What's Up for July 5-11
Posted July 5, 2020 2:23 p.m. EDT
Updated July 5, 2020 2:54 p.m. EDT
Comet C/2020 F3 has recently become more visible at an estimated magnitude of 2 (around that of the stars in the Big Dipper, or Polaris, the pole star). The comet rises around 4:30 but becomes increasingly difficult to see as sunrise draws closer. Your best bet to see it s to find as clear of a northeastern horizon as you can. The diffuse tail will be facing away from the Sun.
Venus is at its morning brightest for 2020 this week. Look for it before sunrise near the bright star Aldebaran. Mercury will also begin emerging mid-week about 30 minutes before sunrise from the dawn glow.
The International Space Station will be visible very early in the morning this week. Monday and Wednesday mornings rising from the northeast at 2:03 am.
Sunday July 5
Look southeast after 10 pm for the full buck Moon, it will form a triangle with Saturn and Jupiter.
Monday July 6
If you are up before dawn on Monday, look for the Moon to have moved beneath Saturn. After sunset, the Moon will have moved into a line with Saturn and Jupiter.
Tuesday July 7
Look to the southern sky for the teapot in the constellation Sagittarius, and hook in Scorpio. Each are asterisms, recognizable groupings of stars within constellations. While not "officially" recognized by astronomers, they are easier to find than some of the larger constellations.
The larger constellations are defined by the International Astronomical Union, a professional organization of astronomers. Constellations form not just stick-figure images in the sky but neighborhoods in the sky that help astronomers describe the movement of the planets, comets, and new discoveries to each other.
The Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill offers a Star Stories program aimed at younger children at 10 am.
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences offers Dinosaur Discovery a virtual event at 11:00 am
Wednesday July 8
SpaceX plans the launch of another batch of Starlink satellites at 12:15 pm from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Initial weather forecasts from the Air Force are 70% go.
The Space Institute at Rice University in Texas offers a free live online planetarium show: Search for Life in the Universe at 7 pm EDT in English and 8 pm EDT.
Thursday July 9
A pair of rocket bodies (space junk) will be visible rising from the southeast at 9:35 pm and from the northwest at 10:54 pm. For comparison, they will be a bit brighter than the stars in the big dipper.
The Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill offers a free live online planetarium program aimed at older kids and adults: Deep Sky Objects at 10 am
The Burke Baker Planetarium in Houston offers a free online planetarium show: Night Sky Tonight at 2 pm EDT. Free registration is required.
Friday July 10
The Hubble Space Telescope will be visible low on the southwestern horizon from 10:15 pm until it disappears into Earth's shadow in the southern sky 3 minutes later.
Saturday July 11
Look to the east before sunrise for the Moon and Mars. The pair will be separated by less than two degrees.
The orbit of the International Space Station takes it very close to central North Carolina on Monday and Tuesday which should produce some very bright passes both before sunrise and after sunset. Look for full details in the WRAL Weather Blog on Sunday July 12.
Wednesday July 15, 2020: National Reconnaissance Office plans the launch of a classified payload aboard a Minotaur IV at 9 am EDT on , from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. NASA TV coverage begins at 8:30 am EDT.