Fun astronomy facts to impress your friends with! 

July 2015

1st – Tonight you will see the Full Buck moon and it is the first of 2 full moons this month. Looking to the west around 9:30 you will see Venus and Jupiter right next to each other. Tonight the planets are in conjunction and will set together!

2nd – Looking to the northeast around 5 o’clock tomorrow morning you may be able to spot Mercury just above the horizon. You could put 2 Pluto’s across Mercury’s diameter!

3rd – The International Astronomical Union has classified Pluto as a dwarf planet and a Plutoid. A Plutoid is any dwarf planet found outside the orbit of Neptune.

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!

5th –Pluto was first discovered by Clyde Tombaugh on February 18, 1930.  James Christy discovered Pluto’s moon Charon in 1978.

6th – Today the Earth is at aphelion or 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.

7th – Pluto resides in belt of icy comet like bodies that orbit the sun known as the Kuiper Belt. The fact that Pluto resides in this belt and doesn’t clear its orbit of objects is a reason it was demoted in 2006.

8th – It takes Pluto 248 Earth years to orbit the sun 1 time.  Pluto has yet to complete 1 orbit around the sun since its discovery in 1930!

9th – There are only 5 days left until the New Horizons spacecraft makes its close approach to Pluto.  Check out the latest Pluto images at http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/.

10th – The Hubble Space Telescope discovered 4 of Pluto’s moons.  In 2005 the moons Nix and Hydra were discovered. Two more moons were found in 2011 and 2012.

11th – Pluto is 1 among 5 dwarf planets.  Scientist believe there could be anywhere from 12  to 100 dwarf planets that could be discovered. The dwarf planet Ceres is located in our asteroid belt.

12th – Tonight’s full moon is known as the 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.   

13th – Pluto lies about 4 billion miles away from the sun or is about 39 times the distance of Earth from the sun.  Light from the sun takes about 5 and ½ hours to reach Pluto!

14th – New Horizons launched on January 19, 2006 while Pluto was still considered a planet!  After traveling 9 years the spacecraft will make its close approach to Pluto today!

15th – Looking to the southeast around 10 o’clock tonight you will see a group of stars that look like a teapot that form Sagittarius.  Pluto is in this constellation but you would need a 10 inch telescope to see it!

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 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.

18th – 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.

19th – 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.

20th – 46 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 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.

22nd – 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.

23rd – 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.     

24th – Looking to the west around midnight tonight you will see the orange star Arcturus. This star is part of the constellation Boötes the Herdsman.

25th – Looking to the southwest around 10 o’clock tonight you will see Saturn to the left of the waxing gibbous moon. Saturn’s largest moon Titan is about 1,200 miles larger in diameter than our moon!

26th – Looking to the northeast around 3 o’clock tomorrow morning you will see the bright yellow star Capella. This star is one of the 10 brightest stars of the night sky!

27th – 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.

28th – Looking to the southeast around 5 o’clock in the morning you will see three stars in a row together. These stars form the belt of Orion the Hunter!

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

30th – On this date in 1971 Apollo 15 astronauts David Scott and James Irwin land on the moon in an area known as the Hadley Rille. The lunar rover was first used on this mission.

31st – Tonight is the second full moon of the month known as a blue moon.  It was officially full around 5:43 this morning.