July Skies 2014
Evenings arrive late, though the days do get a little shorter. Rising higher in the east are three bright stars forming the Summer Triangle, seen over- head by midnight. They bracket the faint stream of light we call the Milky Way. The Big Dipper settles slowly into the northwest, while the southern skies are home to the Scorpion, its red “heart” is marked by the star Antares, with claws stretching to the west, and its tail right along the horizon. To the right of Antares, Saturn and Mars gradually glide into the southwest. Venus is low but visible in the morning twilight, joined briefly by Mercury mid-month. Jupiter swings behind the Sun, out of view.
28 – The bluish-white star Vega is nearly overhead, while the brilliant pale-orange Arcturus is about half way up from the horizon in the west. Between, about two thirds of the way from Arcturus up to Vega, a bow-tie shaped pattern of stars can be found, outlining the figure of Hercules.
29 – The Delta Aquarid Meteor shower is near its broad peak in activity, lasting from mid-July to mid-August. Though not prolific, the meteors tend to be slow and bright, worth waiting for a glimpse of one or two. The thin Crescent Moon will be long gone by dark, allowing excellent viewing this week.
30 – Due east at 11:30 PM is the Great Square of Pegasus, about one third of the way up into the sky. The square is tipped to look more like a diamond. In regards to a picture of the mythic winged horse, the square is the body, upside down with the head and front legs to the right.
Scorpio and Sagittarius (click on image for larger image in a new tab)
Sky and Telescope’s safe eclipse viewing guide
You can view the partial eclipse safely and easily following the directions provided.
The Mars Science Laboratory – Curiosity Rover
This is the home page for the Curiosity Rover. Explore the site to find images, videos, and volumes of science information.
The Mars Exploration Program
This is the home page for all of the on-going missions to Mars.
The Mars page of the website Nine Planets
Nine Planets is a great website featuring information about each planet (and even though there are only eight “planets”, you’ll find information about nearly all of the moons, dwarf planets, and other small solar system bodies)
Sky & Telescope's Interactive Star Chart
You must register first (it's free) to use this on-line chart. Follow the directions to get a chart that will show the sky for any location, at any time. You can also create a .pdf file to view from your computer any time.
The Old Farmer's Almanac
Astronomy Picture of the Day
Each day brings a fascinating look at astronomy, and an explanation of what you are seeing.
Vermont Astronomical Society
The Vermont Astronomical Society (VAS) is a group of amateur astronomers that has been serving northern Vermont for over 45 years. Membership ranges from beginning naked-eye stargazers to advanced amateurs with home observatories and elaborate equipment.
This is the home of NASA, where science ranges from the Earth to the ends of the universe. That means there's a lot to explore!
News and information about the Earth-Sun environment, including astronomy events (eclipses, moon phenomena, asteroids, etc.), discoveries, and Northern Lights.
Sky & Telescope Magazine
Books: There are thousands of books, and each has information that can be helpful. You might collect a few before you find one that matches your taste and way of thinking about astronomy. To help you get started, check with your local library or favorite book store for the following titles:
The Stars by H. A. Rey
Rey, well known for writing and illustrating the "Curious George" books, wrote this wonderful introduction to the night sky in the 1950s, and it remains one of the best for a wide range of ages and interests.
NightWatch by Terrence Dickinson
This ring-bound book leads the beginning star gazer through the heavens, rich in photographs, charts, and lots of practical information.
Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning by Richard Hinkley Allen
For those who love the myths and origins of star names and constellations, this is a wonderful start. Some of the interpretations have been challenged in recent years as others have looked into the subject, so it is not considered the final authority. But it is still a wealth of ideas and information.
Night Sky: A Guide to Field Identification (Golden Field Guides) by Mark R. Chartrand
This all around guide book shows you how to find the constellations, describes the nature of the heavens and the objects we see, and how to set up and use a telescope
Exploring the Night Skies with Binoculars by David Chandler
This is must, because it gives such practical and realistic expectations about what you can see.
Also of interest:
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Astronomy by Christopher De Pree and Alan Axelrod
Cosmos by Carl Sagan
365 Starry Nights by Chet Raymo
The Sky: A User’s Guide by David Levy