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Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of July 2018

Posted by Guy Pirro   06/28/2018 12:39AM

Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of July 2018

This colorful image, taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, shows the mayhem at the heart of the Lagoon Nebula (M8, NGC 6523), a vast stellar nursery located 4000 light-years away. At the center of the photo, a monster young star 200,000 times brighter than our Sun, is unleashing blistering radiation and torrential stellar winds (streams of subatomic particles) that push dust away in curtain-like sheets, carving out a landscape of ridges, cavities, and mountains of gas and dust. The giant star, called Herschel 36, is bursting out of its natal cocoon and has blasted holes in the bubble-shaped cloud, allowing astronomers to study this action-packed stellar breeding ground. The observations were taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 between Feb. 12 and Feb. 18, 2018. (Credits: NASA and the Office of Public Outreach - STScI). (Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and STScI)



Welcome to the night sky report for July 2018 -- Your guide to the constellations, deep sky objects, planets, and celestial events that are observable during the month. On July 27th, Mars reaches its long-awaited opposition and is visible all night. Look for its south polar cap and dark features that shift as the planet rotates. This month you will also spot constellations Scorpius and Sagittarius, globular cluster M4, and the annual Delta Aquarid meteor shower. The night sky is truly a celestial showcase. Get outside and explore its wonders from your own backyard.

Venus hangs in the west at dusk with eye-catching brilliance. On the 15th, it lies right above the slender crescent moon. Venus’s own moon-like phase is visible through a backyard telescope.

Saturn and Jupiter dominate the southern sky at sunset. A modest telescope reveals the rings of Saturn and the prominent cloud bands of Jupiter.

On July 27, Mars reaches its long-awaited opposition. During opposition (which occurs about every two years) Mars lies opposite the Sun in our sky, rises at sunset, and is visible all night. During opposition, the disk of Mars appears larger than usual in telescopes and offers the best view of its features -- the south polar cap this year and dark features that shift as the planet rotates. With Mars nearing its closest approach to the Sun, this year’s opposition will be the most favorable since 2003.

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. The planet was 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 (NGC 6121) 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 (M8, NGC 6523) gas and dust is brilliantly illuminated by the energy of the hot, young stars inside it. In the three-lobed Trifid Nebula (M20, NGC 6514), dark dust lanes appear etched against the radiance of glowing gas. The Omega Nebula (M17, NGC 6618) glows brightly but we cannot see its hottest stars, embedded deep inside. Infrared telescopes, peering through the gas and dust, can detect them. M22 (NGC 6656), 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.




On July 13, portions of Australia and Antarctica will be treated to a partial solar eclipse as the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun. Two weeks later, on the 27th, Europe, Asia, and Africa will witness a total lunar eclipse when the Moon slips into Earth’s shadow

 If you are in the U.S., you will be able to view the annual Delta Aquarid meteor shower, which peaks on the night of July 27 to 28. Up to about 20 meteors per hour streak from the constellation of Aquarius. This year, the full moon sitting close by will wash out the fainter meteors, but the brightest should still be visible.

The night sky is always a celestial showcase. Explore its wonders from your own backyard.


The following Deep Sky Objects are found in constellations that peak during the month. Some can be viewed with a small telescope, but the majority will require a moderate to large telescope. The following is adapted from my personal viewing list: "The Guy Pirro 777 Best and Brightest Deep Sky Objects."


Constellation: Aquila

NGC 6709                    Open Cluster               P1

NGC 6724                    Open Cluster               P205

NGC 6735                    Open Cluster               P206

NGC 6738                    Open Cluster               P18

NGC 6741                    Planetary Nebula        P207 Phantom Streak Nebula

NGC 6755                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H19-7

NGC 6756                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H62-7

NGC 6760                    Globular Cluster          P19

NGC 6781                    Planetary Nebula        Herschel 400 H743-3

NGC 6790                    Planetary Nebula        P208

NGC 6803                    Planetary Nebula        P209

NGC 6840                    Open Cluster               P124

NGC 6843                    Open Cluster               P125


Constellation: Lyra

NGC 6720                    Planetary Nebula        M57 Ring Nebula

NGC 6779                    Globular Cluster          M56

NGC 6791                    Open Cluster               P162


Constellation: Sagittarius

IC 4684                        Diffuse Nebula                        P182

IC 4725                        Open Cluster               M25

IC 4776                        Planetary Nebula        P183

NGC 6440                    Globular Cluster          Herschel 400 H150-1

NGC 6445                    Planetary Nebula        Herschel 400 H586-2 Little Gem Nebula

NGC 6469                    Open Cluster               P184

NGC 6494                    Open Cluster               M23

NGC 6507                    Open Cluster               P185

NGC 6514                    Diffuse Nebula                        M20, Herschel 400 H41-1 Trifid Nebula

NGC 6520                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H7-7

NGC 6522                    Globular Cluster          Herschel 400 H49-1

NGC 6523                    Diffuse Nebula                        M8 Lagoon Nebula

NGC 6528                    Globular Cluster          Herschel 400 H200-2

NGC 6530                    Open Cluster               P49

NGC 6531                    Open Cluster               M21

NGC 6540                    Globular Cluster          Herschel 400 H198-2

NGC 6544                    Globular Cluster          Herschel 400 H197-2

NGC 6546                    Open Cluster               P106

NGC 6553                    Globular Cluster          Herschel 400 H12-4

NGC 6558                    Globular Cluster          P107

NGC 6561                    Open Cluster               P186

NGC 6563                    Planetary Nebula        P187

NGC 6565                    Planetary Nebula        P248

NGC 6567                    Planetary Nebula        P188

NGC 6568                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H30-7

NGC 6569                    Globular Cluster          Herschel 400 H201-2

NGC 6583                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H31-7

NGC 6590                    Open Cluster               P50

NGC 6603                    Open Cluster               M24 Sagittarius Star Cloud

NGC 6613                    Open Cluster               M18

NGC 6618                    Open Cluster               M17 Omega Nebula

NGC 6624                    Globular Cluster          Herschel 400 H50-1

NGC 6626                    Globular Cluster          M28

NGC 6629                    Planetary Nebula        Herschel 400 H204-2

NGC 6637                    Globular Cluster          M69

NGC 6638                    Globular Cluster          Herschel 400 H51-1

NGC 6642                    Globular Cluster          Herschel 400 H205-2

NGC 6645                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H23-6

NGC 6647                    Open Cluster               P108

NGC 6652                    Globular Cluster          P31

NGC 6656                    Globular Cluster          M22

NGC 6681                    Globular Cluster          M70

NGC 6715                    Globular Cluster          M54 Sagitarius Dwarf Galaxy

NGC 6716                    Open Cluster               P109

NGC 6717                    Globular Cluster          P110

NGC 6723                    Globular Cluster          P52

NGC 6809                    Globular Cluster          M55

NGC 6818                    Planetary Nebula        Herschel 400 H51-4

NGC 6822                    Galaxy                         C57 Barnard’s Galaxy

NGC 6864                    Globular Cluster          M75


Constellation: Scorpius

NGC 6093                    Globular Cluster          M80

NGC 6121                    Globular Cluster          M4

NGC 6124                    Open Cluster               C75

NGC 6139                    Globular Cluster          P53

NGC 6144                    Globular Cluster          Herschel 400 H10-6

NGC 6153                    Planetary Nebula        P189

NGC 6178                    Open Cluster               P111

NGC 6192                    Open Cluster               P190

NGC 6216                    Open Cluster               P210

NGC 6231                    Open Cluster               C76

NGC 6242                    Open Cluster               P54

NGC 6249                    Open Cluster               P191

NGC 6259                    Open Cluster               P112

NGC 6268                    Open Cluster               P192

NGC 6281                    Open Cluster               P55

NGC 6302                    Planetary Nebula        C69 Butterfly Nebula

NGC 6318                    Open Cluster               P249

NGC 6322                    Open Cluster               P56

NGC 6374                    Open Cluster               P193

NGC 6383                    Open Cluster               P57

NGC 6388                    Globular Cluster          P58

NGC 6396                    Open Cluster               P194

NGC 6400                    Open Cluster               P195

NGC 6404                    Open Cluster               P250

NGC 6405                    Open Cluster               M6 Butterfly Cluster

NGC 6416                    Open Cluster               P59

NGC 6425                    Open Cluster               P113

NGC 6441                    Globular Cluster          P114

NGC 6451                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H13-6

NGC 6453                    Globular Cluster          P115

NGC 6475                    Open Cluster               M7 Ptolemy’s Cluster

NGC 6496                    Globular Cluster          P60


Constellation: Scutum

NGC 6625                    Open Cluster               P196

NGC 6631                    Open Cluster               P251

NGC 6649                    Open Cluster               P197

NGC 6664                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H12-8

NGC 6694                    Open Cluster               M26

NGC 6704                    Open Cluster               P198

NGC 6705                    Open Cluster               M11 Wild Duck Cluster

NGC 6712                    Globular Cluster          Herschel 400 H47-1


Constellation: Serpens Cauda

IC 1276                        Globular Cluster          P118

IC 4756                        Open Cluster               P62

NGC 6535                    Globular Cluster          P199

NGC 6539                    Globular Cluster          P119

NGC 6604                    Open Cluster               P63

NGC 6611                    Open Cluster               M16 Eagle Nebular Cluster



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