What's Up in The Sky Now
July 2017 (Notes by DMAS member Dave Lynch)
July will be one of the better months for planets to put in an appearance. We have the two brightest planets, one in the morning (Venus) and one at night (Jupiter), all month. We have Saturn, the prettiest planet and Mercury just peeking above the horizon as one of the most bashful of all the planets.
MERCURY waits until the end of the month to finally climb high enough to be seen from around here. On July 30th it reaches a whopping 27 degrees above the horizon. With a late setting sun this planet should be visible for some time before darkness set in.
VENUS is well up several hours before the sun in the morning at the start of the month but changes to only about one hour before sunrise by month's end. It starts the month in a gibbous phase but steadily increases to almost 3/4 phase by month's end.
EARTH is in its hot house phase and with the rains and the late setting sun this usually means swarms of mosquitos will be making night time observing a little difficult. Summer is fading fast so hopefully this problem won't last all that long.
MARS is keeping close company with the Sun all month and reaches conjunction on July 27th. The good news is that in one year from that day Mars will reach its closest approach to Earth in the past fifteen years.
JUPITER continues to dominate the night sky, and the dance of its moons will continue to please everyone. The giant planet is rapidly approaching the western horizon so best time to check out Jupiter is in the first couple of weeks in July.
SATURN reaches its highest point in the southern sky on July 1st. The rings are now open at a whopping 27 degrees. This is very close to its maximum tilt for observers here on Earth.
URANUS won't be putting in an appearance until very early in the morning. It is plowing through Pisces and will not reach very high in the sky before the rising sun covers up that region.
NEPTUNE is also a late riser in Aquarius. Traveling in front of Uranus, it reaches its highest place in the southern sky just before sunrise. Any very early morning riser with a GoTo scope should have no trouble spotting this planet.
First Quarter -> July 01
Full Moon -> July 09
Last Quarter -> July 16
New Moon -> July 23
TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE IN AUGUST: Total Solar Eclipse - 2017
If you don't know about the Total Solar Eclipse coming August 21, 2017, you soon will. Click the button above for an information sheet. This may be your only chance to see one of nature's greatest shows and you won't have to travel to the ends of the earth to see it. Now is the time to start making plans. Check our Saturday Public Night schedule for programs about the eclipse, or talk to a DMAS member. We do have approved solar viewers available at Ashton.
Deep Space Objects
Click the link above for Monthly Stargazing Targets to get details about other things that can be seen this month.