Four planets, Moon, and a comet parade across July’s morning sky.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Four bright planets – Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and Venus – stretch across the sky from the east-northeast horizon to the southwest skyline.
Overnight Earth passed between the sun and Jupiter. This is known as opposition. Saturn’s opposition is July 20. At opposition, planets are bright in the sky. They are opposite the sun in the sky. The rise in the east when the sun sets in the west, move across the sky all night, and set in the west at sunrise.
The moon appears between Venus and Mars in the eastern sky.
In a few mornings (July 17) the moon appears with Venus and Aldebaran. With the Pleiades in view, this will be a picturesque scene!
Mercury joins the planet parade beginning July 19, when the “Classic 9” planets are in the sky simultaneously with the moon, about 45 minutes before sunrise.
The moon is between Venus and Mars. The Venus – Mars gap is nearly 62°.
The Red Planet is marching eastward in front of the stars of Cetus. It is at opposition on October 13, 2020.
For observers with large-aperture telescopes, Uranus, Neptune, and Classic Planet Pluto are visible as well.
Comet NEOWISE is appearing in the morning and evening sky. This morning it is low in the northeast during early morning twilight.
Farther west, Jupiter and Saturn are retrograding in eastern Sagittarius. Later in the year, after the giant planet pair reverses course, Jupiter passes closely to Saturn in a Great Conjunction, the closest since 1623.
These Jupiter – Saturn groupings occur once every 19.6 years. This is the closest grouping since 1623, although the records are unclear whether it was observed. The pair was close to the sun when Jupiter passed.
In the photo above at least one of Jupiter’s largest moon’s is visible.
Here’s more about the planets during July.