As we move into high summer, the sun turns southwards, our nights begin to lengthen and the moonless spell later in the month brings many of us our first dark skies of the summer.
The Plough is in the north west as the Summer Triangle reaches the high meridian. Formed by the bright stars Vega, Altair and Deneb, in the constellations Lyra, Aquila and Cygnus respectively, it is bisected by the Milky Way, which arches high across our eastern sky from Sagittarius and Scorpius low in the south to Cepheus, Cassiopeia and Perseus in the north east.
On the 27th of this month an eclipse of the Moon is visable from Britain. The Moon rises totally eclipsed in the southy west around 9pm, appearing as a din coppery globe directly above a brilliant red Mars. The Moon reappears about 1015pm.
The evening star is lighting up the north-western sky after sunset at magnitude –4.1. At the start of July Venus is setting 2 hours after the Sun. On the 9th of July, Venus passes just above Regulus, while it forms a stunning tableau with the crescent Moon and Regulus on the 15th July.
At the beginning of July you may spot Mercury skulking very low in the evening twilight to the lower right of Venus. Setting just over an hour after the Sun, it fades quickly from its initial magnitude of 0.0 and is lost in the twilight by mid- month.
Resplendent Jupiter shines at magnitude –2.2. Located in the constellation of Libra, in the southern sky. Setting about 1am during this month.
You will find Saturn in the constellation of Sagittarius this summer. Starting July with a magnitude of +0.1. It will be setting below the horizon just before 4am in early July. Saturn dims slightly as the summer progresses to magnitude +0.3. Using a low power telescope you should be able to spot its rings and its largest moon Titan.
The red planet is barnstorming into view in the dull constellation of Capricornus, at magnitude –2.7, rising at 11.15pm at the beginning of July.
This month you can look for Uranus in the constellation of Aries. It will be just slightly brighter than Neptune at magnitude +5.8; It will rise above the horizon about midnight in.
You will need a pair of binoculars to spot Neptune lurking in the constellation of Aquarius. It is very faint with a magnitude of +7.8. At the beginning of July it will be coming above the horizon at 11pm.
Pluto can be observed in a ten-inch or larger telescope. It can be found in the constellation of Sagittarius.
Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt can be located in the constellation of Leo this summer. At magnitude 8.7 it should be visible through binoculars or a low power telescope.
Around the 28th and 29th of this month we will see the annual peak of the Delta Aquarid meteor shower. It might be possible to see up to 20 meteors per hour. The best time to see this shower will be between midnight and dawn. Delta Aquarid meteors may come from Comet Machholz which was discovered by Donald Machholz in 1986.
Phases of the Moon for July:-
Last Quarter 6th
New Moon 13th
First quarter 19th
Full Moon 27th