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Podcaster: Rob Webb

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Title: Observing With Webb in July 2020

Organization: Physics teacher at Pequea Valley High School

Link: http://mrwebb.podbean.com ;
https://sites.google.com/site/mrwebbonline/ ;
http://www.youtube.com/user/MrWebbPV
https://sites.google.com/site/pvplanetarium/home
follow me : @MrWebbPV on Twitter and Instagram

This podcast is found on: Podbean page, Stitcher, and iTunes.  There’s also a video version on YouTube Channel.

The Pequea Valley Planetarium and its events and updates are on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as @pvplanetarium.

Description:

July is perfect for the amateur and beginner observer! Saturn and Jupiter are visible all night, Venus is easy to spot in the morning, Mars and Mercury offer a challenge for the early risers, and the warm nights give us ample opportunity to enjoy some constellation finding after some lightning bug (firefly) hunting.

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 rob_webb@pequeavalley.org

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Transcript: 

July is perfect for the amateur and beginner observer! Saturn and Jupiter are visible all night, Venus is easy to spot in the morning, Mars and Mercury offer a challenge for the early risers, and the warm nights give us ample opportunity to enjoy some constellation finding after some lightning bug (firefly) hunting.

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.

EVENTS…

Full Moon – 4th/5th (Visible all night)

Last Quarter Moon – 12th (Visible from midnight into the morning)

New Moon – 20th (darkest skies)

First Quarter Moon – 27th (Visible until midnight)

5th – Close Encounter – Moon, Jupiter, Saturn– 3 objects within 5˚ of each other! Get out after 9:45pm and the find the Moon toward the SE. Jupiter will be the brightest point nearby, up and to the right, with Saturn about the same distance, but to the left, at a 90˚ compared to Jupiter. The night before, the Moon will be to the right of the planets, and the night after, the Moon will be to the left of them.

11th – 12th – Close Encounter – Moon, Mars – Get out there after 1am these mornings, but well before sunrise (5:44am) and find the Moon with red, ruddy Mars nearby. The Moon will be about 5˚ to the right of Mars on the 11th, and 5˚ below and to the left of Mars on the 12th.

17th – Close Encounter – Moon, Venus – Make sure you have a nice view of the ENE horizon after 3am when they rise. Venus and the Moon should be easy to spot, with Venus being VERY bright, and the Moon being its big beautiful crescent, just 3˚ to the left of Venus. ALSO nearby, up and to the right, is the V constellation of Taurus, with bright red Aldebaran shining through. Sunrise is 5:50am, so you’ll have a good chance to get some good pics of this.

Naked-eye PLANETS…

Sunset – None

Throughout the night – Saturn, Jupiter

· Saturn, Jupiter – Opposition for both planets this month, as they rise above the ESE horizon by 10pm on the 1st, before sunset on the 30th. They will set in the SW around sunrise in the beginning of the month, 4am at the end. To find Jupiter, just look for the brightest spot no more than 30˚ above the horizon. Saturn will be about 5˚ to the left. These make a great pair for getting your binoculars and telescopes out. You can see the rings of Saturn and moons of Jupiter fairly easily, and not have to do too much to switch from one planet to the other.

Morning – Venus, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter

· Saturn, Jupiter (SW) – Still hanging out up there in the SW by sunrise, setting later in the month. See above for details.

· Mars (SE) – Trails behind, or to the left of, Saturn and Jupiter by about 50˚ or 5 fist-widths, and is about 30-40˚ above the SE horizon. Look for the non-twinkling red dot.

· Venus (E) – As the month goes by, Venus rises earlier and moves away from the Sun. On the 1st, Venus rises at 3:45am, and is about 20˚ above the horizon by sunrise (5:38am). Later in the month it’s a little bit higher and out a little bit earlier.

· Mercury (E) – Only for maybe the last two weeks, catch a glimpse of the innermost, fastest-moving, and often toughest to see visible planet of our solar system. Get out before sunrise, look ENE, about 15˚ below bright Venus, best on the 30th.

CONSTELLATIONS… Use a sky map from www.skymaps.com to help you out.

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.

Before Work:

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

End of podcast:

365 Days of Astronomy
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