This is your monthly guide to observing the planets, celestial events, moon phases, this day in space history, NASA launches, and other astronomy resources.
Observing The Planets:
- Mercury (evening planet, magnitude -1.5 to -1) is hidden in the Sun’s glow for most of the month but visible at dusk on July 23.
- Venus (evening planet, magnitude -3.9) visible just above the west-northwest horizon just after sunset beginning July 5.
- Mars (morning planet, magnitude -1.2, in Libra) visible in the south-southwest at dusk and sets after midnight.
- Jupiter (evening planet, magnitude -1.8, in Leo) visible low in the west at dusk and sets after midnight.
- Saturn (evening planet, magnitude +0.2, in Ophiuchus) visible to the left of Mars at dusk and sets after midnight.
- Uranus (morning planet, magnitude +5.8, in Pisces) is very high in the southeast before dawn.
- Neptune (morning planet, magnitude +7.8, in Aquarius) is very high in the southeast before dawn.
Understanding Visual Magnitude: Magnitude is a scale for measuring the brightness of objects in the sky. The dimmer the object the greater the number. The brightest objects generally receive negative numbers. Venus can be as bright as magnitude -4.9, the full moon is generally -12.7 and the sun is -26.8.
Moon Phases & Celestial Events:
- July 1: Moon at perigee (closest to Earth) at 2 am CDT at a distance of 365,983 km and an angular size of 32.7′.
- July 4: New Moon at 6:01 am CDT.
- July 4: Earth at Aphelion (farthest from Sun) at 11 am CDT at a distance of 94,512,904 miles from the Sun.
- July 7: Pluto at opposition.
- July 7: Moon will be 3° from Regulus.
- July 8: Moon less than 5° from Jupiter.
- July 11: First Quarter Moon at 7:52 pm CDT.
- July 11: Moon less than 6° from Spica.
- July 13: Moon at apogee (farthest from Earth) at 1 am CDT at a distance 404,269 km and an angular size of 29.6′.
- July 14: Moon near Mars.
- July 15: Moon less than 3° from Saturn.
- July 16: Mercury 1/2° above Venus.
- July 19: Full Moon at 5:57 pm CDT.
- July 26: Last Quarter Moon at 6:00 pm CDT.
- July 27: Moon at perigee (closest to Earth) at 7 am CDT at a distance of 369,662 km and an angular size of 32.3′.
- July 27-29: Delta Aquariid meteor shower.
- July 30: Mercury less than 1° from Regulus.
The following missions are scheduled for July:
Date: July 16, 2016 – 5:41 p.m. Eastern
Mission: Progress 64P Launch
Description: The Russian Progress 64P cargo craft will launch to the International Space Station.
Launch Site: Baikonur Cosmodrome.
Targeted Date: July 18, 2016 – 12:45 a.m. Eastern
Mission: SpaceX CRS-9 Launch
Description: An uncrewed SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, carrying crew supplies and station hardware, will lift off no earlier than July 18.
Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9 rocket
Launch Site: Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS)
Want to learn more about what goes on each week on the International Space Station? Watch NASA’s weekly Space to Ground video log.
This Day In Space History:
- July 4, 1054: The Crab Nebula supernova was first seen.
- July 4, 1997: Mars Pathfinder lands on Mars.
- July 8, 2011: The final shuttle mission STS-135 Atlantis launched.
- July 9, 1979: Voyager 2 flies past Jupiter.
- July 11, 1979: Skylab reenters atmosphere and burns up.
- July 14, 1965: Mariner 4 was first Mars flyby.
- July 16-22, 1994: Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 smashes into Jupiter.
- July 17, 1850: The first ever photograph of a star (Vega) was taken.
- July 20, 1969: Apollo 11 lands on the Moon.
- July 20, 1976: Viking 1 landed on Mars.
- July 28, 1851: First ever photograph of a total eclipse was taken.
- July 29, 1958: NASA was founded.
- Satellite flybys: Want to know when satellites, the International Space Station, and the Hubble Space Telescope will fly over your location? Enter your zip code here to get a personal calendar.
- Our Current Solar System: Find out the current distances and locations of the solar system planets from the Earth and sun right now.
- The Stargazer’s Guide to the Night Sky
- Sighting the International Space Station (ISS)
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