Skywatching Events for July 2011
This NASA graphic depicts the path of the partial solar eclipse of July 1, 2011, which will peak over an uninhabited region off the coast of Antarctica.
Credit: NASA/GSFC

Here's a look at the most promising skywatching events of July 2011:

Moon Phases

Fri., July 1, 4:54 a.m. EDT

New Moon
The Moon is not visible on the date of New Moon because it is too close to the Sun, but can be seen low in the east as a narrow crescent a morning or two before, just before sunrise. It is visible low in the west an evening or two after New Moon.

Fri., July 8, 2:29 a.m. EDT

First Quarter Moon
The First Quarter Moon rises around 1 p.m., and sets around midnight.

Fri., July 15, 2:40 a.m. EDT

Full Moon
The Full Moon of July is usually known as the Hay Moon. In Algonquian it is called Buck Moon. Other names are Thunder Moon and Mead Moon. In Hindi it is known as Guru Purnima. Its Sinhala (Buddhist) name is Esala Poya. The Full Moon rises around sunset and sets around sunrise, the only night in the month when the Moon is in the sky all night long. The rest of the month, the Moon spends at least some time in the daytime sky.

Sat., July 23, 1:02 a.m. EDT

Last Quarter Moon

The Last or Third Quarter Moon rises around midnight and sets around 1 p.m. It is most easily seen just after sunrise in the southern sky.

Sat., July 30, 2:40 p.m. EDT

New Moon
This month is unusual for having two New Moons. We call the second Full Moon in a month a “blue Moon” but we have no special name for a second New Moon.

Observing Highlights

Fri., July 1
Partial Solar Eclipse

The eclipse no one will see. This partial solar eclipse is visible only in a limited stretch of the Antarctica coastline, and the adjoining stretch of the Antarctic Ocean. The partially eclipsed Sun will peek just above the northern sea horizon at midday.

This illustration depicts the partial solar eclipse of July 1, 2011.
This illustration depicts the partial solar eclipse of July 1, 2011.
Credit: Starry Night Software



Wed., July 6, twilight

Mercury in the Beehive

The planet Mercury passes through the middle of the Beehive Cluster (Messier 44) tonight at dusk. Best seen in the Southern Hemisphere.

Sky map for Mercury passing through the Beehive cluster of stars on July 6, 2011.stars
Sky map for Mercury passing through the Beehive cluster of stars on July 6, 2011.stars
Credit: Starry Night Software



Tue., July 12, 6:27 p.m. EDT

Happy Birthday Neptune!

It is exactly one Neptunian year (or 165 Earth years) today since the discovery of Neptune on September 23, 1846.

Illustration of Neptune after completing its first orbit since the planet's discovery in 1846.
Illustration of Neptune after completing its first orbit since the planet's discovery in 1846.
Credit: Starry Night Software



Wed. July 20, evening twilight

Mercury at greatest elongation east
Mercury will be well placed for observation in the evening dusk, especially in the Southern Hemisphere.

Sky map for planet Mercury on July 20, 2011, when the planet is at its greatest eastern elongation.
Sky map for planet Mercury on July 20, 2011, when the planet is at its greatest eastern elongation.
Credit: Starry Night Software



Wed. July 27, morning twilight

Mars 0.5 degrees north of the Moon
Mercury will be well placed for observation in the evening dusk, especially in the southern hemisphere.

Mercury sky map for July 27, 2011 skywatching.
Mercury sky map for July 27, 2011 skywatching.
Credit: Starry Night Software



Fri. July 29, 10 a.m. EDT

Pallas at opposition

Now that Ceres has been promoted to dwarf planet status that makes Pallas, 524 km in diameter, the largest asteroid. It reaches opposition in the small but easily identified constellation of Sagitta, the arrow. Messier objects 27 (the Dumbbell Nebula) and 71 (a small globular cluster) are nearby. Watch Pallas for a few minutes in a telescope, and you will see it move against the background stars.

Sky map for asteroid Pallas on July 29, 2011.
Sky map for asteroid Pallas on July 29, 2011.
Credit: Starry Night Software



Planets

Mercury is an evening object in the western sky at dusk for the second half of the month.
 
Venus disappears behind the Sun early in the month.

Mars is in the eastern sky just before dawn. It spends all of the month in the constellation Taurus, but is outshone by the red giant star Aldebaran.

Jupiter rises well after midnight, and then dominates the western sky until dawn. It spends the whole month in the constellation Aries.
 
Saturn is in the evening sky in the constellation Virgo, setting around midnight.

Uranus is in Pisces all month, visible before dawn.
 
Neptune is a morning object in Aquarius, visible in binoculars or a small telescope.

This article was provided to SPACE.com by Starry Night Education, the leader in space science curriculum solutions. Follow Starry Night on Twitter @StarryNightEdu.