July is one of the most interesting months for astronomy enthusiasts. From double planetary opposition to a double meteor shower, this month is packed with eye-catching astronomy events. Apart from these celestial events that will take place for a few hours, you can relish the sight of all the planets in the night sky throughout the month. Here is how you can watch them.
Mercury has recently passed in front of the Sun in its inferior solar conjunction. Hence, observing the planet at the beginning of the month was difficult. But now the angular separation between the two has increased. On July 23, it will reach its greatest separation from the Sun when it will be at its greatest western elongation. Mercury will shine brightly at mag 0.1.
On July 26, Mercury will reach its highest point in the sky. It will shine bright at mag 0.1 in the east before sunrise. The planet will be in Gemini.
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Venus is emerging as the bright ‘morning star’ in the east. It reached its greatest brightness on July 8, at mag -4.5 in Taurus. Its altitude at sunrise is increasing. On July 8, it was around 30 degrees. Venus will reach its greatest altitude in the morning sky around September. The planet rises in the east about a couple of hours before the Sun.
The Roman God of War is visible as a tiny speck of light in the night sky. Mars rises around midnight and is visible high in the sky before sunrise. The Red Planet is shining at mag -0.7 in Cetus.
The night sky of July is ruled by the mighty Jupiter. Shining bright at mag -2.7, Jupiter was at opposition on July 14. During opposition, the planet comes in a straight line with the Earth and the Sun. The Earth will be in the middle. Jupiter also made its closest approach to Earth on July 14 making it the best time to watch the gas giant. Jupiter is currently in Sagittarius. It is still blazing at -2.7 magnitude.
Jupiter rises a couple of hours after sunset and reaches the highest point in the sky after midnight. It is then lost in the glow at sunrise.
After Jupiter makes its closest approach to Earth, it’s time for the Lord Of The Rings. Saturn will be at opposition on July 21. On this occasion, it will be about 82.5 million km closer to us than the average distance. The opposition also marks the best time to watch the ringed beauty.
Saturn rises a couple of hours after sunset and becomes visible after 21:30 in the east. It then reaches its highest point in the sky after midnight. Saturn is fainter than Jupiter, at mag 0.1 in Sagittarius.
Uranus And Neptune
Uranus recently passed behind the Sun at solar conjunction. It rises after midnight in Aries at mag 5.84, making it invisible with the naked eye.
Neptune is currently emerging from behind the Sun. It rises around 23:11 in Aquarius. At mag 7.87, it is invisible with the naked eye.
In order to locate the planets easily, make sure you download any one of these astronomy apps. Happy sky gazing!