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Look Up! A Stargazer’s Guide to July 2017

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Look Up! A Stargazer’s Guide to July 2017

Summer is a great time to stargaze! There are a lot of exciting things going on in the sky this month, including the first full Moon of summer, a meteor shower, and some exciting celestial line-ups! Take a look:

All times listed are Eastern Time and based on viewing from the Northern Hemisphere: 

July 1 — Look to the southwest in the evening to see the waxing gibbous Moon, Spica, and planet Jupiter form a trio.

July 2 — A perfect reason wake up early! Look to the east 90 minutes before sunrise to see brilliant Venus. Venus is the third-brightest object in our solar system after the Sun and Moon. She’ll be not far from the constellation Taurus and the “fiery eye” of the Bull, the star Aldebaran.

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July 3 — At 4:11 EDT, the Earth will be at aphelion, it’s farthest point from the Sun for all of 2017. Read more here:

July 5 — Tonight, look to the south in the evening to spot the star Antares and Saturn. You’ll be able to see them even though the Moon is nearly full. Which is which?  Antares is a star, so it will twinkle with a reddish hue, while Saturn, a planet, will glow with a steady golden light.

July 6 — Look to the south in the evening to see Saturn very close (right below) the waxing gibbous Moon.

July 6 —The waxing gibbous Moon is at apogee, its farthest point from Earth in its orbit. An easy way to remember: Apogee has an “A” = Away.

July 7 — Check out this celestial line-up: Look to the south right after sunset to see the waxing gibbous Moon, the planet Saturn and the Antares. They will be remain visible until well past midnight.

July 9 — Full Buck Moon at 12:07 a.m. The visible Moon is fully illuminated by direct sunlight. Though the Moon is only technically in this phase for a few seconds, it is considered “full” for the entire day of the event, and appears full for three days.

Learn how this Moon got its names in our short video:

July 16  – Last Quarter Moon at 3:26 p.m. In this phase, the Moon appears as a half Moon. One-half of the Moon is illuminated by direct sunlight while the illuminated part is decreasing, heading toward the New Moon (invisible) phase.

July 17 — Almost overhead at midnight look for the brightest star of the Summer Triangle, brilliant bluish-white Vega (pronounced vee-ga). Vega, just 25 light years away, also belongs to the constellation Lyra, the Lyre.  On July 17, 1850, Vega became the first star (other than the Sun) to be photographed, when it was imaged by William Bond and John Adams Whipple at the Harvard College Observatory, using the daguerreotype process.

July 19 — Before dawn, look to east to see the waning crescent Moon paired up with the reddish Aldebaran, the brightest star in the constellation Taurus the Bull.

July 20 — Look to the eastern horizon about an hour before sunrise to see Venus and the waning crescent Moon.

July 21— The waning crescent Moon will be at perigee, its closest point to the Earth. An easy way to remember: Apogee has an “A” = Away, so Perigee = closest.

July 23 — New Moon at 5:46 a.m.  At this stage, the Moon is not illuminated by direct sunlight and is completely invisible to the naked eye.

July 24 – Almost due south at around 11 p.m. is Sagittarius, the archer. Some people see a teapot here. If you search this area with binoculars on a dark, moonless night, you’ll be rewarded with a night filled with discoveries — you can find at least 15 Messier objects, including M8 (Lagoon); M17, (Omega); M20, (Trifid).

July 28-29 — Delta Aquarids meteor shower peaks Best viewing is looking to the south, after midnight until 3 a.m.  This is a good year to view them as there won’t be any glare of the Moon to ruin the show! These showers are actually visible from July 12 to mid-August each year, (and cross paths with August’s Perseids). There’s a possibility of 10-15 meteors per hour.

July 28 — Look to the southwest at dusk to find the Moon, Jupiter, and Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo the Maiden, forming a trio in the night sky.

July 30 – First Quarter Moon at 11:23 a.m. In this phase, the Moon looks like a half-Moon — one-half of the Moon is illuminated by direct sunlight while the illuminated part is increasing, on its way to full.

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