Eye on the Sky

Here is our pick of what to look out for in the night sky during July 2019

Highlights

Evening The Milky Way A pale band of light arcing across the sky from north east to south west. At this time of the year we are looking up at the Cygnus star clouds with the galactic centre a little way below the horizon in the south west. The Cygnus star clouds can provide enough light for walking at night in the Dark Sky Park once your eyes are fully dark adapted.
 

The Gas Giants

Both Saturn and Jupiter are visible during the hours of semi darkness.

 

Shooting Stars

The Perseids – said to be one of the best meteor showers of the year

The Planets

After sunset Jupiter Low in the south before midnight
All night Saturn Low in the south.
  Uranus Rising in the east in the constellation of Aries during the late evening. The planetary nature of it’s pale blue disc should be obvious through binoculars.

Night Sky Diary

2nd New Moon A beautiful crescent moon will be visible in the west around sunset. See if you can spot the “Earthshine” on the dark part.

2nd – 14th

Waxing Moon The best time for evening Moon watching is during the waxing phase. The most interesting area to look at is the line that separates night from day on our satellites’ surface. Along that line the rising sun casts long shadows and highlights the rugged lunar landscape. The view is constantly changing as the lunar sunrise progresses.

12th – 14th

Perseids Meteor Shower The Perseids is one of the best meteor showers to observe, yielding up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. The Perseids are well known for creating a large number of bright meteors. The shower runs annually from July 17 to August 24. Meteors radiate from the constellation Perseus.

23rd – 30th

Dark Sky Week The lunar last quarter is when our evening skies will be at their darkest. The next seven days will be the best time for spotting nebulae and other deep sky objects.

30th

New Moon Once again the new moon will be visible in the west around sunset from tonight.

Constellations of the Month

Vulpecula and Sagitta

Vulpecula means “little fox” in latin. It is a small and relatively inconspicuous constellation that can be found just south of Cygnus. Sagitta lies just below Vulpecula. It means “arrow” in latin. Both Vulpecula and Saggita are located within the disc of the Milky Way.

Binoculars

Asterism

The Coathanger can be found about one binocular field north west of the little constellation of Sagitta. These stars are not related to one another and are merely a chance alignment.

  Planetary Nebula

The Dumbell nebula (M27) is probably the easiest planetary nebula to find in the northern skies. Look for it around half a binocular field width north of the point of Sagitta (the arrow). This is the remains of a star that has suffered the same fate as ours will in another 4.5 billion years time.

  Globular Cluster

Just underneath the middle of Sagitta look for the fuzzball of M71. This is unusually loose globular cluster containing more than 20,000 stars.