Night sky for July
Sun: The Earth is at aphelion, its greatest distance from the Sun, on July 5.
Moon: Full Moon occurs on July 4, with Last Quarter on July 11. New Moon falls on July 19 and First Quarter follows on July 26.
Meteor showers: The alpha Capricornids peak at the end of the month. This shower can produce the occasional fireball.
Mercury is in the evening sky until July 29, but is easiest to locate during the first half of the month. About 6pm, look towards the north west, around 10 degrees up from the horizon, for a bright yellowish star.
Venus and Jupiter are brilliant objects in the morning sky, rising around three hours before the Sun. This month they pass through an area rich in stars. Mid-July, there are nice groupings of the Moon, Venus, the Pleiades, Jupiter, and Aldebaran.
Mars and Saturn are easy to find in the northern sky, just after 6pm. Both planets are in the constellation of Virgo. Saturn remains close to Spica, but Mars appears to move closer to Saturn as the month progresses. On July 24 and 25 the Moon will be a few degrees away from both.
Stars and Constellations:
The winter sky is close to its best this month.
The eastern sky is dominated by the constellation of Sagittarius, and above it, almost overhead, is Scorpius with its brilliant red star, Antares.
This area is full of star clusters and nebulae.
Towards the west, Leo is setting, followed by Virgo.
Looking north, we can make out Bootes and Hercules.
The southern sky has a wealth of stars clustered towards the south-west.
These include the constellations of Centaurus, Carina and the Southern Cross.
Almost directly south, just above the horizon, are the stars Achernar and Canopus.
The Milky Way runs from north-east to south-west.
Early-morning risers will notice Orion and the Pleiades low in the east.
Prepared for the Taranaki Daily News by Tom Whelan, Cape Egmont Observatory
Taranaki Daily News