Welcome to the Boston Astronomy website ...
This website has been created by and is supported by a group of Boston,
MA - area amateur astronomers. It is intended to be a convenient site to
access news and information about astronomy and space-related activities
of interest to the community and the public.
July Astronomy-Related Events in the Boston Area
Saturday, July 5th, 9:00 - 11:00 PM
Robbins Farm Star Party
Arlington Heights, Arlington, MA.
Moon, meet Mars. The first-quarter moon lights up the night sky and
has a visitor. This evening, Mars will appear to pass right beside
the Moon. With the moon partially lit, it is a great time to see
the craters and rough terrain of the Moon in a telescope or even
through binoculars. Look for spots around the light/dark line
(called the terminator) where you can see shadows cast by peaks on
the lunar surface.
Thursday, July 10th, 2014, at 8:00 PM.
Telescope Makers of Boston (Boston area’s largest and oldest
(Meets every 2nd Thursday
Phillips Auditorium, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics,
60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA.
As is usual for our club, our July meeting will me a
member topic night. This year, we have lined up the following
- Mike Hill will give a talk on his 4 1/4"
- Bruce Berger will give us all an update
on our research observatory, "ARIO"
- Eileen Myers and Steve
Clougherty will do a presentation on the reconstruction and
installation of the twenty five inch Dob which is housed in the
Roll off Observatory at our Westford clubhouse
- Nick Bealo
will speak on the observatory he built for his high school
Paul Valleli will cover the ATMoB participation in Operation
Thursday, July 24, 2014 - Sunday,
July 27, 2014
Friday, July 25, 2014 - Sunday,
August 3, 2014
Peppermint Park Camping Resort
Open Night at Coit Observatory most Wednesdays
8:30 PM - 9:30 PM.
Museum of Science
"Astronomy After Hours" Friday nights 8:30 PM - 10:00
The Sky Report for the Month of
Current Night Sky: At A Glance
Phases of the Moon:
7:59 AM EDT
7:25 AM EDT
Last Quarter Moon
10:08 PM EDT
6:42 PM EDT
On July 5th, the Moon, at First
Quarter phase, passes just ¾ of a degree S of Mars. A day later, Spica
is just 2½° to its W. On the 6th, the Moon passes a degree
and a half to the S of Saturn. On the dawn of the 24th, the
waning crescent Moon lies about 8° to the right of Venus. A day later it
rises about 7° to the right of Mercury.
Evening Planets (after sunset):
- Mercury, in NW
- Jupiter, in NW
- Mars, in SW
- Saturn, in S
Visible At Midnight:
- Mars, in
- Saturn, in SW
- Neptune, in SE
Morning Planets (before sunrise):
- Neptune, in S
- Uranus, in
- Venus, in E
- Mercury, in NE
There are no comets brighter than
magnitude 8.0 visible in June.
A Schedule of Events
getting progressively lower every evening. By mid-July, it is no
longer visible. It reaches solar conjunction on the 24th.
Next month it will appear in the morning sky.
Mars is still
in a prime viewing location, and becomes visible shortly after
sunset. On the 13th, it moves to within a degree and a
half of first-magnitude Spica; even though Mars is dimming, it still
manages to outshine the star. Their close approach lets you
appreciate the contrast between the blue-white star and the reddish
high in the S as night falls. It’s among the dim stars of Libra, so
recognizing it should be easy. Any telescope will reveal the
planet’s magnificent ring system, and perhaps its largest moon Titan
about midnight in mid-July. The planet lies in Aquarius, and shines
at a magnitude 7.9, well below naked-eye visibility.
after midnight at midmonth. Its observing prospects improve at the
month goes on. By the 31st, it is rising almost 6 hours
before the Sun. The distant, magnitude 5.7 planet moves slowly; it
spends most of the month within 2½° of 4th-magnitude
just 2 hours before the Sun at midmonth, and it barely climbs out of
the morning twilight before sunrise. It shines at “just” magnitude
-3.8 - its faintest for the year. It gains some slight altitude
during the month, rising from 7° to 12° at sunrise during July. In a
telescope, its nearly-full disk appears only 12 arc-seconds in
becomes progressively more visible in the morning sky. It reaches
greatest elongation - 21° W of the Sun – on July 12th.
The dwarf planet/asteroid 1 Ceres
and the asteroid 4 Vesta make a particularly close
approach in July. (See our “What’s New” page for more info).
Pluto is at opposition on July 4th,
so this is prime time to hunt the planet down – if you have a large
telescope, that is! It shines no brighter than magnitude 14.1, and
is in rich star fields in Sagittarius. On the 21st it
passes just 1.2 arc-minutes S of the 5th-magnitude star
Two Asteroids Synch Up
This month, the objects known as 1
Ceres and 4 Vesta approach each other in the sky more closely
than they have since they were discovered. Ceres, which is now
considered (at least according to the International Astronomical
Union) both a dwarf planet and an asteroid) was discovered in
1801. It turned out to be the largest member of a belt of
asteroids orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter. Vesta,
which was discovered six years later, turned out to be the
second most-massive member of the Belt, and – as it turned out –
the brightest. (In fact, under ideal conditions, Vesta can be
seen with the naked eye).
coincidence, both objects have been cruising in the same part of
the sky. Both reached opposition in mid-April, when they were at
their brightest and closest to Earth. But, as it happens, they
appear closest to each other in July. On the evening of July 4th
and 5th, they will be separated by only 10 arc-minutes –
one-third of the diameter of the Full Moon! They will appear in
the same field of view of the average telescope even at high
Of course, recognizing them for
what they are is another matter; they still appear as
dimensionless points of light even in the most powerful
telescope. But if you plot their motion against the background
stars from night to night, you should be able to distinguish
Of course, this apparent alignment
is only the view from our perspective on Earth; in space, Ceres
lies 53 million miles beyond Vesta. One other thing they have in
common: they have had - or will have - a visitor from Earth. The
ion-powered spacecraft Dawn has already spent 14 months orbiting
and mapping Vesta. In is now on its way to do the same job at
Ceres, which it should reach in 2015. The difference between
their appearance from distant Earth and a spacecraft close up is
illustrated in the following images:
A global map of
Vesta, made by the Dawn spacecraft in orbit around the asteroid.
best image of Ceres currently available, taken in 2007 by the
Hubble Space Telescope.
July 2014 Star Chart
9:00 PM EST
Looking at Zenith, South at Bottom
The Big Dipper rides high in the NW on late July evenings.
To the NE, the bright stars of the Summer Triangle – Vega, Altair,
and Deneb – form their own recognizable pattern. Both are actually
asterisms rather than constellations; they are well-known patterns
formed from stars belonging to a single constellation or patterns
made up of stars from several constellations. A prominent star
pattern that is a true constellation in the deep south, Scorpius,
truly resembles its namesake; there is a group of moderately-bright
stars making up the Scorpion’s head and claws, and the bright red
star Antares representing its heart. Finally, there is a long
sinuous string of stars representing its hindquarters – complete
* Text, graphics, and animations by John Sheff.
Graphics courtesy of Starry Night Pro Plus 6 / Imaginova Corp. Starry
Night images are used with permission from Imaginova Corp.