I love summer, but the best month of the year has got to be July. Especially for night sky events this year, 2021. So mark your calendars for these events… you won’t want to miss a single one of them!
The morning of July 4th offers the best view of the planet Mercury. Look for this planet low in the eastern sky just before the sun rises. At its peak, Mercury will only be 17 degrees above the horizon, so choose your viewing area wisely looking across an unobstructed horizon.
July 7th offers a chance to spot Comet 15P/Finlay. Being controlled by Jupiter’s gravitational pull, this comet orbits the sun once every 6.52 years. For a real-time 15P/Finlay finder, click here.
The New Moon is on July 10th offering stargazers the most opportune time to view faint galaxies, star clusters, and more! Depending on your location, look for July constellations in the northern hemisphere to include Draco, Hercules, Corona Borealis and Serpens. Southern hemisphere sky watchers will see Ophiuchus, Scorpius, Norma, Ara, Circinus, Trangulum, Australe and Apus.
The constellation Draco in the northern hemisphere will offer stargazers a peek at Abell 2218 – a cluster of galaxies, as well as the Spindle and Tadpole Galaxies, and the cool, Cat’s Eye Nebula:
The Spindle Galaxy will be bright and spiral shaped with an extended dust disk.
The Tadpole Galaxy is also spiral shaped with a tail of stars making it appear like a tadpole.
Galaxies viewable within the Hercules constellation include NGC 3210 – a planetary nebula; Hercules A – an active galaxy known for enormous plasma jets; Abell 2151 – the Hercules galaxy cluster that includes NGC 6041 – a giant elliptical galaxy also seen as the brightest galaxy of the bunch; the galaxy cluster Abell 2199 – containing another massive, elliptical galaxy NGC 6166 considered the most luminous of galaxies with a prominent, star halo.
Within the constellations Ophiuchus and Serpens, look for Kepler’s Supernova SN 1604 - an exploded star. Serpens is also home to the Eagle Nebula that contains the majestic Pillars of Creation – a gaseous star forming region that you may be familiar with from the Hubble telescope images.
For a complete list of deep-sky objects to view in July 2021 that includes the southern hemisphere, visit https://www.constellation-guide.com/constellations-by-month/july-constellations/
Spot both Venus and Mars within a 3-degree circle including the crescent Moon. Look for the trio at dusk, 29-degrees from the setting sun.
Comet 15P/ Finlay will be spotted, zooming across the constellation Taurus.
Enjoy the Full “Buck” Moon on July 24th, named so for the time of year that male deer, also known as ‘Bucks,’ start growing their antlers back. Also referenced as the Thunder Moon and the Hay Moon, July’s Buck Moon will be in full moon phase at 10:36pm EST.
July 28th and 29th
The Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower peaks on the night of July 28th and morning of the 29th offering viewers a rate of 20 meteors per hour to spy in the night sky. This meteor shower is produced by leftover debris from comets Marsden and Kracht. Occurring annually between July 8th and August 23rd, meteors will radiate from the constellation Aquarius.
Although meteors will be visible in all areas of the sky, you can find a starting point from the northern hemisphere by drawing a straight line down from the west side of The Great Square of Pegasus to the star, Skat, which lies just above a very bright star called Fomalhaut.
As you can see, the events are spaced out nicely so you can easily fit one… or ALL of them into your schedule. Now let’s hope the weather stays clear and the bugs are caged for your night viewing pleasure.
Which sky event will you be hoping to see?
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Constellation Guide, Draco Constellation, https://www.constellation-guide.com/constellation-list/draco-constellation/
Constellation Guide, July Constellations, https://www.constellation-guide.com/constellations-by-month/july-constellations/
Constellation Guide, Ophiuchus Constellation, https://www.constellation-guide.com/constellation-list/ophiuchus-constellation/
Constellation Guide, Serpens Constellation, https://www.constellation-guide.com/constellation-list/serpens-constellation/
Earthsky, September 18, 2019, How To See The Great Square Of Pegasus, https://earthsky.org/favorite-star-patterns/great-square-of-pegasus-wings-in-sept-equinox/
Farmer’s Almanac, June 24, 2021, Full Moon In July 2021: Look Out For The Full Buck Moon!, https://www.almanac.com/content/full-moon-july
Garner, Rob, October 22, 2019, Messier 102 (The Spindle Galaxy), https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2017/messier-102-the-spindle-galaxy
Jenner, Lynn, November 29, 2012, A Multi-Wavelength View of Radio Galaxy Hercules A, https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/science/hercules-a.html
mDawod.com, 2021 Full Moon Calendar, https://phasesmoon.com/fullmooncalendar2021.html
Mohon, Lee, July 12, 2018, ‘X’-ploring the Eagle Nebula and ‘Pillars of Creation’, https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/chandra/images/x-ploring-the-eagle-nebula-and-pillars-of-creation.html
NASA Content Administrator, August 7, 2017, The Cat’s Eye Nebula, https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_211.html
Nemiroff, Robert & Bonnell, Jerry, June 21, 2021, The Tadpole Galaxy from Hubble, https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap210621.html
Redd, Nola Taylor, May 9, 2016, Planetary Nebula: Gas and Dust, and No Planets Involved, https://www.space.com/17715-planetary-nebula.html
The Sky, 2021, Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events for Calendar Year 2021, http://www.seasky.org/astronomy/astronomy-calendar-2021.html
Time and Date, 2021, Moon Phases 2021 – Lunar Calendar for Detroit, Michigan, USA, https://www.timeanddate.com/moon/phases/usa/detroit
Universe Guide, Skat (Delta Aquarii, 76 Aquarii) Star Facts, https://www.universeguide.com/star/113136/skat
Universe Today, 2020, Astronomy 2021: Top Events for the Coming Year, https://www.universetoday.com/149259/astronomy-2021-top-events-for-the-coming-year/
Zimmerman, Kim Ann, November 11, 2017, Aquarius Constellation: Facts About The Water Bearer, https://www.space.com/21511-aquarius-constellation-facts-about-the-water-bearer.html