Our Friendly Skies

July 06, 2009|By ROD MARTIN / Brish Planetarium and ANDY SMETZER / Tristate Astronomers

Visible evening planets

Saturn is visible in the southwest.

Jupiter is bright in the southeast late in the evening.

Visible morning planets

Venus is very bright in the east before sunrise.

Jupiter is bright in the southwest before sunrise.

Mars is slightly higher than Venus.

For more information about the visible evening planets and nighttime sky, download the planetarium's podcast "Skylights" from

Solar system

Late this month, Saturn finally has a partner in the evening sky. Jupiter has been languishing in the morning sky for the past several months, but is now peeking into the late evening sky. It rises around 11 p.m. early in July and around 8:45 by month's end. Neptune is less than one degree north of Jupiter most of the month. Use binoculars!

Saturn is dipping toward the western horizon. The rings are narrow to our field of view and will become narrower as the year passes. This is the last good month to spot Saturn before it is caught in the twilight muck. Saturn will set around around 11 to 11:30.


Mars is climbing higher in the morning sky and is getting slightly brighter.

Look for the red "star" near Venus.

Venus is the brightest morning planet at -4 magnitude. It is now dropping toward the sun, but is actually becoming easy to see very well since geometry makes it stand at a higher angle.

Mercury reaches superior conjunction July 14 and is not visible most of the month.

Sun and moon

On July 1, the sun rose at 5:47 a.m. and, set at 8:42 p.m., for 14 hours and 55 minutes of daylight. By July 31, the Sun rises at 6:09 a.m. and sets at 8:25 p.m., for 14 hours and 16 minutes of daylight.

The sun enters the astronomical boundaries of Cancer from Gemini on July 20.

Brish Planetarium

This is the International Year of Astronomy. Four hundred years ago, Galileo first pointed his telescope toward the sky and revolutionized astronomy.

His observations helped provide the proofs that the Earth revolved around the sun instead of the other way.

The Tristate Astronomers are very active and hold many events to share its hobby. For more information about schedules and special events, go to

The planetarium is now closed for the summer. Programs will resume in October with "Planets."

The planetarium is at the Central Offices of the Washington County Public Schools on Commonwealth Avenue off Frederick Street in Hagerstown.

The planetarium's Web site is

Stay up to date with public programs and take a tour of the night sky with "Skylights," the Brish Planetarium's monthly podcasts on and "Skylights" are made possible by Antietam Cable Television, The Herald-Mail Co. and the Washington County Public Schools Public Information Office.

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