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

(Pexels Photo)...
Steve Kates

Grab your binoculars to take a peek at nova in Arizona skies

In the most basic of all explanations, a nova is a star that reaches a critical mass, collapses under the pressure of gravity and then explodes.
5 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Steve Kates

With monsoon out of the way, October skies offer up amazing sights

October 2021 brings about some of the best that the night sky can offer up.
12 days ago
From left: Scott Bolton and Rick Nybakken during a briefing at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory i...
Steve Kates

Jupiter and its moons will fill the eyes of starwatchers in October

Jupiter, the king of the planets, is the dominant planet in our October skies and it's easy to spot high in the southeastern sky at sunset.
19 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Steve Kates

Change of seasons pulls cold, blue elusive Neptune into view

September and October bring us some clear and cooler nights - just what the doctor ordered to view some amazing objects, like Neptune.
26 days ago
(Unsplash Photo)...
Steve Kates

September skies bring autumn’s harvest moon to light

We bring you some exciting news about a most amazing moon known as the harvest moon.
1 month ago
(NASA Photo)...
Steve Kates

Andromeda Galaxy shines as summer makes way for autumn

Deep within the constellation of Andromeda we come to a most interesting object - the great Andromeda Galaxy, or M31 and to some, NGC 224.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Why fall maintenance is important for your heating system and A/C

It’s easy to ignore your heater and air conditioner when they’re working but the moment something breaks, you will likely regret not keeping up with maintenance. After all, if something goes wrong, you may be stuck with a repair that will take longer and be more expensive than simple maintenance.
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.

More stroke patients eligible for acute treatment, thanks to research

Historically, patients underwent acute stroke treatments according to strict time guidelines. But thanks to recent advancements in stroke research, more patients are becoming candidates for clot-busting drugs and endovascular therapy at specialized centers like Barrow Neurological Institute.
Watchers’ guide to the sights of July night skies