Astronomical outlook for the week

Weather

Highlights

  • Did you know that Apollo 11’s splashdown point was changed in the final hours due to high altitude winds observed in high-resolution photography from highly-classified Corona reconnaissance satellite. The Air Force contacted NASA and the Navy about the storm that could have ripped the capsule’s parachutes to shreds based on images they couldn’t share from a satellite that wasn’t supposed to exist. Read the whole story in this National Reconnaissance Office story
  • July 20, 19:01Z The Moon s at Apogee, the furthest point in its orbit from Earth. 252k miles (405480 km)
  • July 20: NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano and Russian cosmonaut Aleksandr Skvortsov will lift off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a Russian Soyuz rocket at 12:28 p.m. EDT (1638Z) bound for the International Space Station (ISS).
  • July 21: SpaceX plans a cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 7:30 p.m. EDT (2330Z)
  • July 22: The private company iSpace will attempt to become the first Chinese company to launch a satellite into orbit from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China.
  • July 26: The Capricornid meteor shower reaches its maximum rate of activity (5 ZHR). This is not a strong shower and not worth alerting viewers to but could explain any meteor activity that is reported to you. Next strong shower is the Perseids which peak Aug 12-13.
  • Wed Jul 24 21:17:59: last quarter moon
  • Wed Jul 31 23:11:53: new moon

On This Day

  • Jul 20, 1976: Viking 1 Mars lander becomes the first craft to soft land on another planet
  • Jul 20, 1969: Apollo 11 lands on the Moon
  • Jul 23, 2015: Kepler scientists discovered the first near-Earth sized planet in the “habitable zone”

DYK Apollo 11’s return to Earth was rerouted to avoid a forecasted violent storm in the Pacific discovered in secret reconnaissance photos? Film canisters were ejected by Corona satellites and caught in mid-air by skilled Air Force crews for processing.

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
2019 NJ2 2019-07-19 19:53Z <1 hour 13.3 3+
2015 HM10 2019-07-24 05:21Z ~3 hours 12.2 ~3
2010 PK9 2019-07-26 15:04Z < 1 sec 8.2 ~2
2019 NT1 2019-07-27 22:10Z ~1 hour 19.0 ~5
2019 NN4 2019-07-29 01:22Z ~1 hour 6.6 ~2

Closest

within object close approach date uncertainty lunar distances million
miles
~14 days 2019 NN4 2019-07-29 01:22Z ~1 hour 6.6 ~2
~1 year 2017 MF7 2020-06-14 13:10Z ~4.55 days 3.7 <1
~100 years 2010 RF12 2095-09-05 23:53Z ~16 hours 0.0 1,098+ miles

Planet visibility

body (phase) rise transit (alt) set constellation
Mercury (1%) 06:11:11 13:07:58 (65??) 20:05:04 Gemini
Venus (99%) 05:29:32 12:54:30 (72??) 20:19:00 Gemini
Moon (72%) 23:31:25 05:21:04 (44??) 11:18:23 Pisces
Mars 07:09:37 14:16:55 (67??) 21:25:54 Cancer
Saturn 19:40:14 00:25:43 (27??) 05:06:59 Sagittarius
Jupiter 17:25:43 22:11:14 (27??) 02:52:33 Ophiuchus

Sample rise/set times for 07/22/19

Satellite Passes

This information is best used to identify passes worth sharing or skipping. Those nearest overhead are closest, brightest, and longest. Check dates and times for each pass before your share.

International Space Station (ISS)

  • poor pass begins Mon 2019-07-22 21:35:22 EDT from the WNW (285°) reaches 22°, lasts 5 minutes
  • below trees pass begins Wed 2019-07-24 21:34:27 EDT from the NW (310°) reaches 15°, lasts 4 minutes
  • below trees pass begins Fri 2019-07-26 21:33:28 EDT from the NNW (330°) reaches 12°, lasts 3 minutes
  • below trees pass begins Sun 2019-07-28 21:31:52 EDT from the NNW (337°) reaches 13°, lasts 3 minutes

Starlink (SpaceX)

The info below can and will change as these satellites are moved into their final orbits. Use the Heavens Above link below for up to date predictions

  • pass exits Earth’s shadow 39° above the horizon Mon 2019-07-22 02:29:31 EDT from the NNW (342°) reaches 39°, lasts 3 minutes
  • pass begins Mon 2019-07-22 04:07:02 EDT from the NW (310°) reaches 16°, lasts 5 minutes
  • pass exits Earth’s shadow 32° above the horizon Tue 2019-07-23 02:23:52 EDT from the NNW (332°) reaches 32°, lasts 3 minutes
  • pass begins Tue 2019-07-23 04:01:59 EDT from the NW (316°) reaches 15°, lasts 4 minutes
  • pass exits Earth’s shadow 12° above the horizon Wed 2019-07-24 00:42:33 EDT from the ENE (57°) reaches 12°, lasts 16 seconds
  • pass exits Earth’s shadow 27° above the horizon Wed 2019-07-24 02:18:09 EDT from the NW (325°) reaches 27°, lasts 3 minutes
  • pass begins Wed 2019-07-24 03:56:53 EDT from the NW (322°) reaches 15°, lasts 4 minutes
  • pass begins Wed 2019-07-24 05:37:01 EDT from the NNW (329°) reaches 20°, lasts 6 minutes
  • pass exits Earth’s shadow 14° above the horizon Thu 2019-07-25 00:36:46 EDT from the NE (52°) reaches 14°, lasts 39 seconds
  • pass exits Earth’s shadow 21° above the horizon Thu 2019-07-25 02:12:23 EDT from the NW (319°) reaches 23°, lasts 4 minutes
  • pass begins Thu 2019-07-25 03:51:44 EDT from the NW (326°) reaches 14°, lasts 4 minutes
  • pass begins Thu 2019-07-25 05:31:31 EDT from the NNW (328°) reaches 23°, lasts 6 minutes
  • pass exits Earth’s shadow 18° above the horizon Fri 2019-07-26 00:30:52 EDT from the NE (45°) reaches 18°, lasts 1 minutes
  • pass exits Earth’s shadow 17° above the horizon Fri 2019-07-26 02:06:28 EDT from the NW (313°) reaches 20°, lasts 4 minutes
  • pass begins Fri 2019-07-26 03:46:29 EDT from the NNW (329°) reaches 15°, lasts 4 minutes
  • pass begins Fri 2019-07-26 05:26:00 EDT from the NW (326°) reaches 27°, lasts 7 minutes
  • pass exits Earth’s shadow 23° above the horizon Sat 2019-07-27 00:24:49 EDT from the NE (35°) reaches 23°, lasts 1 minutes
  • pass exits Earth’s shadow 12° above the horizon Sat 2019-07-27 02:00:23 EDT from the NW (307°) reaches 18°, lasts 5 minutes
  • pass begins Sat 2019-07-27 03:41:09 EDT from the NNW (330°) reaches 15°, lasts 4 minutes
  • pass begins Sat 2019-07-27 05:20:29 EDT from the NW (323°) reaches 32°, lasts 7 minutes
  • pass exits Earth’s shadow 31° above the horizon Sun 2019-07-28 00:18:23 EDT from the NNE (14°) reaches 31°, lasts 2 minutes
  • pass begins Sun 2019-07-28 01:54:49 EDT from the NW (308°) reaches 16°, lasts 5 minutes
  • pass begins Sun 2019-07-28 03:35:46 EDT from the NNW (331°) reaches 16°, lasts 5 minutes
  • pass begins Sun 2019-07-28 05:14:59 EDT from the NW (320°) reaches 40°, lasts 7 minutes
  • pass begins Sun 2019-07-28 22:35:24 EDT from the ENE (66°) reaches 13°, lasts 35 seconds
  • pass exits Earth’s shadow 30° above the horizon Mon 2019-07-29 00:10:47 EDT from the NW (305°) reaches 34°, lasts 4 minutes
  • pass begins Mon 2019-07-29 01:49:45 EDT from the NW (315°) reaches 15°, lasts 5 minutes
  • pass begins Mon 2019-07-29 03:30:20 EDT from the NNW (331°) reaches 18°, lasts 5 minutes
  • pass begins Mon 2019-07-29 05:09:28 EDT from the NW (317°) reaches 51°, lasts 8 minutes

Atmospheric drag and other factors can and does cause orbits to change. See the European Space Agency supported Heavens Above for the latest pass predictions. Satellite pass gradings are based on altitude reached and duration of the 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
Wed 2019-07-24 21:17:59 last quarter
Wed 2019-07-31 23:11:53 new
Wed 2019-08-07 13:30:55 first quarter
Thu 2019-08-15 08:29:13 full

Sun

Sunrise/set

Date Rise Solar noon (alt) Set sunlight
Mon 2019-07-22 06:02 13:20 (69.75??) 20:38 14 hrs 36 min
Tue 2019-07-23 06:03 13:20 (69.55??) 20:37 14 hrs 34 min
Wed 2019-07-24 06:03 13:20 (69.34??) 20:36 14 hrs 33 min
Thu 2019-07-25 06:04 13:20 (69.12??) 20:36 14 hrs 31 min
Fri 2019-07-26 06:05 13:20 (68.90??) 20:35 14 hrs 29 min
Sat 2019-07-27 06:06 13:20 (68.68??) 20:34 14 hrs 27 min
Sun 2019-07-28 06:07 13:20 (68.45??) 20:33 14 hrs 25 min
Mon 2019-07-29 06:08 13:20 (68.21??) 20:32 14 hrs 23 min
Tue 2019-07-30 06:09 13:20 (67.97??) 20:31 14 hrs 21 min
Wed 2019-07-31 06:10 13:20 (67.73??) 20:30 14 hrs 19 min
  • lost 0:16:29 (hh:mm:ss) of daylight over this period
  • daylight (HH:MM): 14:27
  • mean: sunrise 06:06 sunset 20:35
  • max: sun angle 69.75??

Twilight

date rise set
Mon 2019-07-22 04:04 22:36
Tue 2019-07-23 04:05 22:35
Wed 2019-07-24 04:06 22:33
Thu 2019-07-25 04:08 22:32
Fri 2019-07-26 04:09 22:31
Sat 2019-07-27 04:11 22:29
Sun 2019-07-28 04:12 22:28
Mon 2019-07-29 04:14 22:26
Tue 2019-07-30 04:15 22:25
Wed 2019-07-31 04:17 22:23

Covers Mon 2019-07-22 01:00 through Thu 2019-08-01 01:00 . Calculations are for Altoona, PA (40.4780,-78.4213) at an elevation of 341 m and are expressed in local (US/Eastern) time and a 24-hour clock.

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