Scheduled time for Public Observing: 9pm – 11pm
Solar System Objects:
The Moon: will be 29° high in the SW at 10pm, and 72% illuminated (Waxing Gibbous phase, 9 days old).
Image (c) Virtual Moon Atlas / http://ap-i.net/avl/en/start
Planets: Jupiter appears near the moon and will be available for viewing, and Saturn will be 24° up in the South by 10pm. It’s rings will be easily visible in a telescope. The positions of Jupiter’s major satellites at 10pm are shown below. The motion of it’s moons, especially if they appear close together, can be detected in only a few minutes.
Image courtesy of Starry Night (R) Orion Special Edition, Version: 6.2.3 kcEW, Imaginova (R) Corp.
Mars will be rising late in the SE, and will be 11° high by 10:30pm, observable with a telescope outside the dome. Mars is only 10 days from it’s closest approach since 2003, and will appear 24 arc seconds across (larger than Saturn). Unfortunately, as of early July, it’s also experiencing a planet-wide dust storm that limits visibility of surface features, check for updates here.
Double Stars: One of the best double stars in the sky, Alberio, in the constellation Cygnus, will be visible all night. Easily seen as a single star to the naked eye, it resolves into a color-contrasting double in almost any telescope. The photo below was taken through an 8″ telescope (the author’s) using a smartphone.
The stars are different temperatures so therefore different colors, in this case yellow and blue. There still seems to be some debate as to whether the stars form a true binary system, or are a chance line-of-sight alignment. See the article here.
Nebula and Star Clusters: Despite moonlight, some deep-sky objects such as the globular cluster M13, and planetary nebulae NGC 6826 and M57 shown below may still be observable. Planetary nebulae (remnants of solar-type stars) tend to appear smaller than other types of deep-sky objects, but can have a higher surface brightness and shine through light-polluted skies.
International Space Station (ISS): There will be a very good pass centered on 9:32pm, when the ISS will be nearly straight overhead (84° altitude), very bright at magnitude -3.8, and moving from SW to NE. It will be visible for about 3 minutes on either side of this time. There will be a second pass at 11:08pm, but low in the NNW at 20° altitude, and not as bright at mag. -1.0.
Iridium Satellites: These satellites can produce bright flares (brighter than Venus) from their antenna arrays. *Update* – no flares are predicted during tonight’s observing time.