Astronomy Info & Events: July

Moon Phases

July 6: Last Quarter Moon

July 12: New Moon

July 19: First Quarter Moon

July 27: Full Moon (the Full Buck Moon) Smallest Full Moon of 2018!

Special Events

Watch for noctilucent clouds in the evening northern sky this month! They appear as pearly blue wispy clouds.

Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner is visible through a telescope and binoculars this month in the constellation of Cepheus, the king.  This comet may become a naked eye comet by September at magnitude 6. 

International Space Station (ISS) Observable Passes

The ISS’s visible passes over Alberta can be seen during the predawn hours during the early weeks of July and by the end of the July the passes become visible in the late evening hours.  Check out the website or by using satellite tracking smart phone apps like Sputnik to find out the exact times when the ISS will be visible from your location.  The ISS will be seen as a bright moving point of light, moving in an arc from the west to the east during its visible passes.

July 1: Jocelyn Bell discovered the first pulsar 51 years ago!

July 6: Earth at aphelion (furthest distance from the Sun – 152,095,566 km).

July 11: Mercury at greatest eastern elongation of (26 degrees).

July 12: Dwarf planet Pluto is at opposition today. Partial solar eclipse visible from Antarctica and southern Australia only.

July 26: Mars at opposition (Mars will be 3.2 light minutes from the Earth).

July 27: Total lunar eclipse. Visible in the eastern hemisphere but not visible from North & South America. 

July 31: Mars at its closest to the Earth! (Closest distance to the Earth until 2035!) Visit the RASC Observatory at TELUS World of Science - Edmonton to see the details on Mars during this closest opposition of Mars for the next 17 years! The last time Mars was even closer than this was at the great opposition of 2003!

Visible Planets

Mercury may still be visible, with difficulty, low along the northwestern horizon for the first few days of July but soon disappears into the glare of the setting Sun.

Venus continues to shine brightly low in the west-northwest sky after sunset but starts to sink lower to the horizon as the month progresses. After sunset on July 15 look for a very close grouping of Venus with the slim waxing crescent Moon.

Mars reaches its point of opposition on July 26, rising in the southeast at sunset and setting in the southwest by sunrise. At its highest point in the sky for the month, Mars can be seen just a meagre 11 degrees above the southern horizon. Mars continues its retrograde motion through the constellation of Capricornus, the sea goat. While oppositions of Mars  are the best times to view the features of Mars through a telescope, the low elevation of Mars above our horizon from our latitude will hinder seeing the fine details on Mars. Still, if you want to see the features on Mars, join us at the RASC-TWOSE observatory this month and next month.

Jupiter is seen low in the southwestern sky at sunset. Jupiter is located amongst the stars of Libra, the scales, and will be seen below waxing gibbous Moon on July 20.

Saturn is seen low in the south-southeastern sky at sunset this month and is found within the western portion of the constellation of Sagittarius, the archer. As the night moves on, watch Saturn move westward, finally setting in the southwest by sunrise. On July 25 Saturn will be found just below a waxing gibbous Moon.