What's in the Sky Tonight?
The Visible Planets
Venus will shine brightly in the west at dusk. On July 15, it will lie directly above the thin crescent moon.
At sunset, Saturn and Jupiter will dominate the southern sky. With a pair of binoculars, you can see the four Galilean moons of Jupiter.
On July 27, Mars will reach opposition, which occurs about every two years. During opposition, Mars lies opposite the Sun in our sky, rising at sunset in the east.
July 13 - New Moon and Partial Solar Eclipse The eclipse will only be visible in southern Australia and Antarctica.
July 27 - Full Blood Moon and Total Lunar Eclipse This will he longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century. Totality will last 1 hour and 43 minutes, during which the Moon will turn a spectacular red or ruddy-brown color. The time from beginning to end (all phases of the eclipse) will be nearly 4 hours. The eclipse won't be visible to folks in North America, except via webcasts. But observers in Africa, the Middle East, southern Asia and the Indian Ocean region are in for a treat, provided the weather is cooperative.
July 27 - Mars at Opposition The orbit of the red planet will bring it the closest to Earth in a two-year period. Its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun, making it very bright and ideal for observing.
July 28/29 - Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower This is an average shower that can produce up to 20 meteors an hour at its peak. It runs annually from July 12 to August 23 and peaks this year on the night of July 28 and the morning of July 29. The nearly full moon will be a problem this year, blocking out all but the brightest meteors. But if you are patient, you might catch a few good ones. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors can appear anywhere in the sky.
A mini telescope you can take anywhere
Our Favorite Astronomical Binoculars
Celestron SkyMaster Giant 15x70 Binoculars with Tripod Adapter
If you love sky gazing, you have to have a pair of astronomy binoculars! Binoculars are a fantastic alternative to telescopes—inexpensive, lightweight, and portable. For city dwellers where there is a lot of light pollution, binoculars are essential if you want to see much of anything.
Binoculars enlarge and brighten the beauty and immensity of the night sky. You can see the detail of the moon's craters, the phases of Venus, the moons and stripes of Jupiter, the awesome jewels that dot the Milky Way, nebulae, star clusters, and comets when they're passing near.
Our favorite astonomy binoculars is the Celestron SkGiyMaster Giant 15x70 Binoculars. These are excellent as well:
ANOTHER GREAT ASTRONOMICAL TOOL:
A year-round, real-time sky map
A planisphere is a rotating star chart that allows you to dial in the entire visible sky for any day and time of the year and with great precision. It has been called an analog star computer and was considered magical in ancient times.
Planispheres show the brightest stars, constellations, notable galaxies and nebulae, as well as the path of the Milky Way. The plane of the ecliptic is also shown, which reveals the pathway of the planets as they appear to move across the night sky.