Venus has been with us since last December, but by the end of this month it’s suddenly gone! Before it sinks into the evening twilight, we can watch its celestial waltz with Mars, Mercury and the Moon.
On the 6th July the Earth is at it’s furthest from the Sun at just over 152 million kilometres away. On the 3rd of this month we have the first all the four super moons this year. The Moon will be just 357,418 kilometres away and it will be 30% brighter than the faintest full Moon.
The full Moon in July is called the Buck Moon as it is the time of year that male deer shed their antlers and begin to regrow them in July.
As the sky becomes darker and the stars slowly emerge, pick out the star patterns on display in the middle of the year. Low in the south are Sagittarius and Scorpius, embedded in the glorious heart of the Milky Way. Higher in the sky, the prominent Summer triangle is composed of Vega, Deneb and Altair, the leading lights of Lyra, Cygnus and Aquila. The Plough is in the north west and 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.
The innermost planet joins the evening planets during the latter half of the month. Mercury first appears to the lower right of Venus on the 15th July, at magnitude –0.6. It falls below the horizon around 10pm. On the 19th and 20th of the month, the thin crescent Moon joins the three evening planets and the star Regulus, low in the twilight of the western sky. This sight can be best viewed in binoculars.
The evening planet has been blazing in the evening sky all year, and this month it reaches its maximum brilliance of magnitude –4.5. At the start of this month Venus is setting at 11.15pm, but as the month progresses Venus is dropping rapidly into the twilight glow, and disappears altogether by the months end.
At the beginning of July the red planet lies just to the upper left of Venus, but is 300 times fainter at magnitude +1.7. Over the past months, Venus has been moving steadily closer to Mars, and when the month opens they are just 3.5 degrees apart. But as the evening star drops towards the horizon, Mars moves up and away. The red planet remains in the constellation of Leo all month, and falls below the horizon about 11pm.
Shining gloriously in the constellation of Aries, the gas giant is at magnitude –2.3. Jupiter rises about 1am. On the 12th of the month the crescent Moon lies close by to the left of Jupiter.
As the inner planets set below the horizon, over in the east Saturn is rising around 11pm. The ring world lies in the constellation of Aquarius, and has a magnitude of +0.7. On the 6th of this month the Moon passes just below Saturn.
Uranus is in the constellation of Aries. It is borderline naked-eye visibility at magnitude +5.8. During July it will rise above the horizon 1.30am.
Din Neptune at magnitude +7.8 can be located in the constellation of Pisces. The outermost planet rises above the horizon about 11.30pm.
This distant world rises above the horizon around 9.40pm. With a very faint magnitude of +14.3, using a telescope you will find it in the constellation of Sagittarius. It will be visible all night long.
The largest object in the asteroid belt can be located in the constellation of Virgo. At magnitude +8.7 it will fall below the horizon just before half past midnight.
3rd July – Will see the first of four supermoon’s for this year.
6th July – The Moon passes just below Saturn. The Earth is furthest from the Sun (Aphelion), at 152 million kilometres away.
9th July – Venus reaches its greatest brilliance at magnitude –4.5.
12th July –Before dawn bright Jupiter lies right next to the crescent Moon.
14th July – The crescent Moon lies near the Pleiades star cluster and Aldebaran after midnight.
19th July – The thinnest crescent Moon hangs to the right of brilliant Venus, low in the west after sunset. Using a pair of binoculars you will be able to pick out Mercury below the Moon, with Regulus and Mars above Venus.
20th July – Venus lies below the Moon, with the star Regulus in between them. Mars is to the left with Mercury to the right. Again a fantastic sight using binoculars.
Around the 30th 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 Aquariid meteors may come from Comet Machholz which was discovered by Donald Machholz in 1986.
Phases of the Moon for July:-
Full Moon 3rd July
Last quarter 10th July
New Moon 17th July
First quarter 25th July