This is the Dudley Observatory Skywatch Line for Wednesday, July 15th, and Thursday, July 16th, written by Louis Suarato.
The 23% illuminated, waning crescent Moon sets at 3:55 p.m. Wednesday. Jupiter rises in the constellation Sagittarius at 8:17 p.m., followed by Saturn 23 minutes later. A new feature has been discovered on Jupiter. On May31st of this year, amateur astronomer Clyde Foster viewed a new spot using a filter on his telescope that is sensitive to wavelengths of light where methane gas can be seen in Jupiter’s atmosphere. “Clyde’s Spot” was verified by the Juno spacecraft two days later when it performed its 27th close flyby on June 2nd. Look for this new storm to the lower right of the Great Red Spot. Mars joins the gas giants when it rises 8 minutes before midnight. Mars is followed by the crescent Moon at 2:04 a.m., before Venus rises at 2:51 a.m. to complete the line of easily visible planets. Friday morning, Venus and the crescent Moon will shine side by side and be separated by 3 degrees.
While the Moon and four planets span across the sky, a bright -3.8 magnitude International Space Station will begin its pass over our region. Look to the northwestern horizon at 3:43 a.m. Thursday to see the ISS emerge. The ISS will pass by Bootes before crossing Hercules and Draco. The ISS continues on past Deneb in Cygnus before crossing Pegasus and passing Mars. The ISS will disappear into Earth’s shadow over the southeastern horizon around 3:51a.m..
Stay awake an outside to see Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) rise at 4.15 a.m. out of the east-northeastern horizon. By 4:37, Comet NEOWISE will be 8 degrees above the horizon. The Big Dipper will be lying parallel to the ground to the comet’s north. This comet has recently reported to be 1.2 magnitude as it nears its closest approach to Earth on July 23rd. Although reported to be naked eye visible, use binoculars or a telescope to see Comet NEOWISE’ 6 degree long tail. This comet can also be seen in the evening. Look about 15 degrees over the northwestern horizon at twilight, around 9:20 p.m., before the comet sets in the north-northwest. The Big Dipper will be pointing down at the comet at night.