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Visit July's Sky: Planet Parade



This month's astronomy podcast shows you how to see five bright planets – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn – in the evening sky.

For some months you have to get up early to see some of the bright planet. But in July, all five will appear in the evening sky, if not all at once.

  Moon-Venus-Mercury 14.-15. July

The western sky is full of heavenly sights in the center. July.
Sky & Telescope

Venus still hides in the west after sunset. In the middle of the month, you can use this beacon to focus your eyes on the planet Mercury, which was seen in the lower right corner of Venus. The best nights to look at are on the 11th and 12th of July, when Mercury appears farthest from the sun and therefore the easiest to see.

But around 10 o'clock. Venus and Mercury are both gone, and the spotlight will be on the giant planets of Jupiter and Saturn. Jupiter is almost exactly south at nightfall, unmistakably bright and quite isolated between the dark stars of Libra. The king of the planets is located approximately halfway between the bright stars Antares on the left and Spica on the right.

Antares is located about halfway between Jupiter on the right and Saturn on the left. At the end of June, Saturn reached the opposition – one point above the sun in the sky – and throughout July he creeps up night after night.

If you're awake late enough, keep an eye on the eastern horizon for Mars. That's good until midnight. This month, the Red Planet will encounter resistance on the night of the 26th. Half a week later, on the night of September 30, Earth and Mars are only 35.8 million miles apart. The Red Planet was not so close to us in 15 years.

There is more to see in the night sky. So to hear all the heavenly highlights in the coming weeks, play or download the 8-minute astronomy podcast of this month (see below).


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