Our local guide to observing celestial objects and events
It’s show time for the visible planets this month. Venus still glows brilliantly low in the west all month around 9 or 9:30 pm. Mercury can best be found on July 14th, at 9 pm. when it is just below a thin crescent Moon. Use binoculars. Or you can look between July 1 and 14 as Mercury hovers about 16 degrees below right of Venus.
Jupiter gleams in the south around 10 p.m. on the 1st but has moved to the southwest by the 31st.
Yellowish Saturn glows in the southeast moving to the south at the same times mentioned for Jupiter. Moon pairings listed in the highlights will help you identify those two planets.
Now is an excellent time to observe Saturn and its rings through a telescope.
But Mars tops the charts as it nears its closest approach to Earth since 2003. On July 31 Mars will be 0.385 AUs from Earth (1 AU or Astronomical Unit is the average Earth-Sun distance or about 93 million miles) so Mars will be just 36 million miles from Earth.
Now go enjoy nature’s free sky show and be sure to stop by the new Bell Museum from July 14th on and ask our planetarium folks to show you where to look.
Detailed information on this month’s sky pairings and highlights.
|1-31||Bright Venus still brilliant||9 to 9:30pm, West|
|1-31||Mars continues to brighten all month|
|1||Ruddy colored Mars to the right of the Moon||12:30am, Low SE, 4:30am, S|
|1||Mercury 16 degrees below right of bright Venus||9:15pm, Low W, use binoculars to spot Mercury|
|14||Mercury just below very thin crescent Moon||9 pm W, use binoculars|
|20||Jupiter just below the Moon||10pm, SW|
|24||Saturn below left of Moon||10pm, SSE|
|26||Mars 10 degrees below left of Moon||11pm, SE|
|27||Mars 7 degrees below right of Moon||11 pm, SE|
|30-31||Mars is the brightest since 2003||10 pm, Low SE|
When viewing planets, stars or constellations in the night sky, it is helpful to use a sky map.
Minnesota Starwatch is another great resource for tracking the night sky.