Southern Sky Watch

July Skies

The planetary action is mostly in the morning sky with five bright planets, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and Mercury in the morning sky at the beginning of the month, then four for the rest of the month. Saturn also appears in the evening sky, followed by Jupiter and Mercury later in the month. Earth is aphelion, and the Southern Delta Aquarids meteor shower.

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

July 1; Venus forms a second eye for Taurus the Bull. July 7; First Quarter Moon. July 13; perigee Moon. July 14; Full Moon (best Perigee Moon this year). July 16, Mars near the variable star Mira, which should be at maximum. July 15 (morning 16); Saturn and waning Moon close. July 19; the waning Moon near Jupiter. July 21; Last Quarter Moon. July 22; Mars close to crescent moon. July 26; the thin crescent Moon is beside Venus. July 26; apogee Moon. July 29; New Moon. July 29-30, Southern Delta Aquariids meteor shower. July 30; Mercury close to thin crescent Moon in evening twilight. July 31; Mars and Uranus 2 degrees apart (in same binocular field).


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 01/04/22: The new solar cycle (25) is starting to heat up, with some M and X class flares and some nice auroral displays in Tasmania and Southern Australia. This bodes well for the rest of the soar cycle. During solar minimum, we were 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.

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

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 (and solar cycle 25 should peak around 2024-2025), 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 heading towards solar maximum (except for the occasional humdinger, like the September 2005 auroral event), it is doing double duty. I am running the list via MailChimp, and no personal data is harvested or passed on to third parties. Astroblog will have images when possible of these events soon after.

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Coming events

Special events are bolded

Date Event
January
1 January 2022 Occultation of Mars
4 January 2022 Earth at Perihelion
4 January 2022 Crescent Moon, Mercury, and Saturn close low in the evening twilight
6 January 2022 Jupiter and Crescent Moon close
30 January 2022 Crescent Moon forms a triangle with Mars and Venus 
February
2 February 2022 Mars close to M28
3 February 2022 Jupiter close to the thin crescent Moon low in the twilight
6 February 2022Mars near globular cluster M22
13 February 2022 Mercury, Mars and Venus form a triangle in the morning sky.
27-28 February 2022 Crescent Moon, Mars and Venus form a triangle in the morning sky.
March
1 March 2022 Mercury, Saturn and thin crescent Moon form a triangle in the morning twilight
3 March 2022 Mercury very close (0.6 degrees) from Saturn in morning twilight
21 March 2022Earth at Equinox, Five bright planets visible in the morning twilight, Jupiter and Mercury close in the morning twilight.
28 March 2022Crescent Moon, Saturn, Venus and Mars from a close massing in the morning twilight with the Moon above
29 March 2022 Crescent Moon, Saturn, Venus and Mars from a close massing in the morning twilight with the Moon below
31 March 2022Thin crescent Moon close to Jupiter low in the morning twilight
April
All April 2022 Four bright planets in the morning sky Moon in the morning sky
5 April 2022 Saturn and Mars very close (0.3 degrees apart) in the morning sky
13 April 2022 Jupiter close to Neptune in the morning sky
26 April 2022 Mars close to the crescent Moon in the morning sky
27-28 April 2022 Crescent Moon close to Venus and Jupiter in the morning sky
28 April 2022 Venus and Neptune in close conjunction (< 30 arc minutes) in the morning sky
May
1  May 2022 Venus and Jupiter very close in the morning sky (0.2 degrees apart)
6-7 May 2022 Eta Aquariid meteor shower
22 May 2022
Waning Moon above Saturn
25 May 2022Mars, Jupiter and waning Moon form a triangle in morning sky
27 May 2022 Crescent Moon above Venus
30 May 2022 Mars and Jupiter very close in the morning sky (0.6 degrees apart)
June
1 June 2022 Mars and Jupiter very close in the morning sky (1.0 degrees apart)
18 June 2022 Saturn near waning Moon low in the late evening sky
14 June 2022 Perigee Full Moon ("super Moon")
21 June 2022 Earth at solstice
22 June 2022 Mercury in head of Hyades near Aldebaran in morning sky, waning Moon near Jupiter
26 June 2022 Crescent  Moon between Venus and Pleiades in the morning sky
27 June 2022 Crescent  Moon near Mercury in the morning sky
July
1 July 2022 Venus close to Aldebaran in the morning, forming a second eye for Taurus the Bull
4 July 2022 Earth at aphelion
14 July 2022Syzygy Perigee full moon ("super Moon") closest of year
15 July 2022
Moon close to Saturn
19 July
Moon close to Jupiter
22 July 2022 Waning crescent Moon close to Mars (within binocular field)
26 July 2022 Venus near crescent Moon in the morning twilight
29-30 July 2022 Southern Delta Aquarids meteor shower
30 July 2022 Mercury close to crescent moon in western evening twilight
31 July
Mars and Uranus 2 degrees apart (in same binocular field)
August
1-3 August 2022 Mars and Uranus less than  2 degrees apart (in same binocular filed)
4 August 2022 Mercury very close to Regulus (0.7 degrees) in the evening twilight
12 August 2022 Saturn close to Full Moon (perigee "super" Moon)
15 August 2022 Saturn at opposition
15 August 2022 Jupiter close to Waning Moon (1 degree)
20 August 2022 Mars near Moon in Morning
22 August 2022 Jupiter near Moon
29 August 2022 Mercury near thin crescent Moon in evening sky, Mars between Pleiades and Hyades in the morning sky
September
3 September 2022 Mars forms second "eye" in Taurus the Bull with Aldebaran in morning sky
8 September 2022 Waxing moon close to Saturn in evening sky
11 September 2022 Waning Moon close to Jupiter in evening sky
23 September 2022 Earth at Equinox
27 September 2022 Jupiter at Opposition
October
5 October 2022 Saturn and waxing Moon close in evening sky
8 October 2022 Jupiter and waxing Moon close in evening sky
14 October 2022 Mars and the waxing Moon close in evening sky
21-22 October 2022 Orionid meteor shower
November
2 November 2022 Waxing Moon near Saturn in evening sky
4-5 November 2022Waxing Moon near Jupiter in evening sky
8 November 2022 Total Lunar Eclipse
11 November 2022 Waxing Moon near Mars in evening sky
18 November 2022Leonid Meteor Shower
December
2 December 2022 Jupiter and waxing Moon close
8 December 2022 Mars at opposition and close to Full Moon
14 December 2022
Geminid Meteor shower in the morning (waning Moon close this year)
22 December 2022 Earth is at Solstice
24 December 2022 Venus and Mercury and thin crescent Moon are close in evening twilight.
26 December
Saturn near crescent Moon
28-30 December 2022 Venus and Mercury at their closest in evening twilight.
29 December 2022 Jupiter close (1 degree) from the waning Moon in evening

Out in Space

Mars Curiosity Rover takes an inventory of key life ingredients on Mars.

Mars Express sees Mars sleeping with one eye open.

The NASA wants help with Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter images to spot clouds.

The newest rover, Perseverance studies the Wild Winds of Jezero Crater.

The Juno mission sees X-rays in Jupiter's aurora.

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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.

C| First quarter on the 8th
O Full Moon on the 14th
D Last quarter on the 21st
O New Moon is on the 29th

July 7; First Quarter Moon. July 13; perigee Moon. July 14; Full Moon (best Perigee Moon this year). July 15 (morning 16); Saturn and waning Moon close. July 19; the waning Moon near Jupiter. July 21; Last Quarter Moon. July 22; Mars close to crescent moon. July 26; the thin crescent Moon is beside Venus. July 26; apogee Moon. July 29; New Moon. July 30; Mercury close to thin crescent Moon in evening twilight.

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.
morning sky on Friday, July 1 as seen from Adelaide at 6:15 am ACST

Morning sky on Friday, July 1 as seen from Adelaide at 6:25 am ACST (60 minutes before sunrise). Venus forms a second eye for Taurus the Bull. Saturn, Jupiter, Mars Venus, and Mercury form a line. Similar views will be seen from the rest of Australia at the equivalent local time (60 minutes before sunrise, click to embiggen).

Morning sky on Friday July 22 as seen from Adelaide at 5:49 am ACST

Morning sky on Friday July 22 as seen from Adelaide at 5:49 am ACST (90 minutes before sunrise). Mars is close to the crescent moon. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes before sunrise), click to embiggen.

Morning sky on Tuesday July 26 as seen from Adelaide at 6:17 am ACST

Morning sky on Tuesday July 26 as seen from Adelaide at 6:17 am ACST (60 minutes before sunrise). Venus and the thin crescent Moon are close. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (60 minutes before sunrise), click to embiggen.

Mercury is rapidly sinking towards the morning horizon and is really only visible for the first week. It returns to the evening sky later in the month. It is low in the twilight half an hour after sunset in the last week of the month. On July 30 the thin crescent Moon and Mercury are close in the twilight.

On the 1st Mercury is just over three finger-widths from from the eastern horizon an hour before sunrise. By the 30th Mercury is just over a hand-span from from the western horizon half an hour after sunset.

Venus starts the Month close to Aldebaran, forming a second eye for Taurus the Bull. Venus continues to sink towards the horizon but is readily visible from nautical twilight until dawn.

On the 26th Venus and the thin crescent Moon are close.

On the 1st Venus is just over a hand-span from the eastern horizon 90 minutes before sunrise. By the 15th Venus is just over a hand-spans the eastern horizon 60 minutes before sunrise. On the 30th Venus is just under a hand-span from the eastern horizon 60 minutes before sunrise.

Earth is at aphelion on Monday the 4th, when it is furthest from the sun.

Mars is becoming brighter as it nears opposition, it is in an area devoid of bright stars so is readily identifiable. On July 22, Mars is 3° from the crescent Moon. The pair easily seen together in binoculars. On the 31st Mars and Uranus are 3° apart, easily visible together in binoculars (closest on 1 August).

On the 1st Mars is just under seven hand-spans from the north-eastern horizon an hour and a half before sunrise, forming a line with Saturn, Venus, Jupiter and Mercury. By the 15th Mars is still just under seven hand-spans from the north-eastern horizon an hour and a half before sunrise. On the 30th Mars is again just under seven hand-spans from the north-eastern horizon an hour and a half before sunrise, forming a line with Saturn, Venus and Jupiter.

Jupiter Jupiter climbs higher in the morning sky and is an excellent telescopic object if you can get up that early. On the 18th Jupiter is close to the waning Moon.

Jupiter is rising about midnight on the 1st, and by the end of the month is rising about 10 pm local time, it is still best telescopically in the morning.

On the 1st Jupiter is just under nine hand-spans from the northern horizon an hour and a half before sunrise. On the 15th Jupiter is just under nine hand-spans from the north-western horizon an hour and a half before sunrise. By the 30th it is just under eight hand-spans from the north-western horizon an hour and a half before sunrise.

In either binoculars or a telescope Jupiter's Moons are always interesting.



Times are ACST, add 30 minutes for AEST and 2.5 hours for AWST. adjust for daylight savings as necessary.
Moons, Sat I= Io, II = Europa, III = Ganymede, IV = Callisto

Jupiter Events from 01 July 2022 to 31 July 2022

Date   Time (LMT)  Sat Event 
1, Jul, 02:26:00 AM, III,Eclipse reappearance
1, Jul, 05:07:00 AM, III,Occultation disappearance
2, Jul, 01:16:00 AM, II,Shadow transit end
2, Jul, 01:30:00 AM, II,Transit start
2, Jul, 04:00:00 AM, II,Transit end
2, Jul, 05:35:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
3, Jul, 01:27:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
4, Jul, 04:20:00 AM, I,Eclipse disappearance
5, Jul, 01:28:00 AM, I,Shadow transit start
5, Jul, 02:52:00 AM, I,Transit start
5, Jul, 03:05:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
5, Jul, 03:43:00 AM, I,Shadow transit end
5, Jul, 05:05:00 AM, I,Transit end
6, Jul, 02:26:00 AM, I,Occultation reappearance
7, Jul, 04:43:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
7, Jul, 06:04:00 AM, II,Eclipse disappearance
8, Jul, 12:35:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
8, Jul, 03:20:00 AM, III,Eclipse disappearance
8, Jul, 06:25:00 AM, III,Eclipse reappearance
9, Jul, 01:14:00 AM, II,Shadow transit start
9, Jul, 03:52:00 AM, II,Shadow transit end
9, Jul, 04:04:00 AM, II,Transit start
9, Jul, 06:22:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
9, Jul, 06:33:00 AM, II,Transit end
10, Jul, 02:13:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
11, Jul, 12:41:00 AM, II,Occultation reappearance
11, Jul, 06:15:00 AM, I,Eclipse disappearance
12, Jul, 01:49:00 AM, III,Transit end
12, Jul, 03:22:00 AM, I,Shadow transit start
12, Jul, 03:51:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
12, Jul, 04:45:00 AM, I,Transit start
12, Jul, 05:37:00 AM, I,Shadow transit end
13, Jul, 12:43:00 AM, I,Eclipse disappearance
13, Jul, 04:18:00 AM, I,Occultation reappearance
14, Jul, 12:05:00 AM, I,Shadow transit end
14, Jul, 01:26:00 AM, I,Transit end
14, Jul, 05:30:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
15, Jul, 01:21:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
16, Jul, 03:50:00 AM, II,Shadow transit start
16, Jul, 06:27:00 AM, II,Shadow transit end
16, Jul, 06:36:00 AM, II,Transit start
17, Jul, 02:13:00 AM, IV,Shadow transit start
17, Jul, 02:59:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
17, Jul, 03:33:00 AM, IV,Shadow transit end
18, Jul, 12:35:00 AM, II,Eclipse reappearance
18, Jul, 12:43:00 AM, II,Occultation disappearance
18, Jul, 03:12:00 AM, II,Occultation reappearance
19, Jul, 12:28:00 AM, III,Shadow transit end
19, Jul, 03:01:00 AM, III,Transit start
19, Jul, 04:38:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
19, Jul, 05:16:00 AM, I,Shadow transit start
19, Jul, 05:38:00 AM, III,Transit end
19, Jul, 06:37:00 AM, I,Transit start
20, Jul, 12:29:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
20, Jul, 02:37:00 AM, I,Eclipse disappearance
20, Jul, 06:10:00 AM, I,Occultation reappearance
21, Jul, 01:05:00 AM, I,Transit start
21, Jul, 01:59:00 AM, I,Shadow transit end
21, Jul, 03:17:00 AM, I,Transit end
21, Jul, 06:16:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
22, Jul, 12:37:00 AM, I,Occultation reappearance
22, Jul, 02:07:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
23, Jul, 06:26:00 AM, II,Shadow transit start
24, Jul, 03:45:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
25, Jul, 12:34:00 AM, II,Eclipse disappearance
25, Jul, 05:42:00 AM, II,Occultation reappearance
26, Jul, 01:25:00 AM, III,Shadow transit start
26, Jul, 04:27:00 AM, III,Shadow transit end
26, Jul, 05:24:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
27, Jul, 12:47:00 AM, II,Transit end
27, Jul, 01:15:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
27, Jul, 04:31:00 AM, I,Eclipse disappearance
28, Jul, 01:38:00 AM, I,Shadow transit start
28, Jul, 02:55:00 AM, I,Transit start
28, Jul, 03:53:00 AM, I,Shadow transit end
28, Jul, 05:07:00 AM, I,Transit end
29, Jul, 02:27:00 AM, I,Occultation reappearance
29, Jul, 02:53:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
29, Jul, 10:44:00 PM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
29, Jul, 11:09:00 PM, III,Occultation reappearance
29, Jul, 11:35:00 PM, I,Transit end
31, Jul, 04:31:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit

Saturn is climbing higher in the evening sky, but remains seen in the morning skies, Saturn will be sufficiently high in the sky to clear a cluttered horizon, but not high enough for good telescopic observation until around mid month. Saturn forms a shallow triangle with delta and gamma Capricorn, which is best from the 25th to 30th. Saturn is at opposition next month. Saturn is rising around 9 pm local time at the beginning of the month and will be rising around6 pm at the end of the month.

On the 15th (morning 16th)the waning Moon is close to Saturn (not spectacularly though).

On the 1st Saturn is just over nine hand-spans above the north-western horizon an hour and a half before sunrise. On the 15th Saturn is just over seven hand-spans above the western horizon an hour and a half before sunrise. On the 30th Saturn is just over six hand-spans above the eastern horizon around 10 pm 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:
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Meteor showers:

Date        	Meteor Shower       ZHR  Illumination 
30/07/2021  delta-Aquarids      25    New Moon     
29/07/2021  Piscis Australids    5    New Moon    
30/07/2021  Capricornids         5    New Moon  

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 30th. 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, higher up the trio of Saturn, delta and gamma Capricornii are obvious. 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 New Moon this year, so there will be no significant Moonlight interference. 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.

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Comets:

There are no unaided eye comets visible at the moment.

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:

mornning sky, 5:53 am

Cetus at astronomical twilight (90 minutes before sunrise) on July 16, Mira is indicated by the circle and is near Mars.

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. Mira should reach its maximum on July 16, but can only be seen in morning skies. Masr is a Good pointer to its location though.

Algol is another classic variable star, but is usually hard to see from the southern hemisphere. Algol is currently not visible (well, it's up but low on the north-eastern horizon around 5 am). There is only one eclipse visible this month.

Minima Algol
07/20/2022 @ 06:00 am (around Nautical Twilight)

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Stars:

evening sky, 10:00 pm

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

All descriptions here are based on the view from Melbourne at 10.00 pm AEST 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 8.00pm 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 May 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.

PNG 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] [ 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 (around $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 2022 almanac and SkyMap Pro 11.0 . I highly recommend the Australian Astronomy 2022 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 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, If anyone does still wish to buy a copy of SkyMap Pro 12, please email Chris Marriott at "skymap62@gmail.com".

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 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 2022 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 2022 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: Wednesday, 29 June, 2022, 11:30:13 PM


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