July is the last month of evening visibility of the two bright planets.
They are: Mars, which was very bright between Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2022 and has decreased significantly in brightness; and Venus, which graces our skies at the end of spring. Both are now visible low near the western horizon about an hour after sunset.
We all know that after a great play concludes how to express For the final bow. Well, by the way, we are nearing the end of the high-profile show that has been going on for months and the two main characters will soon come out to take their final bows.
And as a bonus, located in the vicinity of these two planets this month, is the bright star Regulus 1 in the constellation of Leo, the Lion.
Related: The Night Sky, July 2023: What You Can See Tonight [maps]
The finale with the evening show
By far the most beautiful of the three is beautiful Venus, now rapidly approaching the Sun. In fact, it has quickly sunk to the western horizon, which at the end of this month – despite its great brightness – may be more difficult to see.
During the second weekend of July, Venus is setting about two hours after sunset; At the same time as the night of twilight comes to its conclusion. But on July 23, this amazing world will rise just one hour after sunset and by the end of the month it will set about 20 minutes after the sun.
Surely this is the month to track Venus, Earth’s “evil twin,” with binoculars! Now, it’s swinging closer to our Earth, beating us in the planetary race around the Sun. At that time, Venus was the closest to us that any large planet could come. Moreover, it exhibits a significantly larger disk than any other solid body in the universe save the Moon.
July 7th is the day when Jupiter is at its “maximum brightness”, the “compromise phase” between when Jupiter appears full but small, and when it appears almost six times larger but just a hair’s breadth away. The maximum number of illuminated areas combined with a moderately large angular size makes Venus now appear absolutely dazzling, at an eye-popping magnitude of -4.7; 25 times brighter than Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky.
In fact, Venus appears so bright right now that it can easily be seen. With bare eyes in the afternoon sky is deep blue, no haze, if you know clearly to see ; It appears as a small white dot against a sky-blue background.
As July progresses, Jupiter continues to approach Earth as it appears to curve back toward the Sun in our sky. It now appears as a large, beautiful crescent that can be seen even in binoculars. On July 7, Jupiter is 37 million kilometers away from Earth. Its plate appears 25% illuminated and about 35% in size larger than it was just a month ago.
Your best telescopic sight may be early in the night or even in the middle of the day when it’s more visible without its overwhelming glare. At the end of July, you will be able to expand the cusp of the crescent? These are light thread-like wisps extending beyond the point of the crescent. Also, check the cusps themselves; Sometimes one appears brighter or sharper than the other.
Mars meets Regulus
While Venus is going out into the light of true glory, Mars, in comparison, is sulking away, appearing as nothing more than a featureless little dot. At magnitude +1.7, it is now only 1/27 as bright as it did last December. On July 7th, Mars is about 4 degrees to the upper left of Jupiter and on the night that follows Jupiter. The two will slowly separate from each other.
But because Venus and Mars are separated, Mars will also be very close to Regulus. On July 10, Regulus will make a close approach to Mars. As seen from 40° north latitude, the pair will be set together after nightfall.
While you may be able to see both stars and planets with the unaided eye, you’ll need binoculars to get the best view of this second-magnitude planet that passes just seven-tenths of a degree above the brighter Regulus (+1.4). Optical support will show the striking contrasting colors of Regulus white-blue and Mars orange-gold, emphasizing the proximity of the objects to each other.
However, the telescope will reveal a small disk of Mars, now only about one-fifth as wide as it appeared at close proximity to the planet last December. During August, Mars will disappear into the solar eclipse and will remain visible for the rest of the year.
The moon took its own farewell
And finally, there is our closest neighbor in space, the Moon, which will interact with both planets and also Regulus on the evening of Thursday, July 20. Be sure to go outside an hour after sundown and look down to the west. the horizon. Look first for the slender moon, only 9% illuminated in the twilight sky; It will stand 8 degrees almost directly above Venus.
This, incidentally, will be the final point of the collection of the brightest night sky objects visible in the evening sky this year. Regulus, meanwhile, would lie almost directly between them. And sitting about 4 degrees to the left of the Moon will be Mars. Again, binoculars will come in handy to see them all.
If you’re hoping to see one of these celestial events in July, our guide to the best binoculars and binoculars is a good place to start.
And if you’re looking to photograph the planets or the night sky in general, check out our guide on how to photograph the moon, as well as our best cameras for space photography and best lenses for space photography.
Joe Rao serves as a teacher and guest lecturer in New York. Hayden Planetarium. He wrote about astronomy for Journal of Natural HistoryYes Grandpa farmer and other publications.
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