Scheduled time for Public Observing: 9pm – 11pm
Solar System Objects:
The Moon: will be 24° high in the SW at 9pm, and 69% illuminated (Waxing Gibbous phase). The ‘crater of the month’ is Plato. Yes, it’s still a crater. Located on the edge of Mare Imbrium it’s 63 miles in diameter and about 3.8 billion years old. It’s floor is very flat and smooth, but in the 20″ telescope look for tiny craterlets in the surface that may be visible.
Image copyright (c) Virtual Moon Atlas / http://ap-i.net/avl/en/start . Inset photo by the author.
Planets: Saturn has been putting on a good show this summer. It will be 26° high in the South at 9pm, appearing close to the Moon in the sky.
The positions of some of it’s satellites are shown below. Although Titan is by far the largest and always easily visible, several other moons may be visible in the 20″ telescope. Look for tiny “sparkles” near the planet.
Images (2) courtesy of Starry Night (R) Orion Special Edition, Version: 6.2.3 kcEW, Imaginova (R) Corp.
Especially in the 20″ telescope, but also in any telescope set up outside, try seeing the “Cassini Division”, a 2900 mile wide gap in the rings. It will appear as a fine black line about 2/3 of the way out from the inner edge of the rings. Click here for more information on the ring system.
Star Charts and other Information:
A very useful monthly star chart can be downloaded here from SkyMaps.com, giving information on objects visible with the unaided eye, binoculars, or telescope.
For current astronomical events see Sky and Telescope Magazine’s “This Week’s Sky at a Glance”.