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Star Trak: July 2019

For immediate release: June 29, 2019

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Saturn will offer magnificent views from dusk to dawn during July. The bright yellow planet will reach opposition on July 9 when it will be opposite the sun in our sky in the constellation Sagittarius. Saturn's rings will be tilted 24 degrees to our line of sight. Its largest moon, Titan, will be visible with any telescope. This year Saturn will be lower than usual, appearing only a third of the way up the sky even at its highest point in the south, which it will reach around 1:30 a.m. local time at the start of the month and two hours earlier by month's end.

Jupiter will appear almost as big and brilliant in July as it did in June. The giant planet will fade somewhat as the month passes, but it will continue to be a fine sight in telescopes. Jupiter will be highest in the south around 11:30 p.m. early in the month and about 9 p.m. in twilight at month's end.

Mars will sink deeper into the afterglow of sunset very low in the west-northwest during the first week of July. After that it will be lost in the solar glare.

Mercury will be low in the west-northwest during evening twilight at the start of July, but it will disappear soon afterward. It will pass between Earth and the sun on July 21.

Venus will be very low in the east just before sunrise as July begins, but it will be overwhelmed by the sun's glare after the first week.

Total Solar EclipseA total solar eclipse 2017 Madras, Oregon
Photo Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

Solar eclipse

Observers in Chile, Argentina and parts of the Pacific Ocean will see a total eclipse of the sun on July 2. Those in much of the rest of South and Central America will see a partial eclipse.

Meteor shower

The Delta Aquariid meteor shower will peak before dawn on July 30, the day before new moon, when viewing conditions should be ideal. In a dark sky observers may see as many as 25 meteors per hour. The meteors will appear from mid-July to mid-August. The long bright streaks will seem to come from a point in the constellation Aquarius in the southern sky.

Aphelion

On July 4, Earth will reach its greatest distance from the sun for the year, called aphelion. Those sweltering in summer heat in the Northern Hemisphere may find it hard to believe they are about 3 percent farther from the sun than they were in January. But the actual cause of the high temperatures is the tilt of Earth's axis. The part of the planet tilted toward the sun (in this case the Northern Hemisphere) is much warmer than the part tilted away, because more sunlight reaches the ground instead of being absorbed by the atmosphere.

Moon phases

The moon will be new on July 2, at first quarter on July 9, full on July 16, at third quarter on July 24 and new again on July 31.

Author: Hal Kibbey Email: hkibbey [at] gmail.com

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