Stargazing Information

Venus and Jupiter, the brightest points of light in the night sky, dominate the early evening hours for most of the month. They are especially close together as the month begins, but remain close until late July. By the time they set, the two signature constellations of summer, Sagittarius and Scorpius, are in good view in the southern sky. The brightest stars of Sagittarius form a teapot, while those of Scorpius form the curved body and barbed tail of a scorpion.

This Week's Stargazing Tips

July 4: Fireworks

A pair of brilliant lights are in good view well before twilight drains from the western sky this evening. The planets Venus and Jupiter stand side by side. Venus is the brighter of the two. Regulus, the heart of Leo, stands close to their upper left.

July 5: Earth at Aphelion

Earth will stand farthest from the Sun for the entire year tomorrow afternoon, at a distance of more than 94 million miles, or about three million miles farther than we were in January.

July 6: Steady Sun

If the Sun were to suddenly wink out of existence (which is impossible, by the way), we wouldn’t know it for more than eight minutes. The Sun is 93 million miles away, and it takes light more than eight minutes to cross that distance.

July 7: Keystone

A wedge-shaped pattern of stars known as the Keystone stands high overhead late this evening in Hercules. It stands to the upper right of Vega, one of the brightest stars in the summer sky.

July 8: Last-Quarter Moon

The Moon is at last-quarter at 3:24 p.m. CDT. The Moon stands at a right angle to the line from Earth to the Sun, so sunlight illuminates half of the lunar hemisphere that faces our way.

July 9: Trifid

The Trifid Nebula is a glowing cloud of gas and dust in teapot-shaped Sagittarius, which scoots low across the south on summer nights. A young star at the center of the nebula is triggering the births of more than 100 other stars.

July 10: Epsilon Lyrae

The double star Epsilon Lyrae is easy to find because it is close to the bright star Vega, which shines high in the east at nightfall and overhead around midnight. Epsilon Lyrae is a short distance from Vega. Binoculars reveal its double nature.

Check last week's tips if you missed a day.

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