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Wyoming Skies for July

June 30, 2009

(A monthly look at the night skies of Wyoming, written by Ron Canterna, professor in the University of Wyoming Department of Physics and Astronomy.)

Above the southern horizon the constellation Scorpius can be seen by searching for red supergiant Antares. Above Scorpius the large constellation Ophiuchus, "the Serpent-Bearer," is accompanied by the fainter and smaller constellation Serpens, "the snake."

Midway between the southern horizon and the zenith, with binoculars one can see several star clusters. Nearly overhead is the constellation of the strongman, Hercules. Toward the east Cygnus, "the swan," sometimes referred to as the northern cross, guides the eye through a major section of the plane of our Milky Way galaxy.

Midway between Cygnus and Hercules is the tiny constellation Lyra, with the brilliant bluish-white star, Vega. With binoculars you may see the Ring Nebula M 57 just a few degrees southeast of Vega. If you follow Cygnus toward the north on the northern horizon you will find Cassiopeia, now appearing as a great "W" in the sky.

The Milky Way is brilliantly displayed through the constellations Scorpius-Cygnus-Cassiopeia. Discover the rich beauty of our galaxy with colorful stars, impressive star clusters and nebulae, and the contrasting dark and faint glows, during the warm summer nights.

Planet alert: At sunset Saturn will be in Leo in the southwest. Jupiter is in Aquarius and rises at 11 p.m. and Mars and Venus rise in Taurus after 3 a.m.

For more information, visit the Wyoming Skies home page ( or send an e-mail to

Posted on Tuesday, June 30, 2009

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