Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Lake County Skies: Looking forward to July

Lake County has some of the clearest, darkest skies in the country – perfect for stargazing! In this monthly column, we’ll talk about some of the things you can see at night.


Let’s start by looking at a star chart for July. This is what the night sky will look like around July 15 at 9 p.m.



Face south, and look directly overhead. To the west you will see the constellation Bootes. It looks a bit like a kite, with the bright star Arcturus at the base. Arcturus is the fourth brightest star in the sky, about 25 times the size of our sun! Bootes is a herdsman who shepherds the stars around the north pole.


To the left (east) of Bootes is a semi-circle of stars known as Corona Borealis (Northern Crown). This is the crown the maiden Ariadne, daughter of Minos, King of Crete, wore at her wedding. To the left of Corona  Borealis is Hercules, the Greek strongman who performed 12 labors. Within Hercules is a remarkable object you can see with a telescope – it’s called The Great Globular Cluster in Hercules. It’s a tightly packed ball of hundreds of thousands of stars.  It looks like the image at the right through a telescope of small to moderate size.


Look to the south, and peeking above the horizon you will see the constellation Scorpius, the scorpion This is the creature that killed the great hunter Orion in Greek mythology. Within Scorpius you will see a star that is  brighter than any other. It’s not a star – it’s the planet Jupiter. Jupiter is 12 times the size of the Earth, has 67 moons, and is a big ball of gas. Through a telescope, you can see bands on the planet’s surface and 4 of the 67 moons.  The image at the left shows what Jupiter looks like throuigh a small to medium sized telescope.


While we're at it, look to the western sky just after sundown.  The very bright object you see is the planet Venus.  And, at the beginning of July, you'll see a fainter object nearby - that's the planet Saturn, with it's beautiful ring system. 


To learn more about Lake County skies in July, and to observe these objects through a telescope, visit Taylor Observatory ( on Saturday, July 14, from 8 to 11p.m.

Click here for more Stargazing events!


John Zimmerman has been an amateur astronomer for 50 years. He is a member of the Taylor Observatory staff, where, among his many duties, he helps create planetarium shows.



Upcoming Calendar

01.21.2021 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Clearlake City Council
01.21.2021 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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01.23.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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01.30.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
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02.13.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
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