Mark Alan Lovewell

First Quarter Moon

Tonight, you’ll see a crescent moon low in southern sky after sunset. The moon is moving through the constellation Scorpius, the mythological scorpion and in the nights ahead will pass two bright planets.

The first quarter moon appears Monday night and it is in the zodiacal constellation Sagitarius hugging the southern sky. Sagittarius is known by astronomers as the center of our galaxy, the center of the Milky Way.

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Bright Jupiter

The brightest planet in the evening sky is Jupiter. Jupiter hasn’t been this bright and close in 40 years. The planet is 362 million miles away, which is hardly close. Amateur astronomers will enjoy its proximity, as their telescopes will render it as large as it gets.

In opposition, Jupiter is in the zodiacal constellation Pisces, a constellation depicting mythological fishes. If you could see deeper into outer space you’d also notice that the distant planet Neptune is nearby.

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Mars, Moon and Midnight

Tonight, if you can step outside late, you’ll see the Moon in close proximity to the red planet Mars. Both are in the constellation Taurus. The bright star Aldebaran, the brightest star in the constellation is not far away. The view starts around midnight, when the the three are high enough to see above the eastern horizon.

You can draw an imaginary line through all three of them with Mars almost being in the middle. Take note of the brightness of Mars. The planet is growing in brightness as it gets closer.

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Jupiter, Moon and Saturn
Tonight, the bright gibbous moon appears between the two brightest evening planets Jupiter and Saturn.
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The red planet Mars is worthy of attention this month as it both grows in brightness and gets easier to see after midnight. The planet has spent much of the year in the morning sky and faint. In the weeks and months ahead, the planet will brighten and become more notable.

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Thin Crescent Moon Next Week

A thin crescent moon appears low in the southwestern sky beginning next week. Take a look Tuesday night for the moon appearing near the bright star Spica, the main star in the constellation Virgo.

The two are together for a short time and then they set in the west. The moon appears higher in the nights that follow and will be easier to see.

Ringed Planet Saturn

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Stars Tonight

Tonight is the night of the fireworks in Oak Bluffs. Take this moment to look beyond the nearby fireworks display and for there is a stellar showing going on over your head.

If the sky is clear enough, the stars will be brilliant tonight. There is no brilliant moon to compete for attention. You could see the Milky Way band as it runs from the northeastern sky to the southern sky.

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Saturn and Full Moon

Saturn and the Full Moon rise together tonight in the eastern sky. The two are in the zodiacal constellation Capricornus. Saturn is the brightest object nearest the moon.

The ringed-planet Saturn is now visible a short time after sunset, rising in the eastern sky. The planet reaches opposition on Sunday, which puts it closer to the Earth than at any other time in the year.

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Moon in Scorpius

Tonight’s gibbous moon appears low in the southern sky near Antares, the brightest star in the zodiacal constellation Scorpius.

Scorpius is a group of stars that depict a giant scorpion. It is one of the southernmost constellations in the zodiac.

Take a look tonight for Antares almost four degrees distant from the moon. The two are a pair. Use the moon as a guide to see this bright red star.

Antares is one of the largest stars in the summer night sky. It parallels in size the bright red star Betelgeuse in the winter constellation Orion.

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Perseid Meteor Show Now

The time is right to be thinking of the Perseid Meteor shower, though usually it is more than a week away.

The shower’s peak will combine with a full moon on August 12. A full moon will likely be the spoiler, brightening the sky so much that only the brightest meteors can be seen.

Don’t wait. Before the moon takes over, enjoy these beautiful summer nights and try and spot a meteor any night prior too and after the date of the shower.

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