What’s Up July 2024

A monthly look at astronomical events in the sky and on Earth

Compiled by Steve Sawyer

Welcome to Julys what’s up. I hope you’re all enjoying the warmer weather and the brighter evenings. Even with the bright nights there’s still plenty to see. And don’t forget July is also an excellent month for spotting noctilucent clouds. This was taken a few nights ago from my front door.

So what’s on this month?

In July, the light nights continue, providing an opportunity to observe noctilucent clouds. As the month progresses, and especially after midnight, some of the major constellations become more visible.

In the northern horizon, Capella, the brightest star in Auriga, skims just above the horizon. Cassiopeia shines prominently in the northeast, with Perseus starting to ascend above the horizon to its south. The Milky Way, stretching from Perseus through Cassiopeia towards Cygnus, graces the northeastern sky. Under dark and clear skies, the faint constellation of Lacerta can be discerned lying across the Milky Way between Cassiopeia and Cygnus.

In the eastern sky, the stars of Pegasus are now well above the horizon, with the main line of Andromeda stars roughly parallel to the northeastern horizon. Alpheratz, located at the northeastern corner of the Great Square of Pegasus, marks a notable point. Cepheus and Ursa Major flank Polaris and Ursa Minor on opposite sides, with Cepheus in the east and Ursa Major in the west. Draco’s head is nearly at the zenith, making the entire winding constellation easily visible.

Scorpius, despite partially remaining hidden, is best observed during this time of year, with its deep red star, Antares, glowing just above the southern horizon. Around midnight (UT) or 01:00 BST, the distinctive ‘Teapot’ asterism of Sagittarius and the dense star clouds at the Milky Way’s centre can be seen in the south. The Great Rift, a series of dust clouds obscuring more distant stars, extends down the Milky Way from Cygnus towards Sagittarius. Near its northern end lies the small constellation of Sagitta and the Dumbbell Nebula (M27) within Vulpecula.

The sprawling constellation of Ophiuchus dominates the meridian for much of the month, splitting the constellation of Serpens into its western half, Serpens Caput (Head of the Serpent), and its eastern half, Serpens Cauda (Tail of the Serpent). The bright ‘Summer Triangle’, comprising Vega in Lyra, Deneb in Cygnus, and Altair in Aquila, begins to dominate the southern sky, continuing its prominence throughout August and into September. The small constellation of Lyra, featuring Vega and a distinctive quadrilateral of stars to its east and south, is positioned not far south of the zenith.

y Diary

Astronomy Events for July

DateTimeEvent
0118:26Mars (magnitude 1.0) 4.1° south of the Moon
0210:07Uranus (magnitude 5.8) 4.0° south of the Moon
03-Aug.15α-Capricornid meteor shower
0308:28Jupiter (magnitude -2.0) 5.0° south of the Moon
0312:01Aldebaran 9.9° south of the Moon
0505:06Earth at aphelion (152,099,894 km = 1.016725 AU)
0522:57New Moon
0600:04Dwarf planet Ceres at opposition (magnitude 7.3)
0615:04Venus (magnitude -3.9) 3.9° south of the Moon
0616:29Pollux 1.8° north of the Moon
0718:32Mercury (magnitude -0.3) 3.2° south of the Moon
0912:00Regulus 3.0° south of the Moon
12-Aug.23Southern δ-Aquariid meteor shower
1208:11Moon at apogee = 404,362 km
1322:49First Quarter
1402:31Spica 0.9° south of the Moon
17-Aug.24Perseid meteor shower
1720:16Antares 0.2° south of the Moon
2110:17Full Moon
2206:39Mercury at greatest elongation (26.9° east, magnitude 0.3)
2405:41Moon at perigee = 364,917 km
2420:46Saturn (magnitude 0.9) 0.4° south of the Moon
2514:54Neptune (magnitude 7.8) 0.6° south of the Moon
2802:51Last Quarter
2917:30Uranus (magnitude 5.8) 4.2° south of the Moon
30α-Capricornid meteor shower peak
30Southern δ-Aquariid meteor shower peak
3010:37Mars (magnitude 0.9) 5.0° south of the Moon
3017:59Aldebaran 10.1° south of the Moon
3023:53Jupiter (magnitude -2.1) 5.4° south of the Moon

This table organizes the celestial events by date and time, listing each event’s details for easy reference.
This table captures the astronomical events for July, including phases of the moon, planetary alignments, and other notable occurrences.

Sky Maps

Looking South on the 15th at 22:00

Looking North on the 15th at 22:00

The two charts above show all DSOs of magnitude 6.0 or brighter. They are both taken from
SkyViewCafe.com and correct for the 15th of the month. For a clickable list of Messier objects with images, use the Wikipedia link.

Julys Objects

The Sun

The sun has been pretty active this past month and just in the past day a CME caused a G4 class storm. Unfortunately this happened during the daytime otherwise we might have seen displays like those in May. Keep an eye out using the web resources listed below.

Resources

For more info on the sun and solar weather look here : –

Space Weather Enthusiasts Dashboard | NOAA / NWS Space Weather Prediction Center

Auroa Forecasts

A bit US centred but still useful

Aurora Dashboard (Experimental) | NOAA / NWS Space Weather Prediction Center

And our own Met-office have an excellent space weather forecast page here Space Weather – Met Office

The Moon

Julys moon calendar from Sky View Café (skyviewcafe.com)

Moon Feature

Apennine Mountain Range

Description: The Apennine Mountain Range, also known as the Montes Apenninus, is one of the most impressive and prominent mountain ranges on the Moon. It stretches over 600 kilometres along the southeastern edge of the Mare Imbrium, curving gracefully in a northeast to southwest direction.

Key Features to Observe:

  • Height: The peaks of the Apennines rise sharply, with some reaching heights of over 5 kilometres.
  • Craters: Notable craters such as Conon and Eratosthenes can be found near or within the range, providing excellent points of interest for amateur astronomers.
  • Ridges and Valleys: The range features rugged ridges and deep valleys that cast dramatic shadows, especially around the time of the First Quarter and Last Quarter phases of the Moon.

Best Time to View:

  • First Quarter Moon: Around the First Quarter phase, the Apennines are illuminated by the rising Sun, casting long shadows that highlight the rugged terrain. This phase typically occurs around July 12th.
  • Last Quarter Moon: Similarly, around the Last Quarter phase, the setting Sun provides an equally stunning view with shadows in the opposite direction. This phase can be observed around July 28th.

See the sky diary for this months lunar events as there are some nice viewing opportunities .

A full yearly lunar calendar can be found here :-

https://www.mooninfo.org/moon-phases/2024.html

Planets

Mercury

Very low in the sky and sets around an hour after sunset

Venus

Also low in the sky and setting shortly after sunset

Mars

An early morning planet rising around 3 hours before sunrise

Jupiter

Another morning planet rising before sunrise, improving position as the month rolls on.

Saturn

Early evening planet not easily viewed this month

Uranus

Lost in the morning twilight this month

Neptune

Early morning planet which also improves towards the end of the month.

Meteor Showers

α-Capricornids Meteor Shower

  • Active Period: July 3 – August 15
  • Peak: Around July 30
  • Radiant: Near the star Alpha Capricorni in the constellation Capricornus
  • Meteor Rate: Approximately 5 meteors per hour at peak
  • Characteristics: This shower is known for producing bright fireballs, which can be spectacular to observe. The meteors are slow-moving, making them easier to spot.

Southern δ-Aquariids Meteor Shower

  • Active Period: July 12 – August 23
  • Peak: Around July 30
  • Radiant: Near the star Delta Aquarii in the constellation Aquarius
  • Meteor Rate: Approximately 25 meteors per hour at peak
  • Characteristics: The Southern δ-Aquariids produce faint meteors, but their high rate during peak makes them a good target for observation. The meteors are medium-speed.

Perseids Meteor Shower

  • Active Period: July 17 – August 24
  • Peak: August 12-13 (However, early meteors can be seen in late July)
  • Radiant: Near the constellation Perseus
  • Meteor Rate: Up to 100 meteors per hour at peak
  • Characteristics: The Perseids are one of the most popular and well-known meteor showers, producing a large number of bright meteors. Observing conditions improve as the month progresses towards the peak.

Comets

Julys comets. Go here for detailed locations and finder charts Visual Comets in the Future (Northern Hemisphere) (aerith.net)

MonthEveningMaghMidnightMaghMorningMagh
2024 Jul13P/Olbers719C/2023 V4 (Camarasa-Duszanowicz)119C/2023 V4 (Camarasa-Duszanowicz)115
C/2023 A3 (Tsuchinshan-ATLAS)820C/2021 S3 (PanSTARRS)1264154P/Brewington1124
C/2023 V4 (Camarasa-Duszanowicz)1132
C/2022 E2 (ATLAS)129
C/2021 S3 (PanSTARRS)1256
C/2021 S3 (PanSTARRS)1259
479P/2023 WM26 (Elenin)1316
C/2021 G2 (ATLAS)1314

Deep Sky (DSO’s)

The Sagittarius Cluster (M22)

  • Type: Globular cluster
  • Location: Constellation Sagittarius
  • Apparent Magnitude: 5.1
  • Description: M22 is one of the brightest globular clusters visible from Earth. It contains hundreds of thousands of ancient stars tightly packed together. Look for a fuzzy ball of light in the southern sky during summer nights.

Can be found low in the southern sky

The Tweedledee Cluster (IC 4756)

  • Type: Open cluster
  • Location: Constellation Serpens
  • Apparent Magnitude: 4.6
  • Description: IC 4756 is an open cluster with a loose arrangement of stars. It’s nicknamed “Tweedledee” due to its proximity to NGC 6633 (“Tweedledum”). You can spot it without binoculars or a telescope if the sky is dark enough.

Messier 16 (The Eagle Nebula)

  • Type: Emission nebula
  • Location: Constellation Serpens
  • Description: M16 is famous for its “Pillars of Creation,” massive columns of gas and dust where new stars form. It’s best observed through a telescope, especially in hydrogen-alpha filters.

Messier 8 & M20 (The Lagoon and Trifid Nebulae)

  • M8 (Lagoon Nebula)
    • Type: Emission nebula
    • Location: Constellation Sagittarius
    • Description: M8 resembles a faint, elongated cloud with a central star cluster. It’s visible to the naked eye under dark skies. Can be found low in the southern sky.
  • M20 (Trifid Nebula)
    • Type: Combination of emission, reflection, and dark nebulae
    • Location: Constellation Sagittarius
    • Description: M20 features three distinct regions: red emission nebula, blue reflection nebula, and dark lanes. Can be found low in the southern sky.

Messier 57 (The Ring Nebula)

  • Type: Planetary nebula
  • Location: Constellation Lyra
  • Description: M57 appears as a small, ghostly ring due to a dying star shedding its outer layers.

NGC 6888 (The Crescent Nebula)

  • Type: Emission nebula
  • Location: Constellation Cygnus

ISS and other orbiting bits

Plenty of over passes to look out for this month

DateVisibleMax Height*AppearsDisappears
Sat Jun 29, 2:48 AM4 min17°13° above S10° above ESE
Sun Jun 30, 2:01 AM2 min12°12° above SE10° above ESE
Sun Jun 30, 3:34 AM6 min37°10° above SW10° above E
Mon Jul 1, 2:48 AM5 min29°17° above SSW10° above E
Tue Jul 2, 2:01 AM3 min22°21° above S10° above E
Tue Jul 2, 3:35 AM7 min52°10° above WSW10° above E
Wed Jul 3, 1:15 AM2 min16°16° above SE10° above ESE
Wed Jul 3, 2:48 AM6 min44°12° above WSW10° above E
Thu Jul 4, 12:28 AM< 1 min10°10° above ESE10° above ESE
Thu Jul 4, 2:01 AM5 min36°20° above SW10° above E
Thu Jul 4, 3:36 AM7 min58°10° above W10° above E
Fri Jul 5, 1:14 AM4 min29°26° above S10° above E
Fri Jul 5, 2:48 AM7 min56°10° above WSW10° above E
Sat Jul 6, 12:27 AM2 min22°22° above SE10° above E
Sat Jul 6, 2:00 AM7 min51°10° above WSW10° above E
Sat Jul 6, 3:36 AM7 min52°10° above W10° above ESE
Sat Jul 6, 11:39 PM2 min16°16° above SE10° above ESE
Sun Jul 7, 1:12 AM6 min44°12° above SW10° above E
Sun Jul 7, 2:48 AM7 min57°10° above W10° above ESE
Sun Jul 7, 10:50 PM2 min12°11° above SSE10° above ESE
Mon Jul 8, 12:24 AM6 min35°10° above SW10° above E
Mon Jul 8, 2:00 AM7 min58°10° above W10° above E
Mon Jul 8, 3:37 AM6 min37°10° above W10° above SE
Mon Jul 8, 11:36 PM6 min28°10° above SW10° above E
Tue Jul 9, 1:12 AM7 min56°10° above WSW10° above E
Tue Jul 9, 2:49 AM6 min45°10° above W10° above ESE
Tue Jul 9, 10:48 PM5 min21°10° above SSW10° above E
Wed Jul 10, 12:24 AM6 min50°10° above WSW10° above E
Wed Jul 10, 2:01 AM7 min52°10° above W10° above ESE
Wed Jul 10, 3:38 AM5 min23°10° above W10° above SSE
Wed Jul 10, 11:36 PM6 min43°10° above WSW10° above E
Thu Jul 11, 1:12 AM7 min57°10° above W10° above ESE
Thu Jul 11, 2:49 AM6 min30°10° above W10° above SE
Thu Jul 11, 10:48 PM6 min35°10° above SW10° above E
Fri Jul 12, 12:24 AM7 min58°10° above WSW10° above E
Fri Jul 12, 2:01 AM6 min38°10° above W10° above SE
Fri Jul 12, 3:39 AM3 min13°10° above WSW10° above S
Fri Jul 12, 11:36 PM7 min55°10° above WSW10° above E
Sat Jul 13, 1:13 AM6 min46°10° above W10° above ESE
Sat Jul 13, 2:50 AM3 min18°10° above WSW18° above SSW

Use the this NASA website for exact timings for York overpasses. York, England, United Kingdom | Sighting Opportunity | Spot The Station | NASA

Useful Resources

StarLust – A Website for People with a Passion for Astronomy, Stargazing, and Space Exploration.

https://www.spacedaily.com/

http://www.n3kl.org/sun/noaa.html

http://skymaps.com/downloads.html

Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events 2024 – Sea and Sky (seasky.org)

https://www.rmg.co.uk/stories/topics/what-are-names-full-moons-throughout-yearhttp://www.deepskywatch.com/deepsky-guide.html

https://www.constellation-guide.com/

and of course the sky at night magazine!