Synthetic aperture radar mosaics from the first cycle of Magellan mapping are mapped onto a computer-simulated globe to create this image of Venus. Data gaps are filled with Pioneer Venus Orbiter data, or a constant mid-range value. Simulated hues are based on color images recorded by the Soviet Venera 13 and 14 spacecraft. The image was produced by the Solar System Visualization project and the Magellan science team at the JPL Multimission Image Processing Laboratory. Image: NASA/JPL.
Milky Way, Venus and More to See in July
BY JONATHAN TRUAX, ASTRONOMER, MUSKEGON COMMUNITY COLLEGE'S CARR-FLES PLANETARIUM
This month, clear skies are frequent and contain many interesting sights for sky watchers including some of the best views of the Milky Way if you observe away from the city lights.
Sky watchers can easily locate the planet Venus low in the northwest about 40 minutes after sunset. Venus appears as a very bright white colored “star” near the horizon and amongst the stars of Leo the Lion. The waxing crescent moon is near Venus the nights of July 11 and 12.
The planet Mars and Venus are drawing closer together throughout the month toward a tight conjunction which takes place July 12. Red-orange Mars is much dimmer than Venus and will look very much like an ordinary star.
In the southeastern sky about two hours after sunset, look for the planets Jupiter and Saturn rising. The brighter of the two planets is Jupiter. Look for a brilliant white “star” shining among the stars of Capricorn the Sea-goat. Saturn is dimmer and more yellow to the right of or west of Jupiter. By dawn the planets can be found low in the southwestern sky. The waning gibbous moon is very close to Jupiter and Saturn the nights of July 24 through 26.
As darkness falls after sunset this month, high in the northwest, locate the “Big Dipper” formed by the stars of Ursa Major. High in the western sky nearly overhead, locate Arcturus of Bootes, the brightest star of summer. Low in the southwest, just west of the bright star Spica, look for a trapezoid-shaped pattern of stars forming Corvus the Crow. Low in the southeast, locate the constellation Scorpius the Scorpion, marked by the bright star Antares. The waxing gibbous moon is very close to Antares the nights of July 19 and 20.
Rising high in the Eastern sky locate three bright stars all blue or white in color, forming the “Summer Triangle.” Low and to the northeast is Deneb, of Cygnus the Swan. Higher in the east is Vega, of Lyra the Harp. Furthest south of the trio is Altair, of Aquila the Eagle. By dawn the “Summer Triangle” can be found just west of overhead.
This month after sunset, the summer Milky Way stretches from low in the south, through the eastern sky, down to the northeast horizon. For the best views of the Milky Way, observe away from city lights and on the nights before July 14 and after the 27th when the moon is not very bright.
Early morning sky watchers can enjoy finding the illusive planet Mercury low in east northeast about 30 minutes before sunrise. Look for a fairly bright white “star” in the constellation of Taurus. The waning crescent moon is very close to Mercury the mornings of July 7 and 8 aiding in locating the planet.
The MCC Carr-Fles Planetarium is closed until August 2021. Visit the MCC Carr-Fles Planetarium website for upcoming events and call (231) 777-0289 for sky show information. Carr-Fles Planetarium is located on the Muskegon Community College campus in Room 135. Thanks to the generosity of the Reach for the Stars campaign donors, you can now experience Carr-Fles Planetarium with state-of-the-art digital projection, sound and lighting systems; all-new library of shows; and modern theater seating and domed ceiling.