July Night Sky Guide – 2018:
Summer means more time outdoors for most. Even for those of you who live in areas where it’s too hot to go out in the summer during the day, the night be just the time to sit out and look upwards. Here is what you might see if you check out the July night sky.
July 3 — Dog Days of Summer begin. Find out why there’s an astronomical connection.
July 5 — The Summer Triangle and some little constellations make their appearance in the night sky. To spot it, look for a triangle composed of the three brightest stars in the sky: Deneb, Vega, and Altair. Learn more about the Summer Triangle here.
July 6 — Last Quarter Moon at 3:51 a.m. EDT. 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 6 — Earth is at its farthest position from the Sun, also known as aphelion, at 12:47 p.m. EDT.
July 9 — Look to the west at dusk (9:36 p.m. EDT) to view the planet Venus in conjunction with Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation of Leo the Lion. Venus isn’t hard to spot being the third-brightest celestial body in the sky, and at dusk (9:36 p.m. EDT) both the planet and Regulus will easily fit within the same binocular field of view.
July 10 — Jupiter is stationary in the night sky before resuming its eastward course in front of the background stars of the zodiac — meaning Jupiter will no longer be in retrograde (westward motion). If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere you can see the planet high in the southwest sky as soon as darkness falls.
July 12 — New Moon at 10:48 p.m. EDT. At this stage, the Moon is not illuminated by direct sunlight and is completely invisible to the naked eye.
July 13 — Friday the 13th supermoon solar eclipse will stage the first of its kind since Friday the 13th on December 13, 1974. The partial solar eclipse begins after dark at 9:48 p.m. EDT, and unfortunately will only be visible to penguins not really people (viewing area will fall in open waters between Australia and Antarctica).
July 14 — Catch the waning crescent Moon pair up with Mercury after sundown. You may need binoculars to spot them, especially if you live in the mid-northern latitudes like the U.S., Canada, and Europe.
July 15 — Following its proximity to Mercury, the waning crescent Moon with move on to Venus. With the unaided eye or binoculars, you may be able to spot the soft glow of earthshine — twice-reflected sunlight — on the nighttime side of the Moon.
July 19 — First Quarter Moon at 3:52 p.m. EDT. 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.
July 20 — Seek out the waxing gibbous Moon as a guide to the brightest spot in the sky tonight: Jupiter. After sundown, simply spot the Moon and the nearby bright “star” is actually king planet Jupiter.
July 22 — Following its path west, spot the Moon next to shining star Antares. Antares ranks as a first-magnitude star, meaning it joins the company of some of the brightest stars in our galaxy.
July 23 — Tonight’s waxing gibbous Moon showcases its dark side. The smooth, low-lying lunar plains are called maria, and are visible with the eye alone.
July 24 — The Moon’s closest companion in the sky tonight is our ringed-planet Saturn —so close they fit within the same binocular field. Look to the South to spot these two only 2 degrees from each other.
July 26 — Mars comes into opposition in our sky for the first time since May 2016. At opposition, Earth as the third planet from the Sun passes between the Sun and a superior planet which in tonight’s sky is Mars. This results in Mars shining at its brightest in the skies.
July 27 — Full Moon! Longest lunar eclipse of the 21st Century! At 4:20 p.m. EDT there will be a Full Buck Moon completely illuminated by direct sunlight. Learn how this Moon got its name in our short video. This also presents the longest lunar eclipse from 2001-2100, lasting a whole 1 hour and 43 minutes. There is a catch however—if you live in North America you won’t be seeing any of this historic event as its primarily visible in the Eastern Hemisphere. Read more about it here.
July 27 – The planet Mars will reach “opposition,” the moment when the Sun, Earth, and Mars form a straight line. When a planet reaches opposition, it lies exactly opposite the Sun in the sky: It rises at sunset, reaches its highest point in the sky at midnight, and sets at sunrise.
July 30 — Catch the daytime Moon this week! No matter where you are on Earth, look to the West after sunrise to see it in a clear blue sky during the day. The Moon is now in a waning gibbous phase causing it to rise after nightfall and setting westward after the Sun rises.
July 31 – Mars will come within 35,784,000 miles of Earth at 3:50 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, which is within about 1.1 million miles of the closest it can possibly come.
What did you see in the July night sky? Tell us in the comments below…