July 2020 Observing Guide (All Times are ST and are based on an observing location of Belfast)
At the start of the month, the Sun rises at 04:55 and sets at 22:00. By month’s end, it rises at 05:35 and sets at 21:25.
12th am Venus lies 1 degree to the N of Aldebaran (Alpha (α) Tauri, mag +0.9).
Mercury is at inferior conjunction on the 1st and is at greatest western elongation on the 22nd. It is visible in the morning sky during the second half of the month. At the end of the month, it rises at 04:00 and is mag -0.7 in Gemini.
Venus is visible in the morning sky in Taurus. At the start of the month, it rises at 03:20 and by month’s end it rises at 02:20. It maintains its brightness at mag -4.3 during the month.
Mars is visible in the morning sky in Pisces. At the start of the month, it rises at 01:10 and by month’s end it rises at 23:40. It brightens from mag -0.5 to mag -1.1 during the month.
Jupiter is at opposition on the 14th and is visible in the evening sky in Sagittarius. At the start of the month, it rises at 22:40 and by month’s end it rises during daylight hours, setting at 03:50. It maintains its brightness at mag -2.6 during the month.
Saturn is at opposition on the 20th and is visible in the evening sky when it moves from Capricornus to Sagittarius. At the start of the month it rises at 22:55 and by month’s end it rises during daylight hours, setting at 04:35. It brightens from mag +0.2 to mag +0.1 during the month.
Uranus is visible in the morning sky in Aries. Find out air conditioning repair near me. At the start of the month, it rises at 01:50 and by month’s end it rises at 23:50. It maintains its brightness at mag +5.8 during the month.
Neptune is visible in the morning sky in Aquarius. At the start of the month, it rises at 00:40 and by month’s end it rises at 22:40. It brightens from mag +7.9 to mag +7.8 during the month.
The full moon is on the 5th (05:44). The last quarter moon is on the 13th (00:29) with the new moon on the 20th (18:33). The first quarter moon is on the 27th (13:33).
2nd pm the 94% waxing gibbous lies NE of Antares (Alpha (α) Scorpii, mag +0.9) at 23:00.
Night of 5th/6th the 99% waning gibbous lies S of Jupiter and SW of Saturn at midnight.
Night of 6th/7th the 96% waning gibbous lies SE of Saturn at midnight.
10th am the 77% waning gibbous lies SW of Neptune at 01:00.
12th am the 59% waning gibbous lies SE of Mars at 02:00.
14th am the 40% waning crescent lies SW of Uranus at 02:00.
16th am the 22% waning crescent lies SW of M45 – The Pleiades at 03:00.
17th am the 14% waning crescent lies N of Venus and NE of Aldebaran (Alpha (α) Tauri, mag +0.9) at 03:00.
19th am the 3% waning crescent lies NE of Mercury at 04:00.
22nd pm the 6% waxing crescent lies NW of Regulus (Alpha (α) Leonis, mag +1.4) at 22:00.
26th pm the 43% waxing crescent lies N of Spica (Alpha (α) Virginis, mag +1.0) at 23:00.
29th pm the 76% waxing gibbous lies NW of Antares (Alpha (α) Scorpii, mag +0.9) at 23:00.
The best time to observe meteor showers is when the moon is below the horizon; otherwise its bright glare limits the number you will see especially the fainter ones. Below is a guide to this month’s showers.
The Southern Delta Aquariids peak on the morning of the 30th with a ZHR of 25. The radiant is visible from 23:00 on the 29th. Some lunar interference with the waxing gibbous moon setting at 01:15 on the 30th.
There may be additional minor showers this month, details of which can be found in the below Information Sources and Links Section.
Asteroid (532) Herculina is at opposition on the morning of the 3rd at mag +9.5. It can be seen in Sagittarius, low in the S from midnight on the night of the 2nd/3rd.
Asteroid (2) Pallas is at opposition on the evening of the 13th at mag +9.6. It can be seen in Vulpecula as soon as darkness falls.
Finder charts and further information about other fainter asteroids can be found in the below Information Sources and Links Section.
C/2017 T2 (PanSTARRS) is currently mag +9 at the time of writing (atow) and is predicted to fade during July. It is circumpolar at the start of the month and sets at 04:00 by the middle of the month. By month’s end it sets at 02:00. It moves from Canes Venatici to Coma Berencies during the month. It passes by Chara (Beta (β) Canum Venaticorum, mag +4.2) on the evening of the 1st and on the evening of the 19th, it passes by Beta (β) Comae Berencies, mag +4.2. On the night of July 31st/August 1st, it lies within 3 degrees of C/2019 U6 (Lemmon) when both are setting between 01:00 – 02:00.
C/2019 U6 (Lemmon) was at perihelion on June 18th and is now fading. It is currently mag +6 atow and moves from Sextans to Leo to Virgo to Coma Berencies during the month. It sets too close to sunset at the start of the month to be seen, by the middle of the month it sets at 01:00 and by month’s end it sets at 02:00. On the evening of the 8th, it passes by Sigma (σ) Leonis, mag +4.0. On the evening of the 12th, it passes by Nu (ν) Virginis, mag +4.0. On the evening of the 15th, it passes by Omicron (ο) Virginis, mag +4.1. On the evening of the 20th, it passes by M87. On the evenings of the 21st, it passes by M90. On the evening of the 28th, it passes by Alpha (α) Comae Berencies, mag +4.3 and on the evening of the 29th, it passes by M53.
C/2020 F3 (Neowise) is at perihelion on the 3rd and is currently mag +6 atow (albeit it has not been observed for a few days and is visible on the SOHO Coronagraph June 22-29). It moves from Taurus to Auriga to Lynx to Ursa Major to Coma Berencies during the month. It is not visible at the start of the month, but is circumpolar by the middle of the month. It sets at 02:00 at month’s end. On the morning of the 5th, it passes by M37. On the evening of the 7th, it passes by Theta (θ) Aurigae, mag +2.6. On the evening of the 18th, it passes by Talitha (Iota (ι) Ursae Majoris, mag +3.1). On the evening of the 22nd, it passes by Lambda (λ) Ursae Majoris, mag +3.5. On the evening of the 24th, it passes by Phi (ψ) Ursae Majoris, mag +3.0. On the evening of the 31st, it passes by Gamma (γ) Comae Berencies, mag +4.4.
Finder charts and further information about the above and other fainter comets can be found in the below Information Sources and Links Section. Any of the above estimates are based on current information at the time of writing the guide and can be wrong – “Comets are like cats; they have tails, and they do precisely what they want”, David H Levy.
On the deep sky front this month, galaxies M81 and M82 can be observed in Ursa Major. Check out the constellation Canes Venatici with the globular cluster – M3 and several galaxies including M51 – the Whirlpool Galaxy and M63 – the Sunflower Galaxy. In Hercules, two globular clusters – M92 and the excellent M13 can be observed and in Lyra – M57 – The Ring Nebula can be observed. In Vulpecula – M27 – The Dumbbell Nebula can be found. In Andromeda, M31 – The Andromeda galaxy can be observed along with its satellite galaxies M32 and M110. In Perseus, there is the open cluster M34 and the excellent Double Cluster. Finally in Triangulum, there is the galaxy M33. Check out best dental office disinfection charlotte.
Always keep an eye out for Aurorae. The night sky does not get fully dark this month. Between mid-May and the early August, Astronomical twilight is present at night. This is when the sun is between twelve and eighteen degrees below the horizon.
Watch out for NLCs – Noctilucent Clouds during July. Look to the North-West for a white/silvery glow 1.5 – 2 hours after sunset and to the North-East a similar amount of time before sunrise. They can sometimes be faint, sometimes bright. Other interesting naked eye phenomena to look out for include the Zodiacal Light and the Gegenschein. Both are caused by sunlight reflecting off dust particles which are present in the solar system.
Zodiacal Light can be seen in the West after evening twilight has disappeared or in the East before the morning twilight. The best time of year to see the phenomenon is late-Feb to early-April in the evening sky and September/October in the morning sky – it’s then that the ecliptic, along which the cone of the zodiacal light lies, is steepest in our skies. The Gegenschein can be seen in the area of the sky opposite the sun. To view either, you must get yourself to a very dark site to cut out the light pollution. When trying to observe either of these phenomena, it is best to do so when the moon is below the horizon. A new appendix has been added explaining some of the more technical terms used in the guide.
The ZHR or Zenithal Hourly Rate is the number of meteors an observer would see in one hour under a clear, dark sky with a limiting apparent magnitude of 6.5 and if the radiant of the shower were in the zenith. The rate that can effectively be seen is nearly always lower and decreases as the radiant is closer to the horizon. The Zenith is the overhead point in the sky.