In the Sky This Month

*Like an Atom, the Space*

In the Sky This Month

Although July offers warm, dry conditions for skywatching, it also provides some of the shortest nights of the year in the northern hemisphere, limiting the hours under the stars. Fortunately, some of the best skywatching sights are visible in the early evening, not long after sunset. Venus reigns as the Evening Star all month, slowly climbing the western sky. Mercury peeks into view below Venus for much of the month, with the star Regulus close to both of them.

July 12: Mercury at Elongation

The little planet Mercury stands farthest from the Sun for its current evening appearance tonight. It looks like a fairly bright star quite low in the west as darkness falls.

July 13: Nurseries

Teapot-shaped Sagittarius is in the southeast at nightfall. The steam above the teapot’s spout includes two nebulae that are giving birth to new star clusters: M8 (the Lagoon Nebula) and M20 (the Trifid Nebula).

July 14: Evening Quartet

The Moon, two planets, and a bright star line up in the west as night falls. The planet Mercury is close below the Moon. Venus, the “evening star,” is to the upper left of the Moon. Regulus, the heart of Leo, the lion, lines up between the Moon and Venus.

July 15: Moon and Venus

Venus, the dazzling “evening star,” lines up close to the crescent Moon this evening. Venus shines so brightly in part because it’s quite close, and in part because it’s blanketed by brilliant clouds.

July 16: Delphinus

Delphinus, the dolphin, is in good view in the east at nightfall. This tiny pattern of stars really does look like a dolphin. Look for it swimming into view in the east as darkness falls, and climbing high across the south during the night.

July 17: Cassiopeia

Cassiopeia the queen sits low in the north-northeast at nightfall, then wheels high to the north at first light. Its stars form a bright letter W, so it’s one of the easiest constellations to pick out.

July 18: Lupus

Skywatchers at far-southern latitudes can see Lupus, the wolf, leaping low across the sky on summer evenings. You need dark skies and a clear horizon to find him. The wolf is below the more prominent constellation Scorpius.