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Thursday, July 26, 2012



Dawn view
Venus and Jupiter gradually move farther apart as they climb higher in the dawn.

Friday, July 20

  • The Teapot star pattern of Sagittarius glitters dimly in the south-southeast at nightfall, and it reaches its highest in the south later in the evening. Hidden in the rich star fields above it is the magnitude-9.5 asteroid 18 Melpomene, which you can ferret out with a telescope and the finder chart in the July Sky & Telescope, page 52. 
  • Jupiter and Venus blaze strikingly in the dawn this week, with an interesting (but much fainter ) starry scene behind them, as shown at right. Saturday, July 21
  • Draco the Dragon arches his back over the Little Dipper in the north at this time of year. With your scope, here you can search out the Cat's Eye Nebula, some interesting double stars and galaxies, and (if your scope is big enough) a quasar with a look-back time of 8.6 billion years — using Sue French's "Deep Sky Wonders" column and charts in the July Sky & Telescope, page 56. Sunday, July 22
  • Arcturus is the brightest star high in the west after dark at this time of year. It and Vega, almost overhead, are the two leading stars of summer. Look off to the right of Arcturus, in the northwest, to spot the Big Dipper. 

    Monday, July 23

  • As twilight begins to fade, use the Moon in the west-southwest to guide your way to Saturn, Spica, and Mars glimmering through the dusk (in that order of visibility) as shown below.
    Moon passing planets in twilight
    Watch the Moon wax thicker from night to night as it steps past Mars, Saturn, and Spica. (These scenes are drawn for the middle of North America. European observers: move each Moon symbol a quarter of the way toward the one for the previous date. The Moon is shown three times actual size.)
    Sky & Telescope diagram

      Tues. July 24
  • The waxing Moon this evening forms a quadrangle with Saturn, Spica, and Mars 

  •      Wed. July 25
  • The first-quarter Moon is left of Spica and Saturn this evening, as shown here. Thurs. July 26
  • By 10 or 11 p.m. the Great Square of Pegasus is up in the east, balancing on one corner — an early warning of the inevitable approach of fall. Friday, July 27
  • Look left of the Moon (by a fist-width at arm's length or more) for orange Antares. Much closer left of the Moon are the three fainter stars that mark the head of Scorpius, lined up about vertically.        
  • Saturday, July 28
  • Fiery Antares shines lower right of the Moon tonight.

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