Deborah Byrd
A central yellow sun, surrounded on 2 sides by crescent Venuses.

Journey of Venus

A composite image – made of photos acquired over 500 days – showing the waxing and waning of Venus, and the changing size of the planet’s visible disk, as it orbits the sun one step inward from Earth.

Jupiter’s opposition is July 13-14. But Jupiter isn’t closest until July 15. Why?

At Jupiter’s July 14 opposition, Earth in its orbit flies between Jupiter and the sun. You’d think Jupiter would be closest to Earth on the day of opposition. But it isn’t. Jupiter doesn’t come closest to us until the following day, July 15. Why?

Jupiter reaches opposition July 13-14

Opposition on June 10 marks the middle of the best time of year to see Jupiter. The planet shines at its brightest best in Earth’s sky. It’s also out all night long, rising at sunset and setting at sunrise.

Large planet with four smaller moons on black background.

Here’s how to see Jupiter’s 4 largest moons

Jupiter is now at its best time of the year for viewing, so turn your binoculars or telescope on the giant planet for a glimpse of its 4 largest Galilean moons.

Deneb and its constellation Cygnus the Swan

The Summer Triangle consists of 3 bright stars – Vega, Deneb and Altair – in 3 different constellations. Deneb also represents the tail of Cygnus the Swan.

Last quarter moon after rising, lighted portion facing straight downward.

Last quarter moon is July 12

The moon reaches its last quarter phase on July 12, 2020, at 23:29 UTC, and swings farthest from Earth for any quarter moon in 2020.

Spacecraft image of a lifeless, dry, rocky planetary surface, under a yellow sky.

NASA announces Venus rover challenge winners

The Venus rover challenge – called “Exploring Hell” – received a great response from countries around the world. NASA said the design ideas submitted will help advance the final design of a mechanical rover that might one day explore the hellish surface of Venus.

Vega in the Summer Triangle

Vega and its constellation Lyra

The Summer Triangle consists of 3 bright stars in 3 different constellations. The brightest is Vega in the constellation Lyra.

Use the Big Dipper to find Polaris

Draw a line through the Big Dipper pointer stars to find Polaris, Earth’s northern pole star. If your sky is dark, also look for a former pole star, Thuban.

It seems possible to detect a subtle shading on the moon in this photo taken midway through a partial penumbral eclipse, but, if so, it's very very subtle.

Eclipse? What eclipse?

Even experienced observers say they couldn’t discern the Earth’s shadow on the moon during the partial penumbral eclipse of July 4-5, 2020.