Astronomy EssentialsTonight

Visible planets and night sky guide for July

July 20-21 all night: Full moon near the Teapot

Overnight on July 20-21, 2024, look for the full moon. It’ll lie near the Teapot, an asterism in Sagittarius the Archer. The full moon will occur at 10:17 UTC (5:17 a.m. CDT) on July 21, 2024. You can catch the moon and the Teapot rising in the east at sunset, highest in the sky at midnight, and setting in the west at dawn. July full moon is called the Buck Moon.

July 20 full moon near Teapot pattern of stars.
Chart via EarthSky.

Our charts are mostly set for the northern half of Earth. To see a precise view – and time – from your location, try Stellarium Online.

July moon

The moon is now in a waxing gibbous phase. Full moon will fall at 10:17 UTC on Sunday, July 21. That means – for us in the Americas – the fullest moon will come overnight on July 20, just in time for the 55th anniversary of the first human footsteps on the moon in 1969. Plus … here’s a 1-minute video preview of the moon phases for the month of July 2024. See when it’ll be near visible planets, bright stars and star clusters.

July 22: Mercury at greatest evening elongation

Mercury is farthest from the sun on our sky’s dome – at greatest elongation – at 7 UTC (2 a.m. CDT) on July 22, 2024. At that time, Mercury is 27 degrees from the sun in our sky. This will be its best evening apparition of 2024 for the Southern Hemisphere.

Our charts are mostly set for the northern half of Earth. To see a precise view – and time – from your location, try Stellarium Online.

Earth and Mercury orbits with sun in middle and red lines of sight from Earth to Mercury and the sun.
Chart via EarthSky.

July 24: Moon reaches perigee

The moon will reach perigee – its closest point in its elliptical orbit around Earth – at 6 UTC (1 a.m. CDT) on July 24, 2024, when it’s 226,748 miles (364,917 km) away.

July 24 and 25 mornings: Moon visits Saturn

In the early morning hours of July 24 and 25, 2024, the waning gibbous moon will hang close to Saturn. The bright star Fomalhaut will shine nearby. Also, sky watchers in locations including Asia and Africa will see the moon pass in front of – or occult – Saturn around 21 UTC on July 24.

Dots for Saturn and the moon on July 24 and 25.
Chart via EarthSky.

July 28: Last quarter moon

The instant of last quarter moon will fall at 2:52 UTC on July 28, 2024 (9:52 p.m. CDT on July 27). It’ll rise after midnight your local time and will set around noon. Look for it high in the sky before dawn.

Late July through early August: Delta Aquariid meteor shower

The Delta Aquariid meteor shower doesn’t have a noticeable peak. It rambles along steadily from late July through early August, joining forces with the August Perseids. The radiant – the point where the meteors seem to originate – is highest in the sky at 2 a.m.

July 29 to 31 evenings: Mercury and Venus

Venus will hang low in the west about 30 minutes after sunset on the last few evenings of July. Tiny Mercury will lie near Venus as well. Look for them in the bright evening twilight. Venus sets about 50 minutes after the sun.

Dots for Mercury and Venus in July.
Chart via EarthSky.

July 29 and 30 mornings: Moon near Mars, Jupiter and Pleiades

Try to see this eye-catching sight! On July 29, 2024, the waning crescent moon will lie close to the glimmering Pleiades star cluster. The reddish planet Mars will lie nearby. On the morning of July 30, the moon, Jupiter, Mars and Aldebaran will form a rectangle in the morning sky. You can see them before dawn.

Moon, Jupiter, Mars, Aldebaran and Pleiades on July 29 and 30.
Chart via EarthSky.

July 31 morning: Moon near Mars, Jupiter and Pleiades

July finishes with a grand sight in the morning sky. On July 31, 2024, the waning crescent moon will lie between two bright stars: Capella and Betelgeuse. Capella is in the constellation Auriga the Charioteer. Betelgeuse is the red supergiant star in Orion the Hunter. Also, look for Jupiter, Mars and the fiery star Aldebaran. Don’t forget to look for earthshine. It’s reflected light from Earth that illuminates the unlit portion of a crescent moon. You can see them before dawn.

Moon, Jupiter, Mars, Capella, Aldebaran and Betelgeuse on July 31.
Chart via EarthSky.

Our charts are mostly set for the northern half of Earth. To see a precise view – and time – from your location, try Stellarium Online.

Stars and constellations overhead now

If you’re out stargazing on any evening, look for these stars and constellations overhead in the sky.

Summer Triangle

On any evening – through December – watch for the famous Summer Triangle, an easy-to-see large pattern of three stars. It’s now ascending in the eastern sky on these July evenings.

This pattern consists of three bright stars in three separate constellations – Deneb in the constellation Cygnus the Swan, Vega in the constellation Lyra the Harp, and Altair in the constellation Aquila the Eagle.

Star chart with the Summer Triangle in purple, with Cygnus constellation in blue overlying the triangle.
Chart via EarthSky.

Lyra the Harp

The constellation Lyra the Harp is made of a triangle and a parallelogram. Its brightest star is Vega. Look next to it for the famous Epsilon Lyrae, a double-double star, really four stars in all.

Vega is prominent in northern summer skies, located on one corner of the Summer Triangle. Vega is magnitude 0.03, which makes it the 5th brightest star in all the sky or the second brightest star belonging to just the Northern Hemisphere. Vega is so bright because it lies just 25 light-years away.

Star chart showing constellation Lyra with stars and nebula labeled.
Chart via EarthSky.

Cygnus the Swan

If you have a dark sky, it’s easy to see the edgewise view into our own galaxy – our Milky Way – spun across the heavens. As you look toward it, you’ll be gazing toward the constellation Cygnus the Swan, too. Its brightest star is called Deneb, the Swan’s Tail. And the constellation Cygnus contains one of the most beloved double stars in the sky, blue and gold Albireo.

Deneb also marks one of the corners of the famous Summer Triangle, an asterism composed of three bright stars in three different constellations.

So there’s a lot going on in this part of the sky! And no wonder, because the Swan lets you peer into the depths of the Milky Way.

Sky chart showing Cygnus looking like a sideways cross with 2 stars labeled.
Chart via EarthSky.

Hercules the Strongman and the Hercules Cluster

In July, look for the faint constellation Hercules the Strongman in the evening sky. Its midsection contains the easy-to-see Keystone shape (an asterism). You can find Hercules between the bright stars Vega in Lyra the Harp and Arcturus in Boötes the Herdsman. And once you find the Keystone, you can easily locate M13, the Hercules cluster.

Star chart of man-shaped constellation with bent arms and legs.
Chart via EarthSky.

Enjoy exploring the night sky!

July morning planets

In July 2024, Jupiter becomes more prominent each day as it climbs out of the morning twilight. It spends the month in the constellation Taurus the Bull. It’s shining at -2.0 magnitude most of the month. The waning crescent moon will be near Jupiter on July 30. Jupiter will rise about two hours before the sun on July 1 and will rise over three hours before sunrise by month’s end. As the month goes by, Mars will be closing in on Jupiter. Jupiter and Mars will have a close conjunction on August 14, 2024. Jupiter will be brightest in December this year.

Mars will shine at 1st magnitude, and its disk will grow to 5.9 arcminutes by the end of the month. The waning crescent moon will be near Mars on the mornings of July 1 and 30, 2024. Mars will move to the constellation Taurus the Bull on July 11. It’ll rise about three hours before sunrise on July 1 and around four hours before sunrise by the end of July. Mars will be brightest in January 2205.

Also, the shimmering Pleiades star cluster appears near Mars. The bright orangish star joining the scene is Aldebaran. It’s the brightest star in the constellation Taurus the Bull.

Mars and Jupiter's in Jul7 2024.
Chart via EarthSky.

Saturn will shine around 1st magnitude in July 2024. Its ring system is closing. They’ll be edge-on in March 2025. The bright star Fomalhaut shines nearby. Saturn spends the month in the faint constellation Aquarius the Water Bearer. The moon will visit Saturn on July 24 and 25. Observers in locations including Asia and Africa will see the moon pass in front of – or occult – Saturn around 21 UTC on July 24. Saturn will rise about two hours after sunset on July 1 and will rise before 9 p.m. your local time by month’s end. Saturn will reach opposition on September 8, 2024. That’s when we fly between it and the sun.

Saturn near Fomalhaut 2024.
Chart via EarthSky.

July evening planets

Mercury will shine in the evening twilight all month. Binoculars will help spot this little world. It’ll reach its greatest evening elongation on July 22, 2024, when it’s 27 degrees from the sun. It’ll be shining at magnitude -0.6 at the beginning of the month and fade to magnitude +0.3 by month’s end. This will be the best evening apparition of 2024 for Southern Hemisphere observers. On the other hand, in the Northern Hemisphere, it never gets very far above the horizon this month. The moon will hang close to Mercury on July 7. Also, Mercury will lie closer to the bright star Regulus each day.

Three charts for Mercury's path in July in the Northern Hemisphere.
Chart via EarthSky.

Where is Venus?

Venus is too close to the sun to be visible most of this month. It’ll emerge in the evening sky by the end of July.

Our charts are mostly set for the northern half of Earth. To see a precise view – and time – from your location, try Stellarium Online.

Sky dome maps for visible planets and night sky

The sky dome maps come from master astronomy chart-maker Guy Ottewell. You’ll find charts like these for every month of 2024 in his Astronomical Calendar.

Guy Ottewell explains sky dome maps

Circle constellations, planets, the moon, the Milky Way and celestial lines.
Here is the sky dome view for July 2024. It shows what is above the horizon at mid-evening for mid-northern latitudes. The view may vary depending on your location. Image via Guy Ottewell’s 2024 Astronomical Calendar.

Heliocentric solar system visible planets and more

The sun-centered charts come from Guy Ottewell. You’ll find charts like these for every month of 2024 in his Astronomical Calendar.

Guy Ottewell explains heliocentric charts.

Circle with sun at center, planets around, and zodiac names on outer edge.
Heliocentric view of solar system, July 2024. Chart via Guy Ottewell’s 2024 Astronomical Calendar. Used with permission.

Some resources to enjoy

For more videos of great night sky events, visit EarthSky’s YouTube page.

Don’t miss anything. Subscribe to daily emails from EarthSky. It’s free!

Visit EarthSky’s Best Places to Stargaze to find a dark-sky location near you.

Post your own night sky photos at EarthSky Community Photos.

See the indispensable Observer’s Handbook, from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

Visit Stellarium-Web.org for precise views from your location.

Almanac: Bright visible planets (rise and set times for your location).

Visit TheSkyLive for precise views from your location.

Visible planets: Illustration of mythological constellations in the sky.
Attention amateur astronomers! Guy Ottewell’s popular and informative Astronomical Calendar for 2024 is available in both electronic and printed versions.

Bottom line: Visible planets and night sky guide for July 2024. Watch for the full moon rising at sunset tonight near the Teapot asterism in Sagittarius. The moon will be highest at midnight and set at dawn.

Posted 
July 20, 2024
 in 
Astronomy Essentials

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