What Can You See in The Night Sky This Week

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Each Monday I pick out the northern hemisphere’s celestial highlights (mid-northern latitudes) for the week ahead, but be sure to check my main feedYou can find more detailed articles about stargazing, astronomy and eclipses at www.stargazing.com

What to See in the Night Sky This Week: July 11-17th, 2022

It’s time for a “supermoon”—one of the closest full Moons to our planet this year—though the beautifully big moonrise in clear skies mid-week will be quickly followed by some excellent views of the naked-eye planets.

Here’s what’s going on in the night sky this week:

Wednesday, July 13, 2022: A full ‘Super Buck Moon’

The exact times are listed below Moonrise and sunset for your specific locationGet high up to enjoy a clear view of the eastern skyline. You reward—just after sunset—will be the rise of one of the biggest-looking full Moons of the year.

Known as the “Buck Moon,” “Hay Moon” and “Thunder Moon,” it will hang fairly low all night in the southeast-south-southwest sky before setting close to sunrise. It’s at moonrise (and moonset) that you want to see it.

Thursday, July 14, 20,22: Saturn and Moon

Now 96% illuminated, the waning gibbous Moon will shine about 6º from Saturn in the night sky. Turn southeast at midnight. A small telescope can show you the rings and constellations of Saturn.

Friday, July 15, 20,22: Saturn and Moon

Now at 91% illumination, the late-rising gibbous Moon will rise just above Saturn in the early morning.

Sunday, July 17, 2022: A Parade of Planets and Stars

Stay up really late or more likely get up before sunrise and in the southern sky you’ll see the bright planets Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn line-up. Between Saturn and Jupiter will be an 82%-lit, waning gibbous Moon.

Moonrise: Object of Week

Despite being known for being big and bright, by far the best time to watch the any full Moon—including the “Buck Moon”—is as it appears on the horizon. When observed close to the horizon, not only is the full Moon less bright, but it’s a muted orange that gradually turns to a pale yellow, which slowly brightens as it rises higher in the sky.

What is the reason for these strange colors? Earth’s oxygen and nitrogen-rich atmosphere absorbs some wavelengths of light more than others. Light with short wavelengths—such as blue—hit more particles and are more easily absorbed and scattered. That’s why the sky is blue. Colors with longer wavelengths—such as orange—are not absorbed as easily. So when you look at a sunset, a sunrise, a moonrise or moonset, you’re looking at something close to the horizon, where the atmosphere is thickest. The light that hits your eyes is therefore dominated by the yellow, orange, or red spectrum.

Add all that to the “supermoon effect”—a bigger-looking Moon—and you’ve a very special moonrise to go witness this week.

I wish you clear skies, and big eyes.

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