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Star Gazing - July 15, 2019
Monday, July 15
• The Moon accompanies Saturn across the sky tonight, as shown above. They appear just 2° or 3° apart for
North America. Saturn is currently 3,400 times farther than the Moon — twice as distant as Jupiter.
Tuesday, July 16
• Full Moon (exact at 5:38 p.m. EDT). A partial lunar eclipse is visible from most of the world's continents
except North America. Map, timetable, and full details.
For us in North America, the full Moon shines on just as normal as can be, about 10° east of Saturn.
Wednesday, July 17
• High in the northwest after dark, the Big Dipper has started its long, slow scoop toward the right. Lower
in the north-northeast, meanwhile, the upright W of Cassiopeia has slowly begun to tilt and climb.
Thursday, July 18
• Week by week, bright Arcturus is losing some of its height in the west after dark.
Look for Spica to the lower left of Arcturus by about three fists at arm's length. Lower right of Arcturus
by the same amount is Denebola, the tailtip of Leo. These three stars form an almost perfect equilateral
Jupiter and Saturn at nightfall, mid-July 2019
All this week Jupiter hangs upper left of Antares, and Saturn hangs upper left of the Sagittarius Teapot.
Friday, July 19
• The tail of Scorpius is low due south after dark, as shown above. How low depends on how far north or
south you live: the farther south, the higher.
Look for the two stars especially close together in the tail. These are Lambda and fainter Upsilon Scorpii,
known as the Cat's Eyes. They're canted at an angle; the cat is tilting his head and winking.
The Cat's Eyes point to the right by nearly a fist-width toward Mu Scorpii, a much tighter pair (shown as a
single dot on the map) known as the Little Cat's Eyes. They're oriented almost exactly the same way as
Lambda and Upsilon. Are your eyes sharp enough to resolve the Mu pair without using binoculars? Not
many people can!
Saturday, July 20
• Scorpius is sometimes called "the Orion of Summer" for its brightness, its blue-white giant stars, and its
prominent red supergiant (Antares in the case of Scorpius, Betelgeuse for Orion). But Scorpius passes a lot
lower across the south than Orion does, 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 with a sky atlas and binoculars or a telescope, before the waning gibbous Moon rises
later tonight to light the sky.
• Once the Moon does rise in the east-southeast, contemplate the moment 50 years ago today when a man
took the first step onto another world. The sunset terminator tonight is approaching Tranquillity Base, and
everything there must be casting long shadows.
Starry, Starry Night . . .
"I know nothing of any certainty, but the sight of the stars
makes me dream." -Vincent Van Gogh