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THIS MONTH’S SKY - July 2012


This Month’s Sky
July 2012

Evening Planets. Mercury may be seen in the evening sky the first week of July, before falling back into the Sun’s glare. Mars, now in Virgo, rapidly approaches slumbering Saturn. Below Saturn is the bright star Spica.

Evening Stars. Look low in the horizon for the constellations Scorpius (which looks like a scorpion) and Sagittarius (which looks like a Teapot though it is supposed to represent an archer). Above Scorpius is the large shapeless Ophiuchus the Serpent Bearer. Above Ophiuchus at the overhead sky is Hercules. To the east of Hercules note the three bright stars forming the Summer Triangle: Vega, Deneb and Altair in the respective constellations Lyra the Lyre, Cygnus the Swan and Aquila the Eagle.

Morning Planets. On July 1st one hour before sunrise Venus is brilliant in the east. Above it is Jupiter. Also in the gathering are the bright star Aldebaran below Venus, and the beautiful Pleiades star cluster (on a line from Venus through Jupiter). Later in the month Venus approaches Jupiter but falls back. Watch Venus pass Aldebaran on the tenth, and check out the Moon passing through these stars and planets on the 14th and 15th.

Morning Stars. The Summer Triangle (Lyra, Cygnus and Aquila), overhead last month, has moved slightly to the west. Further west is Hercules. Most of the sky now belongs to the constellations of autumn, including Pegasus, Andromeda and Perseus as well as fainter Capricornus and Aquarius.

July’s Events:
June 30 – Mercury is at greatest elongation from the Sun (26°) in the early evening.
July 1 – Before sunrise, spot brilliant Venus. Jupiter is above. Aldebaran, the brightest star in Taurus, is below Venus and the Pleiades star cluster is above Jupiter. Follow the alignment changes over the next week.
3 – Full Moon at 2:52 PM EDT.
4 – Earth is at aphelion (farthest from the Sun) today.
10 – Venus is 0.9° north of Aldebaran this morning.
10 – Last Quarter Moon at 9:48 PM EDT.
12 – Venus at greatest brilliancy.
13 – Uranus is stationary, beginning retrograde motion.
14 – The crescent Moon is right of the Pleiades this morning.
15 – The Moon is 3.1° below left of Jupiter this morning.
15 – The Moon is 4.3° above and slightly left of Venus this morning.
19 – New Moon at 8:24 AM EDT.
24 – The Moon is 5.8° south of Mars.
25 – The Moon passes 4.5° south of Spica and 5.6° south of Saturn.
26 – First Quarter Moon at 4:56 AM EDT.
28 – Mercury is in inferior conjunction with the Sun, entering the morning sky.
29 – The Southern Delta Aquarid meteor shower peaks.