The Brightest Planets of July: How To See And What To Expect
July 2020 indulges stargazers with a series of spectacular astronomical events. Take the chance to enjoy the magnificent sight of the night and dawn sky! Read on to find out what astronomical surprises are waiting for you in the middle of July and how to see them.
The Queen of the Night meets the Queen Planet
The Moon and dazzling Venus will shine side by side in the eastern part of the sky on July 16, 17 and 18, 2020. The Moon and Venus are the second and the third brightest celestial objects, respectively, after the Sun and stargazers can see their glare with the unaided eye. Venus also might be seen after sunrise these days.
The 26 days old Moon will meet Venus in the dawn sky on Friday, July 17, 2020, at 07:27 GMT (03:27 EDT). The Moon will be at magnitude -10.3, and the 'morning star' at magnitude -4.5. The duo will make a close approach in the constellation Taurus.
Consult the astronomical application Star Walk 2 to find out the rise and set times for celestial objects and their position in the sky above you.
Jupiter, Mars and Saturn shine in the dawn sky
Other three planets that will shine brightly in the sky these days are Jupiter, Mars and Saturn. The second brightest planet orbiting around the Sun, Jupiter, glares on the sky’s dome from dusk till dawn low in the west. Having passed opposition on July 14, 2020, the gas giant is still extremely bright.
Saturn, about one-third as bright as Jupiter, the largest planet of our Solar System, sparkles next to it in the morning sky. Consider that Saturn will reach opposition on July 20, 2020. The opposition of a planet provides an observer with the best opportunity to see the celestial body, because a planet at opposition tends to be near its closest point to Earth in orbit and its sunlit hemisphere is faced directly to our planet.
The second smallest planet of the Solar System, Mars, glares between Venus and Jupiter. The Red Planet will be at magnitude -1.1 by the end of the month. Mars is moving towards the nearest point to the Sun in its 2-year orbit, perihelion. The planet will reach this point on August 3, 2020. Mars at perihelion receives about 30% more light and heat from the Sun and its brightness in July and August is linked to this event.
To know where to look to find Jupiter, Mars and Saturn in the sky and determine the optimal viewing time for your location, use the stargazing guide Star Walk 2.
The Moon visits Mercury
The thin lunar crescent will meet Mercury, the innermost and smallest planet of the Solar System, in the constellation Gemini on Saturday, July 19, 2020, at 03:54 GMT (23:54 EDT on Friday). The Moon will be at magnitude -8.8, and Mercury at magnitude 0.7. As the shine of Mercury is much fainter than the glare of the Moon, you may need binoculars to spot the planet in the dawn light.
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