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TOPIC: July 2010


L

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RE: July 2010
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I'd like to start by highlighting some of the summer sky's known and not so well-known constellations, some of which will point us to some excellent deep-sky objects.
An easy area to locate some of the most spectacular deep-sky targets is behind Leo, the Lion, in the West just after sunset. This is the area above Virgo and below Coma Berenices, where the realm of galaxies, as well as the Coma Cluster, can be found.
But first, with your eyes alone, try some star-hopping and see if you can make out these two opposing constellations. Coma Berenices contains only a few main stars, and its wide, upside-down V shape points toward another of the summer's most easily recognisable constellations, the kite-shaped Bootes.
Virgo, headlined by the bright star Spica, can be found below Bootes' tail, reclining high above the treetops.

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L

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One of the 64 comets discovered by Australian astronomer Robert McNaught may become a splendid sight the first few days of July.
At 10 p.m. on the northwest horizon, you will see the stars Castor and Pollux, the heads of the Gemini twins. Comet McNaught (C/2009 R1) should be swooping in from the north and above Castor, at magnitude 4.7. While that is only as bright as the stars in the handle of the Little Dipper, the comet's tail will give it away in a pair of binoculars, if not to the unaided eye.

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