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Night Sky in July

Updated: Jul 25, 2020

Several worthwhile events coming up for star gazers this month. Make a note in your diary and prepare to stay up late!

Jupiter and Saturn reach peak brightness: July 14 and July 20.

The solar system's two largest planets will have a literal glow up as Jupiter and Saturn reach their peak brightness for the year. This happens as the planets reach their opposition, or "the point in their orbits when they are closest to the Earth." This means we'll have the opportunity to see these planets closer than ever.

Jupiter will reach its opposition on July 14, whilst Saturn will hit its opposition on July 20. If you don't have a telescope to observe this phenomenon, you will still be able to spot the planets up above as they'll shine much brighter than the stars.

Double Meteor Shower: July 28 to 29

This year, the Southern Delta Aquariid shower will be active from July 12 to August 23, writes the American Meteor Society. Also beginning in July, is the alpha Capricornids shower, which will be active from July 3 to August 15.

Both showers are expected to hit their peaks on the night of July 28 and 29, creating simultaneous double showers! While the Delta Aquariids are best seen in the Southern hemisphere, there is visibility at a lesser rate in the northern hemisphere. Regardless, the alpha Capricornids shower can be seen equally from either side of the equator. "What is notable about this shower is the number of bright fireballs produced during its activity period," AMS writes about the alpha Capricornids shower.

As these two showers collide, stargazers can expect up to 20 meteors per hour. The best time to watch the show is after midnight and into the pre-dawn hours as less moonlight makes the fainter meteors easier to spot.

Comet: Now until end of July

Comet Neowise will be visible in the sky above Britain this month and you don't need a telescope to see it, but binoculars would be a good idea if you want a better view of the comet's tail. To view the comet in the UK you'll need to stay up late as it is best viewed at about 02.30 BST in the north-east sky anywhere in the country.

During its closest approach to Earth the comet will be about 64 million miles away - or about 400 times further away than the Moon. NASA said: 'The interplanetary iceberg survived solar heating, so far, and is now becoming closer to Earth as it starts its long trek back to the outer solar system.'

As it gets closer to Earth over the next few weeks it will hopefully become more visible, with its tail appearing longer and brighter and making it easier to spot. 

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