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Star Gazing - July 16 - 21, 2018

Monday, July 16

• Now the crescent Moon in twilight shines upper left of Venus. Its sunlit bulge points down almost straight toward
Venus — and, as always, exactly straight toward the Sun.

Tuesday, July 17

• Starry Scorpius is sometimes called "the Orion of Summer" for its brightness and its prominent red supergiant
(Antares in the case of Scorpius, Betelgeuse for Orion). But Scorpius passes a lot lower across the southern sky on July
nights than Orion does in winter (for those of us at mid-northern latitudes.) That means it has only one really good
evening month: July.

Catch Scorpius due south just after dark now, before it starts to tilt lower toward the southwest. It's full of deep-sky
objects to hunt out with a good sky atlas and binoculars or a telescope.

Wednesday, July 18

• The Moon at nightfall shines to the upper right of Spica. Look very high above the Moon for brighter Arcturus. Far
to the right of Arcturus is the Big Dipper.

• The Cygnus Milky Way is high in the east after dark and passes overhead late at night. The Heart Star of Cygnus,
and the center of the Northern Cross, is 2nd-magnitude Sadr (Gamma Cygni), smack in the Milky Way's midst.
Binoculars will show the roughly heart-shaped ring of faint stars around and including it. Explore this area with Matt
Wedel's Binocular Highlight column and chart in the July Sky & Telescope, page 43.
Moon, Jupiter, Spica, July 19-20, 2018

As the Moon passes through first quarter, it hangs with Spica and then Jupiter.

Thursday, July 19

• First-quarter Moon (exact at 3:52 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time). The Moon shines in the southwest at dusk, with Spica
to its lower right and Jupiter to its left. Draw a line about twice as far onward from Jupiter and you'll reach Antares,
passing Delta Scorpii along the way.

Friday, July 20

• The waxing gibbous Moon shines over Jupiter this evening. Left of Jupiter by just 2° is the wide binocular double star
Alpha Librae, magnitudes 2.8 and 5.1.

The Moon is 1.3 light-seconds distant from us, Jupiter is 44 light-minutes in its background, and the two stars of Alpha
Librae are 77 light-years behind them.

Saturday, July 21

• Jupiter and little Alpha Librae shine lower right of the Moon this evening. To the Moon's lower left is Antares, with
other stars of upper Scorpius scattered around.
current night sky over Nashville, TN
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Starry, Starry Night . . .
"I know nothing of any certainty, but the sight of the stars
makes me dream." -Vincent Van Gogh