Monthly Sky Report - July 2006
To find the planets, bright stars and groups, you
need to know the compass directions where you watch the sky. Lacking
a compass, you can use the sun at the start, middle and end of the
day. As you face the rising sun - it will be rising nearly in the
East. In mid day (around 1 p.m. DST), look at your shadow which then
points North. The sun will set nearly in the West.
ALL THRU SEPTEMBER
During September, there is an average of 12.5 hours
of sunlight each day. During September, the sunsets drop back from 7:46
p.m. to 6:59 p.m. Sunrises change from 6:45 a.m. early in the month to
7:10 a.m. at month's end. Stars begin to fade away an hour before sunrise
and the star groups come into view an hour after sunset. In the early
evening, there are two very bright stars visible, golden Arcturus low
in the West and white-blue Vega nearly overhead. Arcturus lies along
the curve of the Big Dipper's handle. The star Vega is the peak star
of the Summer Triangle, a trio of bright stars. Low in the Southwest
is Sagittarius, whose brighter stars form an old fashioned tea kettle.
On moonless evenings, the Milky Way can be seen as a gentle glow running
from low in the Northeast, then below Vega and down to Sagittarius in
the Southwest. The brightest point of light in the evening sky is the
planet Jupiter, appearing low in the West in the early evening. In September,
the planets Mars, Venus and Mercury are too close to the sun to be easily
seen. The planet Saturn can be seen low in the Southeast at dawn, shining
in eastern Leo.
SIGHTS FOR EARLY SEPTEMBER '06
At the start of September, the moon appears
about half full low in the western twilight. The evening moon grows to full
on September 7th, then near the Aquarius-Pisces border. This is called the
Fruit Moon, a full moon that lingers for the next few nights in the early evening
sky. With luck, you may see the brilliant planet Venus low in the eastern dawn,
then rising only an hour before sunrise.
SIGHTS FOR MID SEPTEMBER '06
After mid September, the moon rises
after midnight and is best viewed at dawn. The early evening will then
be great for viewing the Milky Way, the ghostly glow along the central
plane of our galaxy. As it gets dark, the Milky Way can be seen in the
eastern sky, running from the northeastern horizon, then into the East
and then downward to the southern horizon.
SIGHTS FOR LATE SEPTEMBER '06
September 26th, the crescent moon appears near the brilliant planet
Jupiter low in the western dusk. The
next evening, the crescent moon will appear to the right of the bright
star Antares of the Scorpion. On September 29th, the evening moon appears
half full off the spout of the Teapot (of Sagittarius). This is the best
time of the month to view the moon's craters with binoculars or a telescope.
The Cumberland Astronomy Club will have their meeting on Friday, September
15th at 7:30 p.m. at the LaVale Public Library. All interested sky gazers
Our regular Planetarium programs on Sundays will resume
on September 10th. Our September feature is "Asteroids & Comets: Treats or
Treasures?" with showings in at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. each Sunday. The
Planetarium is in Tawes 302, near the middle of the Frostburg State campus.