Fun astronomy facts to impress your friends with!

July 2016

1st –Looking to the west around 10 o’clock tonight you will see Jupiter. If you look at this planet in 10 x 50 binoculars you may see 4 star like objects which are 4 of Jupiter’s moons!

2nd – The Earth has 1 moon but Jupiter has at least 67 moons! 4 of these moons were seen by Galileo in 1610 and are now known as the Galilean moons.

3rd – The Juno spacecraft is due to arrive at Jupiter tomorrow. The robotic probe will look for evidence of a solid planetary core in Jupiter and investigate the magnetic field of this giant world!

4th – Chinese astronomers observed a super nova in Taurus the bull on this date in 1054 A.D.  It was 4 times brighter than planet Venus and could be seen in the day! Juno arrives at Jupiter today!

5th – Yesterday the Earth was at aphelion, its farthest point from the Sun for the year. Despite this fact we experience the hot summer weather due to the tilt of Earth’s axis.

6th – You can tell the difference between a star and planet by seeing if the object twinkles. Stars twinkle but planets shine steadily in the sky.

7th – Jupiter has 3 thin rings that orbit the planet. The rings are so faint we were not able to see them until Voyager 1 flew past Jupiter in 1979 and saw the rings backlit by the Sun!

8th – Looking to the west around 9 o’clock tonight you will see the waxing crescent Moon just below Jupiter. Right now the Juno spacecraft is exploring Jupiter.

9th – Jupiter has a hurricane-like storm known as the Great Red Spot. This storm has been observed for more than 300 years and observations from the Hubble Telescope show it is slowly shrinking.

10th – Jupiter is composed of mostly hydrogen and helium like the Sun. If this gas giant was more massive it could have become a star!

11th – Looking to the southwest around 10 o’clock tonight you will see the waxing crescent Moon just above the blue-white star Spica. This star is part of Virgo the Maiden.

12th –The New Horizons spacecraft flew by Pluto in the summer of 2015.  Eight years before this encounter New Horizons flew by Jupiter and tested its cameras by taking pictures of the planet.

13th – Looking to the south around 9 o’clock tonight you will see the star Zubenelgenubi below the waxing gibbous Moon. This star is part of the constellation Libra the Scales.

14th – Looking to the south around 9 o’clock tonight you will see Mars just below the waxing gibbous Moon.  Look to the left of Mars to see Saturn!

15th – Looking to the south around 9 o’clock tonight you will see the Moon just above Saturn! The Earth has 1 moon while Saturn has over 60 moons!

16th – Looking to the south around 4 o’clock tomorrow morning you will see a bright star called Fomalhaut. This star is part of the constellation Piscis Austrinus or the Southern Fish.

17th – Looking to the south around 9 o’clock tonight you will see Saturn to the left of Mars. If you watch Mars each night from now into August you will see it get closer in the sky to Saturn.

18th – Looking toward the center of the sky around midnight you will see the bright stars Vega, Deneb and Altair. These 3 stars form the Summer Triangle and can be seen all summer.

19th – Tonight you will see the Full Buck Moon because buck deer get new antlers at this time of the year. You will see the Moon from just after sunset to just before sunrise.

20th – 47 years ago, the Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and “Buzz” Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the Moon, while Michael Collins remained in orbit around the Moon!

21st – Looking to the northeast around 11 o’clock tonight you will see a group of stars that look like the letter “W”. This is the constellation Cassiopeia the Queen.

22nd – Looking to the south around 10 o’clock tonight you will see a group of stars that look like the letter “J”. This is the constellation Scorpius the Scorpion.

23rd – Looking to the northwest around 10 o’clock tonight you will see the Big Dipper. You will see an example of a visible double star in the middle of the handle of the dipper.

24th – On December 4, 1973 the Pioneer 10 spacecraft became the first probe to fly by Jupiter. This July, the Juno Spacecraft has arrived to study the interior of Jupiter!

25th – Jupiter has been visited by 9 robot probes in total. 2 of these probes remained in orbit around the planet for a period of time while the 7 other probes flew past the planet!

26th – The International Astronomical Union officially recognizes 88 constellations in the sky. The Sun passes through 13 of these constellations which are known as the Zodiac.

27th – Looking to the east around 5 o’clock in the morning you will see the waning crescent Moon to the right of a group of stars together. This is the Pleiades star cluster.

28th – Looking to the east around 5 o’clock tomorrow morning you will see the waning crescent Moon to the right of the red star Aldebaran. This star is part of the constellation Taurus the Bull.

29th – On this date in 1958, President Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act which founded the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

30th – The stars tell us that fall will soon be here. Looking to the east around midnight you will see 4 stars that form the Great Square of Autumn.

31st – Looking to the west around 9 o’clock tonight you will see Jupiter. Soon we won’t see Jupiter at night again until next April as it will soon set with the Sun.