspiring young people, particularly women and minorities, to pursue careers in science.

Today’s sponsor: This episode of 365 days of astronomy was sponsored by iTelescope.net – Expanding your horizons in astronomy today. The premier on-demand telescope network, at dark sky sites in Spain, New Mexico and Siding Spring, Australia.

Transcript:

Katie
Welcome to a special edition of the Adler Planetarium’s monthly podcast, Adler Night and Day. The Adler Night and Day podcast provides listeners with a glimpse of what they can see in the night sky updates on recent solar weather and some pretty awesome conversation. For the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast will be bringing you some of the summer night sky highlights. Without further ado, I’m your host Katie and I’d like to welcome Larry Ciupik of the Adler Planetarium. Welcome, Larry.

Larry
Glad to be here Katie, as usual!

CONTACT _Con-34CCB9111 Katie
So last time you were here we talked about some of the spring viewing highlights. We’re going to focus on summer this time around. July , August, and September. So, let’s just get started… what do we have to look forward to in July?

Larry
Well, ya know, every beginning of July, the Earth in it’s orbit around the Sun is a little bit farther away. Yes, I said farther! Because people don’t realize that the Earth orbit does vary a bit but it’s not distance that causes the seasonal changes, it’s how high the Sun gets and that’s realted to the Sun’s tilt.

Katie
Yes.

Larry
If the Earth wasn’t tilted we wouldn’t have seasons and every place, as long as you stay in the same latitude, would have the same weather basically all year long. So, that’s just a misconception that people often have that distance creates a major seasonal effect.

Katie
But it’s not at all.

Larry
But for us in the northern hemisphere it’s the opposite!

Katie
And to further emphasize what you’re talking about, we’re tilted so the vast majority of the Sun’s concentrated direct rays fall on the northern hemisphere, and then….

Larry
In that time period, yes. So for summer time it’s the Sun’s light hitting the Northern hemisphere and they’re actually over the Tropic of Cancer, exactly.

Katie
There we go! So, and then the southern hemisphere will be experiencing their winter.

Larry
It’s their winter in our summer but the calendars are the same!

CONTACT _Con-34CCB9111 Katie
Yup! So Christmas in December, some places it’s a little tropical and some places it’s not fun at all, like Chicago.

Larry
Absolutely! And you know what? The Sun is never actually overhead for us either. So that’s another thing to think about. It looks really high in the summer but it’s never actually overhead. You’d have to go all the way down to Hawaii for the Sun to be overhead!

Katie
Really?! I didn’t know that . That is pretty cool!

Larry
No place in the contiguous 48 states do you have the Sun directly overhead, even when it’s at its highest in the summer. You have to go all the way down to Hawaii. Cause guess what?! It’s in the tropics! That’s why we call the tropics, the tropics!

Katie
That would make sense!

Larry
So, then we have some interesting kind of groupings. We call these groupings conjunctions. So Venus and Jupiter are near the Waning Crescent Moon, low in the East, just before sunrise in the middle of July. The 14th and 15th especially, look for those two planets, near the crescent Moon and, of course, you’ve got to get up really early to do that! So, and then, they’re near the bright orange star Aldebaran. So, Aldebaran is the eye of Taurus, The Bull! So, in that case it’s the winking eye, the winking red eye. Or orange eye, actually. Then, by the 24th we have Mars near the Moon. But by that point it’s going to be sunset so you wanna have a view of the Southwestern sky, after sunset. You’ll see Mars, Saturn, the Moon, and another bright star, it’s called Spica.

Katie
Spica? Yah, Saturn and Spica have been really close to each other all year long!

Larry
Yah, they have! That’s because Saturn doesn’t really move very quickly among the constellations of the zodiac. The reason is is that Saturn is really far away from us…

Katie
Yah, really far.

Larry
So it just doesn’t move as fast. And then the 25th of July, So, the next day, is Saturn is closer to the Moon, whereas Mars was closer to the Moon on the 24th, Saturn is closer to the Moon on the 25th. And, of course, the star Spica! Again, that’s the southwestern sky after sunset so a lot of us will see that whereas if you’re looking for early morning things you’ve got to be up at 4:00am or earlier to see the early morning things before the Sun rises. Well, of course, the highlight of August is the Perseid meteor shower!

Katie
Yes!

Larry
So, earlier, all the way through the month of July, Mars is moving little by little between Saturn and Spica. So, we mentioned that Mars and Spica are near the Moon, but you’ll be able to watch Mars, gradually moving between those stars and Saturn on the 6th through the 21st. But that’s kind of a month long or several weeks long project that you’ll want to do. Because Mars moves obviously if you want to look at it a few days apart and that might actually be a good thing to do to look at the stars and see how Saturn and Spica don’t change much compared to Mars. But Mars is going to move near them. On the 11th, right before the meteor shower, you’ll have Jupiter and the waning crescent Moon just before sunrise. So, if that’s a day before the famous Perseid meteor shower, that means that this year, finally… we’re going to have very little moonlight! So, it’ll be a good time to watch the Perseid meteor shower!

Katie
I feel like it’s just been such a long time. Since we’ve had a major meteor shower where moonlight isn’t going to be a factor!

Larry
It is!

Katie
It’s really refreshing!

Larry
The city lights, and even the suburban lights are even problematic, but it’ll be a lot more meteors because there’s a lot more faint ones than they’re are bright ones. So, you’ll see a lot of Perseids this year if the shower is good, it usually is. It’s kind of like the old faithful of meteor showers.

Katie
Yah, it is. And August tends to be pretty decently clear skies, especially in the evening.

Larry
Yah, it is. In the Midwest it’s pretty good! So, what I would do is take out a lawn chair, chaise lounge, something like that. Put on plenty of, Slater on the repellent!

Katie
Yes! Get the Deet!

Larry
And put on mosquito proof clothing and whatever else! And you might be surprised, it might get cooler in the evening.

Katie
Yah.

Larry
A lot cooler than you would expect.

Katie
Bring a blanket.

Larry
But the thing is is that you won’t need any optical aid at all. You’re going to be facing the northeast. And from like 10:00pm to about 2:00am in the morning or so, especially after midnight you should see about 50 to 60 meteorites an hour. It’s a spectacular event. You need to be about as far from city lights as possible but your backyard will do just as well. You won’t see as many but it’ll be fun anyway!

Katie
It’s a great event to watch with other people, especially without having the moonlight interfering, gather some people around. It’s such a great way to pass a summer evening.

Larry
Absolutely! We’re having a Planetarium party over at Cantigny in Wheaton, Illinois.

Katie
Which is a great place to go and watch if you’re in the Chicago area. Definitely go out there, it’s a beautiful location and it’s pretty decently dark skies and it’s a good time.

It sure is! And that will the be 12th and 13th. So what you want to do is the night of the 12th, so as late in the evening on the 12th and then all the way to the morning of the 13th, you’ll be able to possibly see some of these meteors. The reason you want to look quite a long time is that the Perseids sometimes have outbursts that are actually pretty late compared to what you’d normally view. So you want to view at several different points and sometimes the number of meteors can go a lot higher, to several hundred an hour and that would be spectacular. I haven’t since that since about 2001. Well, the Perseids are over now and Venus will be next to the waning crescent Moon again in the East just before sunrise on the 13th. Um, this particular month , we have a once in a Blue Moon event . It’s not just the Perseids in the dark skies but we have on the 31st the second Full Moon of the month and that ‘s called a “Blue Moon” So, once in a Blue Moon, we have a Blue Moon! Every couple years actually! So that’s the Perseids story.

Katie
So that brings us to September.

Larry
Okay, so now in September, the big event , typically, is the Autumnal Equinox! And the Sun is getting lower in the sky, crossing the Equator of the sky. But, on the 8th, the planet Jupiter appears in the Eastern sky near the Last Quarter Moon in the early morning hours before sunrise. So, that’s another time to look for our old friend Jupiter. Unfortunately, Jupiter will be in the morning sky so a lot of people are going to miss it and I miss it already because it’s been so goo for the last several months in the Western sky.

CONTACT _Con-34CCB9111 Katie
It was so, with Venus, it was so beautiful!

Larry
On the 12th of September, Venus will again be low in the Eastern sky near the waning cresecnt Moon. SO, the Moon is going to point to Venus, but you know what? Venus is so bright it’s going to look like aircraft landing lights so it’s going to be really bright. Ususally, people mistake Venus for something else, that’s how bright it is! This is a case where, don’t forget, if it doesn’t move very much than that’s a planet. If it moves, then it’s a plane! So, those are obvious facts, but you want to change the UFO into an IFO! Identified Flying Object!

Katie
Nice, I like what you did there, Larry! Yes! Right on!

Larry
And of course, we mentioned already, the Autumnal Equinox is the first day of fall, is on the 22dn. So, that means you’re going to have 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night , all over the Earth at the same time. That just happens twice a year!

Katie
Well, thank you for giving us all of our viewing tips of the summer.

Larry
You’re very welcome! Don’t forget plenty of insect repellent if you’re going to be watching at any time, not just the Perseids!

Katie
Yes, exactly! It’s summer, put on the repellent, go outside, enjoy the nice warm weather, and get in your viewing! It’s the best time of year to check it out!

Larry
Absolutely!

Katie
And I’d like to thank the listeners of the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast and if you’d like to listen to full episodes of the Adler Night and Day podcast you can go to www.adlerplanetarium.org/podcasts.

End of podcast:

365 Days of Astronomy
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One Response to June 27th: Summer Night Sky Viewing Highlights

  1. Lost in Limbo June 27, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    “File not found” error when trying to play this one.