Magazine article Natural History

July NIGHTS OUT

Magazine article Natural History

July NIGHTS OUT

Article excerpt

1 The Moon is full at 10:20 p.m. eastern daylight time (EDT). Venus starts July with dimmer, distant Jupiter poised just 0.42 to its upper right. (The last night of June, viewed from midnorthern latitudes, it was even a trace closer.) Venus burns 13 times brighter than Jupiter. Hanging 82 to their upper left is the bluish 1st-magnitude star Regulus, in Leo, the Lion, shining only 1/19 as bright as Jupiter.

But the long Venus show of 2015 is ending. Early this month, Venus and Jupiter still shine high and stay up until a little after dark- both set about 140 minutes after the Sun tonight-but each week they will sink lower and set earlier. And Jupiter will appear to fall away from Venus.

2 In the morning sky, Mercury is low and elusive, but he shines brightly at magnitude -0.2 and is worth looking for very low in the east-northeast about an hour before sunrise. Over the next week, watch Mercury continue to brighten as it sinks back into the solar glare until it drops out of morning view.

6 Earth reaches aphelion, its farthest point from the Sun in its orbit, at 3:00 p.m. EDT. Our planet is then 94,506,507 miles from the Sun (measured center to center), which is 3.3 percent farther from the Sun than we were at perihelion on January 4.

7 Venus is still by far the brightest starlike object in the sky as darkness falls. However, throughout this month it is sinking fast toward the horizon. Tonight it sets at the end of twilight; by month's end it will do so while the sky is still bright.

8 The Moon wanes to last quarter at 4:24 p. …

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