SCAS – Southern Colorado Skies / July 24 – 30, 2016

Consider a planetarium program to help you plan your observations. There are many commercial products available, and a very good program (Cartes du Ciel) is available free at http://www.ap-i.net/skychart/en/start.

THE ZODIAC

The zodiac is a band of twelve (or thirteen? – see below) constellations that appear to circle the Earth along the ecliptic. The ecliptic is the extension of the plane in which the planets revolve around the Sun, so it goes without saying that the planets always appear within one of these twelve constellations. The Moon also orbits (pretty close) within the ecliptic.

zodiac_df

Some observers call the constellation Ophiuchus (the “serpent bearer”) the thirteenth constellation because occasionally one of the planets is seen wandering within its boundaries. In fact, Saturn has been hovering in the southern part of Ophiuchus for several months now.

THIS WEEK

Monday (July 25)

The Delta Aquarid meteor shower starts its modest show, which continues each night for the next week or so. As with all meteors showers, the best time to view it is between midnight and first light as the Earth turns into the swarm. The Moon is now waning so it should present little interference as the week goes on.

Tuesday (July 26)

Last-quarter Moon at 5:00 p.m. MDT.

PLANETS

Mercury and Venus (in Leo)

Mercury is very low in the west-northwest about 15 minutes after sunset. Binoculars might help find its companion Venus, to the lower right (west) of Mercury.

Mars (in Libra)

In the south-southwest after nightfall.

Jupiter (in Leo)

Low in the west just after dark.

Saturn (in Ophiuchus)

Just above Antares and about 13 degrees left (east) of Mars.

Uranus (in Pisces)

High in the south-southeast just before dawn.

Neptune (in Aquarius)

High in the south-southeast just before dawn.

IRIDIUM FLARES AND INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION (ISS)

Sorry – these are too numerous to list here! If you’re serious, load the ISS DETECTOR app on your smart phone or tablet. Alternatively, refer to SCAS member Chuck Percival’s column in the Sunday Pueblo Chieftain.

Have fun!

Dave Furry, SCAS Director of Education

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