Meteor showers and a star showstopper visible in NYC this month

July evenings offer a captivating celestial spectacle for stargazers. The highlight of the night sky is the Summer Triangle, a formation of three bright stars from three different constellations: Altair from Aquila, Deneb from Cygnus, and Vega from Lyra. Alongside the Summer Triangle, various planets, star clusters, and two meteor showers can be observed with the naked eye.

Scorpius, a summer constellation shaped like a scorpion, is also visible, with its heart containing the orange-red supergiant star Antares. Another bright star, Spica, can be found in the constellation of Virgo. On July 13 around 11:25 p.m., the moon will edge closer to Spica, causing the star to disappear behind its lunar neighbor, only to reappear as the moon passes.

The star cluster Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters, contains over a thousand stars bound by gravity. This cluster is also known as Subaru, the logo of the car company.

Three planets – Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter – are visible without the aid of a telescope or binoculars. They are bright and do not twinkle, making them easy to spot amidst the stars. Saturn will be visible earlier in the month, rising just before midnight, while Mars and Jupiter will join Saturn in the sky after 1 a.m.

Two meteor showers, the Southern Delta Aquariids and the Perseids, will occur this month. The Southern Delta Aquariids begin on July 18 and extend to Aug. 21, with the shower peaking on July 29-30, displaying 20 meteors per hour at a speed of 25 miles per second. The Perseids, which begin on July 14 and end on Sept. 1, peak on Aug. 11-12, with up to 100 meteors per hour streaking through the sky at a speed of 37 miles per second.

The Milky Way is another dazzling sight to see in July, particularly toward the end of the month. It can be located near the constellations Scorpius and Sagittarius. Although it may be difficult to see from the city, those vacationing under darker skies will be treated to a breathtaking view of the Milky Way’s cloud-like appearance.

For a closer look at these celestial sights, binoculars and telescopes can be helpful, but they are not necessary. The Amateur Astronomers Association hosts free public viewings throughout the city, several times per week.

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