Posted by on Jul 2, 2016 in Main |


The first stars of Pegasus are beginning to appear in the east after midnight.The southern part of the sky will be composed of large faint groups. Antares in Scorpius will be visible, shining low down in the south, and overhead we have the ‘Summer Triangle’ of stars; Vega, Deneb and Altair.

The Plough is still very high up but is now to the west of the overhead point with Cassiopeia now higher in the north east. Arcturus in Bootes is still very much in evidence, but Spica in Virgo is now very low in the west. The summer triangle will dominate the summer months of stargazing. If you look overhead you will see a bright bluish looking star which is Vega, the brightest star in the constellation of Lyra. The rest of Lyra is made up of a quadrilateral of fairly bright stars. A line drawn to the left will reach a bright star at the top of a very large cross shape of stars. This star is Deneb, the brightest star in the constellation of Cygnus.

If two lines are drawn from Vega and Deneb downwards they will reach a bright star lower down in the south. This is Altair, in the constellation of Aquila . The summer triangle gives an opportunity to show that sometimes appearances can be deceptive when it comes to brightness of the stars. If we compare Altair, Deneb and Vega, we see that Vega is clearly the brightest, followed by Altair then Deneb. This, however, does not take into account how far away the stars are from the Earth. When you take in account that Altair is 17 light years away, Vega is 25 light years away and Deneb is 2,600 light years away. Although Deneb appears the faintest of the summer triangle stars it really is the brightest, only appearing faint because it is very much further away.

The southern part of the sky is dominated by three large faint groups; Hercules, Ophiuchus and Serpens . Very low down in the south is the bright red star Antares, the brightest star in Scorpius. Antares is often referred to as ‘The Rival of Mars’ due to its bright red colour.

This month Mars and Saturn are both visible low in the south. Mars looks very red but through the month we will see it get a little bit fainter as the planet moves further away from us. Saturn, also low in the south, is to the left of Mars and appears as a bright yellowish looking ‘star’. Beneath both Mars and Saturn and forming a triangle is a real red star, Antares.
Jupiter might just be glimpsed very low in the west after sunset, while Mercury and Venus are still too close to the Sun to be seen.

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.

In respect of observations of the Moon this month, on the 12th a first quarter moon will be near Spica . On the nights of the 14th to the 16th a near full moon will be close to Mars, Saturn and Antares.

New Moon will be on 4th July.

First Quarter on 12th July.

Full Moon on 9th July.

Last Quarter on 26th July.