Sky Notes - July 2017

In this month's edition:

  • Planetary Skylights: Jupiter, Saturn and Venus
  • Meteors & Comets: Capri-Cornids, Alpha-Cygnids, Delta-Aquarids, Comet 2015 V2 (Johnson) and Kappa-Virginis
  • July 2017 Sky Charts

Event Horizon

Both of the early June Star Parties went ahead as scheduled.

The event on the 3rd drew a reasonable crowd over the duration.  Solar observations were initially possible, the sun still above the horizon low in the NW and a noticeable sunspot grouping was visible, which was an unexpected bonus.  Once the sun had set attention turned to the moon, a gibbous phase with some lovely detail on show, particularly around the Clavius crater area. 

As twilight deepened a little further Jupiter emerged, a pleasing view, with considerable, colourful on show and all four Galilean moons.  Later on, Saturn was picked up low to the horizon, not brilliant detail it has to be said, but the rings could be made out, much to the satisfaction of the public... [Read more about Event Horizon]

Corona Borealis

In mythology Corona Borealis is said to represent the crown of Dionysus tossed into the heavens to prove his love for Ariadne, daughter of King Minos of Crete.  She had played an instrumental role in helping Theseus slay the Minotaur, a creature with the head of a bull on a human body.  Ariadne’s mother, Pasiphae had given birth to the creature after copulating with a bull owned by King Minos.  In order to cover up the shame, the Minotaur was imprisoned in a labyrinth so complex, neither the Minotaur nor anyone else who ventured in could ever find their way out... [Read more about Corona Borealis]

The origin of the name Boötes is a little unclear, but may be derived from a Greek word meaning ‘noisy’ or ‘clamorous’, referring to the herdsman’s calling his animals or alternatively from the ancient Greek meaning ‘ox-driver’, from the fact that Ursa Major was sometimes visualized as a cart pulled by oxen.  The Greeks also knew this constellation as Arctophylax, translated as Bear Watcher, Bear Keeper or Bear Guard.  In any event this constellation (pronounced Boh-oh-tease) is closely linked in legend with the Great Bear, Ursa Major, because of its position behind the bear’s tail.  Later astronomers have given Boötes two dogs, in the form of the neighbouring constellation Canes Venatici but they were not part of the original Greek visualization or legend. [Read more about Bootes – The Herdsman]