Night Sky Guide July 2014
Tonight’s Sky July 2014 Your guide to constellations, deep-sky objects, planets and events, Highlights of the July Sky
As the sky grows darker, Saturn and Mars begin to slip closer to the western horizon. Glimpse them through a telescope before they set.
Constellations and Deep-Sky Objects
The summer night sky is filled with a treasure chest of bright jewels.
Scorpius is a striking constellation, one of the few that distinctly resembles the object after which it was named.
The Scorpion is easy to trace in the sky. Its head, curved tail, and venomous stinger are prominent.
At the Scorpion’s heart lies a reddish star. Its color closely resembles that of Mars, known to the Greeks as Ares.
Ancient Greek stargazers, contemplating these two crimson objects, named the star Antares, which means “rival of Ares.”
A prominent and lovely globular cluster in small telescopes, M4 lies just to the right of Antares in Scorpius.
Globular clusters are collections of hundreds of thousands of closely packed and gravitationally bound stars.
The center of our galaxy lies in the direction of the great constellation Sagittarius, the Archer. This area of the sky overflows with stars, globular star clusters, and bright and dark nebulae.
Look for Sagittarius by finding the group of stars commonly known as the Teapot. The handle, top, and spout are easy to find. Under dark skies, the Milky Way seems to rise out of the Teapot’s spout.
Many deep-sky targets reside in this area of the summer night sky. A quick glance with binoculars reveals some spectacular objects.
The Lagoon Nebula’s gas and dust is brilliantly illuminated by the energy of the hot, young stars inside it.
In the three-lobed Trifid Nebula, dark dust lanes appear etched against the radiance of glowing gas.
The Omega Nebula glows brightly but we cannot see its hottest stars, embedded deep inside. Infrared telescopes, peering through the gas and dust, can detect them.
M22, one of the brightest globular clusters in the sky, is visible to the naked eye. It is a relatively nearby globular cluster, only about 10,000 light-years distant.
Before sunrise, Venus appears in the morning, rising grandly out of the eastern horizon.
Elusive Mercury joins Venus during the middle of the month, making a brief appearance just before the Sun rises.
The annual Delta Aquarid meteor shower peaks on the night of July 28th to 29th. Watch for meteors radiating from the southeast after midnight. Expect to see up to 20 small, yellowish meteors per hour.
The night sky is always a celestial showcase. Explore its wonders from your own backyard.
Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute, Office of Public Outreach
Starfield images created with Stellarium
Mythological constellation forms from Firmamentum Sobiescianum sive Uranographia by Johannes Hevelius, courtesy of the United States Naval Observatory
Mars image courtesy of Matt Wedel
Saturn image courtesy of John Endreson
M4 image based on image courtesy of AURA/NOAO/NSF
Lagoon, Trifid, and Omega Nebula images courtesy of the MicroObservatory Robotic Telescope Network
M22 image courtesy of Robert W. Provin and Brad D. Wallis
Venus and Mercury images courtesy of Mario Weigand
Narrated by Nancy Calo
Music written by Jonn Serrie
Lucy Albert, Greg Bacon, John Bintz, John Godfrey, and Vanessa Thomas