Astronomical highlights for this week

Weather
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Highlights

  • Look for a pair of conjunctions this week. The 3 day old Moon will be within 1.5 degrees of Venus after sunset (Jul 15) and less than 10 degrees Monday night. Jupiter will be within 7 degrees of the 7 day old Moon on Friday (Jul 20).
  • The Cygnid meteor peaks Sat (Jul 21) but with only 5 meteors per hour expected under the best conditions, this one probably isn’t worth getting anyone excited over.
  • The next major meteor shower, the Perseids, is just getting underway with similarly low rates. It will peak the evening of August 12 into the morning of the 13th with up to 100 meteors per hour (under best conditions)
  • Mars is bright throughout July and August and will be at its closest on July 31
    • It will be at its closest and brightest the evening of July 30 into the morning of the 31st (1.6 million miles closer than today).
    • This is the closest Mars has been since 1388 (looking back 1000 years)
    • Mars won’t be closer until 2556 (looking forward 1000 years)
    • Mars last close approach occurred in 2016 (it happens every 687 days, a Mars year).
    • NASA plans a live stream that evening
    • The Mars Hoax which has circulated since 2003 claiming Mars will appear as large as the Moon in the sky will likely surface again. NASA has information to help debunk these myths.
    • Mars missions are launched near these close approaches. We launched InSight earlier this summer and the Mars 2020 rover is planned for launch during the next close approach.
    •  
    • 2000 years worth of close (and far) approach dates for Mars are available in an Excel spreadsheet here.
    •  
  • Thu Jul 19 15:52:13: first quarter moon

 

Near Earth Objects (NEO)

lunar distance (LD) is the mean distance to the moon ~239k miles. Anything within 1 LD is newsworthy. For more information see NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies

This week

object

close approach date

uncertainty

LD

million
miles

2018 NV2

2018-07-15 11:05Z

< 1 sec

10.0

~2.55

2018 NM

2018-07-17 05:29Z

< 1 sec

1.4

~0.55

2018 NQ1

2018-07-19 08:31Z

< 1 sec

16.3

~4

2018 NE1

2018-07-21 11:10Z

~1 hour

10.1

~2.55

2018 NR1

2018-07-27 01:23Z

< 1 sec

17.0

~4

Closest

within

object

close approach date

uncertainty

lunar distances

million
miles

~14 days

2018 NM

2018-07-17 05:29Z

< 1 sec

1.4

~0.55

~1 year

2015 EG

2019-03-04 20:52Z

1+ hour

1.2

~0.55

~100 years

2010 RF12

2095-09-06 00:03Z

<2 hours

0.1

~15,290.55 miles

Planet visibility

body (phase)

rise

transit (alt)

set

constellation

Mercury (36%)

08:12:58

15:03:22 (63??)

21:55:53

Leo

Venus (63%)

09:36:12

16:13:37 (59??)

22:51:38

Leo

Moon (13%)

10:03:14

16:51:04 (57??)

22:52:51

Leo

Mars

21:49:42

02:21:28 (25??)

06:53:02

Capricornus

Saturn

19:13:39

23:57:29 (27??)

04:37:07

Sagittarius

Jupiter

15:09:43

20:19:38 (35??)

01:33:27

Libra

Sample rise/set times for 07/16/18

Satellite Passes

International Space Station (ISS)

ISS (ZARYA) is orbiting at 413 mi (256 km)

  • below trees pass begins Mon 2018-07-16 04:20:40 EDT from the NNW (335°) reaches 16°, lasts 4 minutes
  • fair pass begins Tue 2018-07-17 05:04:36 EDT from the NW (321°) reaches 34°, lasts 6 minutes
  • outstanding pass begins Thu 2018-07-19 04:56:44 EDT from the NW (310°) reaches 73°, lasts 6 minutes
  • poor pass begins Thu 2018-07-19 21:36:41 EDT from the SSW (194°) reaches 27°, lasts 5 minutes
  • outstanding pass begins Fri 2018-07-20 22:20:29 EDT from the WSW (244°) reaches 61°, lasts 6 minutes
  • fair pass begins Sat 2018-07-21 04:49:06 EDT from the WNW (295°) reaches 43°, lasts 6 minutes
  • outstanding pass begins Sat 2018-07-21 21:28:24 EDT from the SW (225°) reaches 70°, lasts 6 minutes
  • poor pass begins Sun 2018-07-22 22:13:12 EDT from the W (270°) reaches 30°, lasts 5 minutes
  • good pass begins Mon 2018-07-23 21:20:43 EDT from the WSW (251°) reaches 48°, lasts 6 minutes
  • below trees pass begins Tue 2018-07-24 22:06:13 EDT from the WNW (294°) reaches 19°, lasts 4 minutes

Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

HST is orbiting at 536 mi (333 km)

  • pass begins Wed 2018-07-18 05:32:59 EDT from the SW (218°) reaches 15°, lasts 4 minutes
  • pass begins Thu 2018-07-19 05:22:35 EDT from the SW (219°) reaches 15°, lasts 4 minutes
  • pass exits Earth’s shadow 10° above the horizon Fri 2018-07-20 05:12:14 EDT from the SW (220°) reaches 14°, lasts 4 minutes
  • pass exits Earth’s shadow 12° above the horizon Sat 2018-07-21 05:02:38 EDT from the SSW (210°) reaches 13°, lasts 3 minutes
  • pass exits Earth’s shadow 12° above the horizon Sun 2018-07-22 04:53:11 EDT from the SSW (197°) reaches 12°, lasts 2 minutes
  • pass exits Earth’s shadow 10° above the horizon Mon 2018-07-23 04:43:54 EDT from the S (181°) reaches 10°, lasts 13 seconds

See Heavens Above for the latest pass predictions. Satellite pass gradings are based on altitude reached and duration of pass. Higher altitude passes are closer to the observer and generally brighter as a result. Satellites other than ISS are much more difficult to spot.

Moon Phases

date

phase

Thu 2018-07-19 15:52:13

first quarter

Fri 2018-07-27 16:20:19

full

Sat 2018-08-04 14:17:58

last quarter

Sat 2018-08-11 05:57:43

new

Sun

Sunrise/set

Date

Rise

Solar noon (alt)

Set

sunlight

Mon 2018-07-16

05:57

13:20 (70.80??)

20:42

14 hrs 45 min

Tue 2018-07-17

05:58

13:20 (70.63??)

20:42

14 hrs 43 min

Wed 2018-07-18

05:59

13:20 (70.46??)

20:41

14 hrs 42 min

Thu 2018-07-19

05:59

13:20 (70.28??)

20:40

14 hrs 40 min

Fri 2018-07-20

06:00

13:20 (70.09??)

20:39

14 hrs 39 min

Sat 2018-07-21

06:01

13:20 (69.90??)

20:39

14 hrs 37 min

Sun 2018-07-22

06:02

13:20 (69.70??)

20:38

14 hrs 36 min

Mon 2018-07-23

06:03

13:20 (69.49??)

20:37

14 hrs 34 min

Tue 2018-07-24

06:04

13:20 (69.29??)

20:36

14 hrs 32 min

Wed 2018-07-25

06:05

13:20 (69.07??)

20:35

14 hrs 30 min

  • lost 0:14:29 (hh:mm:ss) of daylight over this period
  • daylight (HH:MM): 14:37
  • mean: sunrise 06:01 sunset 20:39
  • max: sun angle 70.80??

Twilight

date

rise

set

Mon 2018-07-16

03:56

22:43

Tue 2018-07-17

03:57

22:42

Wed 2018-07-18

03:58

22:41

Thu 2018-07-19

04:00

22:40

Fri 2018-07-20

04:01

22:38

Sat 2018-07-21

04:02

22:37

Sun 2018-07-22

04:04

22:36

Mon 2018-07-23

04:05

22:34

Tue 2018-07-24

04:07

22:33

Wed 2018-07-25

04:08

22:32

Astronomical Seasons

  • autumnal equinox: Sat 2018-09-22 21:54
  • winter solstice: Fri 2018-12-21 17:22

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