Astronomy Update: August 2014

Aug 4, 2014

Hello! I’m Karl Hricko for United Astronomy Clubs of NJ, bringing you the July Astronomy Update for the WNTI listening area.

The Vikings were Mariners, Pathfinders, and Surveyors as they took the Opportunity to set out on their Odyssey in the Spirit of world Explorers. Interestingly enough, these names, in boldface print, just happen to be the names of some of the probes which we’ve sent to Mars in the spirit of world explorers.

What we have learned so far from our space probes, is that Mars has polar ice caps and clouds in its mostly carbon dioxide and water vapor atmosphere, seasonal weather patterns, and inactive volcanoes. In its past, meteors plowed deep craters, and flash floods rushed over the land. The possible presence of liquid water on Mars either in its past or preserved below the surface today - hints at the possibility of present and/or past life. This discovery would revolutionize our awareness of our place in the universe.

If you want to see Mars, look toward the southwest in Virgo just after sunset. It lines up with the Moon and with Saturn to its upper left. At month’s end, when it crosses over into Libra, it forms a triangle with the Moon at the top, and Saturn to the lower right.

At dawn near the horizon in the east, Venus shines brightly right next to Jupiter in Cancer. Because of its location near the horizon, Mercury is hard to see. So this month, ponder the mysteries of Mars, and watch the celestial meanderings of the other planet worlds across the night sky.

Until our next Astronomy Update – Don’t forget to check out … What’s up in the night sky!