July 2019: Stalking the Scorpion

July 2019: Stalking the Scorpion

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Download July’s Sky Tour astronomy podcast for a guided exploration of the planets, stars, and constellations in the evening skies of summer.

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This month’s Sky Tour starts with a recap of two eclipses, then points the way to Jupiter and Saturn before exploring Scorpius, the Scorpion, and other constellations and key stars of the mid-summer sky.

Believe it or not, July isn’t hot in the Northern Hemisphere because we’re especially close to the Sun. In fact, on July 4th, Earth will be its farthest form the Sun all year. Instead, we experience summer when our hemisphere is tipped toward the Sun. This means that the hours of darkness are relatively brief, especially well north of the equator.

As you’ll hear in the podcast, this month features a total eclipse of the Sun during new Moon on July 2nd and a deep partial eclipse of the full Moon two weeks later on July 16th. Sadly, neither of these events is visible from the United States. (Go here for details about these and other eclipses in 2019.)

Jupiter and Saturn in July 2019

The solar system’s two largest planets are easy to find in the hours after sunset.
Sky & Telescope

Meanwhile, Jupiter is becoming more prominent in the evening sky, and this month it’ll be joined by Saturn, which reaches opposition on July 9th. Our Sky Tour podcast uses these two planets as guideposts to other interesting sights in the evening sky.

For example, right now Scorpius, the celestial Scorpion, is well positioned after dark. The farther south you live, the easier it is to make out its very obvious shape. This constellation’s alpha star is Antares, meaning “rival of Ares” (or Mars). The pale red glow from Antares is quite obvious.

To the right (west) of Scorpius are Libra, the Balance Scales, and Virgo, the Maiden. High above them is the fourth-brightest star in the nighttime sky — a beacon that’s only 37 light-years away. And its name? Well, you’ll have to listen to July’s podcast for the answer!

To find out where and when to spot all these sky sights and many more, play or download this month’s Sky Tour episode.


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