Categories: Sky Reports
As reported last week, there is a wonderful grouping of three planets and the moon on Monday morning, the 28th. Check the Sky Report archive at https://stellarvistaobservatory.org/category/sky-reports/ for a graphic. The best time to look is about 45 minutes before sunrise to see brilliant Venus while only a few degrees away are Mars, Saturn, and the crescent moon.
For the next two months Venus is a beacon low in the southeast in morning twilight while Mars and Saturn are nearby; each is 1/100th as bright as Venus. All are presently in Capricornus where there are no bright stars to confuse the issue.
On the 29th the moon has moved on but Venus, Saturn, and Mars remain, strung out in a line about 6° long – so all three will fit in most binoculars. Saturn is approaching Mars morning by morning and its motion from near Venus to near Mars will be obvious to anyone who looks, so this is another great opportunity to watch the planets move. Don’t let the early hour discourage you.
On the mornings of the 31st and 1st Saturn has moved to a point midway between Venus and Mars. Saturn continues westward toward Mars and they are in a wonderful conjunction on the 4th and 5th; more on that in the next Sky Report.
If you’re up even earlier, before morning twilight (which isn’t hard considering how late the sun rises on Daylight Time) you can see the best part of the Milky Way arcing from due south to high in the east to the northern horizon. The summer constellations Sagittarius and Scorpius are nicely placed above the southern horizon, and both have many bright stars that make it easy to identify them. The center of the Milky Way is in their direction, and that is the Milky Way’s widest and brightest part. You’ll see these constellations in the evening sky late in summer, but this is a preview.
In contrast, the part of the Milky Way you see in the evening is the outer part, the section of the Milky Way that is opposite the center. This part of the Milky Way is far thinner and fainter, and the contrast is obvious once you know to look for it. Look in the evening (or morning) and then the following morning (or evening) and it becomes clear that we are off-center in the Milky Way.
Thanks to a 2021 grant from the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity and the Kane County Office of Tourism, Stellar Vista Observatory offers portable telescopes and tripod mounted binocular kits on loan for free to all residents of Kane County. Nothing beats a quality binocular or astronomical telescope to enhance enjoyment of the night sky!
Visit https://stellarvistaobservatory.org/discover-the-night-sky/ or Kanab City Library for full details.
The Sky Report is presented as a public service by the Stellar Vista Observatory, a nonprofit organization based in Kanab, Utah, which provides opportunities for people to observe, appreciate, and comprehend our starry night sky. Additional information is at www.stellarvistaobservatory.org. Send questions and comments to John@StargazingAdventures.org.