Stars of Late Summer

Tonight’s gibbous moon appears in the zodiacal constellation Pisces. The moon spends the weekend moving through this large constellation, a constellation that depicts two fish swimming.

Pisces is a constellation we associate with late summer and fall. Early in the evening Pisces rises in the east. While it is one of the largest constellations in the zodiac, the stars that reside within it are not as bright or as distinguishable as other more popular constellations.

Moon and the Tide

The moon appears low in the south in our evening skies this weekend. The gibbous moon spends the weekend going through the zodiacal constellation Sagittarius, the southern-most constellation in the zodiac. For those walking along the Island’s south shore, the moon will be an especially impressive sight, so close to the water and to the horizon.

The moon will appear higher in the coming week as it moves farther along the zodiac, passing into the constellation Capricornus. The moon will be full Tuesday through Wednesday. The August full moon is referred to as the Sailor’s Moon.

Moon and Planets

A thin crescent moon appears under the bright planet Venus tonight. Take a look about a half hour after sunset. The two appear just above the glow of where the sun has set and it is a pretty scene.

More and more observers will see the crescent moon in the nights ahead when it is higher in the sky. The moon is to the left of Venus tomorrow night. Both are about the same height above the horizon.

The western sky gets prettier on Sunday night when the moon is even higher in the southwestern sky, but it is also close to the ringed-planet Saturn.

Planets Morning and Night

In that critically short moment of dawn, an hour before sunrise, the planets Jupiter and Mars appear as a pair. They aren’t as close as they were a week ago, but still a sight. Jupiter is significantly brighter than Mars. If you can find Jupiter, you’ll see the red planet Mars under and to the left.

Then look below the two planets for a third, Mercury.

Mercury is hard to see. The planet is only a short distance above the horizon. Give yourself a tap on your shoulder if you see it.

Extreme Tides

Tides will run higher and lower than normal this weekend and well into next week and it is tied mostly to two astronomical events. The moon is full on Monday, and it will be especially close, in perigee, on Sunday.

The gravitational pull of both the moon and sun create our tides. When the moon is particularly close, tidal pull is more extreme so tides run higher and lower than normal.

We had the same thing happen only a month ago, but slightly more extreme. Last month full moon and perigee were on the same day.

Crescent Moon

The crescent moon hugs close to the southwestern sky tonight. The moon is in the zodiacal constellation Leo and will be entering into the zodiacal constellation Virgo tomorrow night.

On Monday, the moon is first quarter and appears near Spica, the brightest star in Virgo. On Tuesday night, the moon approaches the bright planet Saturn.

Saturn

Moon, Venus and Menemsha

A thin crescent moon next to the bright planet Venus will appear above the horizon right after sunset on Wednesday. If the weather is fair, one of the best spots on the Vineyard will likely be Menemsha after the sunset.

Menemsha is the ideal spot to watch as it offers an unencumbered view of the western horizon. There are other places around the Vineyard, such as West Chop, Cape Pogue lighthouse and even the Gay Head light.    

Venus and Fireworks

While many people out on the Fourth of July will be waiting for the first rocket and loud boom that makes up the fireworks display, it might also be a time to look to the west for a brilliant planet, Venus, the brightest planet in our west northwest evening sky.

Venus will be hugging close to the western sky right after sunset, at about the same place as the sun has set. The planet is tough to spot for many. If the sky is clear, those with a view of the western sky will see it.

Wet June

We had a wet spring. June has been extremely wet and we are still nine days from the last day of the month. As of Tuesday, the Vineyard received 5.98 inches of rainfall in the first 18 days of the month. Rainfall is measured at the National Weather Service cooperative station in Edgartown.

Since June arrived, the Vineyard has received measurable rainfall on 13 of those 18 days. We’ve had three June days when more than an inch of rain fell.

February remains the wettest month of the year, so far, with 6.63 inches of precipitation.

Planets and the Moon

The planets Venus and Mercury are close buddies this week but they part company later in the month.
    
Venus is easiest to spot, low in the southwestern sky after sunset. Venus is brilliant and above the horizon, amid the light of twilight.

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