The nights ahead leading up to the Fourth of July are the best as we have an assembly of brilliant stars and bright planets.
Beginning tomorrow night, the thin crescent moon joins the celestial show, appearing first low in the southwestern sky after sunset. In the nights ahead it gets higher and more prominent.
The Big Dipper, a favorite constellation for astronomers of all ages, appears high in the northwestern sky as the evening begins. The handle of the dipper points to the bright star Arcturus, nearly overhead, in the constellation Bootes.
There are three planets easily visible, too. The brightest planet, Jupiter, appears low in the western horizon after sunset and will be visible even when the fireworks are bursting in the air. On Sunday night, the moon and Jupiter are a close pair.
The red planet Mars is in the zodiacal constellation Virgo. You can’t miss its reddish color. Mars is near the blueish white star Spica, the brightest and principal star in Virgo. Mars and Spica are a pair. The color of one helps show off the color of the other. The two are in the southern sky.
Look farther eastward, above the southern sky, not far from Mars and you’ll see the planet Saturn. Saturn is in the zodiacal constellation Libra and outshines all the stars in the constellation.
The crescent moon moves through the zodiac in the nights ahead, mainly in the western sky. By the Fourth of July evening, the moon is first quarter in Virgo. By Fourth of July Friday, the moon isn’t too far from Mars.
The zodiac at this time of year is low in the sky. Thus all the planets and the moon appear farther south than at other times of the year.
|Fri., June 27||5:08||8:20|
|Sat., June 28||5:09||8:20|
|Sun., June 29||5:09||8:20|
|Mon., June 30||5:10||8:19|
|Tues., July 1||5:10||8:19|
|Wed., July 2||5:11||8:19|
|Thurs., July 3||5:11||8:19|
|Fri., July 4||5:12||8:19|
|Day||Max (Fº)||Min (Fº)||Inches|