Sunday: This evening the International Space Station makes a high pass through the sky. It starts off in the west-southwest at 9:09 p.m. When the space station reaches its highest point three minutes later it will be near the tip of the handle in the Big Dipper, 66 degrees above the northwest horizon. The spacecraft will remain bright as it moves into the northeast, and by 9:15 p.m. it is 10 degrees above the northeastern horizon.
Monday: Tonight, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are all in the sky at the same, though you will likely just miss seeing them at the same time. Venus in the west, Jupiter in the south-southwest and Saturn in the southeast are easy to pick out around 9:30. Mercury and Mars are the challenges. Mercury is setting just as Mars is rising, so both planets are very low in the sky.
Tuesday: Tonight the wide gibbous moon is near Saturn. At 9:30 p.m. both objects are in the southeastern sky. The two objects are separated by about 2 degrees, and this separation will remain about the same throughout the night.
Wednesday: This week we may have a slight reprieve from last week’s heat wave. This period is often referred to as the dog days of summer. This idea originates from the ancient Egyptians and Romans. During threw summer months Sirius, the Dog Star, was in conjunction with the Sun, and the idea was held that the extra light from Sirius made it hotter during the period just before and just after the conjunction.
Thursday: Tomorrow Mars reaches opposition with the Sun and Earth making it appear close to its brightest and largest. The planet is easy to pick out in the eastern sky with its characteristic color. If you look at Mars with a telescope it appears larger than the disk of Saturn.
Friday: The full moon occurs today at 3:20 p.m. The July full moon is known as the Full Buck Moon. At this time of year, the antlers of many deer are beginning to push through their foreheads with a velvety coating of fur. This full moon is also known as the Thunder Moon, since thunderstorms are most frequent during this time of year.
Saturday: Close to overhead at 10 p.m. you can find the constellation of Hercules. Hercules resembles the constellation of Orion but only has two stars along the belt rather than three — and Hercules is not as bright as Orion, but still recognizable. In Hercules, there is an interesting double star known as Rasalgethi, located above his head. The star appears reddish orange, but through a telescope with magnification of at least one hundred times, a second companion star is visible. Depending on your eyesight, the secondary star may vary in color from yellow to white.