The what, where, when, why, & how guide to watching solar and lunar eclipses.
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Comet LINEAR (C/2001 A2)
This month sky watchers at midnorthern latitudes will be able to catch a glimpse of Comet LINEAR (C/2001 A2) as it enters the evening sky. A good pair of binoculars or a telescope will be required to view the comet which will be located near the Great Square of Pegasus (see map). Unfortunately, Comet LINEAR will at the time be fading from view, having past its closest approach to the Sun and also moving away from Earth. Bright moonlight will also interfere with observations on some nights.
Nevertheless, comets are notoriously unpredictable in their appearance and can brighten suddenly in a matter of hours. Comet LINEAR A2 did just that in March and May this year when its nucleus split causing the comet to brighten quite unexpectedly. Keen sky watchers should take every opportunity to view the comet and compare its appearance from night-to-night. In binoculars or a telescope, Comet LINEAR A2 will appear like a diffuse or fuzzy object with a bright center.
A Partial Lunar Eclipse
A partial eclipse of the Moon will be visible from the Far East on July 5-6th. On this night the shadow of the Earth will sweep slowly across the face of the Full Moon covering nearly 50% of it at mid-eclipse. At this time the curved edge of the Earth's inner shadow (umbra) will be visible on the lunar surface.
The partial eclipse will begin at 13:35 UT July 5th when the Moon will enter the darkest part of the Earth's shadow (umbra). There will be a darkening of the Moon on one side that will sweep across its northern face over the next hour until 14:55 UT (mid-eclipse). The shadow will continue to move across the face of the Moon until 16:15 UT when the eclipse will end. The best places to view the eclipse will be from the Far East, Australia and New Zealand.
The Planets in July
Be sure to view Mars through a telescope this month--its best appearance for over 10 years! Also, look for a spectacular grouping of Venus, Saturn, and the crescent Moon in the predawn sky on 17 July. Clear skies until next month!