On the night of July 4th, the full Moon will pass through part of Earth’s shadow, creating a lunar eclipse that will be visible across North and South America.
July will bring the perfect opportunity to see three unique astronomical events, capped off by duelling meteor showers at the end of the month. If you want to explore the sky and the Moon with a telescope, now is the perfect opportunity. The Moon, Jupiter and Saturn are marvellous when observing through the telescope. However, for these events, you don’t need equipment, just your curious eye.
Here are the top three astronomy events to look forward to in July:
Lunar Eclipse on July 4-5
The first weekend of July will feature a lunar eclipse that will be visible in areas that missed out on the lunar eclipse that happened in early June. On the night of July 4th into the early hours of Sunday, July 5th the Moon will graze Earth’s shadow to create a penumbral lunar eclipse. This event will be perfect for people of all ages across the US following Independence Day celebrations. The moon will be the centre of attention on the night after the eclipse as it passes close to Jupiter and Saturn. Those three will align in a way that may appear in the same field of view of some binoculars or telescopes.
There are three types of lunar eclipses: a total, partial and penumbral lunar eclipse. Saturday’s event will be the penumbral one. In a penumbral lunar eclipse, the moon passes only through Earth’s outer shadow called the penumbra, and misses the darker inner shadow called the umbra. This kind of lunar eclipse is subtle and more difficult to observe than a total or a partial lunar eclipse. For example, a total lunar eclipse is much different. Then, the moon goes completely dark and can have deep red or rusty orange colour. The eclipse will start on July 4th at around 11:07 pm EDT and continue until July 5th at 1:52 am EDT. The best time to look will be during the middle of the event.
Jupiter and Saturn in their brightness peak
The two biggest planets in the solar system will be the highlight of the night sky in the middle of July as these planets shine brighter than they do throughout the rest of the year. Then, both Jupiter and Saturn will reach opposition or the point in their orbits when they’re closest to the Earth. Jupiter will reach opposition first on July 14th, followed by Saturn a few nights later on July 20th. This is a great opportunity for observing and gazing at the sky. The mild summer nights will make it comfortable for many enthusiasts who would like to spend a night under the starry cover.
Under the sky, stars collide, burst and disappear in the darkness, making every moment count. These happenings have been an inspiration for many people involved in the creative and scientific processes. For example, check Starburst, a player’s favourite online slot game. This one has been inspired by the limitless universe, stars and cosmic objects that surround us, all combined with a suitable music background sound.
Double meteor shower
Finally, the end of July will bring us something that has not been seen in months – a meteor shower. The night of July 28-29 will feature a pair meteor showers with the Alpha Capricornids and the southern Delta Aquarids both peaking on the same night. As a reminder, the last time that a moderate meteor shower took place was in early May. Meteor showers can be described as nature’s fireworks, as they put on dazzling, multi-coloured displays in the night sky. Those colours are caused by the different elements that make up the meteor. Up to 20 meteors per hour will be visible during the peak night. What is worth to note here is the number of bright fireballs produced during its activity period. The best time to watch these meteors is after 1 a.m. local time after the moon has set. The lack of moonlight will make the sky appear even darker, making it easier to spot the meteors.
June wrap up
The June solstice marked the official start of summer in the Northern hemisphere on June 20th, while those south of the equator transitioned from autumn to winter. Hours later, a ring of fire solar eclipse dimmed the sky over Africa and Asia, the first of two solar eclipses for this year. The solstice also brought perfect conditions for noctilucent clouds to be visible for the higher latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. These clouds can be seen around the summer solstice and are created by meteors entering Earth’s atmosphere.