Let Saturn be your guide to July’s night skies

Lots to watch for in summer's evening skies over Oak Bay

Highlights from July's night skies.

Highlights from July's night skies.

What’s up in July’s night skies? Use Saturn as your guide for a tour of the summertime Milky Way.

In the southeast sky over Seattle, Saturn continues to dazzle this month as it climbs up the Salish Walk of the Planets – the ecliptic arc which reaches from East to West.

Saturn’s wide rings and golden colour provide a nice contrast to nearby Mars just up and ahead on the ecliptic, in the south towards Port Angeles.

Below Saturn lies the constellation Scorpius, which really does look like a scorpion!

Through binoculars or telescopes you’ll be able to spot two pretty star clusters, a compact or globular cluster M-4 and an open cluster M-7.

M-7 is known as Ptolemy’s cluster. It was observed and cataloged by Greek-Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy in the first century.

Jupiter is in the southwest – look towards Metchosin and Sooke.

Climbing north, you’ll be able to spot the teapot shape which forms part of the constellation Sagittarius.

The centre of the Milky Way is easy to see – it looks like bright steam rising from the teapot’s spout.

With difficulty, a good star chart and a medium-sized telescope you can locate faint Pluto in the “teaspoon” adjacent to the teapot.

A binocular tour of this centre core of the Milky Way reveals many beautiful summer sky objects.

You’ll have to stay up later to see the northern Milky Way constellations, which are better placed for viewing later in the summer and fall.

We first encounter the Eagle Nebula, M-16. Part of this nebula is featured in the famous and beautiful Pillars of Creation images taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

Cygnus the swan features the prettiest supernova remnant in the entire sky: the Veil Nebula.

It’s too big to fit in one eyepiece view, but luckily there are three sections of it.

Look between Aquila and Cygnus to find three tiny constellations: Delphinus the dolphin, Vulpecula the fox and Lyra the lyre (or harp).

M-57, the Ring Nebula, is the remains of a shell of ionized gas expelled by a red giant red star into the surrounding interstellar medium. It’s pretty too!

Look in Vulpecula for the Dumbell, another planetary nebula.

We’ll end our summer tour with Lacerta the lizard and Draco the Dragon.

Lacerta is home to a star with an extra-solar planet in its orbit, and Draco, facing away from the centre of our Milky Way, is a treasure trove of distant galaxies to catch in your telescope.

Night skies fans can catch up on current missions and space telescopes studying our Milky Way and beyond at nasa.gov.

Learn about current missions to comets, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn at www.jpl.nasa.gov and on all of NASA’s missions at Nasa.gov, where you can also learn about NASA’s missions to the planets and beyond.

Should you wish to meet the RASCals of Cattle Point visit us online at facebook.com/groups/VictoriaRASCals/ We also meet at Fairfield Community Centre every Monday at 7:30 p.m.

Dark Skies to all friends of Cattle Point Star Park.

By Bill Smith and the RASCals of Cattle Point – volunteers at Cattle Point DARK SKY Urban Star Park. This summary is from the transcript of “What’s Up in July 2016” by NASA announcer and astronomer Jane Houston Jones, with specific permission for localization to Cattle Point DARK SKY Urban Star Park and the Oak Bay News.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria police are seeking a young woman suspected of spitting on a bus driver in October 2020. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Young woman sought after ‘spitting assault’ on Victoria bus driver

Suspect became irate after bus came to a sudden stop

Victoria police will be making numerous arrests throughout the day Jan. 27 as part of its #VicPDWarrantWednesday project. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Numerous arrests today part of Victoria police #WarrantWednesday project

VicPD says arrests part of warrant enforcement project

A tip from the public helped Victoria police located and arrest wanted men Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Tips lead police to arrest convicted killer, robber near downtown Victoria

Two men were at large after failing to return to community facility

Police are warning people of flu shot and vaccination frauds. (Black Press Media file photo)
Flu shot fraud charges West Shore resident for non-existent appointments

Fraudulent email claimed to be from London Drugs

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
UPDATE: No sign of small plane that went down in Juan de Fuca Strait

Searchers out on both sides of border between Victoria and Port Angeles

(Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
The Pachena Bay shoreline in 2013. (Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
This week in history: 9.0 magnitude quake struck under what is now called Vancouver Island

According to First Nations elders, the 9.0-magnitude quake in 1700 CE kick-started a tsunami

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at B.C. legislature on the province’s mass vaccination plan for COVID-19, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 quarantine not an option for B.C., John Horgan says

Apres-ski parties increase risk, not interprovincial travel

Worker at Swartz Bay terminal on Monday, January 20, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Former BC Ferries employee alleges he was fired because of his race

Imraan Goondiwala has been granted a BC Human Rights Tribunal hearing

An Island Health graph showing COVID-19 cases in the central Island by local health area between Dec. 27 and Jan. 23. (Island Health image)
Central Island’s COVID-19 case spike shifting, says Island Health

Cowichan Valley has seen the highest number of cases, but Nanaimo and south Island seeing upticks

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker have been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
B.C. couple who travelled to Yukon for COVID vaccine ineligible for 2nd dose until summer

The province is ensuring those eligible to receive the vaccine get the second shot within 42 days

(File)
Mask dispute in court leaves Vancouver cop with broken leg

Man allegedly refused to put on a mask and resisted arrest

(Kraft Dinner/Twitter)
Kraft Dinner launches candy-flavoured mac and cheese just in time for Valentine’s Day

Sweet and cheesy treat will be here just in time for the cheesiest holiday of the year

Extensive water on No. 4 and 5 at the Mount Brenton Golf Course following heavy rains earlier this month. (Photo submitted)
Island golf course does a booming business in 2020

A total of 15,000 more rounds played than the previous year at Mount Brenton

Most Read