The Night Sky This Month: July 2022

Meteor activity

Sky watchers can look forward to observing a Super Moon in July, as well as the annual Delta Aquarids meteor shower, noted for their persistent ionized gas trails.

This month, planetary viewing remains difficult for observers at mid-northern latitudes, though, and will remain so for much of the remainder of 2022. Nonetheless, for observers between latitude 250N and about latitude 450N, most of the planets will be visible, albeit not always high in the sky. Details of what to expect are given below.

The Moon Phases in July 2022

First Quarter
Full Moon
Last Quarter
New Moon
July 6th July 13th July 20th July 28th

The Full Moon of the 13th will be a Super Moon, and it will occur at 18:38 UTC. This is also the second of three Super Moons in 2022.

The Planets in July 2022

The planet Mercury is now well past its point of greatest western elongation from the Sun and is now just barely visible as an early morning object at the beginning of July. As seen from the environs of Miami, the planate rises at 05:16 (EDT), which is 74 minutes before sunrise. Given good seeing conditions, the little planet will be visible about 10 degrees above the eastern horizon until it becomes lost in the glare of the Sun at 06:11(EDT). By the last week of July, Mercury reaches its highest elevation during daylight hours, and will therefore not be visible.

The planet Venus is like Mercury, now well past its point of greatest western elongation from the Sun, and is now visible as an early morning object at the beginning of July. As viewed from Miami, Venus will rise at about 04:28 (EDT), which is about two hours before sunrise. Provided seeing conditions allow, the planet will be visible at an elevation of about 21 degrees above the eastern horizon. The planet will rise progressively earlier as the month progresses, and its elevation will reduce to about 17 degrees during the last days of July.

The planet Mars is now emerging from behind the Sun, and as seen from Miami at the beginning of July, the Red Planet will rise at about 02:07 (EDT), and reach an elevation of 50 degrees above the eastern horizon before becoming lost in the glare of the Sun at about 05:59 (EDT). As July progresses, Mars will reach an elevation of 66 degrees above the eastern horizon before becoming lost in the Sun’s glare at sunrise, which occurs at 06:17 (EDT) at the end of July.

The planet Jupiter is also emerging from behind the Sun, and as observed from Miami, the planet will rise at 01:09 (EDT) and reach an elevation of 61 degrees above the southeastern horizon before becoming lost in the Sun’s glare at dawn, which occurs at about 06:14 (EDT) at the beginning of the month. Jupiter will rise progressively earlier as the month progresses. However, the planet will rise from only 7 degrees above the horizon from the middle of the month, but by month’s end, the planet will rise to an elevation of 66 degrees above the southern horizon, which will decrease slightly to about 60 degrees above the southwestern horizon when dawn occurs at 06:28 (EDT).

The planet Saturn is also a morning object as seen from Miami, becoming visible about 10 degrees above the eastern horizon at around 23:55 (EDT). However, it will reach an elevation of 49 degrees above the southern horizon at around 04:35 (EDT), before becoming lost in the Sun’s glare at dawn, which occurs at 05:59 (EDT) at the start of July.

Note that Saturn is now approaching a point of opposition, and during the latter part of July, the planet will rise from about 21:47 (EDT) and rise to about 10 degrees above the eastern horizon, before rising to 49 degrees above the southwestern horizon, reducing to about 20 degrees when dawn occurs at about 06:16 (EDT).

Meteor Showers in July 2022

The Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower is expected to occur during the night of July 28th/29th this year, with the best part of the peak occurring during the early morning hours of the 29th. This annual meteor shower is not particularly productive, though, and observers in dark sites can expect to see a maximum of around 20 meteors per hour during the peak hours.

This year, the peak of this shower occurs during the New Moon, meaning that there will be no moonlight to extinguish dim meteors. While the shower’s radiant is in the constellation Aquarius, meteors can appear from any point in the sky.

Deep Sky Objects to Look for in July 2022

Planetary viewing remains poor for observers north of mid-northern latitudes, but there are many deep-sky objects, such as globular clusters that are visible even from far northern latitudes to compensate. Below are some details of three such objects, all of which are visible with binoculars or small telescopes-

Messier 10 (M10, NGC 6254)

Located about 14,300 light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus, this magnitude 6.6 globular cluster becomes visible at about 21:18 (EDT), about 44 degrees above the southeastern horizon, rising to around 60 degrees at about 23:41 (EDT) above the southern horizon. The cluster remains visible until about 03:53 (EDT) before sinking below 20 degrees above the western horizon. When viewed through medium-sized telescopes, the cluster has an apparent diameter of 9 minutes of arc, which is slightly smaller than about two-thirds of the Moon’s diameter.

While there is some uncertainty about the number of stars in the cluster, the cluster and its peripheral stars stretch across about 83 light-years. The cluster also contains many binary stars, and recent studies suggest that this number could be as high as 14% of the total number of stars in the cluster. As a result of the high number of binary stars, the cluster also contains a high number of blue stragglers, which formed about 2 to 5 million years ago during interactions between binary systems.

Look for this bright cluster about one degree to the westward of the bright orange star 30 Ophiuchi, near the geometric centre of the constellation.

Messier 55 (M55, NGC 6809)

Located about 17,600 light-years away in the constellation Sagittarius, this magnitude 6.3 cluster becomes visible at about 23:50 (EDT) at an elevation of 21 degrees above the southeastern horizon, and rises to an elevation of 33 degrees above the southern horizon at about 02:27 (EDT). The cluster becomes inaccessible at about 05:04 (ED), as it sinks to below 20 degrees above the southwestern horizon.

While most other Milky Way globular clusters are tightly packed balls of stars, M55 appears much less so, which makes it easier to resolve individual stars in the cluster with large binoculars or small telescopes. Also, unlike most other clusters that contain large numbers of variable stars, only about 50 or so variable stars have been identified in the cluster, most of which are concentrated in the central part of the cluster.

Messier 22 (M22, NGC 6656)

Located only about 10,600 light-years away in the constellation Sagittarius, this magnitude 5.2 cluster is among the nearest globular clusters. The cluster becomes visible at about 22:02 (EDT) in the southeast, to rise to an elevation of about 40 degrees above the southern horizon at around 01:24 (EDT).

From a scientific perspective, M22 has two claims to fame. The first is that it is one of the very few globular clusters that are known to contain a planetary nebula, and the second is that its position relative to the Milky Way’s central bulge makes it useful as a powerful gravitational lens. This fortunate circumstance makes it possible to observe large parts of the galaxy’s bulge area that would otherwise not be accessible.

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