Welcome to the Almanac’s Sky Watch for July 2020. Plan ahead for the top stargazing sights of the month. Here are the highlights of the night sky for July!
Sky Watch for July 2020
by Bob Berman, as featured in The 2020 Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Looking for a star chart? See our free and printable sky map for July 2020 here.
Bright Planets of July!
July 10: Venus at Greatest Illuminated Extent in the Morning Sky
- Venus, the sky’s brightest planet, reigns over the eastern sky at dawn at a riveting magnitude –4.7, climbing higher each successive morning.
- On July 10, behold Venus shining at her brightest of the year in the morning sky. Look east just before sunup. Venus reaches its “greatest illuminated extent” (i.e., when the lighted portion of the planet covers the greatest area of our sky’s dome). Nearby is the star Aldebaran in constellation Taurus. Aldebaran is the sparking “eye” of the bull.
- Venus will remaining a morning “star” the rest of the month.
- Mark July 17 on your calendar, because on that Friday morning, Venus will be joined by the crescent Moon and Taurus’ orange star Aldebaran in a breathtaking three-way conjunction. Mercury is also nearby.
- Watch the Moon hover to the left of Mercury on the 19th.
July 14: Jupiter at Opposition in the Night Sky
- Jupiter dominates the night sky from early evening until dawn. Look toward the eastern half of the sky.
- On July 14, Jupiter is at opposition! The King Planet is on the opposite side of Earth as the Sun, which means that the biggest planet in our solar system is closest point than at other times of the year—and up all night. It’s the best time to observe (and photograph) Jupiter which will be bright in the sky all night, reaching its highest point around midnight. Start looking towards the east around sunset for a white, steady object. If you have binoculars or a small telescope, you can also see Jupiter’s four largest moons.
July 20: Saturn at Opposition in Early Evening Sky
- Saturn also shines bright in eastern half of the sky at night.
- On the night of July 20, Saturn has its own opposition to the Sun—meaning, the Ringed Planet is on the opposite side of Earth as the Sun. Saturn is bright in the evening sky the entire night, appearing as a yellow-white object. With the new Moon on the same night, Saturn viewing should be at its best! If you have a telescope, view Saturn’s rings.
The two giant planets, now at their brightest of the year, increase their separation as Jupiter’s rightward retrograde motion carries it farther westward in Sagittarius.
Middle of the Night
- Mars is on its own, rising in the middle of the night without any other planets or bright stars nearby. A good time to view Mars is beween midnight and dawn on July 11–12 when the Moon is out. Spot the Moon first, and then look nearby for the brighest object which will be Mars!
Image: Summer Triangle. Credit: NASA
Stargazing for July
- July’s highlight 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!
Looking forward, remember that Perseid Meteor Showers—the most popular meteor showers of the year—peaks August 12 and 13. Make some plans to get outside to catch a shooting star! See our 2020 Perseid Meteor Shower Guide.