Watchers’ guide to the sights of July night skies

Jul 14, 2021, 2:00 PM
(Unsplash Photo)...
(Unsplash Photo)
(Unsplash Photo)

July brings on the summer monsoon and some additional sights in our Arizona skies!

The month opens up with the moon at its last quarter phase, rising near midnight and high in the sky at dawn.

From here, the moon then moves on to a waning crescent and finally on to another new phase on the 10th.

Sharp-eyed observers will see a very thin crescent moon low in the northwest on the evening of the 11th. All this being dependent on having a near-free monsoon sky right after sunset.

The moon will then travel along the ecliptic and get higher in our evening skies till it reaches first quarter phase on the 17th.

This is a great time for all that have binoculars or telescopes to view the best shadow relief along the light and dark line we call the terminator.

After the 17th, the moon is now in its gibbous or egg-shaped phase, only to move on to the next full moon of the month, this being the full buck moon on the evening of the 23rd, rising in the southeast at 7:47 p.m. Arizona time.

Here is a link to the rising and setting times for the moon this month.

After this, the moon will turn into a waning moon and reach last quarter phase on the 31st.

For planets, we have some exciting news for observers just after sunset.

Venus and Mars will be very close in the sky during the period from July 11-16.

Venus and Mars will come within a half of a degree in our skies on the night of the 13th. I suggest a pair of binoculars to get the best view. Look to the northwestern sky around 20 minutes after sunset.

In reality, Venus is some 133 million miles from earth, while faint Mars is located 230 million miles from Earth. Together, they make for an interesting contrast in the night sky, as Venus is bright white, while Mars appears orange red.

For more specifics on both of these planets in the night sky, this will help: Venus tracker; Mars tracker.

The show of planets gets better as we look to the southeastern sky right around 10 p.m. local time as Saturn will rise and then soon after this, the king of the planets, Jupiter, will make a grand entrance about an hour later.

Both Jupiter and Saturn are well worth the time spent in looking at them in a small telescope.

Both planets will reach opposition in August and be well placed in our skies all night.

For more specifics on these planets in the night sky, this will help: Jupiter tracker; Saturn tracker.

On a final note, get set for what may be the best meteor shower of the entire year, as we await the annual Perseid meteor shower, during the peak nights of Aug. 11-12.

We will cove this shower in greater detail in future columns.

Here is a link to learn more about the Perseids.

To print your own monthly star chart, click here.

To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.

Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday at 3 a.m.

Podcast available here.

Dr. Sky Blog

(Pixabay Photo)...
Steve Kates

December opens with crescent moon, followed by meteor showers, more

As November ends we look forward to some of the best in our Arizona skies, as the winter season is just around the corner!
7 days ago
(AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)...
Steve Kates

Lunar eclipse will give sky watchers something to see early Friday

Observers across North America will get to experience one of the most amazing celestial events - a near total lunar eclipse Friday morning!
14 days ago
(Hubble Space Telescope Photo)...
Steve Kates

Triangulum constellation is small but worth looking for in November skies

The month of November opens up with clear skies, little moonlight and the promise of some really interesting objects to view in our Arizona skies, such as the Triangulum constellation.
21 days ago
The Boomerang Nebula (NASA, ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team-STScI/AURA Photo)...
Steve Kates

Searching the universe for coldest place known to humanity

Where can you find the coldest temperatures in the universe? Hint: It's about 5,000 light years away from Earth!
28 days ago
(Photo by: VW Pics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)...

A look at the Arizona November Sky Tour

With the fall season now in full swing, we look forward to the holidays and there will be many celestial treats for all to explore!
1 month ago
SOFIA soars over the snow-covered Sierra Nevada mountains with its telescope door open during a tes...
Steve Kates

Details about the amazing airborne telescope SOFIA

Flying above most of the atmosphere to capture images of faint celestial objects is one of the great technological achievements of science and so it is with the NASA/SOFIA Science Center’s specially modified 747SP aircraft.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Arizona State University

Gain insights on next year’s trends at 58th Annual Economic Forecast Luncheon

Employment is recovering from the severe contraction induced by the pandemic, but it is still way below levels at the start of 2020. Can it fully recover in the coming year?
PNC Bank

3 cool tips to turn everyday moments into learning experiences for your child

Early brain development has a crucial impact on a child’s ability to learn and succeed in school and life. Research has shown that 90% of a child’s brain is developed by age five.
Sweet James

Best fall road trips to take on a motorcycle

Autumn in Arizona brings the beauty of color-changing leaves and a relief from summer heat. It’s one of the most pleasant times to explore the outdoors, especially on a motorcycle.
Watchers’ guide to the sights of July night skies