With less than one month left in summer, you can find the fall sky rising by 8:30pm. As fall approaches the spring sky lingers in the west while the fall sky replaces the summer in the east.
Neptune like the rest of the solar system is roughly 4.5 billion years old. It is believed that Uranus and Neptune were closer to the Sun when they formed and later migrated to their current orbits due to gravitational influence from Jupiter and Saturn.
On this date in 1965 Gemini V splashed down to Earth carrying astronauts Charles Conrad and Gordon Cooper. Gemini V was in Earth orbit for nearly eight days.
Looking southwest tonight at 9:30pm you will find the planet Jupiter. If you have a telescope you can see Jupiter’s moons Io and Europa cast their shadow on the cloud tops of Jupiter starting at 9:35pm.
Tonight Venus will reach maximum eastern elongation. This means Venus will be at its highest in the sky after sunset. After today Venus will begin to head back to the sun’s glare reaching inferior conjunction on October 26.
The ice giant Neptune has a distinct blue color. Like Uranus this is caused by methane in its atmosphere absorbing red light and reflecting blue light bask to space. Through a large telescope Neptune appears gray with a tint of blue.
Using the Summer Triangle as a reference around 10pm, you will find the constellation Hercules to its west, Cassiopeia to its east and Scorpius to its south.
Around 10pm tonight you can find the Summer Triangle by looking overhead. The triangle is made up of the stars Vega, Deneb and Altair. This pattern is made up of multiple constellations with Cygnus, Lyra and Aquila being the big three.
Tonight into tomorrow morning the Perseid Meteor Shower will peak. This will be a good year for the Perseids since the moon sets before things start. The best time to see meteors will be after 12am but you can start seeing them as early as 10pm.
Today Mercury reaches inferior conjunction. This is when Mercury passes between Earth and the Sun. On November 11, 2019 this will happen again as a syzygy meaning that with safe solar filters you can see Mercury transit Sun.