Minnesota Skies in July
July offers opportunities for stargazingIf we could view the Milky Way edge from a great distance it would look a bit like a fried egg—a central bulge of stars as well as many stars in the plane of the galaxy. The planets of our solar system orbit the Sun in a flat, plane, too. Does the plane of our solar system line up with the plane of the Milky Way? Go to some dark skies and see for yourself!
First, find the plane of our solar system by tracing the line between Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn (Jupiter shines low in the west, Mars gleams to Jupiter's left, and Saturn glows to Mars' left). That line shows the plane of the solar system. Watch the Moon move along that line from July 8 through 16. Now, to see the plane of our galaxy, look low in the south for a tea pot shape (Saggitarius) which is looking toward the center of the galaxy. Follow the smudge of faint distant stars up and to the east and then down to the northeast to the W constellation (Cassiopeia). The milky band of stars that runs from Saggitarius to Cassiopeia shows the plane of the Milky Way, clearly different from the plane of the solar system.
July Sky Pairings and Highlights
Bright Jupiter just above the Moon
Friday, July 8, 2016
Jupiter right of the Moon
Saturday, July 9, 2016
Mars 11° below left of the Moon
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Mars below the Moon; Saturn 13° left of the Moon
Thursday, July 14, 2016
Saturn below the Moon
Friday, July 15, 2016
Moon, Saturn, and Mars form a line
Saturday, July 16, 2016
Bright star Aldebaran just left of the Moon
Friday, July 29, 2016
Meet up with other stargazing enthusiasts at Universe in the Park this summer offered through the Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics.