June 24, 2024

This Week’s Night Sky

Every Monday I pick the northern hemisphere (mid-north latitude) celestial highlights for the week ahead, but be sure check my main feed for more in-depth articles on stargazing, astronomy, eclipses and more.

This Week’s Night Sky: July 24-30, 2023

The bright planet Venus shines brightly in his view as the “Evening Star” for most of 2023, but as July draws to a close it begins to fade into the evening. This week, it’s time to take a final look at Earth’s sister planet as it retrogrades and tiny Mercury rises above it in the sky after sunset. Venus will return in September before sunrise as the “Morning Star” after a trip through the solar eclipse.

Monday, July 24: Moon And Spica

Tonight in the southwestern sky just after sunset the 41%-lit waxing crescent moon will be just 2º from Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo and about 250 light years distant.

Tuesday, July 25: First Quarter Moon

Tonight is the First Quarter Moon, which is the point of the month when the Moon appears half-lit as seen from Earth. It’s also when the night skies start to get so bright under the moonlight that it’s harder and less impressive. Don’t plan a dark sky stargazing trip this week – or next week! A full Moon is coming … but tonight is a great time to put a pair of binoculars on craters on the Terminator – the line between light and dark on the moon’s surface.

Tuesday-Thursday, July 25-27: Venus meets Mercury

In the west this week you will be able to see the two inner planets from Earth, Venus sinking and Mercury rising, just 5° apart as they trade places. Look low to the western horizon just after sunset.

Friday, July 28: Mercury And Regulus Conjunction

The “Swift Planet” is difficult to see because it is almost always lost in the sun. Tonight just after sunset it is far enough from our star to be seen and, as a bonus, it will be only 0.1º from Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo and about 78 light years away. Put some binoculars on both for an unusual sight.

Saturday/Sunday, July 29/30: Southern Delta Aquariids

Visible from mid-July to mid-August each year, this meteor shower from Earth is pushing into the dust cloud left in the inner solar system by comet P/2008 Y12. Expect about 25 “shooting stars” per hour in the dark sky during the peak, which is expected to be just before midnight Saturday for North America. Be outside for 10:00 pm Unfortunately there will be an 89%-lit moon around to reduce the impact of the meters until it is set around 03:00 am

Object of the Week: The International Space Station

If you haven’t seen the ISS fly overhead, go to Spot The Station, a service provided by NASA that will email you every morning with the exact time you can see from where you are. It always appears in the west and disappears in the east and takes about five or six minutes to cross. It’s a great sight!

The times and dates given are for mid-northern latitudes. To get the most accurate information related to a specific location consult an online planetarium such as Stellarium and The Living Sky. Check out planet-rise/planet-set, sunrise / sunset and moon rise/moon times for where you are.

Do you wish a clear sky and wide eyes.

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