The month of July was named for Julius Caesar and was as soon as the fifth month of the 12 months.
July is the first full month of summer time in the northern hemisphere and this 12 months will convey us a significant spotlight that received’t occur once more till September 2035.
That spotlight is a perihelic opposition of Mars on July 27. That’s when a planet is at its closest level to the solar at the similar time it’s instantly reverse the earth from the solar. The final time that occurred for Mars was Aug. 27, 2003, when it was at its closest to earth in almost 60,000 years, about the time fashionable people first began migrating out of Africa, leaving genetic footprints which are nonetheless seen at this time. They had been most likely compelled out throughout a sudden cooling interval throughout the final ice age. That was a really harmful time for people as a result of their numbers might have declined to as little as 10,000 worldwide.
We have sprung again to 7.5 billion, simply over a billion folks greater than had been round to see the final perihelic opposition simply 15 years in the past. Mars was just one million miles nearer to Earth 15 years in the past at 34.7 million miles than it will be this time. But this time it will be decrease on the ecliptic in Capricorn than 15 years in the past, so the views of a lot of its exceptional options by means of a telescope received’t be as straightforward to see.
Challenge your self to see as a lot element as you may this summer time whereas Mars continues to be massive and vivid, as a result of it will be 17 years till it will get this shut once more, permitting us to see it in some element even with out the use of a giant skilled telescope. Both of its icecaps, a lot of its darkish markings and a few of its skinny environment must be pretty straightforward to see in an excellent novice telescope, however extra thrilling options like Olympus Mons – the largest volcano in the photo voltaic system at thrice the peak of Mt. Everest with a base the dimension of Arizona and a 50-mile-wide caldera at the prime will current extra of a problem. The volcanoes on Mars have been erupting for billions of years, and will have erupted as not too long ago as 25 million years in the past.
Another good problem can be to seek out one or each of its moons, Phobos and Deimos, named for worry and terror. Phobos, at 14 miles in diameter, is the nearer one to Mars. Deimos is the one farther out, making it barely simpler to seek out with an excellent telescope and a way to dam out most of the gentle from Mars.
You would solely weigh a number of ounces on Deimos and its escape velocity is 12 mph, so you would run your self into orbit round this tiny moon like Superman. On Phobos you would throw a baseball into orbit, because you solely have to throw it at about 24 miles per hour.
Being the inside moon, Phobos is definitely spiraling inward towards the Martian floor at the fee of about 6 ft per century, which is about half the distance that our personal moon is drifting farther away from us each century. At that fee, Phobos will crash into Mars in about 40 million years and our personal moon will be too removed from Earth to create any extra complete photo voltaic eclipses in about 100 million years.
So get pleasure from this summer time exploring the good golden orange neighbor of ours, which nonetheless harbors many mysteries whilst many extra of its secrets and techniques are being revealed. We have already recognized that there was water on Mars at one time, however we’ve only recently found concrete proof for big natural molecules just under its floor and potential microbial exercise farther beneath its floor, inflicting seasonal differences in methane launch. Mars may nonetheless be an lively planet beneath its floor, hovering on the knife-edge of habitability.
The tales of the different planets will pale compared to the thrilling prospects of Mars this month, however they will present a pleasant supporting solid and are all the time attention-grabbing to take a look at with or with no telescope, and to proceed to study extra about them, since we actually know little or no about any of our seven different planets.
Venus is setting a little bit earlier once more in our western night sky, about an hour after sundown. But it’s nonetheless getting bigger and brighter because it catches up with us in our orbits. It will be two magnitudes, or over six occasions brighter than Mars. Venus will seem like a waning gibbous moon by means of a telescope, shrinking from 70 % to only 57 % illuminated by the solar.
Venus will take part in two glorious shut conjunctions this month, one with a planet and the different one with a star. Venus will be only one diploma above and to the proper of Regulus in Leo on the ninth, very near the place the solar was again on Aug. 21 of final summer time when it was eclipsed by the moon. Then Venus will be lower than one diploma to the left of a skinny waxing crescent moon on July 15 with Mercury beneath and to the proper of the pair about 45 minutes after sundown.
Jupiter continues to fade a little bit this month as we depart it farther behind in house in our respective orbits. The king of the planets will finish its retrograde or western movement in Libra on July 11. Jupiter received’t even get as vivid as Mars this month, which may be very uncommon.
Saturn was at opposition final month, so it’s now rising simply earlier than sundown and nonetheless seen all evening lengthy. Its golden glow is slowly fading, nevertheless it’s nonetheless brighter than ordinary and its rings are tilted open at 26 levels, which is close to its most. The ringed planet continues to be in retrograde in Sagittarius close to the Lagoon and Trifid nebulae alongside an arm of our Milky Way galaxy.
Pluto is even at opposition this month, in the teaspoon in Sagittarius. Orbiting the solar as soon as each 248 years, Pluto spends almost 21 years in every zodiac constellation. It will solely attain 14.eight magnitude this time, which is totally 2.5 million occasions fainter than Mars.
July four: Henrietta Swan Leavitt was born on this present day in 1868. She was an American astronomer at Harvard who found the period-luminosity relationship of Cepheid variable stars that allowed us to measure the universe and set up a distance scale.
July 5: On this present day in 1687 Isaac Newton revealed his Principia Mathematica.
July 6: Earth is at aphelion, or farthest from the solar at this time at 94.2 million miles. Last-quarter moon is at three:52 a.m.
July 9: Venus will be only one diploma above Regulus, and 15 levels above and to the left of Mercury tonight half an hour after sundown.
July 10: The slender waning crescent moon will be very near Aldebaran in Taurus simply earlier than dawn this morning. It will occult this pink big star in components of Canada.
July 11: Mercury will be at its greatest low in the western night sky after sundown tonight.
July 12: New moon is at 10:49 p.m.
July 14: The moon is simply above Mercury this night.
July 15: The moon will be very near Venus this night 45 minutes after sundown.
July 16: On this present day in 1994, the first of 21 items of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 slammed into Jupiter, leaving a big black mark that lasted for a number of weeks. I noticed as much as 5 of those marks without delay over the course of six days as one other piece descended into Jupiter’s environment about each six hours.
July 19: First-quarter moon is at three:53 p.m.
July 20: The moon is simply above Jupiter tonight. On this present day in 1969 the first people, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, set foot on the moon, simply 66 years after the first primitive airplane was flown by the Wright Brothers.
July 24: The moon is simply above Saturn this night.
July 27: Full moon is at four:22 p.m. This can be referred to as the Hay or Thunder Moon.
July 30: Mars will be at its closest to Earth in 15 years tonight.
Bernie Reim of Wells is co-director of the Astronomical Society of Northern New England.