We still have the very exceptional evening show of having Venus and Jupiter very close together in the Western skies. Enjoy while you can and send your pictures in!
Mercury is best seen from 3.35 am to 4 am in the constellation Taurus, and after in Orion. Venus is best seen from 9.35 pm to 11.30 pm in the constellation of Leo. Mars is too close to the Sun. Distance to the Sun only 6.7° West in the morning. Jupiter is best seen from 9.50 pm to 11.30 pm in the constellation Leo. Saturn is best seen from 10.30 pm to 2.35 am in the constellation Libra.
We have Full Moon on Wednesday 01 July and Last Quarter Moon on Wednesday 08 July. The Sun rises at 4.44 am and sets at 9.36 pm.
Wednesday 01 July
At 7.49 am the Moon in maximum declination South. This is the 2nd southernmost Moon position of the year. Former more southern Moon position was at 18 January 2015. Next more southern Moon position is at 24 May 2016. Get a clear horizon to see the Moon easily.
At 8.51 am Venus in conjunction with Jupiter. Only 20.7' separated from center of Jupiter. And at 3.15 pm Venus in conjunction in Right Ascension with Jupiter. Venus is only 24' or less than a Lunar diameter separated from the center of Jupiter. Watch these two planets at and after Sunset. A beautiful evening show and worthwhile a picture.
The International Space Station (ISS) is very close to the Sun. You will not be able to see. But if you have a Solar Telescope or telescope with special Solar filter, locate yourself at Middleton-by-Youlgrave and you will see ISS crossing over the Solar disc at 2.10 pm. Contact me if you wanted last minute calculations. Do NOT look directly into the Sun!
At 7.04 pm the Moon in maximum Libration South. The South Pole of the Moon is tipped into the Earth's view. The Moon rises at 8.39 pm.
The Great Red Spot transits the disc of Jupiter at 10.10 pm. You will need a small telescope or a binocular to see. A flare appears at 10.59 pm in the West at an altitude of 29° in the constellation of Leo. Only 2 minutes later, at 11.01 pm, a brighter flare is visible at nearly the same spot in the West at an altitude of 28° in the constellation of Leo.
At 3.19 am it is Full Moon. It is the first Full Moon of this month. This is also the southernmost Full Moon of the year. The former more southern Full Moon was on 13 June 2014. The next more southern Full Moon is on 20 June 2016. Look in the early morning for the Moon. As the Moon is very low on the horizon, it seems to look bigger. This is of course only an illusion. The lower position in the sky makes the Full Moon look bigger in the summer months.
Mercury rises at 3.35 am in the North East in the constellation of Taurus and just a little over an hour before Sun rise. Use a binocular to spot.
Thursday 02 July
At about 10.20 pm the Moon is close to the star called Rho1 in the constellation of Sagittarius. The limb separation is 1.49° or 2.78 lunar diameters.
Look for Mercury in the early morning at 3.35 am in the North East in the constellation of Taurus.
Friday 03 July
Today in 1987 Richard Branson and Per Lindstrand became the first to cross the Atlantic by hot-air balloon, named the Virgin Atlantic Flyer. They jumped into the sea as their balloon went down off the Scottish coast.
Low at the horizon, look for the Moon an hour after Sun set at about 10.40 pm. The star called Dabih is close to the Moon. The limb separation is 1.81° or 3.35 lunar diameters. At 10.58 pm a bright Iridium flare appears in the West North West at an altitude of 26° in the constellation of Leo. Another flare appears after midnight at 0.15 am in the West South West at an altitude of 48° in the constellation of Serpens Caput. Once more a flare at 3.27 am in the East South East at altitude 47° in the constellation Pegasus.
Mercury rises in the North East in the constellation of Taurus at 3.27 am.
Saturday 04 July
Besides the close Venus-Jupiter watch you have a relax evening on Saturday. After midnight on Sunday morning, an Iridium flare appears at 0.09 am in the West South West at an altitude of 49° in the constellation of Serpens Caput. And look for Mercury, the small planet rises in the North East at 3.35 am.
Sunday 05 July
Today in 1996 Dolly, the first cloned sheep was born at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh Scotland.
At 8 pm the Moon is in Perigee. Distance Moon center to Earth center is 367065.8 km. At 10.55 pm a bright Iridium flare appears in the West North West at an altitude of 23° in the constellation Leo Minor. Another flare at 11 pm in the North North West at only an altitude of 7° in the constellation of Auriga.
Mercury rises at 3.36 am in the North East in the constellation of Taurus. Use a binocular to have an easy spotting.
Monday 06 July
At 1.20 pm the comet called Pan-STARRS with numbering C/2014 Q1 is at perihelion. The distance to the Sun center is 0.315 AU, and the distance to the Earth is 1.251 AU. The comet sky distance from the Sun or elongation is 11° and is later in the morning visible in the constellation Gemini. Note: 1 AU is 1 Astronomical Unit or the average distance Sun – Earth.
The Earth reaches aphelion at 2 pm. At 10.58 pm an Iridium flare is visible in the West North West at an altitude of 20° in the constellation of Leo Minor.
After midnight, in the early morning of 3.37 am, Mercury rises in the North East. The comet Pan-STARRS is at its brightest. Try to locate with a binocular in the constellation Gemini.
Tuesday 07 July
For many of us still of importance: Today in 1550 Europe introduced the first chocolate. What would we have done without? Also, today in 1339: An annular-total eclipse, with the total part of the track finding its way between the Orkney and Shetland Islands without touching either. At this location the track of totality was only 1 km wide, with duration of 1 second! Presuming that you could position a boat to an accuracy of 1 km, totality must have been a ring of Baily's Beads.
Not that you will notice, but for those doing Solar observations, at 8.26 am the rotation axis of the Sun is straight up.
Only 10 minutes after Sun set, at 9.42 pm a flare might be visible in the North North East at an altitude of 73° in the constellation of Draco. Another flare at 10.29 pm in the North North West at an altitude of only 12° in the constellation Auriga. One more flare at 10.38 pm at nearly the same spot in the sky in the North North West at an altitude of only 10° in the constellation Auriga. And if you do not have enough flares, at 10.58 pm one in the West North West at an altitude of 18° in the constellation of Leo. And to close of the night (early morning of Wednesday) at 1.31 am a flare in the South at an altitude 58° in the constellation of Vulpecula.
Close of your “flare hunting” by watching Mercury. The small planet rises at 3.39 am in the North East in the constellation Orion.
Wednesday 08 July
At 11.09 am ISS or International Space Station, is very close to the Sun. Not visible, but if you have a good Solar Telescope or Telescope with good and safe Solar filter, you will see the big satellite crossing the Sun’s disc between Mayfield and Cubly. Contact me if you need last minute calculations.
At 9.24 pm it is Last Quarter Moon. This is the 2nd biggest last Quarter Moon of the year. The former larger last Quarter Moon was on 9 June 2015. The next larger last Quarter Moon is at 26 July 2016.
Get in touch with me via www.patrickpoitevin.weebly.com if you need more information.
When the god of sky and thunder meets the Roman goddess of love and beauty …
You must have seen it for a few weeks now, the planets Venus and Jupiter are getting closer and closer together in the Western evening skies. In February they were on opposite sides of the sky. Jupiter was rising in the East and Venus was in the Western sky after Sun set. Now, Jupiter is creeping close to Venus with its final rendezvous this week. After, and even during Sun set, when you have a clear blue sky, you can see both planets very close to each other. The distance is less than a Lunar diameter.
The planets appear to be aligning in the evening sky. But Jupiter and Venus are actually many millions of miles apart from each other, as seen from above the Solar system. As the Earth moves in its orbit, the Sun appears to be heading East into the constellations, which creates the illusion that Jupiter is drawing toward the Sun set. Because of this, Jupiter will soon slip behind the Sun, as seen from the Earth. Venus, however, has recently moved out from behind the Sun, and heading toward the general direction of Jupiter, and is thus moving into alignment.
You can’t miss Venus and Jupiter, because they are the brightest “stars” currently visible in the evening sky. They are often confused with airplanes or even UFOs by people who do not closely observe the sky. But in case you’re still not sure, go out in the evenings this week and watch.
You hear it all time … “This alignment of Jupiter and Venus will not happen again in our lifetime, so don’t miss it!”
Nop! It might be the closest Venus-Jupiter conjunction or close alignment for 2015, but it happens quite often. The conjunctions between Venus and Jupiter, as seen from the Earth, take place at mean intervals of 13 months, more precisely every 398.88 days. This is the mean synodic revolution period of Jupiter in case you wondered. Of course, a Venus-Jupiter conjunction is very obvious and spectacular, as Venus and Jupiter rank as the third-brightest and fourth-brightest celestial bodies, respectively, after the Sun and the Moon. The next (after this one of today 1 July 2015) closest Venus-Jupiter conjunction will be 27 August 2016.
Venus, the second planet outward from the Sun, races along at 35 kilometers or 22 miles per second whereas Jupiter, the fifth planet outward, plods along at 13 kilometers 8 miles per second. Jupiter’s orbital path is a solid seven times longer than that traveled by Venus. For that reason, Venus will zoom toward the bright star Regulus in the constellation Leo day by day, whereas Jupiter will travel at a snail’s pace.
Keep an eye on 18 July 2015. Venus will almost be in conjunction with Regulus, a slight bit ahead of Jupiter in the great race to the constellation Leo’s brightest star. On July 18, the crescent Moon, Venus and Jupiter will all fit within a circle sporting a diameter of less than four degrees. Four degrees of sky approximates two finger-widths at an arm’s length. Don’t miss out on this close-knit celestial grouping. Attached star maps (if you can use) of 1, 18 and 19 July.
Some closer planet conjunctions we had this year were 19 January 2015 when Mars was 14’ South of Neptune; and 4 March 2015 when Venus was only 6’ North of Uranus; and on 11 March 2015 when Mars was 17’ North of Uranus. But Neptune and Uranus are not visible without binocular or telescope. So not that spectacular to see. Other close encounters to come for 2015 are: 16 July 2015 when Mercury is 8’ South of Mars but only 9 degrees form the morning Sun; and on 17 October 2015 when Mars (the same distance as now 1 July for Venus and Jupiter) is 24’ North of Jupiter – as well in the morning.
Close encounters for 2016 are on 9 January when Venus is 5’ North of Saturn (morning); and on 27 August when Venus is only 4’ North of Jupiter (evening). This will be a watch! And if you want to mark your dairy for the future on Venus-Jupiter conjunctions: On 13 November 2017 Venus is only 17’ North of Jupiter; and on 24 November 2019 Venus is 1°24' South of Jupiter.
The closest planetary conjunction between the years 1990 and 2020 was on 22 March 2013 between Mars and Uranus with the least distance of only 39” (arc seconds). This distance is about the size of the International Space Station (ISS) seen from here! The closest Venus-Jupiter conjunction between the years 1990 and 2020 was on 17 May 2000 with a distance of only 1’ (arc minute) or less than the size of ISS seen from here! The Venus – Jupiter conjunction for next year 27 August 2016 is only 4’ distance.
And in case you did not have enough of the above, during the years 1901 and 2100, there are 204 Venus-Jupiter conjunctions. But can Venus occult Jupiter? Oh yes! The last time Venus occulted Jupiter was on 3 January in 1818. The next time Venus will occult Jupiter is on 22 November in 2065. This will be only 8° from the Sun. The next relative favorable mutual occultation does not occur until 2123 when Venus occults Jupiter where this happens only 16° from the Sun. Wait and see!
The event of today 1 July 2015 is called a triple conjunction as we have 3 rather close encounters for 2015: Being 1 July 2015 with 0°21’ distance, and 4 August 2015 with 6°55’ distance, and 25 October with 1°02’ distance. The last triple conjunction was in 1994. The next triple conjunction will be in 2036. Enjoy!