july Night Sky and Sky Diary

The Night Sky This Month:   This page is updated every month to tell you what you can expect to see in the July night sky, and lists the visibility and observing notes for the naked eye planets and other useful information.

Times: All times quoted are in UT (Universal Co-ordinate Time - for all practical purposes, the same as GMT) for Newport, Shropshire, UK. Planetary data is quoted for 21:00 on the 15th of the month. ISS visibility times are UK local. Where times are quoted in am or pm, these refer to UK local time unless otherwise stated. Add your local time zone.

Griffith Star Award - Astronomy
July Highlights: July is a good month to see noctilucent clouds. (around 1am BST) between latitudes 50°N & 65°N. Venus and Saturn bow out of the evening sky this month, and Jupiter starts to dominate the evening sky. The Summer Triangle formed by Altair, Deneb and Vega is almost directly overhead around midnight in Northern latitudes .
ISS Visibility: The International Space Station is visible from the UK in the mornings from the 20th to the 31st of July. There are no evening passes visible from the UK this month. Click here for times.
 

The Planets this Month: To find out more about the planets, click on an image, below, and to find out about the constellations the planets pass through, click on the blue links.

Times in UTC
Night Sky - Mercury

Mercury: The Winged Messenger of the Gods
Starts the month in Orion, moving back into Gemini on the 17th. By the end of July it reaches magnitude -0.9. Mercury reaches greatest western elongation on July 20th. It will be visible low down in the eastern pre-dawn twilight during the last week of July.

Rises 02:57
Sets 18:51
Phase 22%
Night Sky - Venus

Venus:The Goddess of Love
Is in Leo, magnitude -4.5. At the start of July Venus is still a brilliant “Evening Star” visible in the west as soon as the Sun has set. It sets about five minutes earlier every evening, becoming a morning object by the end of the month, and not returning to the evening skies until July 2008. On the 1st of the month, Venus and Saturn are in conjunction - only 0° 40' apart in the west, forming a striking pair after sunset. On the 17th, Venus will be about 4° to the lower right of the thin crescent Moon low down in the west after sunset.

In a telescope, Venus rarely shows any detail on its surface, but it does show phases, like the Moon.

Rises 07:48
Sets 21:41
Phase 25%
Night Sky - Mars

Mars: The God of War
Is in Aries, magnitude +0.6 moving into Taurus on July 27th. Mars has passed it closest approach to the Earth this year, and is a morning object rising in the east just before dawn. It is becoming easier to see now, as it slowly brightens, and our view of Mars will steadily improve throughout the remainder of 2007. Mars rises an hour after midnight, and reaches 30° elevation by dawn. At dawn on the 9th, it will be around 5° below the thin crescent Moon.

Rises 00:03
Sets 14:54
Phase 87%
Night Sky - Jupiter

Jupiter: The Bringer of Jollity.
Is in Ophiuchus, magnitude -2.5. From about the middle of the month, Jupiter dominates the evening skies low in the south. On the evening of the 25th, the gibbous Moon will be about 5° to the lower left of Jupiter; Antares will be just 1° to the upper right of the Moon.

Jupiter’s four main moons can easily be seen in binoculars. They appear as tiny points of light in a straight line either side of the planet. The outermost one, Callisto, may sometimes be seen with the naked eye, especially in twilight, when the glare from the planet is reduced.

Rises 17:14
Sets 01:16
Phase 100%
Night Sky - Saturn

Saturn: The Bringer of Old Age
Is in Leo, magnitude of +0.6. Is visible in the western sky after sunset, close to Venus, but by the end of the month, the ringed planet will be lost in the evening twilight. On the 1st, Venus and Saturn are in conjunction - only 0° 40' apart in the west, forming a striking pair after sunset.

Saturn's rings are still a fine site in telescopes, although now not fully open. Several of Saturn's moons including the largest, Titan, can easily be seen in a small telescope.

Rises 07:01
Sets 21:48
Phase 100%
Night Sky - Uranus

Uranus: The Magician
Is in Aquarius, at magnitude +5.8. It is visible throughout the hours of darkness.

Rises 22:19
Sets 09:33
Phase 100%

Sun & Moon in July:

Astronomy - The Sun

The Sun is in Gemini at the start of July, moving into Cancer on the 21st. For most of the month the Sun never goes far enough below the horizon at latitudes higher than about 55N° for it to be properly dark, its twilight all night.

There were few sunspots in June, with many days showing no sunspot activity at all, indicating that we are at, or close to, solar minimum. NASA predicts that the actual solar minimum for cycle 23 will occur around March 2008 ± 6 months. However, in a few years it should be anything but quiet. Solar researchers are predicting that the next Solar Maximum, cycle 24, is expected around October 2011.

NEVER look at the Sun directly; always project the image of the Sun onto a white card using binoculars or a telescope.



  1st 7th 14th 21st 28th
Current lunar phase,
updated every four hours:
Sky Diary - The Moon
Courtesy USNO
 Sunrise
03:46
03:51
03:59
04:08
04:19
 Sunset 20:42 20:39 20:33 20:24 20:13
 Moonrise
21:58
23:16
03:11
12:26
19:59
 Moonset 03:56 12:32 21:06 22:25 01:37
     
 
Phases of the Moon
 
  Night Sky - Last Quarter Moon  Last Quarter - 5th Night Sky - New Moon New - 14th  
  Night Sky - First Quarter Moon First Quarter - 22nd Night Sky - Full Moon Full  - 30th  


Meteor Diary:

On clear nights, we sometimes see the occasional meteor or “shooting-star”, as tiny particles of inter-planetary débris burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere. Sometimes the Earth passes through a cloud of this dust, and we get a meteor shower.

delta-Aquarids, peak 30th July; ZHR = 20 The peak is on the night of the full Moon, and all but the brightest meteors will be drowned out by moonlight

July Sky Diary

  1st   15h   Venus in conjunction with Saturn (0.4° south of Saturn.)
  7th   00h   Earth at aphelion (Farthest from the Sun), 152,097,000km (94,508,694 miles)
  9th   11h   Moon 6° north of Mars.
  9th   22h   Moon at perigee (Closest to Earth) 368,527km; 228,992 miles
13th   21h   Venus and Regulus 1.7° apart.
13th   04h   Moon 8° to the upper left of Mercury.
16th   23h   Moon 0.1° south of Saturn.
17th   12h   Moon 2° to the upper left of Venus.
20th   15h   Mercury at greatest western elongation (20° 19').
22nd  09h   Moon at apogee (Farthest from Earth) 404,155km; 251,130 miles

UK Astronomy TV Programmes and Websites

Why not watch Dr. Patrick Moore's excellent TV programme, The Sky at Night. Broadcast late at night on BBC 2, repeated on BBC1 and BBC 4. If you miss it, or live outside the UK, there is a streaming video of the last programme on the website. Also try the Open University's Final Frontier  programme about the world of astronomy and space exploration.

Also visit the BBC's  Solar System , Space and the Open University's Open 2 Websites.