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In the Sky This Month

With summer blazing across the northern hemisphere, the season’s well-known celestial markers blaze low across the southern sky. Scorpius stands low in the south as night falls, marked by its bright orange “heart,” the star Antares. Sagittarius follows it across with the sky. Its brightest stars form the outline of a teapot. And the three points of the Summer Triangle pose high in the east at nightfall and climb across the crown of the sky later on.

July 23: Wild Duck Cluster

The star cluster Messier 11 is more than 6,000 light-years away, in the constellation Scutum, the shield. The cluster’s brightest stars outline the letter V, which resembles a flight of wild ducks. So M11 is also known as the Wild Duck Cluster.

July 24: Southern Sky

Many amateur astronomers turn their telescopes toward the south on summer evenings. The region of the sky around Sagittarius and Scorpius contains some prominent star clusters, which are popular targets.

July 25: M71

The tiny arrow known as Sagitta is in the east as night falls and arcs high overhead later on. Under dark skies you can just make out the arrow, not far to the upper left of Altair, the bright star at the southern point of the Summer Triangle.

July 26: V404 Cygni

A star system in the celestial swan can’t seem to settle down. Every few decades, V404 Cygni flares to thousands of times its normal brightness, the result of likely feeding frenzies by a black hole.

July 27: Zone of Death

Stellar time bombs shine in tonight’s sky. Among the brightest are Antares, the heart of Scorpius, which is low in the south, and Deneb, the tail of the swan, in the northeast. Each will end its life with a titanic blast known as a supernova.

July 28: Moon and Jupiter

The giant planet Jupiter is quite close to the Moon tonight, and shines like a brilliant star. The true star Spica is close to their left, adding to the beautiful conjunction.

July 29: Vega

Vega, one of the brightest stars of summer nights, stands high in the sky as darkness falls this evening. It’s the brightest member of the Summer Triangle, a wide-spread pattern that’s easy to pick out even through the murky skies of a city.

Current moon phase

Full MoonFull July 8, 11:07 pm

Last quarterLast July 16, 2:26 pm

New MoonNew July 23, 4:46 am

First QuarterFirst July 30, 10:23 am

Times are U.S. Central Time.

Apogee July 5

Perigee July 21

The full Moon of July is known as the Hay Moon or Thunder Moon.