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Astronomical Events for July

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Evening Planets:

                Jupiter may be glimpsed for the first few days of July, very low in the bright West Dusk sky after Sunset. After that the planet quickly moves into the glare of Sunset and is lost from view.

                Mars continues to slowly fade in brightness as the month progresses. The planet is up in the SW as the evening twilight fades. Mars has a close approach to the bright star Spica on the evening of July 13th. The planet just passes above the bright star Spica. The planet’s distance from Earth has greatly increased, making Mars a poor telescopic object.

                Saturn is up in the South as evening twilight fades. As the month progresses, the planet Saturn loses some of its brightness. Saturn is the only evening planet that will give a good view through a telescope.

Morning Planets:

                Venus rises in the ENE after Dawn breaks. The planet slowly dims down in brightness as the month progresses. This is the faintest that Venus will be for the whole year. The planet is caught up in the bright glow of Dawn and is not in a good position for observations.

                Mercury makes an appearance to the lower left of Venus, very low in the ENE. Mercury rises well after Venus does and is in a poor position. Mercury is really stuck in the bright glow of the approaching Sunrise. The best chance to catch a glimpse of this planet will be on the 11th-17th of July. Mercury will be a difficult planet to see in the bright glow of Dawn.

1 July Crescent Moon below the bright star Regulus, Dusk

5 July Mars just above and very close to the 1st Quarter Moon, Dusk

7 July Saturn just above Moon, Dusk

13 July Mars just above the bright star Spica, Evening

22 July Crescent Moon very close to bright star Aldebaran, Dawn

24 July Thin crescent Moon to the right of Venus, Dawn

28-29 July’s Minor Meteor Showers

July’s Minor Meteor Showers

                On the night of 28-29 July; 3 minor meteor showers should be active throughout the night. The 3 minor meteor showers are: Alpha Capricornids, Piscis Austrinids, and Delta Aquarids. The three modest minor meteor showers are so spread out; they don’t exhibit a peak time for observations. The thin crescent Moon sets in the early evening and will be no problem at all. Each of the three minor meteor showers hardly produces any meteors at all. Each of the individual showers may display its unique characteristics that may make this night interesting.

The Alpha Capricornids produce a few; bright yellow colored meteors and on occasion a rare yellow fireball. These rare yellow colored fireballs are sometimes called “the July Fireballs”.

The Delta Aquarids are known for slower than normal meteors which sometimes leave a fine smoky trail behind.

The Piscis Austrinids can produce fast, red colored meteors. Sometimes the shower will produce a very rare red colored fireball.

                If all three of these minor meteor showers are active; their possible total number of meteors per hour may reach 10. Also consider yourself very lucky if you see one fine, bright fireball during the whole night. Let’s hope that these 3 minor meteor showers will produce a few memorable meteors during that short July summer night.

Written by

Gary T. Nowak

Vermont Astronomical Society

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