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David Mayeux
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Current Astronomy "Headlines"

Full Moon
July 1, 31

Last Quarter July 8

New Moon July 15

First Quarter
July 23

Listed below are notable astronomical events coming up for the month of
July 2015:

Naked-Eye Planets

Mercury begins July just a week after greatest western elongation, rising in the morning sky in the constellation Taurus. Mercury dips toward the eastern horizon, diving into the glare of the Sun until it reaches superior conjunction on the 23rd of the month. Thereafter, Mercury crosses over into the evening sky, although even by month’s end it will only be separated from the Sun’s disk by about 10 degrees.

Venus starts July just starting to break out of a close conjunction with Jupiter low in the western sky in the constellation Leo at about an hour after sunset. For the month, Venus pulls away from Jupiter somewhat, but it, Jupiter, and the star Regulus of Leo remain in some kind of a triangle shape all month long. Venus comes to closest conjunction with Regulus on the 14th, is paired VERY closely with the crescent Moon on the evening of the 18th, and afterwards plunges surprisingly rapidly toward the western horizon nightly through the end of the month. Venus will actually set at a hair before 9 p.m. by the last day of July. This will probably be the last month in which to see Venus in the evening sky for many months.

Mars is unfortunately effectively lost in the glare of the Sun for the entirety of the month of July. The latter part of next month will be better for early risers to try to view the Red Planet.

Jupiter starts July beginning the splitting of a very close pairing with Venus that it had on the 30th of last month in Leo. As was mentioned in the Venus section, Jupiter rapidly descends toward the solar glare of sunset all month long, at first more quickly than Venus, but then Venus seems to accelerate nightly and actually set earlier than Jupiter by month’s end. Nevertheless, Jupiter will be incredibly difficult to spot by month’s end, and will probably be practically impossible to view with the naked eye even at the beginning of next month. This will be the last month this year to be able to easily view Jupiter in the evening sky.

Unlike Venus and Jupiter, Saturn is riding high in the southeast about an hour after sunset and will be visible for many hours in the evening and early morning skies in July in the constellation Libra, but very near the constellation Scorpius. Saturn is still in retrograde for most of the month, and is bypassed by the waxing gibbous Moon on the 25th of the month, then approaching the static point in its retrograde loop by the end of July.

Telescopic Planets

Uranus rises in the morning before the Sun in the constellation Pisces all month long, and at the end of the month rises a little before 11:30 p.m.

Neptune rises at about 11:45 p.m. at the beginning of July in the constellation Aquarius, and finishes the month coming up at about 9:45 p.m.

Dwarf Planets

Ceres rises a bit before 11:00 p.m. at the beginning of July in the constellation Capricornus. By month’s end, it rises at a little after 8:45 p.m.

Pluto is in the constellation Sagittarius for the month of July, and comes to opposition on the 6th of the month, meaning it will be above the horizon all night long! However, seeing it in a backyard telescope is another matter…! The icy dwarf planet is only visible as a very modest, slight “dot” of a star in a telescope of at least 8”-10” aperture. A very detailed star chart (as well as a great amount of patience and endurance!) is vitally necessary in order to spot it! Pluto glows feebly at magnitude 14.0.






Meteor Showers - http://amsmeteors.org/showers.html

Viewable Comets - http://cometography.com/current_comets.html

Special events - http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/highlights



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