Scheduled time for Public Observing: 9pm-11pm
Solar System Objects:
The Moon: will be 26° high in the SW at 9pm, and 57% illuminated (Waxing Gibbous phase, 8 days old).
Image (c) Virtual Moon Atlas / http://ap-i.net/avl/en/start
Planets: Jupiter will be only 18° high by 9pm, too low for the 20″ scope, but still visible from outside the dome. Saturn is 24° up in the South at 10pm, followed by Mars at 22° by 11 pm. Mars will appear 23 arc seconds in diameter, larger than the globe of Saturn. Mars appears large this summer because of it’s closeness, at approximately 38 million miles away, it’s making it’s best appearance since 2003. Polar ice caps and some other surface details would normally be observable, but there is a planet-wide dust storm currently in progress. Updates on the storm can be found here. At the same time, Neptune is 24° high in the SE, and Uranus is just rising.
Many double stars, some with contrasting colors, are visible this time of year. While there are too many to list, Alpha Herculis is a good example of a fairly close red and green pair that would show well in the 20″ telescope.
Nebula and Star Clusters:
There are several deep-sky objects conveniently placed near Saturn tonight:
Image courtesy of Starry Night (R) Orion Special Edition, Version: 6.2.3 kcEW, Imaginova (R) Corp.
M22 is one of the most prominent globular star clusters in the sky, M8, M17, and M20 are diffuse nebula. All four are visible with binoculars in a dark sky, special light-pollution filters would help the visibility of the nebulae from Middletown. See the highlighted links for some of Rob Gendler’s wonderful images, M22 is also shown below.
Image by Robert Gendler http://robgendlerastropics.com/
International Space Station (ISS): The ISS will not be visible tonight.
Iridium Satellites: These satellites can produce bright flares (brighter than Venus) from their antenna arrays. Any visible flares will be added closer to the observing date, as prediction accuracy improves. **Update**: Unfortunately, no visible flares are predicted for tonight.