What's coming up in the northern hemisphere's night sky in the week of 4th to 10th July.



Chris Bramley Hello and welcome to Star Diary, the podcast from the makers of BBC Sky at Night magazine. You can subscribe to the print edition of the magazine by visiting www.skyatnightmagazine.com or to our digital edition by visiting iTunes or Google Play.

Ezzy Pearson Greetings, listeners and welcome to Star Diary, a weekly guide to the best things to see in the Northern Hemisphere's night sky. In this episode, we'll be covering the coming week from the 4th to the 10th July. I'm Ezzy Pearsons the magazine's news editor and I'm joined on the podcast today by reviews editor Paul Money. Hello Paul.

Paul Money Hi, Ezzy

Ezzy So Paul, what are your recommendations for this coming week?

Paul Well, at the moment, all the action this week will lie in the evening sky. The moon though takes centre stage. Now the moon is the one thing that is the constant thing that moves. Sounds odd doesn't it - the constant thing that moves - but it is the one thing that we know moves significantly across the sky. And so there's always something its going to be close to. And so we start off with the July 4 - 5th, it moves from Leo into Virgo. Last week we had it close to Regulus, and it ended actually near Regulus, but now it moves across to actually Virgo. The thing about Leo and Virgo, they are large constellations, so it takes several days for it to cross. It can take 2 to 3 days to cross Leo in 3 to 4 days at most to cross Virgo. So it gives you an idea of how big the actual constellations really are on the sixth. The moon actually lies close to Porrima, and the palm is that tight double star on any one of those that these opened up in recent years. So is done particularly well. So we can now split it if you've got a telescope. So it's next to Porrima, Gamma Virgin is on the 6th. On the 7th, it's that first quarter phase and lies above Spica or Spee-ka to, depending how you want to pronounce it. Now technically we're dealing with the evening so it's about 11:00 at night but technically the moment of first quarter that day occurs at 2:14 in the morning. But of course, the moon's below the horizon, so we don't see. So by the time we see it, it's 11:00 at night. It's actually past technically first quarter phases at 59 per cent illumination. But for all intents and purposes, that's when we see it as roughly half phase, just one of those things. So perhaps it's time to actually have a look at the moon itself, because we spend a lot of time looking at the stars and the planets and seeing the moon past the actual stars and planets. But it's nice to cover a few features of the moon as well. And the obvious ones are the mares, aren't they? So Mare Imbrium is bisected by the Terminator, so we don't see all of Mare Imbrium itself, but there's a number of mountain ranges and mountains we can actually look up as well. And the terminator passes through Mare Nubian, as well, further south. So what I was going to do is actually concentrate on the northern half the area around Imbrium because at the top of the Imbrium we've got this really dark floored crater, Plato. Now, you know, a small telescope will show you most of these features that I'm actually mentioning. And south of Plato, there's a set of mountains there called the Mons Tenerife. So the Tenerife Mountains and there's two particular large peaks not far away as well, Mons Pico, and Mons Pittan. And so they are worth having a look at these. They stick out of the lunar mare, which is, of course, is lava plain. And then there's a load of craters as well sort of thing. You've got Archimedes, you've actually got Erastothenes that stand out extremely well. So Timicarus as well. There are around lots and lots of craters there as well as the mountains. And there's also Hadley Rille. So, you know, there's so much on the Moon you could really take a smaller section or region and spend hours studying it and all the features you can actually see there. So Plato, Archimedes, Erastothenes, but also just the lower part, just where the Montana Pennines and Erastothenes actually merges towards the actual Terminator. There'll be a lighter patch of the landscape and that's actually the emerging rays of Copernicus. Copernicus itself at this stage will still be in shadow, but you will see the ray pattern actually, because and often we tend to wait until the moon is illuminated, fully illuminated. So we've got a full moon to mention the rays sort of thing. But you know, you can see some of them at different phases if you know where to look. So that's a bit about the moon itself. On July the eighth and ninth, the moon lies either side of the wide double star Alpha Libra or Zu Ben Elgin. You be a big mouthful, that one, isn't it? But it is a lovely wide one. Binoculars will show it so well worth having a look at. And finally, for this particular week on the 10th, the moon lies in Scorpius and it's actually. Scorpius is one of those funny constellations that th IAU sort of thing they designated it. They sort of make Scorpius the northern half quite thin sort of thing. So, you know, and then the rest of it is Ophiuchus. So we tend to think of sort of thing what we think of as Scorpius. A large part of it is actually Ophiuchus. Rho Ophiuchi is north of Antares, so it's just above it, And yet, it's in Ophiuchus, it's instead. But ironically, the moon actually will be in Scorpius at this particular point between beta and alpha, between beta and Antares. So that'll be a great way... because I love when you get the moon next to Antares because Antaress itself is a glorious reddish star. So put binoculars on it, put a small telescope on it, and you can see this wonderful reddish star. again, the moon guys do it, although it is a naked eye star, but again, it's low down, so you do need a good uncluttered horizon to actually spot it. So I think is a good way to actually finish this particular week, don't you think.

Ezzy Yeah. So I always feel like the moon gets a bit of a bad rap, especially from, from deep sky astronomers. But there's so many things to see on the moon. It's such a beautifully detailed surface and it's the only thing in our Solar System that we can ever see with sort of any real kind of degree of clarity or detail. So I definitely think it's always worth shouting about what you can see on the moon, in my opinion.

Paul Hey, guys. I mean, you know, deep sky sort of thing. If the moon's up, well, you know, you can't do a deep sky, so become a lunar observer.

Ezzy Exactly. Just chop and change. I mean, it's a rubbish time of year to do Deep Sky anyway, so look at the moon instead. But thank you very much for taking the time today, Paul, to tell us all about the moon. If you want to find out even more spectacular sites that will be gracing the night sky throughout the month. Be sure to pick up a copy of BBC Sky at Night Magazine where we have a 16 page pull out Sky Guide with a full overview of everything worth looking up for. Whether you like to look at the moon, the planets, or the deep sky, whether you use binoculars, telescopes, or neither, our sky guide has got you covered with the detailed star charts to help you track your way across the night sky from all of us here at BBC Sky at Night Magazine. Goodbye.


Chris Bramley Thank you for listening to this episode of Star Diary our podcast from the makers of BBC Sky at Night Magazine. For more of our podcasts, visit our website at skyatnightmagazine.com Or head to Acast, iTunes or Spotify.


Elizabeth Pearson
Ezzy PearsonScience journalist

Ezzy Pearson is the Features Editor of BBC Sky at Night Magazine. Her first book about the history of robotic planetary landers is out now from The History Press.