Eyes on the Night Sky – July 2021
Welcome to our Eyes on the Night Sky article for July. This month, we will select the best objects to see with the unaided eyes, binoculars and telescopes. For those who like to look at faint deep sky objects, true night returns on 26th July for 45 minutes and longer intervals each night thereafter but the Milky Way will still put on an impressive show well after the Sun has set. Watch it emerge into a southern sky in a rural area as darkness falls, although you will have to wait until midnight.
There is still time to see Noctilucent Clouds as the season continues until the end of the month.
On 4th July, Mercury is at Greatest Western Elongation, which means it’s a great time to spot this sunward planet as it will appear at the highest point in the morning sky. Before the sun rises, look at the lowest point of the North-eastern horizon and you should be able to spot it with binoculars. You could also try to see if you can spot it with the unaided eye.
The Moon, Mars and Mercury
After sunset on 11th and 12th July, Venus, Mars and a slim crescent Moon will emerge into the dusk, low on the horizon, which will provide a pleasing sight to the unaided eyes. As the night darkens, look for earthlight on the Moon.
The Full Moon occurs on 24th July and the New Moon on 10th July.
Here’s a challenge for those who have telescopes. Messier 16 is situated at the bottom right hand corner of the constellation of Scutum and just above the constellation of Sagittarius. Also known as the Eagle Nebula and the Star Queen Nebula, it is a diffuse emission nebula situated around 7,000 light years away from Earth. The best time to see this amazing object is around midnight, where it will be well placed for observing.
Use your small telescope to find an open cluster of around 20 stars – you can also use your binoculars and observe how many stars you can see. With telescopes of 6 inches of aperture and above, you may be able to see nebulaic detail that comprises the Eagle Nebula.
The best time to see this amazing object is around midnight, where it will be well placed for observing. With larger telescopes of 12 inches of aperture and above, you may be able to spot the Pillars of Creation, wonderfully captured by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995. Bear in mind this may only be seen in dark skies with exceptionally good seeing and transparency (where the stars are hardly twinkling and low in light pollution dusk smoke or haze). The Pillars of Creation is an area where new stars are formed.