#AceNewsReport – July.12: Venus is joined by Mars in the July twilight. Watch them come closer each evening, culminating with a super-close pairing on July 12. And ’tis the season for enjoying the Milky Way core!
What’s Up: Skywatching Tips from NASA
Skywatching Tips for July
- July 12: Venus and Mars will appear only a finger’s width apart.
- July 23: The next full Moon is called the Buck Moon.
Venus and Mars appear closer each night leading up to July 12, when they’re at their closest. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Sunsets in July come with an added bonus: a brilliant gem low in the western sky, calling to us to come and explore its many mysteries. This is the planet Venus. It’s our cosmic next-door neighbor – that is, the planet with the closest orbit to the orbit of Earth.
It’s also often thought of as Earth’s sister planet, given that it’s also a rocky world of the same size, though Venus developed into a hellishly hot world, where Earth became the cool, blue planet we know and love.
Venus is sometimes referred to as “the Morning Star,” or “the Evening Star,” depending on whether it’s visible around sunrise or sunset. This month, it’s the latter, and you’ll find Venus low in the west together with a faint planet Mars beginning about half an hour after sunset. In fact, you can watch each evening as Venus and Mars get closer, culminating with a close conjunction on July 12th, when they’ll be only a finger’s width apart. Look for them together with a slim, crescent Moon that’s only 10% illuminated.
On July 12, Venus and Mars are a mere half-degree apart, or about the width of an index finger at arm’s length. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltechhttps://solarsystem.nasa.gov/whats-up-skywatching-tips-from-nasa/
In June, NASA announced that two new space missions would be heading to Venus beginning later in the decade. VERITAS and DAVINCI+ will investigate the planet’s surface and atmosphere, returning incredible images, maps, and other data, likely rewriting our understanding of how Earth’s sister planet became so inhospitable, along with how it might still be active today. They’ll be joined by the European spacecraft EnVision, for what’s sure to be an exciting new chapter in solar system exploration.
July is one of the best times of year to enjoy the magical sight that is the Milky Way. This is our view of our spiral galaxy, seen edge on, from within. Now, some part of the Milky Way is visible in the night sky any time of year, but the galaxy’s bright, complex core is only observable during certain months. Earlier in the season, you have to wait until the wee hours of the morning for the core to rise in the sky. But in June and July, the core has already risen by the time it’s fully dark, and can be seen fairly well until around 2 a.m. when it starts to set.
In June and July, the bright, complex Milky Way core has already risen in the sky by the time it’s truly dark out. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Now, the Milky Way is faint, and to see it, you’ll need to find your way out to fairly dark skies, but as long as you’re below about 55 degrees north latitude, you should be able to observe the Milky Way core under dark skies. (Southern Hemisphere observers have it even better, as the core appears much higher overhead there.)
Calendar showing the best and worst times of July 2021 to observe the Milky Way. Bottom line: Milky Way chasers need to avoid the full moon and the brightness it brings. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
One super important tip is to avoid the full moon and the days close to it since a bright Moon overwhelms the faint glow of the Milky Way. The three or four nights around the new moon are best, but the week before and after is also okay – you just have to note when the Moon will be rising or setting. There are a variety of great apps and websites to help you find dark skies and figure out when and where to look. So here’s hoping you get out there and experience one of the most fantastic sights the sky has to offer.
Phases of the Moon
Current Moon PhaseUse this tool to see the current Moon phase and to plan ahead for other Moon views. Credit: NASA
Saturday and Sunday morning, July 10 and 11, 2021, will be the two mornings when the planet Mercury will appear at its highest above the east-northeastern horizon (2 degrees) at the time morning twilight begins.
Beginning the evening of Saturday, July 10, 2021, the planet Saturn will begin appearing above the horizon in the east-southeast as evening twilight ends.
On the evening of Sunday, July 11, 2021, low on the west-northwestern horizon, the waxing crescent Moon will appear to the right of the bright planet Venus with the planet Mars appearing about a degree to the left of Venus. They will only be about 4 degrees above the horizon as evening twilight ends and the Moon will set first about 25 minutes later.
The next evening, Monday, July 12, 2021, the waxing crescent Moon will have shifted to appear to the upper left of the planet Venus with the planet Mars about a half degree to the lower left of Venus and the bright star Regulus appearing about 6 degrees to the left of the Moon.
Sometime late Monday night into Tuesday morning, July 12 to 13, 2021 (2021-Jul-13 07:34 UTC with 4 hours, 6 minutes uncertainty), Near-Earth Object (2019 AT6), between 26 to 59 feet (8 and 18 meters) across, will pass the Earth at between 3.7 and 4.9 lunar distances (nominally 4.2), traveling at 11,500 miles per hour (5.15 kilometers per second).
Tuesday evening, July 13, 2021, will be when the planets Venus and Mars will appear nearest to each other, with Mars appearing a half degree below Venus. The pair will only be about 4 degrees above the west-northwestern horizon as evening twilight ends at 9:44 p.m. EDT, and Mars will set first about 23 minutes later at 10:07 p.m. After this evening Venus will continue to shift to the left each evening, away from Mars and toward the bright star Regulus.
On the evening of Friday, July 16, 2021, the bright star Spica will appear about 7 degrees to the lower left of the waxing half Moon. They will appear in the southwest as evening twilight ends at 9:41 p.m. EDT, and Spica will set first 2 hours, 39 minutes later (early Saturday at 12:20 a.m.).
On Saturday morning, July 17, 2021, the Moon will appear half-full as it reaches its first quarter at 6:11 a.m. EDT.
Sometime in mid-to-late July 2021 (2021-Jul-17 19:03 UTC with 4 days, 20 hours, 30 minutes uncertainty), Near-Earth Object (2019 NB7), between 29 to 65 feet (9 and 20 meters) across, will pass the Earth at between 1.7 and 39.3 lunar distances (nominally 15.2), traveling at 30,800 miles per hour (13.76 kilometers per second).
Sunday morning, July 18, 2021, will be the last morning for this apparition when the planet Mercury will appear above the horizon in the east-northeast at the time morning twilight begins.
On Monday evening into Tuesday morning, July 19 to 20, 2021, the bright star Antares will appear about 8 degrees to the lower left of the waxing gibbous Moon. They will appear in the south as evening twilight ends at 9:39 p.m. EDT, and will set in the west-southwest at about the same time on Tuesday morning around 2:15 a.m.
By Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning, July 20 to 21, 2021, the Moon will have shifted such that Antares will appear about 8 degrees to the right of the Moon, with Antares setting first Wednesday morning at 2:10 a.m.
During the week of July 21, 2021 (2021-Jul-21 09:48 UTC with 3 days, 1 hour, 6 minutes uncertainty), Near-Earth Object (2014 BP43), between 44 to 98 feet (13 and 30 meters) across, will pass the Earth at between 4.3 and 35.3 lunar distances (nominally 16.9), traveling at 18,900 miles per hour (8.46 kilometers per second).
Wednesday morning, July 21, 2021, at 6:25 a.m. EDT, the Moon will be at perigee, its closest to the Earth for this orbit.
Wednesday evening, July 21, 2021, will be when the bright planet Venus and the bright star Regulus will appear nearest each other, with Regulus 1 degree to the lower left of Venus. As evening twilight ends at 9:37 p.m. EDT Venus will appear about 5 degrees above the west-northwestern horizon. The planet Mars will appear farther to the lower right at only 2 degrees above the horizon. Mars will set first at 9:49 p.m., Regulus next at 10 p.m., and Venus last at 10:04 p.m. After this Venus will appear to continue toward the left and away from Regulus and Mars.
The next full Moon will be Friday night, July 23, 2021, at 10:37 p.m. EDT. It’s known by many names, including the Buck Moon because early summer is normally when the new antlers of buck deer push out of their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur. The Moon will appear full for about 3 days around this time, from Thursday night through Sunday morning.
#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: July.12: 2021:
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