Southern Sky Watch

July Skies

This month the planetary action is split between the morning and the evening skies. Jupiter and Saturn are close and visible in the evening skies. Both Jupiter and Saturn are at opposition, when they are biggest and brightest as seen from Earth, this month. Mars eneters the evening skys this month. Venus is readily visible in the Hyades, the Head of Taurus the Bull. Despite Jupiter, Saturn and Mars being in the evening you can still see them and Venus as four bright planets in the morning sky. Mercury joins them briefly at the end of the month. There are several attractive massings with the Moon.

Useful info for visitors from New Zealand, South Africa and South America.

July 4; Earth at aphelion. July 5; Full Moon, Jupiter and Saturn form a line in the evening sky.. July 6; Jupiter, Saturn and waning Moon form a line in the evening sky. July 11 Waning Moon near to Mars. July 12; Venus very close to the bright star Aldebaran. July 12; The line up of Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Moon, Venus and Aldebaran looks spectacular in the morning sky. July 13; Moon at Apogee. July 14; Jupiter at opposition. July 17; Thin crescent Moon close to Venus. July 19, Mercury and thin crescent Moon close in the twilight. July 21; Saturn at Opposition. July 25; Moon at perigee.


Looking up at the stars is still a rewarding pursuit, despite the increasing light pollution in our major cities. The southern sky is full of interesting objects, many of which go unseen in the northern hemisphere. All you need for a good nights viewing is yourself, a good idea of where south and east are, and your hands. Optional extras are a small pair of binoculars, a torch with red cellophane taped over the business end and a note book. A great many tips for backyard astronomy may be found here, although many of them are more relevant to the northern hemisphere. A general article on amateur astronomy from New Scientist is here (may require subscription otherwise see the TASS site.).

This page is designed to give people a simple guide to the unaided eye sky. In the descriptions of planet and star positions, distances in the sky are given as "fingers width" and "hand span". This is the width of your hand (with all the fingers together as in making a "stop" sign, not bunched as a fist) or finger when extended a full arms length from you.


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Clear crisp Winter nights are often the best for star gazing, with the broad sweep of the Milky Way arching across the sky. While the COVID-19 threat is receding, looking up at the sky is still a great social distancing pursuit. However, it gets very cold, so don't forget to rug up before doing any extended star watching. Dew formation can also mean some dampness, so a blanket or rug to sit on is a good idea, as well as a thermos of your favorite hot beverage. Winter sees our night skies dominated by the Southern Cross, sprawling Scorpio and Sagittarius, in which the heart of our galaxy hides, so it's well worth stepping out into the chill for an astronomical thrill.


While these pages are primarily intended for the use of people observing in Australia, non-Australian Southern Hemisphere observers will find most of the information here applies to them. The star information will be most helpful, when you correct your location for latitude (see the Stars section for appropriate location information). Most Moon phase, planet, comet and asteroid information will be very similar to what will be seen in New Zealand, South Africa and South America. Countries close to the equator (eg Indonesia) will have somewhat different southern and northern views, but the eastern and western views should be similar enough to get a good idea of what is going on.

Occultations, eclipses and aurora are highly location dependent, and it would be best to get a local almanac for these events. If there is no local almanac available, email me and I might be able to help you. I do try and give general info for occultations and eclipses in the Oceania area of the Southern Hemisphere.

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Aurora Alert UPDATED 28/08/18: Despite solar maximum having passed, we are still getting occasional good auroral displays. August 26th 2018 saw an impressive display visible from NZ and Tasmania despite the full Moon. The last week of March 2017 saw some impressive aurora displays from Tasmania, Victoria, SA and WA. October 2016 saw a series of good but transient aurora in Tasmania and southern Victoria. July 2015 saw a massive storm seen as far north as mid NSW, again clouded out for large parts of Australia. 17-19/3/2015, the St. Patrick's Day aurora, massive storm seen as far north as Southern Queensland. Unfortunately clouded out for large parts of Australia. 26/2/2015, yet another good set of aurora were seen from Tasmania. 9/2/2015 There was a series of very good auroral events during February, some were seen in NSW, Victoria, SA and WA as well as Tasmania. Last year saw some nice events and a coronal mass ejection from an M class flare hit us square on on March 17 2013. Aurora were detected as far north as the QLD border, with some really nice events in Tasmania, and here are some images from that event. The Sun is now at solar minimum,and is rather quiet we June see more aurora in the near future.

Auroral images and descriptions from past geomagnetic storms are now at the auroral image web page.

We are now deep in solar minimum, and we can expect to see few aurora. There have been some good displays in Tasmania in the recent past (the St. Patrick's Day storm was a beauty, see as far north as NSW). Tasmania, King Island and Southern Victoria are the most likely places to see aurora. However, on September 24, 2005 there was a massive auroral storm seen as far as northern NSW (and the 22 February 2014 one was seen as far north as southern NSW). Naturally, the best views of any aurora will be away from the city and bright lights. Aurora occur when charged particles from the solar wind enter Earths outer atmosphere and interact with the oxygen and nitrogen atoms producing eerie displays of coloured lights. During solar maximum, which occurs every 11 years, the number and speed of the particles are higher, allowing them to penetrate the Earth's magnetic field at lower latitudes than normal. Observers in Tasmania are likely to see green glows or sheets of light in the southern sky. Observers in Southern Victoria are more likely to see a red glow in the southern sky, although more spectacular displays are possible.

The Astronomical Society of Tasmania has a webpage devoted to this phenomenon. The Australian IPS radio and space services covers Aurora and related phenomena in very great detail (too much if you don't know much about them) but has a nice education page. Flinders Uni also has real time magnetometer readings, however, this will probably not mean much to most people.

Aurora will generally follow solar flares by about 2 days, and a number of instruments are watching the sun for these outbursts. The solar minimum occurred in 2006 and persisted for some time. While sunspot numbers, and hence flare rates are increasing, sometimes months will go by without an alert, then you have three in a week. The space weather site at http://www.spaceweather.com gives notice of when solar winds likely to cause aurora will arrive. Alternatively, send an email to reynella@mira.net with "subscribe aurora alert" as the subject and I will send you an email alert of any likely auroral event (or other interesting sky phenomena). However, even a strong solar flare is no guarantee that you will be able to see aurora, but it does increase the probability. Still more alternatively, there are the facebook pages Aurora Australis Tasmania, Aurora Australis Tasmania NOW! and Aurora Australis all do discussions and alerts.

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Email alerts I try to update this page fairly regularly outside of the monthly postings. However sometimes things happen which I can't get in fast enough, or you forget to mark your calendar. If you would like to be alerted to or reminded of interesting astronomical or sky phenomena, send an email to reynella@internode.on.net with "subscribe aurora alert" as the subject. This is the old aurora alert list, but with auroras rare even though we are at solar maximum (except for the occasional humdinger, like the September 2005 auroral event), it is doing double duty. Astroblog will have images when possible of these events soon after.

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Coming events

Date Event
January
11 January 2020 Penumbral lunar eclipse in the morning, close to dawn.
21 January 2020 Crescent Moon and Mars close in the morning
23 January 2020 Crescent Moon and Jupiter close in the morning
27 January 2020 Venus and Neptune close
26 January 2020 Mercury close to the crescent moon in the evening twilight
28 January 2020 Venus close to the crescent moon in the evening
February
18 February 2020 Mars passes between the triffid and Lagoon Nebulae
19 February 2020 Waxing Moon close to Mars in the morning
20 February 2020 Waxing Moon extremely close to Jupiter in the morning
21 February 2020 Waxing Moon close to Saturn in the morning
27 February 2020 Waning Crescent Moon close to Venus
29 February 2020 Mars close to Globular cluster M22
March
1 March 2020 Mars still close to Globular cluster M22
8-9 March 2020 Venus close to Uranus (binocular only)
18 March 2020 Waning Crescent Moon forms a line with Mars, Jupiter and Saturn in the morning sky
19 March 2020 Crescent Moon between Mars and Jupiter and Saturn
20 March 2020 Earth at Equinox
21 March 2020 Mars very close to Jupiter
22 March 2020 Mercury close to the crescent Moon in the morning
29March 2020 Venus close to the crescent Moon in the evening
April
1 April 2020 Saturn close to Mars in the morning sky
3-4 April 2020 Venus passes through the Pleiades cluster
4 April 2020 Mercury close to Neptune
8 April 2020 Perigee Full Moon ("super" Moon), 3:10 am
15 April 2020 waning Moon close to Jupiter in the morning sky
16 April 2020 waning Moon close to Saturn in the morning sky
22 April 2020 Crescent Moon close to Mercury in the morning sky
26-27 April 2020 Crescent Moon near Venus in the evening sky
May
5 May 2020 Eta Aquariid meteor shower
12 May 2020 Moon between Jupiter and Saturn in evening sky
15-16 May 2020 Mars near the waning Moon
22 May 2020 Mercury and Venus close
24 May 2020 Thin crescent Moon near Venus
June
6 June 2020 Penumbral lunar eclipse early morning near dawn
8 June 2020 Moon and Jupiter close in evening
9 June 2020 waning Moon and Saturn close in evening
13 June 2020 Moon and Mars close in morning
19 June 2020 Thin crescent Moon and Venus close in the morning twilight
July
5 July 2020 Jupiter close to the moon
6 July 2020 Moon and Saturn close
11 July 2020 Moon and Mars close in evening
12 July 2020 Moon close to bright star Aldebaran
14 July 2020 Jupiter at Opposition
17 July 2020 Thin crescent Moon near Venus in the morning
21 July 2020 Saturn at Opposition
29 July 2020 Southern Delta Aquarids meteor shower
August
2 August 2020 Moon between Jupiter and Saturn
9 August 2020 Moon close to Mars
15-16 August 2020 Crescent Moon close to Venus
28 August 20 Asteroid Ceres at opposition (binoculars only)
29 August 2020 Moon between Jupiter and Saturn again
September
5-6 September 2020 Mars close to the Moon
14 September 2020 Venus and crescent Moon close in morning sky
19 September 2020 Crescent Moon and Mercury close forming triangle with Spica
24 September 2020 Variable star Mira at its brightest
22 September 2020 Mercury and bright star Spica very close
22 September 2020 Earth at Equinox
25 September 2020 Waxing Moon, Jupiter form a triangle with Saturn
30 September 2020 Venus close to bright star Regulus
October
2-3 October 2020 Mars and waning Moon close
3 October 2020 Venus and the bright star Regulus very close
14 October 2020 Venus and the crescent Moon close
14 October 2020 Mars at opposition
18 October 2020 Mercury and thin crescent Moon closeish in the evening twilight
21 October 2020 Orionid meteor shower
22 October 2020 Jupiter and waning Moon close
23 October 2020 Saturn and waning Moon close
31 October 2020 Blue Moon in WA.
November
1 November 2020 Apogee Full Moon (mini-Moon). In WA full Moon occurs before midnight but for all states apogee is on the early morning of the 1st.
13 November 2020 Thin crescent Moon close to Venus
14 November 2020 Thin crescent Moon close to Mercury
18 November 2020 Leonid Meteor Shower
19 November 2020 Crescent Moon and Jupiter close forming triangle with Saturn
24-25 November 2020 Waxing Moon close to Mars
30 November 2020 Penumbral Lunar eclipse, only seen from eastern states. Blue Moon of all states except WA. (see above)
December
13 December 2020 Venus and thin crescent Moon close
14 December 2020 Geminid Meteor shower (New Moon, good rates)
17 December 2020 Jupiter and Saturn spectacularly close with the thin crescent Moon close too.
21 December 2020 Jupiter and Saturn even more spectacularly close in a conjunction that will not be repeated for over a decade. The pair will easily be visible together in telescope eye pieces.
21 December 2020 Earth is at Solstice
23-24 December 2020 Waxing Moon close to Mars

Out in Space

Mars Curiosity Rover finds the peotry of drilling on Mars .

Mars Express spots the dark dunes of Moreux crater.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spots the dark dunes of Moreux crater.

The Juno mission solves a watery mystery.

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The Moon:

Current Phase of the Moon.
This is a JavaScript applet kindly supplied by Darren Osbourne. It shows the Moon as Southern Hemisphere viewers see it, and is upside down from the Northern Hemisphere perspective.

O Full moon on the 5th
D Last quarter on the 13th
O New Moon is on the 21st
C| First quarter on the 27th

July 5; Full Moon, Jupiter and Saturn form a line in the evening sky.. July 6; Jupiter, Saturn and waning Moon form a line in the evening sky. July 11 Waning Moon near to Mars. July 13; Moon at Apogee. July 17; Thin crescent Moon close to Venus. July 19, Mercury and thin crescent Moon close in the twilight. July 25; Moon at perigee.

An interactive calendar of the Moon's phases.

A view of the phase of the Moon for any date from 1800 A.D. to 2199, US based, so that the Moon is upside down with respect to us. The image above is from this source.

The phases of the Moon have been linked in the popular imagination to activities as diverse as madness and menstruation. However, careful study has shown that there are no such links. This web page outlines how the Moon is unconnected with a wide range of human activities.

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Planets:

Finding planets, even with the directions below, can sometimes be difficult if you are unfamiliar with the sky. However, the Moon is very obvious, and can be a guide to location of planets. Not only that, the combination of the Moon and bright planet(s) is often very beautiful. Thus the guide below gives the dates when the planets and the Moon are close together.
evening sky, 21:00 pm

The evening sky facing east in Adelaide on Sunday July 5 at 21:00 ACDST, The waning Moon, Jupiter and Saturn form a line above the eastern horizon. (similar views will be seen Australia wide at the equivaent local time).

morning sky, 6:22 am

The morning sky facing east in Adelaide on on Sunday July 12 as seen from Adelaide at 6:22 ACST, 60 minutes before sunrise, Venus is close to the bright star Aldebaran. (similar views will be seen Australia wide 60 minutes before sunrise)

morning sky, 6:45 am

The morning sky facing east in Adelaide on on Sunday July 19 as seen from Adelaide at 6:45 ACST, 30 minutes before sunrise, Mercury is close to the crescent Moon. (similar views will be seen Australia wide 30 minutes before sunrise)

Mercury returns to the morning sky late5 this month. By the 15th Mercury is one and a half hand-spans the eastern horizon half an hour before sunrise. On the 19th Mercury and the thin crescent Moon are hand-span apart low in the twilight half an hour before sunrise. By the 30th Mercury is a hand-span above the eastern horizon half an hour before sunrise.

Venus Climbs higher the the morning sky, and is in the Hyades, the head of Taurus the Bull, for the first half of the Month. In even small telescopes Venus is a visible crescent for the month. On the 1st Venus is nearly two hand-spans above the eastern horizon an hour and a half before sunrise. By the 15th Venus is nearly three hand-spans above the eastern horizon an hour and a half before sunrise. On the 17th Venus and the thin crescent Moon are a hand-span apart, nearly three hand-spans above the eastern horizon an hour and a half before sunrise. On the 30th Venus is still nearly three hand-spans above the eastern horizon an hour and a half before sunrise.

Earth is at aphelion on July 4 when it is furthest from the Sun.

Mars is high in the early morning sky forming a line Jupiter, Saturn and Venus. On the 1st Mars is rising before midnight local time and is just under ten hand-spans above the northern horizon an hour and a half before sunrise. On the evening of the 11th and the morning of the 12th the Last Quarter Moon joins the line-up just above Mars. On the 15th Mars is just nine hand-spans above the north-western horizon an hour and a half before sunrise. On the 30th Mars is rising before midnight local time and is just under ten hand-spans above the northern horizon an hour and a half before sunrise.

Jupiter climbs higher in the evening sky while lowering in the morning sky. Jupiter is at opposition this month, when it is biggest and brightest as seen from Earth. It is now reasonably high in the evening sky above Saturn. Jupiter is a decent telescopic object in the evening to early morning.

On the 1st Jupiter is rising around 6:15 pm local time and is highest above the northern horizon at around 1:30 local time. Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and Venus from a line in the morning sky. On the 5th Jupiter, the Full Moon and Saturn form a line in the evening sky. On the 6th the lineup is Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon. Jupiter is at opposition on the 14th. On the 15th Jupiter is rising around 5:00 pm local time and is highest above the northern horizon at around 00:20 local time. On the 30th Jupiter is rising around 4:00 pm local time and is highest above the northern horizon at around 23:00 local time.

In either binoculars or a telescope Jupiter's Moons are always interesting. July 21 is particularly nice

This table was created using The Planets 2.02 a free program available from http://www.cpac.org.uk

Times are AEST, subtract 30 minutes for ACST and 3 hours for AWST. 
GRS = Great Red Spot. S = Shadow Transit, T = Transit

Wed	1	Jul	4:56	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Thu	2	Jul	0:47	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Thu	2	Jul	20:39	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Fri	3	Jul	5:23	Io : Disappears into Eclipse	
Fri	3	Jul	6:34	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Fri	3	Jul	7:36	Eur: Shadow Transit Begins        S	
Sat	4	Jul	2:25	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Sat	4	Jul	2:40	Io : Shadow Transit Begins        S	
Sat	4	Jul	2:56	Io : Transit Begins               ST	
Sat	4	Jul	4:57	Io : Shadow Transit Ends          T	
Sat	4	Jul	5:13	Io : Transit Ends	
Sat	4	Jul	22:17	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Sat	4	Jul	23:52	Io : Disappears into Eclipse	
Sun	5	Jul	2:22	Io : Reappears from Occultation	
Sun	5	Jul	2:25	Eur: Disappears into Eclipse	
Sun	5	Jul	5:44	Eur: Reappears from Occultation	
Sun	5	Jul	18:08	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Sun	5	Jul	21:08	Io : Shadow Transit Begins        S	
Sun	5	Jul	21:22	Io : Transit Begins               ST	
Sun	5	Jul	23:25	Io : Shadow Transit Ends          T	
Sun	5	Jul	23:39	Io : Transit Ends	
Mon	6	Jul	4:03	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Mon	6	Jul	18:20	Io : Disappears into Eclipse	
Mon	6	Jul	20:48	Io : Reappears from Occultation	
Mon	6	Jul	20:53	Eur: Shadow Transit Begins        S	
Mon	6	Jul	21:15	Eur: Transit Begins               ST	
Mon	6	Jul	23:40	Eur: Shadow Transit Ends          T	
Mon	6	Jul	23:54	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Tue	7	Jul	0:03	Eur: Transit Ends	
Tue	7	Jul	2:37	Gan: Disappears into Eclipse	
Tue	7	Jul	6:42	Gan: Reappears from Occultation	
Tue	7	Jul	17:54	Io : Shadow Transit Ends          T	
Tue	7	Jul	18:05	Io : Transit Ends	
Tue	7	Jul	19:46	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Wed	8	Jul	5:41	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Wed	8	Jul	18:51	Eur: Reappears from Occultation	
Thu	9	Jul	1:32	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Thu	9	Jul	20:36	Cal: Shadow Transit Ends          T	
Thu	9	Jul	21:24	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Thu	9	Jul	21:50	Cal: Transit Ends	
Fri	10	Jul	7:17	Io : Disappears into Eclipse	
Fri	10	Jul	7:19	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Fri	10	Jul	19:52	Gan: Shadow Transit Ends          T	
Fri	10	Jul	20:17	Gan: Transit Ends	
Sat	11	Jul	3:10	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Sat	11	Jul	4:34	Io : Shadow Transit Begins        S	
Sat	11	Jul	4:40	Io : Transit Begins               ST	
Sat	11	Jul	6:51	Io : Shadow Transit Ends          T	
Sat	11	Jul	6:57	Io : Transit Ends	
Sat	11	Jul	23:01	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Sun	12	Jul	1:46	Io : Disappears into Eclipse	
Sun	12	Jul	4:06	Io : Reappears from Occultation	
Sun	12	Jul	5:02	Eur: Disappears into Eclipse	
Sun	12	Jul	18:53	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Sun	12	Jul	23:03	Io : Shadow Transit Begins        S	
Sun	12	Jul	23:06	Io : Transit Begins               ST	
Mon	13	Jul	1:20	Io : Shadow Transit Ends          T	
Mon	13	Jul	1:23	Io : Transit Ends	
Mon	13	Jul	4:48	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Mon	13	Jul	20:14	Io : Disappears into Eclipse	
Mon	13	Jul	22:32	Io : Reappears from Occultation	
Mon	13	Jul	23:27	Eur: Shadow Transit Begins        S	
Mon	13	Jul	23:29	Eur: Transit Begins               ST	
Tue	14	Jul	0:39	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Tue	14	Jul	2:14	Eur: Shadow Transit Ends          T	
Tue	14	Jul	2:16	Eur: Transit Ends	
Tue	14	Jul	6:36	Gan: Disappears into Eclipse	
Tue	14	Jul	17:32	Io : Sh Begins & Tr Begins        ST	
Tue	14	Jul	19:49	Io : Sh Ends & Tr Ends	
Tue	14	Jul	20:31	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Wed	15	Jul	6:26	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Wed	15	Jul	18:17	Eur: Disappears into Occultation	
Wed	15	Jul	21:10	Eur: Reappears from Eclipse	
Thu	16	Jul	2:17	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Thu	16	Jul	22:08	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Fri	17	Jul	18:00	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Fri	17	Jul	20:11	Gan: Transit Begins               T	
Fri	17	Jul	20:31	Gan: Shadow Transit Begins        ST	
Fri	17	Jul	23:33	Gan: Transit Ends                 S	
Fri	17	Jul	23:52	Gan: Shadow Transit Ends	
Sat	18	Jul	2:34	Cal: Disappears into Occultation	
Sat	18	Jul	3:55	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Sat	18	Jul	6:24	Io : Transit Begins               T	
Sat	18	Jul	6:29	Io : Shadow Transit Begins        ST	
Sat	18	Jul	23:46	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Sun	19	Jul	3:33	Io : Disappears into Occultation	
Sun	19	Jul	5:56	Io : Reappears from Eclipse	
Sun	19	Jul	19:38	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Mon	20	Jul	0:50	Io : Transit Begins               T	
Mon	20	Jul	0:58	Io : Shadow Transit Begins        ST	
Mon	20	Jul	3:07	Io : Transit Ends                 S	
Mon	20	Jul	3:15	Io : Shadow Transit Ends	
Mon	20	Jul	5:33	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Mon	20	Jul	21:59	Io : Disappears into Occultation	
Tue	21	Jul	0:25	Io : Reappears from Eclipse	
Tue	21	Jul	1:24	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Tue	21	Jul	1:42	Eur: Transit Begins               T	
Tue	21	Jul	2:01	Eur: Shadow Transit Begins        ST	
Tue	21	Jul	4:30	Eur: Transit Ends                 S	
Tue	21	Jul	4:49	Eur: Shadow Transit Ends	
Tue	21	Jul	19:16	Io : Transit Begins               T	
Tue	21	Jul	19:26	Io : Shadow Transit Begins        ST	
Tue	21	Jul	21:16	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Tue	21	Jul	21:33	Io : Transit Ends                 S	
Tue	21	Jul	21:43	Io : Shadow Transit Ends	
Wed	22	Jul	18:53	Io : Reappears from Eclipse	
Wed	22	Jul	20:32	Eur: Disappears into Occultation	
Wed	22	Jul	23:47	Eur: Reappears from Eclipse	
Thu	23	Jul	3:02	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Thu	23	Jul	22:54	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Fri	24	Jul	17:37	Eur: Transit Ends                 S	
Fri	24	Jul	18:06	Eur: Shadow Transit Ends	
Fri	24	Jul	18:45	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Fri	24	Jul	23:28	Gan: Transit Begins               T	
Sat	25	Jul	0:30	Gan: Shadow Transit Begins        ST	
Sat	25	Jul	2:49	Gan: Transit Ends                 S	
Sat	25	Jul	3:52	Gan: Shadow Transit Ends	
Sat	25	Jul	4:40	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Sun	26	Jul	0:32	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Sun	26	Jul	5:17	Io : Disappears into Occultation	
Sun	26	Jul	20:23	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Mon	27	Jul	2:34	Io : Transit Begins               T	
Mon	27	Jul	2:53	Io : Shadow Transit Begins        ST	
Mon	27	Jul	4:51	Io : Transit Ends                 S	
Mon	27	Jul	5:10	Io : Shadow Transit Ends	
Mon	27	Jul	6:18	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Mon	27	Jul	23:43	Io : Disappears into Occultation	
Tue	28	Jul	2:10	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Tue	28	Jul	2:19	Io : Reappears from Eclipse	
Tue	28	Jul	3:56	Eur: Transit Begins               T	
Tue	28	Jul	4:36	Eur: Shadow Transit Begins        ST	
Tue	28	Jul	17:57	Gan: Reappears from Eclipse	
Tue	28	Jul	21:00	Io : Transit Begins               T	
Tue	28	Jul	21:21	Io : Shadow Transit Begins        ST	
Tue	28	Jul	22:01	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Tue	28	Jul	23:17	Io : Transit Ends                 S	
Tue	28	Jul	23:38	Io : Shadow Transit Ends	
Wed	29	Jul	17:52	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Wed	29	Jul	18:09	Io : Disappears into Occultation	
Wed	29	Jul	20:48	Io : Reappears from Eclipse	
Wed	29	Jul	22:49	Eur: Disappears into Occultation	
Thu	30	Jul	2:25	Eur: Reappears from Eclipse	
Thu	30	Jul	3:48	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Thu	30	Jul	17:43	Io : Transit Ends                 S	
Thu	30	Jul	18:07	Io : Shadow Transit Ends	
Thu	30	Jul	23:39	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	

Saturn, like Jupiter, climbs higher above the evening sky while lowering in the morning sky. It is now reasonably high reasonably high in the late evening sky below Jupiter. Saturn is at opposition this month, when it is biggest and brightest as seen from Earth. Saturn is a decent telescopic object in the evening to early morning.

On July 1 Saturn is rising around 7:00 pm local time, and is highest above the northern horizon at around 2:00 am local time. On the 5th Jupiter, the Full Moon and Saturn form a line in the evening sky. On the 6 th the lineup is Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon. On July 15, Saturn is rising around 5:40 pm local time, and is highest above the northern horizon at around 00:50 am local time. Saturn is at opposition on the 21st. By July 30, Saturn is rising around 4:30 pm local time, and is highest above the northern horizon at around 23:30 am local time.

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Iridium Flares, the International Space Station and other satellites

See this amazing site for images of the space station taken through a telescope.

The Iridium satellites have deorbited, However, other satellites do flares as well (bit more rarely) the visibility of Iridium flares is VERY dependent on observer position, so you need a prediction for your spot within about 30 km. Hence I'm referring you to a web site for predictions rather than doing it myself.


See the International Space Station at your Location. Courtesy of Heavens above. Choose your location from the drop down box

Or type in Your Latitude and Longitude in decimal format eg Darwin is -12.461 130.840 , to find your Lat Long go to this site.
Latitude: Longitude: City Time Zone:
Another site, JPASS, doesn't do Iridium flares, but is very cool and does the International Space Station, and many other satellites. However, although the output is flashy, it's harder to use than heavens above.

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Meteor showers:

Date        	Meteor Shower       ZHR  Illumination 
29/07/2019  delta-Aquarids      25    First Quarter     
27/07/2019  Piscis Australids    5    First Quarter    
29/07/2019  Capricornids         5    First Quarter   

The figure ZHR is zenithal hourly rate. This is the number of meteors that a single observer would see per hour if the shower's "point of origin", or radiant, were at the zenith and the sky were dark enough for 6.5-magnitude stars to be visible to the naked eye. Illumination gives an idea of how dark the sky is, the lower the figure, the darker the sky.

The delta-Aquarids will appear from 12 July to 23rd August peaking on July the 29th. At 10 pm, face east, and look 4 hand spans and two finger widths above the horizon. One finger width right is the 4th magnitude star delta d Aquarii. The radiant is just above this star, see the map for more detail. This meteor shower should be visible from 10.00 pm until dawn, with better meteor rates after midnight. These showers occur near the First Quarter Moon this year, so there will be little Moonlight interference once the Moon sets around midnight. The other meteor showers are weak.

Outside of the showers, you can still see sporadic meteors. Rates seen from the Southern Hemisphere are around 11 random meteors being seen per hour during the late morning hours and 2-4 per hour during the evening. The evening rates will be reduced slightly during the times around the full Moon due to interference by the Moons light.

A good page describing meteor watching is at the Sky Publications site.

The Meteor Section of the Astronomical Society of Victoria has some good information on meteor watching too.

Learn how to take a meteor shower photograph.

A Cool Fact about meteor speeds

A good page on detecting meteors using home made radio-telescopes is here.

A good page describing meteor watching is at the Sky Publications site.

The Meteor Section of the Astronomical Society of Victoria has some good information on meteor watching too.

Learn how to take a meteor shower photograph.

A Cool Fact about meteor speeds

A good page on detecting meteors using home made radio-telescopes is here.

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Comets:

Comet C/2020 F8 SWAN has also disintegrated. C/2020 F3 ( NEOWISE )may become bright but will be too close to the sun to see. C/2020 F3 ( NEOWISE )may become as bright as magnitude 5.

A list of current comet ephemerides is at the MPC.

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Occultations:

No interesting naked-eye occultations this month.

 


Eclipse:

No significant eclipses this month.

Find local sunrise/sunset and twilight times for your city or location (courtesy of Heavens Above).
Use either the drop down box for the listed cities, or type in your latitude, longitude and city in the boxes below.

Type in Your Latitude and Longitude in decimal format eg -12.461 130.840 , to find your Lat Long go to this site.

Latitude: Longitude: City Time Zone:

 


Variable Stars:

While most stars seem to shine with a constant brightness, there are some that undergo regular, dramatic change in brightness. The classic variables are Mira and Algol. Algol is currently not visible and Mira reached maximum on October 24 2019 and is now fading. The bright red star Betelgeuse in Orion had faded dramatically and was at its dimmest for 50 years, but has now returned to it's former brightness.

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Stars:

evening sky, 10:00 pm

The southern evening sky at 10:00 pm AEDST in Melbourne on July 1 (similar views will be seen from other cities at the equivalent local time eg 10:00 pm ACDST Adelaide, 9:00 pm AEST Brisbane).

All descriptions here are based on the view from Melbourne at 10.00 pm AEST (Australian Eastern Standard Time, daylight savings finished 5 July) on 1 July and assumes a fairly level horizon. Starset occurs progressively earlier each day, so these descriptions are valid for 9.00 pm on the 15th and 97.00pm AEST on the 30th Readers from other time zones should see roughly the same views at 10.00 pm local time. Corrections for cities other than Melbourne are given below.

How do I find east, west, north and south?

This is an ideal time to hunt the fainter open clusters in Scorpio with binoculars. Looking East and straight up, the distinctive "hook" shape of Scorpio, the scorpion, now stretches across the zenith. Going up about six hand-spans you will see six bright stars forming a T, with the tail of the "T" nearly parallel to the horizon and a curved "tail" of stars. The bright red giant star Antares (Alpha Scorpius, the middle star in the three stars forming the tail of the T) is quite prominent. The area around Scorpio is quite rewarding in binoculars, and there is a small but pretty globular cluster about one finger-width above and to the north of Antares (between Antares and the leading star of the tail of the T). It can be hard to see in city conditions. A high definition map of Scorpio is here.

Just below Scorpio and slightly to the right is the distinctive "teapot" shape of Sagittarius, the archer. The "teapots" spout is pointing straight up, and its lid points to the left. This constellation is now high enough in the sky for its panoply of clusters and nebula to reach full prominence. M24, an open cluster about two finger-widths to the right and slightly down from the "lid" of the teapot should be visible to the naked eye, just above this and slightly to the left by about a hand span is a number of open clusters and a patch of luminosity that marks the lagoon nebula. M22, a globular cluster, is close to the lid (between and about a finger-widths left of the two stars that make the bottom of the lid), should be visible as a dim, fuzzy star on a dark night. Between these clusters and the "lid" itself runs the Great Sagittarius Star cloud. The centre of our galaxy lies in Sagittarius, and on a dark night, the traceries of the Milky Way and its dust clouds are particularly beautiful. A high definition map of Sagittarius can be found here.

To the right of the teapot by about two finger-widths, is the a delicate arc of stars, Corona Australis, the Southern Crown. Just below Sagittarius is the battered triangle of Capricorn, the Goat, and off to the left by about 4 hand-spans is three bright stars that mark Aquilla, the Eagle, with the brightest, white Altair, being in the center.

To the left of the "T" of Scorpio by one hand-span and slightly higher is a broad triangle of stars that marks Libra, the balance. Alpha librae (with the amazing name Zubenelgenubi) is the brightest star and apex of the triangle pointed at Spica, is almost midway between Spica and Antares. This star is a wide binary, and those with good eye sight and dark skies can usual see both components. Beta Librae (Zubeneschamali) is the next brightest star in the triangle and closest to the horizon. Four finger-widths to the left of Beta Librae is delta librae, this dim star (magnitude 4.9) is an eclipsing variable, where a dim star orbiting a brighter star eclipses the brighter star, causing a fall in perceived brightness. Delta librae dims and brightens by one whole magnitude every 2.3 days, and is a good (if dim) naked eye variable. Libra also hosts the star HD 141569 (roughly a hand-span below beta Librae, but at 7th magnitude invisible to the naked eye), which has a dust disk with dark lanes which may indicate planets.

To the left of Libra by around three hand-spans is bright white Spica, the brightest start in the constellation of Virgo. Spica marks the top right-hand corner of a rectangular group of stars that marks out the body of Virgo, the virgin.

Six hand-spans below Spica and three to the right is bright orange Arcturus, alpha star of the constellation of Bootes, the herdsman. Between Altair, Arcturus and Spica are a number of dim constellations, including Hercules. Hercules is almost mid way between Altair and Arcturus, and a reasonably prominent box shape marks the centre of the constellation.

Looking now to the right of Scorpio, about a hand-span away from the curved tail is a small squarish constellation Ara, another hand-span again brings you to the edge of the large, but dim, constellation of Pavo. Delta Pavonis, about another hand-span away, is one of the handful of sun-like stars within 20 light-years of Earth that might have terrestrial planets in its habitable zone.

Directly to the left of Virgo by four hand-spans is end of the long rambling constellation Hydra which starts below the western the horizon. Three hand-spans to the left is crater the cup with its distinct, but upside down, cup shape. Three hand-spans above and three to the left of Spica is the kite shape of Corvus the crow. About four hand-spans above Spica and about one to the right is M83, a galaxy which can easily be seen in small binoculars on a dark night.

Five hand-spans to left of and four down from Virgo, is Leo. The sickle of Leo is below the horizon and Regulus is just above the western horizon.

The battered rectangle of stars that forms Puppis, the poop deck of the former constellation Argo Navis, is just on the south-western horizon. Just above this is Vela, the sail of that same ship. When, Argo Navis was broken up into Puppis, Vela and Carina (the keel) in 1750, they forgot to assign alpha and beta stars to Vela, and it's brightest star is at magnitude 1.5 is Gamma Velorum. Gama Velorum is a double star which may be resolved in good binoculars. The Milky Way passes through Vela, and there are many open clusters which can be seen with binoculars or the naked eye. One of the best of these is NGC2547, a little below gamma Velorum. Vela is also home to the spectacular Gum nebula (which can only be seen in telescopic photographs), and the second pulsar to be observed optically. Kappa and delta Velorum, with iota and epsilon Carina, make the "false cross" (about 10 hand spans above the southern horizon). A high definition map of Vela is here.

To the left of Vela, is Carina (the keel). A high definition map of this region is here. Looking almost anywhere in the area stretching between Sagittarius and Vela/Carina will reveal an interesting cluster or star formation. However, the area two hand-spans below and slightly to the right of the Southern Cross, between it and the false cross, is particularly rich. Here you will find the "Southern Pleiades" surrounding the tail star (Theta Carina) of a prominent kite shaped group of stars in Carina. Smaller and less spectacular than their northern counterparts, they still look very nice in binoculars. Four finger-widths to the left of the Southern Pleiades are two rich open clusters, and the barely visible star Eta Carina. Eta Carina's spectacular nebula is only dimly seen in binoculars. Five hand spans to the right of the Southern Cross is the False Cross, just below the False Cross is a good open cluster, just visible to the naked eye, and very nice in binoculars. One hand-span to the left of the False Cross is another rich open cluster, again, very nice in binoculars. Canopus (alpha Carina) is a bright yellowish star two hand-spans from the south-western horizon.

Facing due South, one hand-span to the right and twelve hand-spans up are Alpha and beta Centauri the so called "pointers", with Alpha being the yellow star which is closest to the horizon, and Beta the blue white star to the right. Alpha Centauri is the closest star to our sun at around 4 light years. However, recent measurements with the Hippacaros satellite put the system 300 million kilometres further away than previously thought. Alpha Centauri is actually a triple star, consisting of two sun-like stars and a red dwarf, Proxima centauri, which is the closest of the triple stars to earth. Slightly to the right again, and following a line through the "pointers" brings you to the Southern Cross, 15 hand-spans above the horizon at about the 12 o'clock position on a clock. A high definition map of Centaurus and Crux is here.

Just to the left of the Southern Cross is the coal sack. This dark area against the glow of the Milky Way represents a large dust cloud and is clearly visible in dark skies. The Jewel box in the Cross is a small open cluster just below Beta Crucis, the southernmost bright star in the Cross at the moment. It is quite beautiful, but requires strong binoculars or a small telescope to see properly.

Returning to Alpha Centauri, a hand-span from this star to the right and a hand-span up is a small star, a half hand span up (and about a hand-span to the right) is a fuzzy star, this is omega Centauri (5139 on the map), a globular cluster of stars which is quite spectacular in good binoculars, and more spectacular than 47 Tucana (see below). Another hand-span directly up is Centaurus A, a very radio bright galaxy (5128 on the map). You need a dark night and binoculars (at least 10 x 30) to see it, but it is one of the few galaxies you can see in the southern hemisphere (outside of the small and large Magellanic clouds) without a telescope.

Five hand-spans straight up from south, and two to the left is the extended nebulosity of the Small Magellanic cloud, one of the dwarf satellite galaxies to the Milky Way. This feature is best viewed on a dark night, away from the city. In this nebulosity is what looks to be a fuzzy star, this is 47 Tucana, a spectacular globular cluster that is very nice through binoculars.

Up four hand spans from due south and two hand-spans to the right is the Large Magellanic cloud, the largest of the dwarf satellite galaxies. Binoculars will reveal a rather attractive nebula near it, the Tarantula nebula.

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Sky Maps

How to use the maps

      map viewsky view

Comparison of a section of a skymap showing the Southern Cross (Crux) and pointers, with the appearance of the night sky. The map and sky are for July 1 at 10.00 pm, facing south. Both show approximately 30 degrees (5 hand-spans) of sky just above the horizon

The maps look a little busy, as they cover all sky from horizon to zenith. The grid lines are navigational helpers; each horizontal or vertical line covers 30 degrees of arc (the gridlines in the illustration show 15 degrees of arc), which is roughly five hand-spans (where a hand-span is the width of your hand, held flat light a "stop" sign at arms length). As you can see from the way the lines bunch up. The map is a little distorted, due to trying to project a spherical surface on a flat surface. The horizon is the lowest curved line on the map (for technical software reasons I can't block things out below the Horizon). Constellations are linked by lines and their names are in italics. Stars are shown as circles of varying size, the bigger the circle the brighter the star. The stars are named with their Bayer letter (eg a - alpha, the brightest star in a constellation, a Crucis is the brightest star in Crux). Variable stars are shown as hollow circles, double stars are marked with a line (eg a, b and g Crucis are all double stars, that look quite beautiful in a small telescope). Clusters and Nebula brighter than magnitude 6.0 are marked as broken circles (eg. the Jewel box cluster next to b Crucis above which is best viewed in binoculars or a telescope) and squares respectively. To find Crux for example, locate Crux on the appropriate map (eg. see the illustration above). Holding the Map, face either east or west (depending on the map), then use the grid lines to determine how far over and up you should look, then look for the Crux pattern in that part of the Sky.

GIF Maps

A view of the Eastern July sky at 10.00pm AEST on 1 July can be downloaded here (julsky_e.png 30 Kb) and a view of the western July sky can be downloaded here (julsky_w.png 30 Kb). These are more compact files but don't have a lot of resolution.

PDF Maps

High Resolution PDF files can be obtained for the eastern (110 Kb) and the western (110 Kb) horizon maps.

The Zenith Map (110 Kb) shows you the whole sky. You will need to face the one of the compass points, then hold the map with the appropriate compass point on the map at the bottom of the page.

You will need a PDF viewer such as Adobe Acrobat or GhostView to view and print them. They look slightly worse on-screen than the PNG files, but print much better and come with legends.

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[ December Skies] [ January Skies] [ February Skies ] [ March Skies] [ April Skies] [ May Skies] [ June Skies]
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Cheers! And good star gazing!


updated

Ian's Astrophotography Gallery

Some of the photographs/images I have taken in recent years of astronomical phenomena that may be of interest.

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Links

Societies: Australian Resources: Australian Planetariums: updated Astronomy for Kids International Resources: Stunning sites: Useful programs:
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Charts, Books and Software for Astronomy

Stellarium, the free photorealistic sky chart that I use for my general charts, is now available in a web version, it is not as versatile as the desktop version, but handy if you are out and about. it Runs under a variety of browsers on standard PC's, Chromebooks and iPads. https://stellarium-web.org/

The is also a mobile Stellarium version, but it costs money (aroun $13, not much, but still).

If you would like to have charts available all the time, rather than relying on mine, for between $2-$20 you can pick up a planisphere from a newsagent or bookshop (or for a bit more you can get fancy ones from Australian Geographic, the ABC shop or the other Australian Geographic look alike shop, or the Wilderness Society, or even a binocular/ optical store). The planisphere won't give you position of the planets, so you will need to get the planet rise/set times. These can be found in most serious newspapers (the Age, the Australian, SMH etc. The Australian is probably the best bet for budding amateurs). The combination of planisphere and rise/set times is the best value for beginners though, if you are not too worried about identifying star clusters in your binoculars.

Touring the Universe through Binoculars Atlas is now freeware http://www.philharrington.net/tuba.htm it can print observing charts, but has a few annoying quirks. These include having no horizon line, and moving about is a bit irritating.

I use a combination of a 1962 star chart, the Australian Astronomy 2020 almanac and SkyMap Pro 11.0 . I highly recommend the Australian Astronomy 2020 almanac. It is more helpful for planetary/comet/asteroidal observations and eclipses than for double stars, clusters galaxies etc, but is an excellent resource for Australian observers and anyone who would like to seriously follow the planets in Australia should have this almanac. It has easy to follow month-by-month summary information, as well as detailed charts, tables and whole sky maps. It is easily navigated. The Almanac is often in big bookstores or optical shops, or email info@quasarastronomy.com.au to purchase a copy directly for those outside major population centres. The Australian Astronomy almanac comes out in around November for the following year, and is now approx $30.

Sky and Telescope now also do an Australian version of their magazine.

For detailed chart drawing and timing of events, as well as satellite track predictions I feed the information from the almanac into the $150 AUD SkyMap Pro 11.0 , planetarium program. This is a very handy program which prints maps of every possible orientation and scale. The maps on this page are produced by SkyMap. An update to SkyMap 12.0 which handles Windows 10 is now available.

A shareware version of SkyMap that runs on windows 3.x, and win95 can be found here http://www.winsite.com/info/pc/win3/desktop/skymp21a.zip this is approximately 640 Kb zipped.

A shareware version of the win95 only version 5.0 is here http://www.download.net.au/cgi-bin/dl?13607

Other highly recommended Sky charting packages (win95/98/2000/XP/Win7-10 sorry) are:
Cartes du Ciel at https://www.ap-i.net/skychart//en/start (FREE) a bit messy to install but very good.
Stellarium at
http://stellarium.sourceforge.net/ (FREE) stunning photorealistic program, but requires a grunty PC.
Celestron Sky Portal https://www.celestron.com/pages/skyportal-mobile-app is a good free mobile phone/tablet app
Sky Safari https://skysafariastronomy.com/ is another nice mobile astronomy app, but the Apple app store want to sell me Skysafari 6 rather than the freeware Sky Safari 5 (currently available on Google play).
TheSkyVarious packages from $49 US to $249 US
Stary Night various versions from $50 US for the basic pack (10 day trial of the basic pack at http://www.siennasoft.com/english/downloads.shtml) up to eye watering $250 USD versions.
Earth Centered Universe $88 AUD (shareware version at http://www.nova-astro.com/)
On the other hand a standard Sky Atlas for serious observing (much handier than carting a computer with you) such as Norton's Star Atlas can range from $35 to $90.

In these days of hand-held devices (smart phones and tablets), there is a plethora of sky charting apps you can take into the field with you. I use GoogleSky for android and a cut down version of Stellarium for iPad, my most used hand-held app is Heavens Above for Android, for watching Iridium flares and ISS passes. This is one app that has changed my astronomical life. There are many more, many free or less than 1 AUD to download. Celestron has a great free planetarium app (although big at 154 Mb) for Android, iPhone and iPad, SkyPortal (see links above).

This is not meant to be a product endorsement of any kind (outside of the Australian Astronomy 2020 almanac. For any budding astronomers out there, it is fantastic value and no, I don't have any commercial interest in it, but I did win bronze in their website Olympics).

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Link to the Lab's 'In Space' gateway Link to the Lab's home page
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This page is provided by Ian Musgrave and is © copyright 2020 Ian Musgrave, except the "Southern Sky Watch" logo, as well as any other ABC logo used on this page, is © copyright of the ABC. Sky maps are generated with SkyMap Pro 11.0 .

This page can be used freely for any non-commercial purpose but please attribute it correctly. However, see the disclaimer.

* Email: reynella@internode.on.net e-mail Ian with any suggestions
Created: Wednesday, 1 April 1998, 11:22:13 PM
Last Updated: Monday, 1 June 2020, 11:30:13 PM


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