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July begins with a gorgeous planetary event that you won’t want to miss! Head outside on July 1 during twilight to see Venus and Mars meet. Plus, see a full Moon on the eve of Independence Day! All the planets are shifting back to the night sky this month. Here is Bob’s Sky Watch for July.
July 2023 Sky Watch: The Night Show!
July 1: Tonight, Venus will be at its very brightest of the year and a sight to behold with a magnitude of -4.7, dazzling next to the blue star Regulus (Leo’s brilliant brightest star). Our neighboring planets, Venus and Mars, meet for a close conjunction, though red Mars is dimming now. —> Venus has been at her brightest in 8 years through early July! See why in the most latest post.
July 3: A Full Moon on the eve of Independence Day! The Full Buck Moon will be on full display at 7:39 A.M.; this will certainly make for dramatic fireworks displays.
July 4: Millions will see but not be able to identify this fine conjunction as they await the start of Independence Day fireworks. At roughly 9 to 9:15 PM in the west, orange Mars hovers between Leo’s famous blue star Regulus and super-dazzling Venus, now at its brightest as an Evening Star at a shadow-casting magnitude of -4.7.
July 5: In case July 4 was cloudy or you merely want a curtain call, yesterday evening’s fabulous three-way conjunction repeats itself.
July 9: Tonight, Mars will start a close conjunction with Regulus; the two will be paired up until July 11. At the same time, Mercury begins an evening star apparition, starting low in the west with a magnitude of -1. Each evening, Mercury will be brighter and higher in the sky as it traverses the horizon. To top it all off, the Last Quarter Moon is shining bright at 9:48 P.M.
July 17: At 2:32 P.M., the New Moon makes an appearance… or rather, a disappearance? According to the age-old practice of planting the Moon, the ground is the most fertile and wet during the new Moon and the days after. Perhaps it is time to venture into the garden and plant a few mid-summer crops.
July 18: On the Tuesday, look west after sunset for a very slim waxing crescent Moon low on the horizon. Mercury will be poised just to the left of the thin crescent Moon, with Venus a bit further to the left.
July 19: On Wednesday, the Moon will climb a little higher and nearest to dazzling Venus.
July 20: At 9 P.M., the crescent Moon will appear right next to Mars; the red planet hovers just to the left of the Moon. Now below them both is very bright Venus. Also, Regulus, the brightest star in Leo the Lion, is shining between the Moon and Venus!
Note: Mars is now at its dimmest of the year at magnitude +1.8. To see dim Mars, binoculars are handy. Look for a red “star” as the planet’s brightness matches the Big Dipper’s stars. You can also see that Venus is in a crescent phase with binoculars!
This year, the beautiful Delta Aquarid meteor shower peaks on July 29 through 30. Their hourly rate at the peak is 10 meteors per hour. Always look towards the darkest part of the sky, typically away from the moon, to see a shooting star. See tips for viewing meteor showers.
Stargazing in July
July’s best constellation is the Summer Triangle, shining bright and high in the evening sky! See our free star chart and have fun spotting the Summer triangle this month!