The first in a new series, we’re excited to announce a brief roundup of night sky events each month.
At first glance, the sky in July 2018 doesn’t seem interesting – the first half of the month has few astronomical events of note! However, in the second half of the month, the sky above us becomes an astronomer’s playground.
If you’re curious what you can see in the night sky in July 2018, read on. We’ve detailed some of the top astronomical events in the coming month. We’ve also tipped you on where to see each in the sky.
July 13: Partial Solar Eclipse – in Tasmania
For those readers in the southern hemisphere, you’re in for a treat on July 13th. A partial solar eclipse will occur between 12:52 pm and 1:56 pm local time across Tasmania. Keep in mind this won’t be a total eclipse — the moon will only block about 5% of the sun during this partial eclipse, even less than what’s pictured above.
Don’t forget that if you want to see this eclipse, you’ll need eye protection! Amazon offers a variety of options, but these Soluna ISO-certified glasses come in a 10-pack for $9.99.
Related: Heading down under this winter? Here’s how to see the southern lights in Tasmania!
July 15: The Moon & Venus Meet
From mid-July onward, the night sky is a pretty exciting place for the northern hemisphere. As you’ll see, this ‘close encounters’ between the moon and Venus is the first of three such planetary encounters in July.
Around 9:22 pm Pacific Time on July 15th, the moon and Venus will be at their closest approach, within 1°33′ of one another. As the moon will be young – just three days old – it’ll also be a great night for attempting to see Venus since the light from the moon will be less than later in the month.
To spot Venus, look west for the crescent moon. Venus will be just below the moon.
July 20: The Moon & Jupiter Meet
Five days after Venus meets the moon, Jupiter does the same!
At roughly 7:35 pm Pacific Time on July 20th, Jupiter will make its closest approach to the moon, within 4°13′. As the moon will be nearly at its first quarter phase, it will be easy to spot it in the southern sky. Jupiter will be a few degrees below the moon toward the horizon.
July 25: The Moon Meets Saturn Too
As if the moon weren’t busy enough meeting Venus, Jupiter, and (spoilers!) Mars this month, you can also see a close approach between the moon and Saturn overnight on July 25th.
At approximately 8:43 pm Pacific Time, Saturn and the moon will be within 2° of one another (1°59′, to be exact), above the horizon in the southern sky. Since the moon is approaching its fullest and the conjunction is so close, it will be unfortunately difficult to view Saturn through the moon’s brightness with a telescope. With the naked eye, it should be obvious that there’s a giant celestial body out there!
July 27: Total Lunar Eclipse
For those everywhere except North America at the end of July, you’re in for a treat your North American neighbors enjoyed back in January. (Here’s the photo our founder shot that morning!)
The eclipse will begin at 5:15 pm GMT and will last through 10:18 pm. Totality during this lunar eclipse is an astonishing 103 minutes long! This makes this particular lunar eclipse the longest eclipse of the 21st Century, and gives you plenty of time to get out and see the ‘blood moon.’
This eclipse is visible – in part or in full – through South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia. If you’re curious how much of the eclipse you can see and when to look for it, check out Date & Time’s helpful graphics about this lunar eclipse.
July 27: Mars at its Biggest & Brightest (with the Moon)
While the rest of the world looks at the lunar eclipse, those of us missing the show still have something to look at in the night sky. During the July 27th full moon (which makes the eclipse possible), Mars is close to perigee (which occurs on the 31st). This is the closest and brightest Mars will appear in the night sky for this 26-month period.
Look for Mars beneath the full moon in the southeastern sky between 9:35 pm on July 27th Pacific time and 5:00 am on July 28th.
For those in the path of the total lunar eclipse, the blood moon and the red planet should make for excellent stargazing and astrophotography opportunities. Learn our top astrophotography tips.
July 29: Southern Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower Peak
The busy month of July ends as the Southern Delta Aquarids meteor shower will peak on July 29th. While meteors will be visible nightly between July 15th and August 20th, activity will peak on the 29th with as many as 20 meteors per hour that evening.
To spot meteors, look southeast above the horizon for the constellation Aquarius. (If it helps, the Moon and Mars are in the same general direction of the sky at this time.) Meteors will radiate out from Aquarius in all directions. The moon will be particularly bright since it is near full moon, which may impede visibility.
Stay tuned next month for the best night sky events in August 2018!