Today is the 4th of July. The birthday, so to speak, for the United States of America. This is supposed to be a day when we celebrate our independence. Typically with Barbecue and Fireworks. I won’t be doing any barbecuing today, as real life does occasionally (constantly) rear its head. Rather I’ll be working.
But that’s ok, bills don’t pay themselves, and gotta get the government its funding so they can do all of those fireworks displays.
But tonight, while you’re out enjoying the lights humans are putting up into the skies, maybe take a moment to enjoy all of the other little lights up there too. The moon is approaching being full. If you look over towards the west and slightly above the moon you’ll see a very bright light. That isn’t a star, that’s Jupiter! You can see it with the naked eye. Though it’s much more impressive through a telescope.
On the other hand, if you look back towards the east, opposite of where the sun set, you’ll see a trio of stars making up a triangle. The brightest and maybe kinda reddish is Antares, a red supergiant. However, if you continue to the east you’ll see another bright star. It shouldn’t twinkle much and may even appear slightly golden.
That is not a star. That is the ringed planet Saturn. Another of the planets that can be seen with the naked eye. Again, much more impressive with a telescope.
If you don’t have a telescope of your own, but would like to see another planet with your own eye, rather than just another picture online. Look around for any local observatories that may open their telescopes to the public. I know that here in the bay the Chabot Space and Science Center opens their telescopes to the public on Friday and Saturday nights. Best of all? It’s free! You might even run into me there, as I tend to visit every now and then.
However, if you’re down in the L.A. area, Griffith Observatory opens their telescopes every night! Again, just like at Chabot it’s free! But access to the museum itself is always free at Griffith. You’ll have to pay to get into Chabot. At both observatories, you may find others with their own telescopes as well. Griffith says one Saturday each month. I’ve been there twice, I don’t remember what day, but each time there were people with their own scopes.
At both observatories, you may find others with their own telescopes as well. Griffith says one Saturday each month. I’ve been there twice, I don’t remember what day, but each time there were people with their own scopes. Every time I’ve been to Chabot I’ve always seen a few telescopes out.
Anyways, tonight, enjoy the fireworks. But keep in mind there’s more to see in the night sky then just lights we shoot up there. And that’s always worth celebrating.