By Duncan Lunan
The Moon will be New on July 2nd and Full on July 16th, when it will rise about 9 p.m. during a partial eclipse. At its greatest extent the Moon will be almost two-thirds covered by the Earth’s shadow, around 10.32 p.m., and the eclipse will end about midnight.
At the beginning of July the planets Mercury and Mars will be low in the evening sky after sunset, to the left of Castor and Pollux in Gemini, almost in line with them, and with the Moon near them to the left on the 4th, but the planets will be very hard to see from Scotland due to our latitude and the time of year. All four are lost to view by mid-month, and Mercury will overtake the Earth at inferior conjunction with the Sun on the 21st.
Venus still rises about 4.00 a.m., shortly before sunrise, near the waning Moon on the 1st. Both Mercury and Venus will be passed by the Moon on the 31st, but too close to the Sun to be visible.
As noted above, Mars in Cancer disappears completely by mid-July.
Jupiter in Ophiucus sets about 2.30 a.m. after being passed by the Earth in June. Jupiter is near the Moon on the 13th, with Saturn to the left and Antares in Scorpius to the right.
Saturn in Sagittarius is at opposition on July 9th, at its closest to us for the year and due south at 1 a.m. (midnight GMT/UT). Saturn is near the Moon on the 16th..
Uranus in Aries rises about 00.30 a.m..
Neptune in Aquarius rises about 11 p.m., moving westward towards opposition in September.
This is the best time of year to watch for the strange phenomenon of noctilucent clouds in the northern sky after dark, because the atmosphere is still sunlit at high altitudes – ‘astronomical twilight’ lasts all night in Scotland in June and July. This also means that the International Space Station can be seen passing over at any time of night – check for times at your location on www.heavens-above.com.
Click here to listen to Duncan with Lembit Opik on BBC Radio Scotland talking about Asteroid Day
The Astronomers of the Future Club meeting on Thursday July 25th will be the launch of Duncan Lunan’s next book, “From the Moon to the Stars”, a collection of space travel stories old and new to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. As usual the meeting will be from 19:15 to 21:00 hrs at the RSAS Barassie Works Club, 4 Shore Road, Troon, KA10 6AG. For more details, contact Alan Martin on 07947 331632.
Duncan’s recent books are available from the publishers, on Amazon or through booksellers; details are on Duncan’s website, www.duncanlunan.com.