July Skychart

July 1: The waxing gibbous moon is 10 days old tonight, in the constellation Libra. It remains in the evening sky until the 6th, then rises after sunset.

July 2: The reddish star below the moon tonight is Antares, in Scorpius.

July 3-4: The star near Venus on these two mornings is Aldebaran, in Taurus.

July 4: The earth is at aphelion (farthest from the sun) and the moon is at apogee (farthest from the earth) today.

July 5-6: A total lunar eclipse occurs tonight, the 4th eclipse of the seven that take place in 1982 and the first to be visible generally throughout North America. Events and times are as follows (be sure to adjust for daylight time and for other time zones): eclipse begins at 12:33 a.m., eastern standard time; total eclipse begins a 1:38 a.m., EST; total eclipse ends at 3:24 a.m., EST; eclipse ends at 4:29 a.m., EST. During the 13/4 hours when the moon is fully immersed in earth's shadow (total eclipse), it does not disappear. Its surface glows with a coppery red light from sunlight diverted into the earth's shadow as a result of refraction by earth's atmosphere.

July 9: Mars has been racing eastward (to the left) through the stars of Virgo since it ended its retrograde motion in middle May. It catches and passes Saturn today, moving past the more distant planet from right to left. Saturn is also moving easterly, but much more slowly, as you can see by comparing its position to the nearby star Spica. Note that Mars, more than 5 times brighter than Saturn last April, is now very much dimmer, not much brighter than Spica and Saturn.

July 13: Last quarter moon, moving into Aries. After midnight tonight and tomorrow, when the moon rises, you can find the two brightest stars of Aries, Hamal and Sheratan, above it. The brighter of the two, Hamal, is about as bright as Polaris, the North Star.

July 16-17: The waning crescent moon is moving through Taurus. On the morning of the 16th, the Pleiades star cluster (the ''Seven Sisters'') is above the moon; on the 17th, the reddish star Aldebaran is below it.

July 18-19: The crescent moon passes Venus close enough on the 18th to cover the planet (an occultation) over part of the South Pacific region. The waning moon is to the right and above Venus in the morning sky of the 18th, to the left and below on the 19th.

July 19-21: The moon is at perigee, nearest earth, on the 19th, and the new moon occurs on the 20th, less than 22 hours later. Perigee spring tides (substantially stronger than normal tides), will be felt on the night of the 20 th and on the 21st.

July 20: A partial eclipse of the sun, the 5th in this year's series of 7, occurs with today's new moon. The eclipse is visible from western Europe, northeastern Asia, and the Arctic regions.

July 21: Mars has been moving through Virgo between Saturn and the bright star Spica. It passes Spica today and moves to the left (east) of the star.

July 22: If you can see the young crescent moon early this evening, the star near it is Regulus, in Leo.

July 25: Mercury is in superior conjunction, in line with earth and sun but beyond the sun. It moves to the sun's left to become an evening star.

July 26: The waxing crescent moon passes Saturn, Spica, and Mars today, in that order from right to left. On the evening of the 25th, the moon is to the right of the trio, nearest to Saturn; on the 26th it is to their left, nearest to Mars. The very bright object still farther east (left) is Jupiter.

July 27: Today's first quarter moon passes Jupiter and appears to its left (east) after dark.

July 28-29: The Delta Aquarid meteor shower reaches maximum tonight. After midnight, you might expect to see up to 20 shower meteors per hour, and there is no moonlight to interfere. Meteors from this broad stream, in lesser numbers, can be observed for two or three mornings before and after the 29th, but not usually very bright.

July 31: The star below and to the right of the gibbous moon this evening is Antares, in Scorpius.

All month: Three planets in the evening sky - Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter - continue to move slowly eastward through Virgo, near the bright star Spica. You can find the four objects easily any evening by looking first for Jupiter, high in the south at dusk, farther to the west and lower later in the evening. Early in July Spica will be the next object to Jupiter's right, then Saturn and lastly Mars. But Mars is moving to the left so rapidly that it switches position with Saturn on the 9th and with Spica on the 21st. At the end of the month, therefore , the order will be Jupiter, Mars, Spica and Saturn, from left to right, and all four will be more closely gathered than at the beginning of July. Saturn will move obviously closer to Spica during the month, and Jupiter will move away from the star. Throughout the month bright Spica will be an excellent beacon against which to follow the movements of the three nearby planets.

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