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Our Friendly Skies

July 01, 2010|By ROD MARTIN / Brish Planetarium and ANDY SMETZER / Tristate Astronomers
  • All-Sky Chart - July 2010
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Visible evening planets



VENUS is bright in the west after sunset.

MARS is in the west.

SATURN is in the west at sunset.

Visible morning planet



JUPITER is bright in the east.

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

Solar system



As we hit the main part of summer and the only month of the year that school is not in session, we can see a transition in the sky. Our spring stars are low in the west while the summer triangle and other summer patterns are rising.

With the spring stars low in the west, that means that the planets that reside in their boundaries are creeping lower in the west too.

Venus is passing through Leo very quickly. By the middle of the month it has passed Leo's brightest star Regulus. It is the brightest evening night object except the moon at -4 magnitude. Look for Venus as soon as the sun sets.

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Mars is not poking around, either. It is moving quickly compared with the background stars and crosses the boundary between Leo the Lion and Virgo around the middle of the month. By the end of the month Mars is less than two degrees southwest of Saturn.

Saturn is farther from the sun than the other nearby planets so it is not speeding along at their pace. Saturn is slightly brighter than Mars, but you cannot mistake the colors. It sets around midnight.

Jupiter is the bright morning planet. It rises during the late evening, but is best in the morning. It is brighter than anything except the sun, the moon and Venus.

Mercury is too close to the sun to see well.

Sun and moon



We reach the middle of 2010 this month. The halfway time is 1 p.m. on July 2. We are also farther from the sun than any other time of the year this month. Earth reaches aphelion on July 6. We are 3.4 percent closer than during the winter. Our temperatures and climate rise from the tilt of our axis instead of the distance from the sun.

On July 1, the sun rises at 5:46 a.m. and sets at 8:42 p.m., for 14 hours and 56 minutes of daylight. By July 31, the sun rises at 6:09 a.m. and sets at 8:24 p.m., for 14 hours and 15 minutes of daylight.

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

The moon reaches last quarter on July 4, new on July 11, first quarter on July 18, and full on July 25. There is a solar eclipse on July 25; unfortunately, we will not see it.

Brish Planetarium and events



Public planetarium programs have concluded for the current school year. They will resume in October with the "Universe of Dr. Einstein."

The planetarium is located at the Central Offices of the Washington County Public Schools on Commonwealth Avenue off Frederick Street in Hagerstown. The planetarium's website is http://www.wcboe.k12.md.us/content/d_i_planet.cfm. For more information about schedules and special events, go to http://www.tristateastronomers.org.

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