Visiting PMO in July (2018)
Reminder – No extra tours for the July 4 holiday (Friday/Saturday only).
PMO remains open for Friday and Saturday night tours, and with the start of July, we’re entering the “prime” of the tour season. Sunsets remain late (8:30 to 8:45 p.m. or so), so you should plan on staying until at least 11:00 p.m. (weather permitting) to have a good observing experience including “deep sky” objects such as star clusters, nebulae and galaxies. Tours will not end until midnight this time of year, if the sky remains clear (with the possible exception of full moon weekend). Please arrive early (by about sunset), and check in at the greeting center next to the parking lot.
The planet Jupiter continues to be visible in July, but will move into the southwest, setting shortly after midnight at the end of July. Saturn is visible in the southern sky, near the zodiac constellation of Sagittarius. Saturn has a very favorable ring angle this year – truly impressive on a good night! Mars will have its closest approach to Earth, only 36 million miles, at the end of July, and will be impressively bright. We’ll be observing it all month (wait until about midnight in early July), but keep in mind it’s a small planet, so don’t expect to see a lot of detail.
Moon viewing information:
July 6-7 – moon waning and doesn’t rise until late (after 1 a.m.), so this holiday weekend should be good for general observing; July 13-14 – new moon weekend (moon not visible, excellent for deep sky observing); July 20-21 – moon now past 1st quarter, near Jupiter, and doesn’t set until after midnight, so there will be some moonlight interference with deep sky objects. However, it will be a good opportunity to view the moon itself in twilight during tours (arrive early); July 27-28 – full moon weekend, and unfortunately the deep lunar eclipse on July 27 will not be visible from the U.S. You should definitely avoid this weekend if you want to see the Milky Way and do deep sky observing!
We’re looking forward to seeing you at PMO!