In the July 2016 Sky Watch you’ll find stargazing highlights and astronomy tips on what to see in this month’s night sky; check back each month for updates on the planets, Moon phases, Full Moon, conjunctions, meteor showers, solstices, equinoxes, and eclipses, courtesy of The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Sky Watch July 2016
by Bob Berman, as featured in The 2016 Old Farmer’s Almanac
July highlights of the night sky:
- Earth reaches aphelion, its annual point farthest from the Sun, on the 4th.
- Pluto comes nearest on the 5th, with an opposition on the 7th. However, each Pluto opposition is noticeably farther away than the previous year’s, thanks to its highly elliptical orbit. After its 1989 closest approach, Pluto is decisively moving away, an exit that will continue until the 22nd century.
- On Friday, July 8, at sunset, the waxing crescent Moon shines in the west at dusk. Jupiter is the bright “star” shining to the upper left of it (just 3 or 4 degrees away). On the 9th, Jupiter shines to the Moon’s lower right during and after dusk.
- Jupiter is now getting lower in the west at nightfall; its annual observation window is nearing its end.
- The waxing Moon passes above Mars on the 14th and above Saturn on the 15th; all are nearly due south at nightfall.
- Saturn is still amazing through backyard telescopes, while Mars is now rapidly shrinking.
For a full year of Sky Watch—plus astronomical information—pick up a copy of The 2016 Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Sky Map July 2016
We offer printable sky maps, too, to help you know what you’re seeing when you look up!