STAR WATCH FOR JULY & AUGUST, 2014

The WCSU Planetarium & Observatory facility (Westside Campus) is currently closed for the summer. Look for our Fall schedule here around mid-August.

The facility is located atop the hill between the Westside Campus Center and the Pinney Hall dormitory. Limited parking is avail-able around the facility, with additional parking on University Boulevard.

Public Nights may be cancelled due to severe weather or hazardous road conditions. Call 837 – 8672 on the day of an event, for updates. Sky viewing cannot be held in cloudy or precipitating weather, but planetarium shows are usually held.

Planetarium shows are appropriate for adults and older children, but generally not for infants or toddlers.

NIGHTLY SKY CALENDAR

*or ! – interesting to very interesting celestial event
!! – 'must-see' event
E – calendar or geometry- related event (such as a solstice)

June 30

 

The Moon reaches apogee at 405,930 km [252,233 miles] from Earth’s center.

July 3

E

Earth reaches aphelion at 152,093,481 km [94,506,507 miles] from the Sun.

5

*

First Quarter Moon; close conjunction of Moon and Mars

7

*

Conjunction of waxing gibbous Moon and Saturn

12

 

FULL Buck MOON

12

*

Close conjunction of Mars (magnitude +0.2) and the spring star Spica (magnitude +1.0). Mars will be obviously yellowish, Spica white. Look SSW after sunset.

12

 

The planet Mercury, at apparent magnitude +0.6, reaches greatest western elongation 21 degrees from the Sun. Look East before sunrise on the 13th.

13

 

The Moon reaches perigee (at 358,200 km or 222,612 miles from Earth's center) less than a day after Full phase; expect large ocean tides.

18

 

Last Quarter Moon

26

 

New Moon

27

 

The Moon reaches apogee at 406,567 km (252,629 miles) from Earth's center.

Aug. 3

*

First Quarter Moon; Moon near Saturn

10

*

FULL Sturgeon MOON: largest Full Moon this year. The Moon is also near perigee (356,896 km or 221,764 miles from Earth's center), so expect large ocean tides.

12

!

Meteors from the Perseid shower peak at 8 p.m. local time but are visible most of the night (and especially at times when the Moon is not visible) for nights about a week either side of the peak activity date. From a dark location, an observer could expect to see 30 to 40 moderately fast meteors each hour. Look toward the northeast, especially after midnight.

17

 

Last Quarter Moon

18

!!

Look ENE before sunrise to see a very close conjunction of Venus (magnitude -3.8) and Jupiter (magnitude         -1.8); a binocular view will also show Messier 44, the Beehive star cluster in Cancer the Crab, nearby, though morning twilight will interfere. Two nights later, Jupiter passes near M44.

23,24

!

Look toward the ENE before dawn on these dates to see the slim waning crescent Moon near both Venus and Jupiter

24

 

The waning crescent Moon reaches apogee at 406,523 km or 252,601 miles from Earth's center.

25

 

New Moon

31

*

Close conjunction of the waxing crescent Moon and Saturn

 

PLANET INFORMATION

MERCURY is visible in the ENE predawn sky in mid-July. During most of August, it is too close to the Sun to be seen, but it reappears in the WNW sky after sunset toward the end of the month.

VENUS is in the ENE predawn sky during July and August, gradually closing with the Sun. In mid-August it is joined by Jupiter, and five nights later by the waning crescent Moon.

MARS, in Virgo moving into Libra, is visible in the SW evening sky during July and August. The Red Planet is fading in brightness as Earth moves away from it; its apparent magnitude is 0.0 at the start of July but has faded to +0.6 by the end of August. Noticeably yellowish Mars passes near the Moon (July 5, Aug. 3), near the star Spica (July 12) and near Saturn and the Moon during the last two weeks of August.

JUPITER is too close to the Sun to be easily seen during July and the first half of August. It reappears, low in the ENE predawn sky, in mid-August, sharing that part of the sky with Venus (Aug. 18) and the crescent Moon (Aug. 23, 24).

SATURN, in Libra, is low in the SW to WSW evening sky. The Moon passes near Saturn on July 7 and August 31.


Thanks for connecting! Star Watch is sponsored by the Earth and Planetary Sciences program at WCSU.


GENERAL INFORMATION about the planetarium and observatory:

  • Public Nights are free, but we do accept donations in the planetarium and in the hyperbolic funnel ("black hole") in the lobby.
  • Planetarium shows will be held as scheduled, rain or shine, unless severe storms or hazardous driving conditions are predicted. The telescope cannot be used if skies are cloudy or precipitating. (Use the National Weather Service link, above, to see the forecast for any scheduled Public Night date.)
  • Parking is very limited (4 to 6 vehicles) atop the hill where the facility stands, but more is available on University Boulevard (the main Westside Campus road).
  • The planetarium has a seating capacity of 40. The telescope chamber can accommodate 6 to 8 at one time, with additional standing space on the stairs.
  • Planetarium shows usually last about one hour and are geared to adults and families with preadolescent and older children; i.e., older than baby or toddler. Younger children may be disturbed by the dimming of lights in the planetarium and other special effects.
  • It is requested that people attending planetarium shows turn off mobile phones, digital cameras and other electronic devices, as their use during the show is disturbing to others. The same request holds for flashlights, lighted sport shoes and other sources of illumination.
  • The observatory houses a 20-inch f/8.1 Ritchey-Chretien reflecting telescope that is used for public observing and astronomy research by WCSU students and faculty. It has a German-type equatorial mounting (the telescope has counterweights) and a computer controlled pointing and tracking system.


DRIVING DIRECTIONS to the WCSU Observatory and Planetarium: 

        The facility is located on the WCSU Westside Campus, which is off Exit 4 (Lake Avenue) of Interstate 84. After exiting the Interstate, travel about 0.7 mile west on Route 6 to the main campus entrance, then another 0.7 mile up the main campus road, University Boulevard. You will pass Centennial Hall (new dormitory) on your left; continue straight. At the new Campus Center, turn left and proceed a short distance to the observatory road, which will be on your left and facing the Pinney Hall dormitory. SLOWLY turn onto the road--preferably coming in from an angle--as the entrance apron is steep; we don't want you to bottom out!

        Parking is very limited (4 to 6 vehicles) atop the hill where the facility stands, but more is available on University Boulevard (the main Westside Campus road).


      

WCSU Logo