The Sky In July 2024 – By Dee Sharples

Poster’s Note: The text for this month’s installment from Dee Sharples, “The Sky In July 2024,” is provided below. Those wishing to listen to the article can click on the audio link below.

Seven planets grace the July skies in sequence this month starting with Mercury and Venus just after darkness falls late in the evening.  After midnight Saturn rises, followed by Neptune, Mars, Uranus, and Jupiter into the early morning hours.

First a note about magnitudes used in this article.  Astronomers have developed a scale to express how bright an object in the sky appears to us.  The lower the number, the brighter the object.  For instance, magnitude -3.9 is a very bright object, while magnitude 7.7 is extremely dim to our eyes.

Venus, appearing very bright at magnitude -3.9 is very close to the horizon 15 minutes after the sun sets, so you’ll need a low horizon, clear of any obstacles to see it.  Mercury at magnitude -0.6 will be a little higher and easy to spot just after sunset.

Saturn, the ringed planet, rises in the east at midnight.  Its rings are nearly edge-on, tilted by merely 2° to our line of sight on Earth.

You’ll need binoculars or a telescope to find Neptune two hours after it rises.  At 2:00 a.m. shines dimly in the eastern sky at magnitude 7.7 a fairly good distance above the horizon.

On July 1st, a crescent moon and the planet Mars shining at magnitude 1.0 rise together around 2:00 a.m.  Look for the planet Uranus on July 15th when it will lie only half a degree from Mars.  Binoculars will show Uranus as a greenish-blue disk due north of Mars. Uranus is fairly bright at magnitude 5.8.

Jupiter rises around 3:30 a.m. on the 1st of the month.  A waning crescent Moon accompanies it on the 3rd.  Shining at magnitude -2.0, Jupiter and its moons display transits and occultations at various times throughout the month.  To see when they’ll occur, check out the website:  Click on “Tools”.   Scroll down to “Find Jupiter’s Moons”.

The Southern Delta Aquarius meteor shower peaks in the early morning hours of July 31st.  At the same time, the early meteors from the August 13th peak of the Perseids meteor shower begins.  Look toward the south around 3:00 a.m. for the radiant where you’ll also spot the planet Saturn shining nearby.

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