Friday, July 18, 2008

Above Your Head This Week

If you're in Europe or Asia you know a total Solar Eclipse is headed your way August 1st.  Eastern Canada will also get a view.

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Just look at that alignment of Mars, Saturn and Regulus tonight!  You remember Regulus, the tail of the lion constellation, Leo.  Venus is still very bright in the glow of sunset. 

Here's something to look for: Find the Big Dipper then look for the handle which will have the star Mizar and its companion star, Alcor, visible with binocs.  Draw a line through them and it takes you directly to VEGA in the easterly sky, the brightest star directly overhead.      

Saturday, Jupiter's Red Spot will transit, or cross, the planet's meridian at 10:02 PM, EDT.  It will appear pale-orange but you'll see it.  It will continue to transit, or pass across the surface, every 10.5 hours (10:20 to 20:14).                

Sunday, if you're up at 11:00 PM, EDT, look for the Great Square of Pegasus looming up in the east - an early foreshadowing of Fall.  It'll be a bit bigger than your fist held at arm's length.              

Monday, Red Spot transits at 11:40 PM, EDT.    

Tuesday, my favorite moon, Io, belonging to Jupiter, will disappear behind its western limb at 10:05 PM, EDT.  It will reappear out of the eclipse of Jupiter's shadow, easterly, at 12:41 AM, EDT, early Wednesday morning.

Wednesday, another transit of the Red Spot at 1:18 AM, EDT, early Thursday morning.  What else are you doing at that hour anyway?  Sleeping?  Get up, make a cuppa, go outside, have a look.

Thursday, the modest but long-lasting Delta Aquarid meteor shower is strongest.  Look in southern latitudes before dawn.

Friday, last-quarter Moon, 2:42 PM, EDT.

Saturday, transit of Red Spot, 10:48 PM, EDT.

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This time belongs to Jupiter.  An historical first, astonomers have witnessed the birth of a new "red spot" or storm, on the giant planet, which is located half a billion miles away.                 

The new storm is roughly half the diameter of its bigger cousin, the Giant red spot storm.  It is believed the new spot is the result of major climatic changes on Jupiter. 

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Basics courtesy of JPL, NASA, Science Daily, star maps, Gryphon.