Skywatch Line for Wednesday, July 8th, and Thursday, July 9th, 2020

This is the Dudley Observatory Skywatch Line for Wednesday, July 8th, and Thursday, July 9th, written by Louis Suarato.

The 92% illuminated, waning gibbous Moon rises at 11:13 p.m., Wednesday. Jupiter rises in Sagittarius at 8:48 p.m., followed by Saturn at 9:09 p.m. seven degrees away. Jupiter’s moon Callisto’s shadow begins to transit the planet at 2:33 a.m., followed by Callisto an hour and seven minutes later. Friday, the shadow of Jupiter’s largest moon, Ganymede, begins its transit at 2:31 a.m., followed by Ganymede 21 minutes later.

About 45 degrees to Saturn’s southeast, globular cluster M2 rises with the gas giants. By 1:30 a.m., M2 will be above and to the right of the Moon, about 40 degrees above the southeastern horizon. Discovered by Jean-Dominique Maraldi in 1746, M2 is one of the largest, and oldest, known globular clusters with an estimated diameter of 175 light-years wide. It is approximately 55,000 light-years away, and 13 billion years old. M2 contains about 50,000 stars, and can be seen with binoculars or small telescopes. Look 5 degrees north above the star Beta Aquarii for M2. Mars rises 15 minutes after midnight in the constellation Pisces. Venus rises at 3:07 a.m., about 1 degree above Taurus’ brightest star, Aldebaran.

While Venus is rising, look about 40 degrees to its lower left, below the bright star Capella, for Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE). Comet Neowise has survived its trek around the Sun, and its closest approach on July3 at a distance of 27.3 million miles, and is on the return trip of its 4,500 to 6,800 year orbit. Discovered by the NEOWISE space telescope on March 27, 2020, Comet Neowise is estimated to be 0.8 magnitude and naked eye visible, but you’ll need a clear horizon to see it before the glow of dawn washes it out.

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