Read our July sky notes to find out what’s in the night sky this month!
These constellations are well placed in the evening this month, but many more can be seen. Check the star map for more.
Aquila can be found in the eastern sky this month, moving west across the sky during the night. By sunrise, it appears in the southern sky.
Hercules stays close to the zenith this month, appearing after sunset in the east at the beginning of the month and the south near the end. Through the night, it moves west across the sky.
Libra is visible low in the southern sky, moving across the horizon towards the west during the month. It will set in the early hours of the morning so is best seen in the evening.
Mercury will only be visible for a short time this month, from about the 22nd onwards, when it reaches it’s greatest elongation west of the Sun. It will be difficult to observe, as it only appears very low on the horizon and shortly before sunrise in the north east. Mercury reaches its highest point of 12° above the horizon on the 26th, when it is also at dichotomy (half-phase).
Venus will rise earlier as the month goes on, appearing just before sunrise at the beginning of the month and rising about 02:30 by the end. It reaches its brightest point of magnitude -4.5 on the 8th. Venus is in conjunction with the Moon on the 17th. The bodies will appear low above the eastern horizon in the early hours of the morning.
Mars rises in the eastern morning sky, rising higher towards the south as the night goes on. Towards the end of the month it will begin to rise around 23:30. Its brightness increases through the month, reaching magnitude -1.03 on the 31st. Mars is in conjunction with the Moon on the 11th. This conjunction will be too wide a field of view for a telescope, but naked eye or binocular observing will result in good views.
Jupiter will be visible for the whole night until the end of the month, when it begins to set earlier. Rising in the south east and moving across the sky towards the south west, now is a good time to look for this gas giant and to observe the Galilean satellites with binoculars. Look out for Jupiter in conjunction with the Moon on the 5th, appearing low in the south eastern morning sky. Jupiter will be directly opposite the Sun on the 14th, known as opposition, making it appear at its brightest and highest in the sky, about 16° above the southern horizon.
Saturn appears near to Juptier in the sky, allowing it to be visible all night long for most of the month. It will be in conjunction with the Moon, low in the southern sky, on the morning of the 6th. Saturn will be directly opposite the Sun on the 20th, known as opposition, reaching its highest point in the sky of 17° around midnight.
Uranus and Neptune are too faint to be seen with the naked eye. Uranus and Neptune rise about 02:00 and 00:30 respectively in the eastern sky at the beginning of the month, rising earlier as the month goes on. They will be in the sky until sunrise.
The Southern δ-Aquariids reach their peak on the 29th. The meteors will appear to originate from their radiant in the constellation of Aquarius, which rises above the eastern horizon about 22:30. Best displays are likely to be visible just before dawn. You will be able to see about 9 meteors per hour.
The α-Capricornids reach their peak on the 29th. The meteors will appear to originate from their radiant in the constellation of Capricornus, which is visible in the sky all night. The radiant reaches its highest point in the sky around 01:00, so best displays will be visible around then. As the radiant of the Southern Delta-Aquariids is nearby, the meteors are unlikely to be distinguishable unless viewed before Aquarius rises. You will be able to see about 2-5 meteors per hour.
Full Moon: 5th
Last Quarter: 13th
New Moon: 20th
First Quarter: 27th
The Moon reaches apogee on the 12th, it’s furthest point from Earth, and perigee on the 25th, its closest point to the Earth.
Look for Earthshine on the dark part of the Moon from the 14th to the 19th and 21st to the 26th.
Points of Interest
Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE reaches perihelion on the 3rd, before becoming visible in the northern sky from the 5th onwards. Hopefully, it will be visible moving westwards throughout the month, but comets are unpredictable objects and it may break apart or fade. Because it is not a point object, instead appearing fuzzy, NEOWISE will not appear to the naked eye to be as bright as it is. Therefore, binoculars or a telescope are recommended for this.
The open star cluster IC 4756 is well placed for observation on the 1st in the constellation of Serpens. It will be visible all night, reaching its highest point in the sky around midnight.
Keen astronomers can observe asteroid 2 Pallas at opposition this month in the constellation of Sagitta. It will be visible with a four-inch telescope for the whole night on the 15th, reaching its highest point around midnight.
Look for the Noctilucent Clouds in dark sky areas an hour either side of astronomical midnight. They appear as wispy silver veils in the northern sky.
Visit Spot the Station to find out when the International Space Station will be visible from your location.
Last updated: 13th July.