Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of July 2022
M80 is not only the designation given to a class of large, powerful fireworks in the US often used in 4th of July celebrations, it is also a globular cluster in the constellation Scorpius (M80, NGC6093). Located about 28,000 light-years from Earth, the cluster is one of the densest globular clusters in our Milky Way Galaxy and contains hundreds of thousands of stars that are held together by their mutual gravitational attraction. M80 was discovered by Charles Messier in 1781. It can be spotted with a small telescope most easily during July. M80 is notable for being the site of a nova that appeared in the year 1860. Nova outbursts can occur when a close companion star transfers fresh hydrogen fuel to a burned-out white dwarf. Eventually the hydrogen ignites a thermonuclear explosion on the surface of the white dwarf, giving rise to the nova outburst. [Video and Content Credits: NASA, the Office of Public Outreach – Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), JPL – Caltech, Preston Dyches, Christopher Harris, and Lisa Poje] [Image Credit: Donald Waid, Astromart supporter. See his beautiful astrophotography gallery at https://astromart.com/gallery/user/309 ].
Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of July 2022
Welcome to the night sky report for July 2022 -- Your guide to the constellations, deep sky objects, planets, and celestial events that are observable during the month. The naked-eye planets of dawn – Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn – dominate the sky this July, appearing more spread out each morning. In July, find the constellation Scorpius to identify the reddish supergiant star Antares, which will lead you to the globular star cluster M4 (NGC 6121). M22 (NGC 6656), in the constellation Sagitarius, another globular cluster, is one of the brightest clusters in the sky and is visible with the naked eye. Keep observing around the group of stars commonly known as the Teapot and you’ll be looking toward the center of the Milky Way. In that direction, you can see the Lagoon Nebula (M8, NGC 6523), the Omega Nebula (M17, NGC 6618), and the Trifid Nebula (M20, NGC 6514). Next, if you're feeling the July heat, note the origin of phrase "the dog days" of summer, which has to do with the bright star Sirius, also known as the “Dog Star.” The night sky is truly a celestial showcase. Get outside and explore its wonders from your own backyard.
The warm nights of July provide endless summer treasures to enjoy.
The planets Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn dominate morning skies in July. Venus is there as well, but appears low in the east, so you'll need a clear view toward the horizon to see it. The planets are spread out across the morning sky, accompanied by bright stars, Capella, Aldebaran, and Fomalhaut. On the 20th, look for the half-full, last-quarter moon between Mars and Jupiter. And the following morning, you'll find the Moon sitting right next to Mars.
July is a time for sweltering hot weather in the Northern Hemisphere, and you may have heard this time of year referred to as the "dog days of summer." Well that phrase actually dates back to ancient times and has to do with the brightest star in the sky, Sirius.
At the peak of summer, the Sun lies in the same part of the sky as Sirius, which the ancient Greeks and Romans associated with the dog-shaped constellation Canis major, just as we do today. Sirius is its most prominent star, and it's sometimes called "the dog star."
In Ancient Greek, Sirius means "the scorcher," and both the Greeks and Romans believed the blazing bright star's proximity in the sky added to the Sun's heat during that time of the year making it even more oppressive. And so they called this hot time of year the "dog days."
Of course, today we know the only star close enough to affect our temperatures on Earth is the Sun. And the heat we experience in July is the result of the Northern Hemisphere being tilted toward the Sun. This yields longer days and more direct sunlight, and thus warmer weather. The situation is reversed in the Southern Hemisphere, where July is right in the middle of winter.
Facing southward on July nights after sunset, you'll find a sky teeming with bright stars. Looking in that direction this time of year, you're facing the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way, all night, and there are quite a number of bright stars in that part of the sky – particularly in the constellations Scorpius and Sagittarius.
Now if you find yourself under dark skies you'll be able to fully enjoy the Milky Way core – densely packed with stars and dark clouds of dust and gas. It's dazzling this time of year, and it's visible toward the south as soon as it gets fully dark out. But even if you're under urban skies too bright to observe the Milky Way core, the group of stars in Sagittarius known as the Teapot will help you pinpoint its location on the sky.
Just above the southern horizon is Scorpius, the scorpion who in Greek mythology stung Orion to death before being crushed. Scorpius is a striking constellation -- one of the few that distinctly resembles the object after which it was named. The prominent fishhook star pattern of Scorpius is easy to trace in the sky. Its head, curved tail, and venomous stinger are prominent.
At the Scorpion’s heart lies a reddish star. Its color closely resembles that of Mars. The planet was known to the Greeks as Ares. Ancient Greek stargazers, contemplating these two crimson objects, named the star Antares, which means “rival of Ares.” Antares ia a reddish supergiant star nearing the end of its life. Antares is one of the largest known stars. If placed at the center of our solar system, its bloated bulk would extend past the orbit of Mars.
Next to Antares lies the globular star cluster M4 (NGC 6121). A prominent and lovely globular cluster in small telescopes, M4 lies just to the right of Antares in Scorpius. Globular clusters are collections of hundreds of thousands of closely packed and gravitationally bound stars. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has resolved the center of the cluster, filled with thousands of ancient stars, all of which formed around the same time and are aging together.
East of Scorpius is Sagittarius, the archer. The center of our galaxy lies in the direction of the Sagittarius. This area of the sky overflows with stars, globular star clusters, and bright and dark nebulae. Look for Sagittarius by finding the group of stars commonly known as the Teapot. The handle, top, and spout are easy to find. Under dark skies, the Milky Way seems to rise out of the Teapot’s spout. Many deep-sky targets reside in this area of the summer night sky.
A quick glance with binoculars reveals some spectacular objects. The Lagoon Nebula’s (M8, NGC 6523) gas and dust is brilliantly illuminated by the energy of the hot, young stars inside it. In the three-lobed Trifid Nebula (M20, NGC 6514), dark dust lanes appear etched against the radiance of glowing gas. The Omega Nebula (M17, NGC 6618) shines with glowing clouds of gas and dust where new stars are forming. Although it glows brightly, we cannot see its hottest stars embedded deep inside. Infrared telescopes, peering through the gas and dust, can detect them.
M22 (NGC 6656), one of the brightest globular clusters in the sky, is visible to the naked eye. It is a relatively nearby globular cluster, only about 10,000 light-years distant. NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has collected infrared light images from this region, revealing cool and warm gas that is otherwise invisible to human eyes. Over millions of years, the gas and dust in stellar nurseries like these will eventually come together to form new stars, adding to the constellations in the sky.
Two other star clusters, the Butterfly Cluster and the Ptolemy Cluster, can be found on the other end of Scorpius, just above the stinger. These are known as open clusters because they are much less compact than globular clusters. Each of these contains only about a hundred stars, most of which are hot, blue, and much younger than those in globular clusters.
The night sky is always a celestial showcase. Explore its wonders from your own backyard.
The following Deep Sky Objects are found in constellations that peak during the month. Some can be viewed with a small telescope, but the majority will require a moderate to large telescope. The following is adapted from my personal viewing list: "The Guy Pirro 777 Best and Brightest Deep Sky Objects."
NGC 6709 Open Cluster P1
NGC 6724 Open Cluster P205
NGC 6735 Open Cluster P206
NGC 6738 Open Cluster P18
NGC 6741 Planetary Nebula P207 Phantom Streak Nebula
NGC 6755 Open Cluster Herschel 400 H19-7
NGC 6756 Open Cluster Herschel 400 H62-7
NGC 6760 Globular Cluster P19
NGC 6781 Planetary Nebula Herschel 400 H743-3
NGC 6790 Planetary Nebula P208
NGC 6803 Planetary Nebula P209
NGC 6840 Open Cluster P124
NGC 6843 Open Cluster P125
NGC 6720 Planetary Nebula M57 Ring Nebula
NGC 6779 Globular Cluster M56
NGC 6791 Open Cluster P162
IC 4684 Diffuse Nebula P182
IC 4725 Open Cluster M25
IC 4776 Planetary Nebula P183
NGC 6440 Globular Cluster Herschel 400 H150-1
NGC 6445 Planetary Nebula Herschel 400 H586-2 Little Gem Nebula
NGC 6469 Open Cluster P184
NGC 6494 Open Cluster M23
NGC 6507 Open Cluster P185
NGC 6514 Diffuse Nebula M20, Herschel 400 H41-1 Trifid Nebula
NGC 6520 Open Cluster Herschel 400 H7-7
NGC 6522 Globular Cluster Herschel 400 H49-1
NGC 6523 Diffuse Nebula M8 Lagoon Nebula
NGC 6528 Globular Cluster Herschel 400 H200-2
NGC 6530 Open Cluster P49
NGC 6531 Open Cluster M21
NGC 6540 Globular Cluster Herschel 400 H198-2
NGC 6544 Globular Cluster Herschel 400 H197-2
NGC 6546 Open Cluster P106
NGC 6553 Globular Cluster Herschel 400 H12-4
NGC 6558 Globular Cluster P107
NGC 6561 Open Cluster P186
NGC 6563 Planetary Nebula P187
NGC 6565 Planetary Nebula P248
NGC 6567 Planetary Nebula P188
NGC 6568 Open Cluster Herschel 400 H30-7
NGC 6569 Globular Cluster Herschel 400 H201-2
NGC 6583 Open Cluster Herschel 400 H31-7
NGC 6590 Open Cluster P50
NGC 6603 Open Cluster M24 Sagittarius Star Cloud
NGC 6613 Open Cluster M18
NGC 6618 Open Cluster M17 Omega Nebula
NGC 6624 Globular Cluster Herschel 400 H50-1
NGC 6626 Globular Cluster M28
NGC 6629 Planetary Nebula Herschel 400 H204-2
NGC 6637 Globular Cluster M69
NGC 6638 Globular Cluster Herschel 400 H51-1
NGC 6642 Globular Cluster Herschel 400 H205-2
NGC 6645 Open Cluster Herschel 400 H23-6
NGC 6647 Open Cluster P108
NGC 6652 Globular Cluster P31
NGC 6656 Globular Cluster M22
NGC 6681 Globular Cluster M70
NGC 6715 Globular Cluster M54 Sagitarius Dwarf Galaxy
NGC 6716 Open Cluster P109
NGC 6717 Globular Cluster P110
NGC 6723 Globular Cluster P52
NGC 6809 Globular Cluster M55
NGC 6818 Planetary Nebula Herschel 400 H51-4
NGC 6822 Galaxy C57 Barnard’s Galaxy
NGC 6864 Globular Cluster M75
NGC 6093 Globular Cluster M80
NGC 6121 Globular Cluster M4
NGC 6124 Open Cluster C75
NGC 6139 Globular Cluster P53
NGC 6144 Globular Cluster Herschel 400 H10-6
NGC 6153 Planetary Nebula P189
NGC 6178 Open Cluster P111
NGC 6192 Open Cluster P190
NGC 6216 Open Cluster P210
NGC 6231 Open Cluster C76
NGC 6242 Open Cluster P54
NGC 6249 Open Cluster P191
NGC 6259 Open Cluster P112
NGC 6268 Open Cluster P192
NGC 6281 Open Cluster P55
NGC 6302 Planetary Nebula C69 Butterfly Nebula
NGC 6318 Open Cluster P249
NGC 6322 Open Cluster P56
NGC 6374 Open Cluster P193
NGC 6383 Open Cluster P57
NGC 6388 Globular Cluster P58
NGC 6396 Open Cluster P194
NGC 6400 Open Cluster P195
NGC 6404 Open Cluster P250
NGC 6405 Open Cluster M6 Butterfly Cluster
NGC 6416 Open Cluster P59
NGC 6425 Open Cluster P113
NGC 6441 Globular Cluster P114
NGC 6451 Open Cluster Herschel 400 H13-6
NGC 6453 Globular Cluster P115
NGC 6475 Open Cluster M7 Ptolemy Cluster
NGC 6496 Globular Cluster P60
NGC 6625 Open Cluster P196
NGC 6631 Open Cluster P251
NGC 6649 Open Cluster P197
NGC 6664 Open Cluster Herschel 400 H12-8
NGC 6694 Open Cluster M26
NGC 6704 Open Cluster P198
NGC 6705 Open Cluster M11 Wild Duck Cluster
NGC 6712 Globular Cluster Herschel 400 H47-1
Constellation: Serpens Cauda
IC 1276 Globular Cluster P118
IC 4756 Open Cluster P62
NGC 6535 Globular Cluster P199
NGC 6539 Globular Cluster P119
NGC 6604 Open Cluster P63
NGC 6611 Open Cluster M16 Eagle Nebular Cluster
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