July: Inner Planets Rule!

This month’s Sky Tour astronomy podcast tells you “what’s up” within the night sky. No expertise or gear is important — simply obtain or stream the audio file and take it with you exterior. With the last-quarter Moon on July 1st and new Moon on the ninth, your darkest evenings for stargazing are throughout the first half of the month.

Two of the Sun’s internal planets are doing a little bit dance over within the west after sundown this month. Look simply to the higher left of the sundown level for Venus. This planet is kind of vivid, however its dazzle is diminished considerably as a result of twilight round it. In early July, a second and far dimmer planet is lurking simply to the higher left of Venus. That’s Mars, simply 1% as vivid as Venus.

Moon-Venus-Mars in July 2021
Venus progressively approaches a lot dimmer Mars within the night sky quickly after sundown, and so they’re very shut collectively on July twelfth.
Sky & Telescope

Meanwhile, if you happen to occur to be up 30 to 45 minutes earlier than dawn, look low within the east to glimpse the fast-moving innermost planet, Mercury. Your greatest probability to identify it will likely be round July ninth or tenth. And if you happen to’re up that early, swing your gaze to the oppose horizon to identify Jupiter, which can be fairly vivid, and dimmer Saturn to its decrease proper.

Perhaps greater than in some other constellation, the stars of Scorpius actually do appear like their namesake. Antares is the center of our scorpion. And shut by, to its higher proper and decrease left, are two medium-bright stars representing its physique. Less than one fist to Antares’ higher proper are three stars marking the pinnacle. Trailing from Antares to the decrease left is a curving string of stars that kind the Scorpion’s tail.

Using July’s Sky Tour, you’ll discover ways to determine key stars not solely in Scorpius but additionally in neighboring Sagittarius and in different distinguished constellations which might be seen proper now. You’ll even be taught the place within the sky to seek out distant and extremely dim Pluto. Think of it as your individual private information to the nighttime sky!

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