Podcaster: Rob Webb
Title: Observing With Webb in July 2019
Organization: Physics teacher at Pequea Valley High School
Description:July is the month of Jupiter and Saturn this year, with both gracing the skies all night, easily visible with the naked eye, and even better through binoculars or a telescope.
Bio: Rob Webb is a physics, astronomy, and sustainability teacher at Pequea Valley High School in Pennsylvania. His passions include teaching, astronomy, astrophotography, planetariums, running, reading, and golf. A proud graduate of Dickinson College in 2005, he also obtained a Master’s Degree in Science Education from Penn State University after conducting research in regards to the current state of planetariums in Pennsylvania. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Welcome to Observing With Webb, where a high school astronomy teacher tells you what you’re looking at, why it’s so cool, and what you should check out later this month…at night.
July is the month of Jupiter and Saturn this year, with both gracing the skies all night, easily visible with the naked eye, and even better through binoculars or a telescope.
New Moon – 2nd (darkest skies)
First Quarter Moon – 9th (Visible until midnight)
Full Moon – 16th (Visible all night)
Last Quarter Moon – 24th (Visible from midnight into the morning)
12th – 16th – Close Encounter – Moon, Jupiter, Saturn – A great lineup for 5 days, with Saturn and Jupiter starting each night in the SSE, about 30˚ apart from each other. On the 12th, the Moon will be about 10˚ up and to the right of Jupiter. The next night it travels to just 3.5˚ to the left of Jupiter. Now the Moon starts heading closer to Saturn, being almost right between Jupiter and Saturn on the 14th, then just 2.5˚ to the right of Saturn on the 15th. On the 16th, the Moon bids adieu to the gassy outer planets and finishes the encounter 10˚ down and to the left of Saturn, creating a great evening lineup of the Moon, Saturn, and Jupiter for the remainder of the night.
16th – Partial Lunar Eclipse – If you live in South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, or Africa, you’ll be able to see this. Those of us in North America…nope.
After Dinner, Before Bed:
Spring Constellations: Big Dipper, Bootes, Virgo, Corona Borealis, Hercules – Gaze almost vertically as you face the NW, and you’ll easily find the Big Dipper: seven very bright stars that form a spoon shape. Now if you take the handle of the Dipper, follow its curve to the next bright star you see, about 30˚ away, which is Arcturus. “Follow the arc to Arcturus.” That’s the brightest star in Bootes, which looks like a kite. Take that same curve, and follow it about another 20˚ to “speed on to Spica”, the brightest star in Virgo, one of my favorite constellations, since it reminds me of the Dickinson Mermaid. Now go back to Bootes, and just to the left of Bootes are seven stars that form the northern crown Corona Borealis, which looks more like a small bowl or a “C” in the sky. Continue a little further to the left and you’ll find the keystone asterism which is part of the constellation Hercules. Extra Challenge! Look for M13, the Hercules Cluster in between two of Hercules’ “keystone” stars. It known as the best globular cluster in the northern skies. It will be a fuzzy spot in binoculars and will be even cooler through a telescope
Summer Constellations: Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila – Look pretty much straight above you, and find the brightest star up there. You’ll notice a parallelogram attached to it. This is the brightest star Vega, part of the constellation Lyra, the harp. Directly above you will be Cygnus the Swan, with its brightest star Deneb. It will look like a large cross, or if you look out a little further, a swan flying above you. Below Cygnus and Lyra is the third constellation of the Summer Triangle, Aquila the Eagle, with its brightest star Altair. The three bright stars in this one can be easily confused for Orion’s belt, given their similar size, however they are not in line as straight, and are part of a bigger diamond shape. Use a star chart to find small Delphinus and Sagitta in the area as well.
Pegasus, Andromeda – Look directly south and most of the way up the sky and you’ll find the very big and almost perfect square of Pegasus, the winged horse. Now if you look to the top left of the square, you’ll see three pairs of stars creating a neat double curve to the left and up from that corner star. That is Andromeda. If you have a little extra time, find the middle pair of stars, connect them with a line, and move toward the inside of the curve about the same distance as those stars are apart. There you’ll find the Andromeda Galaxy, which will be just a small faint fuzzy with your naked eye. The cool part is that you are looking at billions of stars that are 2.9 million light years away, that spread out about 150,000 light years across
Use a sky map from www.skymaps.com to help you out.
End of podcast:
365 Days of Astronomy
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