• Mark Alan Lovewell

Astronomy and Fireworks

The Fourth of July offers those of us who love fireworks an opportunity to appreciate the night skies over Martha’s Vineyard. The two are what make celebrating our nation’s birthday so special here.
In the minutes before the fireworks start, make sure take a quick look to the west for the setting crescent moon. It will only be visible for a short time, before it sets in the west. It probably sets before the pyrotechnic show. The moon is in the zodiacal constellation Gemini.
For those who have a perfect view of the moon, it will be difficult. Look a short distance above the moon for a “star.” It is not a star. It is the planet Mars.
There is a second planet just to the viewer’s left of Mars and it is the planet Mercury.
So few have seen Mercury, for it is always so close to the setting or the rising sun. With the help of that crescent moon, you can see two planets and on the night of the fireworks.
The largest planet in our solar system joins with us for the summer. Jupiter is in the southeastern sky, in the zodiacal constellation Scorpius. It is the brightest celestial object in the night sky, except for the moon. You can’t miss it.
An hour after the fireworks, take another look at Jupiter but look more easterly. You’ll see the planet Saturn rising in the east. It is in the zodiacal constellation Sagittarius.
Happy Fourth of July.
Sunrise and Sunset
Day Sunrise Sunset
Fri., June 28 5:09 8:20
Sat., June 29 5:09 8:20
Sun., June 30 5:10 8:19
Mon., July 1 5:10 8:19
Tues., July 2 5:11 8:19
Wed., July 3 5:11 8:19
Thurs., July 4 5:12 8:19
Fri., July 5 5:12 8:19

Temperatures and Precipitations
Day Max (Fº) Min (Fº) Inches
June 21 67 59 0.47
June 22 67 56 0.78
June 23 80 54 0.33
June 24 81 62 0.00
June 25 81 60 0.00
June 26 74 63 1.05
June 27 77 60 0.00


Water temperature in Edgartown harbor: 72º F


Comment policy »


Subscribe or become a Friend of the Vineyard Gazette and receive our free newsletters and free and discounted tickets to Gazette events along with our award-winning news and photography.