By Jim Katsifolis
Planets shown at 7pm 15 July 2023 – Not all the planets are visible in the night sky at this time and hence aren’t represented on the map.
Mercury moves behind the Sun so won’t be visible in the first half of July. It appears again mid-July in the evening just above the western horizon climbing a little higher every evening. Take a look around 6.30pm on 26th July when Mercury joins Mars, Venus, and the Moon for a nice treat low in the western sky.
Venus begins July close to Mars low in the north-western evening sky, shining at its brightest on 8 July as a waning crescent disc. Venus gradually sinks lower every night, eventually ending the month as a larger but thinner crescent disc.
The Earth reaches its furthest distance from the Sun (aphelion) on 7 July at 6am.
Sitting above Venus, Mars treks eastwards through July dipping below the western horizon as the evening darkens. Use binoculars to enjoy the little planetary dance between Venus, Mars and Mercury at the end of July.
In early July, Jupiter rises two hours before sunrise and month’s end rises at 1am, climbing to favourably high observing latitudes before morning twilight. Make sure you checkout its equatorial bulge, latitudinal bands and the Galilean moon dance.
Rising around 9:30 pm in the east at the start of July, Saturn is a beautiful site through any telescope. Turn your telescope towards the ringed planet as it climbs up in the sky towards midnight to reveal its ring system and largest moon Titan. Views will keep improving as it climbs high into the sky earlier every night.
Uranus rises after Jupiter in the north-eastern sky three and a half hours before sunrise in early July, but won’t be at good viewing altitudes till late July when it can be found around 30˚ above the north-eastern horizon two hours before sunrise. You’ll need a telescope to observe its small whitish disc.
Rising in the east 90 minutes after Saturn in early July, Neptune reaches good observing altitudes a few hours after midnight. You should be able to make out its bluish tinge through an 8 inch or larger telescope aperture.
Pluto hunters, turn your telescopes towards Pluto as it reaches its July 22 opposition. Sitting high in the northern sky around midnight, you will need a decent telescope (preferably 10 inch or larger) to make out its dim disc at a dark sky site.
Keep an eye on the SOHO website and news feeds for up-to-date information on solar phenomena.
Credit: Star chart generated by Starry Night Pro Plus 8.1 © Copyright Simulation Curriculum Corp. All rights reserved.