Get up an hour or more before sunrise Thursday (July 24, 2014) to view a beautiful morning tableau. The waning crescent moon and planet Venus – second-brightest and third-brightest heavenly bodies, respectively, after the sun – will be together in the eastern morning twilight. The darkened portion of the crescent moon might be shining dimly in earthshine.
The longest lunar month of the year begins with the new moon of August 25, 2014, and ends with the new moon of September 24, 2014. This lunar month – the period of time between successive new moons – lasts for 29 days 16 hours and 1 minute. That’s 3 hours and 17 minutes longer than the mean lunar month of 29 days 12 hours and 44 minutes.
If you’re an early riser, you might know that the old moon has been back in the east before dawn this week. What to expect in the coming mornings, inside.
At evening, Saturn shines in front of Libra, close to star Zubenelgenubi. It is stationary on this night, unmoving with respect to the stars. Meanwhile, set your alarm for the coming mornings. The moon before dawn is strikingly near star Aldebaran on Tuesday, moving toward planets Venus and Mercury in the coming mornings.
Put your coffee pot on a timer and set your alarm for a couple of hours before sunrise on July 21. You’ll want to get up early to see the waning crescent moon, Pleiades star cluster and the red star Aldebaran adorning the early morning sky. Look east before dawn. If you get up too late, you’ll still enjoy seeing the brightest star-like object in all the heavens: the planet Venus.
If you’re up early, enjoying the relative coolness of the predawn and dawn hours on these July 2014 mornings, be sure to look east before sunrise to catch the planets Venus and Mercury. They’ll be low in your eastern predawn sky some 75 to 60 minutes before the sun comes up. Venus, the brightest starlike point of light in all the heavens, outshines Mercury by leaps and bounds. But Mercury is still plenty bright, shining on par with the sky’s brightest stars. Start with the waning crescent moon and draw an imaginary line through dazzling Venus, to locate Mercury near the horizon.
Tonight’s chart has you looking eastward at the famous Summer Triangle. Deneb is the northernmost star in the Summer Triangle. Its constellation is Cygnus the Swan. In a dark country sky, you can see that Cygnus is flying along the starlit trail of the summer Milky Way.
You’ve probably got a pair of binoculars lying around your house somewhere. They may be perfect – that’s right, perfect – for stargazing. Follow the links inside this post to learn more about the best deal around for people who want to get acquainted with the night sky: a pair of ordinary binoculars.
Our human eyes and brains tend to pick out pairs of stars on the dome of night, especially if the two stars are relatively bright. Few such couplings represent true partner stars in space, however; rarely are the two stars gravitationally bound. Some well-known stellar pairs that are not truly bound include the two stars of the constellation Gemini the Twins – Castor and Pollux – as well as the Little Dipper’s bowl stars Kochab and Pherkad. On Northern Hemisphere summer nights, another famous pair of stars glares down at us from up high in the northern sky. These stars are Eltanin and Rastaban. They representing fiery Eyes of the constellation Draco the Dragon. Like many pairs of stars, these two look close together only because they are aligned on nearly the same line of sight, as seen from Earth. Follow the links inside to learn more.