Video Transcript: What's Up for July 2012?
Jane Houston Jones: What's Up for July. The Milky Way rises in the East and Mars and Saturn sink lower in the West.
Hello and welcome. I'm Jane Houston Jones at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
If you haven't been under a dark sky for a while, July's a great month to make a getaway.
Many parks have astronomy programs at night and dark conditions to show off the summer skies.
In the southern sky you'll see the constellations Sagittarius and Scorpius separated by the core of our Milky Way galaxy.
Even with a pair of binoculars, you'll find star clusters and knots of nebulae.
Just aim at the brighter, clumpy areas.
On the other side of the sky, watch a planetary pairing unfold.
Mars moves closer to Saturn this month, preparing for their planetary meetup in August.
Saturn, with its rings wide open, is larger and brighter than Mars.
Sound: Whoosh of spacecraft.
Jones: On August 5 they'll make a pretty pair, just in time for the landing of NASA's rover Curiosity on the red planet. That's at 10:31 p.m. Pacific Time on the 5th, or 1:31 a.m. Eastern Time on the 6th.
Early risers will witness a vertical line dance all month long starring red Aldebaran, bright Venus, the Hyades star cluster, Jupiter and the Pleiades.
The crescent moon joins the party July 14 through the 16th.
Send yourself a reminder to step outside on the evenings of July 24th and 25th.
That's when the waxing moon pairs up with Mars, Saturn and Virgo's great white star Spica.
To find a summer sky viewing event held by an astronomy club near you, check out the Night Sky Network map.
You can learn about all of NASA's missions, including next month's landing of the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity, at w w w dot NASA dot gov.
That's all for this month. I'm Jane Houston Jones.
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology