StarWatch for the greater Lehigh Valley

JULY  1997
045    JULY 6, 1997:   Photograph the Moon and Venus in Conjunction
On Tuesday evening about 9:15 p.m. look WNW to see the thin crescent moon about 12 degrees to the left of Venus very near to the horizon. By Wednesday a more conspicuous moon has now doubled its distance from the planet. To photograph this event on Tuesday, tripod mount your camera with a 50mm to 135mm lens and cable release. Using ASA 100 film at F/3.5 shoot a one, two, three, and a four second exposure. If your camera is automatic, tripod it, compose your image, and fire away. Start about 9:15 p.m. and repeat the series in 5 to 10 minute intervals. The results will be surprising. By Friday evening the waxing crescent moon has traveled just north of the planet Mars. Binoculars or a small spotting telescope will make the view more memorable. On Saturday, the moon is at first quarter. Using binoculars become familiar with the dark basins of the first quarter moon. You’ll be finding Tranquillity Base, the landing site of Apollo 11 next week.
046    JULY 13, 1997:   See Where Eagle Landed
Next Sunday, July 20th, marks the 28th anniversary of Eagle’s historic landing on the moon. Did you know you can see the approximate location of Tranquillity Base with just binoculars? Observe the moon when it is in the southeast or south. You will note three large interconnecting dark basins on the upper right hemisphere. From left to right or top to bottom they are Serenitatis, Tranquillitatis, and Foecunditatis. The Sea of Tranquillity is the largest. Close to the limb (curved edge) of the moon and next to Tranquillitatis will be an isolated circular basin called Crisium. Make Tranquillitatis into a 12-hour clock with the noon position at the location where Tranquillitatis overlaps Serenitatis. At the 7:30 spot, just inside the Tranquillitatis boundary is where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first walked in 1969. The full moon illuminates the Lehigh Valley near midnight on Saturday.
047    JULY 20, 1997:   Moon, Stars, Planets Court
This is a close encounter week for the moon, planets, and a bright star. Tonight at 11 p.m., try looking for the nearly full moon in the southeast above and to the right of Jupiter. By Monday the moon will have moved below and left of Jove. On Thursday, after 2 a.m. in the southeast, observe the moon above and to the right of Saturn. On Friday, the third quarter moon swoops below and to the left of the ringed world showing, indeed, its rapid motion as the moon orbits Earth. All week Venus and the star Regulus will be courting each other in the early evening sky. Scan WNW about 9:15 p.m. using binoculars if you want to see Regulus. The closest approach happens on Friday and includes Mercury if your horizons are low enough. The planets are featured at Bethlehem’s Discovery Center of Science and Technology, July 26/27, Sat. 9:30-4 and Sun. Noon-4:30. Call 610-865-5010 for more information.
048    JULY 27, 1997:   Equipment for Observing Meteors
Without harsh moonlight for the next two weeks, this becomes an excellent time to prepare for the year’s most famous meteor shower, the Perseids. These shooting stars are scheduled to be at their prime on the morning of August 12. Here’s what you’ll need for success: an adjustable lawn chair or ground tarp, sleeping bag, pillow, good mosquito repellent, flashlight (with a red cellophane covering), clipboard with paper and pens, a watch, and a 9 x 12 foot thin plastic painter’s tarp to keep the dew off your equipment. You might consider bringing a radio along to keep you company; however, it has been proven that you’ll see fewer meteors. Still the music might be nice. Don’t forget the thermos with a HOT beverage, such as coffee or tea, and snacks. Get your equipment together this week. More about observing the Perseids in next week’s StarWatch, or read ahead on the ASD’s web site below.