This chart represents the sky as it looks at around 10 PM local
time. Some adjustment should be made for longitude, but it shouldn't be much. Right click on
the chart, select "Save As" and save the image. You can then print
this chart from a photo application, like Print Shop Pro, hold it in front of you with the
direction you are facing at the bottom. Then, raise it above your head and you should be
able to find your way around from there.
New-7/17_____First Quarter-7/8____Full-7/2, 7/31 (Yes, it's a Blue Moon)____Last Quarter-7/24
Mercury starts the month in the west just after sunset, setting about an hour after the Sun. You can see it about 10 degrees below Mars and catching up to the planet until on July 10, they will both occupy the same telescopic eyepiece field. Both Mars and Mercury are located just east of M44, the Beehive Cluster in Cancer, until Mercury scurries toward greatest elongation, near the end of the month.
Venus begins July in Taurus, rising right next to Aldeberan in the east in the morning about 2 hours before the Sun. Venus moves slowly through Taurus during the month and will remain the brightest object in the predawn sky.
Jupiter can be seen after sunset in the west-southwest, falling slowly toward the Sun as the
month progresses. The moon makes a pass by on the 20th and 21st.
Saturn spends most of July hiding behind the Sun. You may be able to catch it in the early, predawn hours late in the month, if you're patient.
Comet 2001 Q4 (NEAT) is still visible in Ursa Major. You can find it off the lower edge of the "pointer" stars of the big dipper, until it enters the bowl on 7/21, almost half-way between the pointer stars. It'll be faint, 9th magnitude, but if you can get even a modest telescope on it, it should be worth the effort. (I saw it at the Grand Canyon Star Party last month, and it was very, very nice!)
Comet 2001 T7 (LINEAR) is in Sextans (South of Leo), during July. It's in the west after sunset, fairly low, so it should make a challenging target. Look for Regulus in Leo and go straight down about a fist's width and you may find it. I haven't seen this one for a month or so, so I can't say how it will look. Predictions are it'll fade below 12th magnitude by mid month, though.
Lots and lots of meteor showers this month! Unfortunately, none are very high yield. The best one may be the Southern Delta Aquarids, with an estimated 20/hr peak on the 27th. The most famous one starts on the 17th and slowly ramps up to peak in August-The Perseids-with a peak of around 140/hr on August 12th. Keep your eyes peeled for meteors, seemingly from everywhere.
Deep Sky Objects (DSO's)
With the galaxies of Virgo sinking in the west, it's time for "Globular Central"-Scorpius, Ophiuchus and Hercules bring lots of BIG chunks of stars to bear. M13 in Hercules is the biggest and closest. Other examples, all great in their own right are, M92, M4, M80, M62, M19, M107, M10, M12, M9. This is as good a month as any to mention M6 and M7 in Scorpius. Two huge, rich binocular open clusters, just off the stinger stars in the Scorpions tail, they are lush with young, hot blue stars. M6 is called "the Butterfly Cluster" for a reason. Check it out!
Look for the dark nebula called "The Pipe" straight north of the stinger stars in Scorpius. You'll need binoculars, dark skies and a low southern exposure to see it. It's very large and appears to have smoke rising to the north from the bowl of the pipe on the east. If you see it, you can call your skies "dark" with pride. :-)
Here's the link to SEDS as promised.
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