July stargazing: Look for the Seven Sisters, a comet, then comes the Buck Moon

In July, the moon will be the primary celestial body to capture the attention of skywatchers. Throughout the month, various planets and astronomical features will align with the moon, providing several noteworthy skywatching events.

On July 2, stargazers should look for the Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters, star cluster near the dark side of the moon a few hours before sunrise. The following day, on July 3, the moon will rise alongside Jupiter. On Independence Day, this duo will reappear, with the moon being slimmer and lower in the sky.

On July 5, the moon enters its new moon phase, meaning that the “dark side” of the moon is facing Earth. This phase is ideal for stargazing, as there is no moonlight to interfere with viewing faint objects.

During the evenings of July 6 and 7, the moon will set near Mercury and Venus, the two closest planets to the sun, shortly after sunset.

Fast forward to July 15, and stargazers will have a unique opportunity to spot Uranus in the night sky. Mars and Uranus will be close together, with a distance of about a full moon between them. In the morning before sunrise, look for the reddish glow of Mars, and then Uranus close by. Binoculars or a telescope will help see the color of Uranus, which gives off a blue and green hue.

On July 20, Comet 13P/Olbers will be at its closest point to Earth. Look northwest about two hours after sunset to spot the comet.

On the 21st, July’s full moon, called the Buck Moon, will rise shortly after sunset, illuminating the sky all night.

During the mornings of the 24th and 25th, the moon will be close to Saturn, offering stargazers an easy opportunity to spot the ringed planet. Binoculars or a telescope are needed to see the rings, however.

Closing out the month, during the mornings of July 30 and 31, the moon will rise alongside Mars and Jupiter. The Pleiades star cluster will once again be close by as well.

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