The sky this week July 1-8

Sunday July 3
With only a thin crescent Moon in the sky, this evening is the perfect time to explore the beautiful region of Rho Ophiuchi in the south, located near – you guessed it – the star Rho (ρ) Ophiuchi in Ophiuchus the Serpentary.

Get out binoculars or use your small scope to circle the 4° wide Rho Ophiuchi region first locating Antares, the bright red heart of Scorpio. From there, look about 1.3° north to find Star 22 Scorpii, which sits at the western end of the Barnard 44 Dark Nebula. stars of all the suns sit behind them, so they appear like dark patches of sky where there are few stars. B44 is about 6.5° long, bordered on its eastern edge by 24 Ophiuchi.

Rho Ophiuchi itself lies about 3° north-northwest of Antares. This star itself is an excellent small-scale target, as it is a binary system of two yellow 5th magnitude stars about 3″ apart. In addition, the reflection nebula IC 4604 surrounds this stellar pair. , giving the area around them a subtle glow.

Sunrise: 5:36
Sunset: 8:32 p.m.
Moonrise: 9:40 a.m.
Moon setting: 11:43 p.m.
Moon phase: Wax crescent (18%)

monday july 4th
Earth reaches aphelion, the farthest point from the Sun in its nearly (but not quite) circular orbit, at 3 a.m. EDT. At that time, our planet will be 94.5 million miles (152 million kilometers) from the Sun.

Let’s celebrate Independence Day with fireworks. NGC 6946 is also known as the Fireworks Galaxy, thanks to the large number of supernovae astronomers have observed there – eight in the past 100 years or so. This face-to-face spiral is about 22 million light-years away in the far north of Cygnus, just on the constellation’s border with Cepheus. The high number of supernovae tells us that in addition to many star deaths, there must also be many star births in this galaxy. Thus, astronomers classified NGC 6946 as a star galaxy.

Although this galaxy is cataloged as being of magnitude 9, its light is spread over an area extending 11′ by 10′. This means that it looks relatively faint and you’ll need as large a telescope as possible to see it well. To find the Fireworks Galaxy, look 2.1° southwest of magnitude 3.4 Eta (η) Cephei, which itself lies just under 4° southwest of Eta (η) Cephei. ‘Alderamin, the alpha star of Cepheus.

Sunrise: 05:37
Sunset: 8:32 p.m.
Moonrise: 10:42
Moon setting:
Moon phase: Wax Crescent (27%)

tuesday july 5
Rising in the hour before midnight, Saturn is perfectly primed for nighttime or morning viewing. The latter is admittedly the best, as the ringed planet rises highest in the hours before dawn.

Take out your glasses to enjoy this magnificent planet in every detail. Saturn’s disk now spans 18 inches and is surrounded by its famous rings, which span about 42 inches in diameter. They are angled just under 13° to our line of sight – this angle will increase slightly over the fall, but then steadily decrease until 2025 when they will appear head-on.

Saturn is flanked tonight by several moons. Titan, brightest at magnitude 8.5, lies about 45″ northeast of the planet. Tethys and Dione, both magnitude 10, are about 30″ west-southwest of the planet. Saturn, while Rhea (also magnitude 10) is just over 1′ east-southeast of Saturn’s disk.

Sunrise: 05:37
Sunset: 8:32 p.m.
Moonrise: 11:45 a.m.
Moon setting: 00:06
Moon phase: Wax crescent (36%)

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