Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of July 2022

Posted by Guy Pirro   07/04/2022 09:40PM

Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of July 2022

M80 is not only the designation given to a class of large, powerful fireworks in the US often used in 4th of July celebrations, it is also a globular cluster in the constellation Scorpius (M80, NGC6093). Located about 28,000 light-years from Earth, the cluster is one of the densest globular clusters in our Milky Way Galaxy and contains hundreds of thousands of stars that are held together by their mutual gravitational attraction. M80 was discovered by Charles Messier in 1781. It can be spotted with a small telescope most easily during July. M80 is notable for being the site of a nova that appeared in the year 1860. Nova outbursts can occur when a close companion star transfers fresh hydrogen fuel to a burned-out white dwarf. Eventually the hydrogen ignites a thermonuclear explosion on the surface of the white dwarf, giving rise to the nova outburst. [Video and Content Credits: NASA, the Office of Public Outreach – Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), JPL – Caltech, Preston Dyches, Christopher Harris, and Lisa Poje] [Image Credit: Donald Waid, Astromart supporter. See his beautiful astrophotography gallery at ].


Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of July 2022

Welcome to the night sky report for July 2022 -- Your guide to the constellations, deep sky objects, planets, and celestial events that are observable during the month. The naked-eye planets of dawn – Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn – dominate the sky this July, appearing more spread out each morning. In July, find the constellation Scorpius to identify the reddish supergiant star Antares, which will lead you to the globular star cluster M4 (NGC 6121). M22 (NGC 6656), in the constellation Sagitarius, another globular cluster, is one of the brightest clusters in the sky and is visible with the naked eye. Keep observing around the group of stars commonly known as the Teapot and you’ll be looking toward the center of the Milky Way. In that direction, you can see the Lagoon Nebula (M8, NGC 6523), the Omega Nebula (M17, NGC 6618), and the Trifid Nebula (M20, NGC 6514). Next, if you're feeling the July heat, note the origin of phrase "the dog days" of summer, which has to do with the bright star Sirius, also known as the “Dog Star.” The night sky is truly a celestial showcase. Get outside and explore its wonders from your own backyard.



The warm nights of July provide endless summer treasures to enjoy.

The planets Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn dominate morning skies in July. Venus is there as well, but appears low in the east, so you'll need a clear view toward the horizon to see it. The planets are spread out across the morning sky, accompanied by bright stars, Capella, Aldebaran, and Fomalhaut. On the 20th, look for the half-full, last-quarter moon between Mars and Jupiter. And the following morning, you'll find the Moon sitting right next to Mars. 

July is a time for sweltering hot weather in the Northern Hemisphere, and you may have heard this time of year referred to as the "dog days of summer." Well that phrase actually dates back to ancient times and has to do with the brightest star in the sky, Sirius.

At the peak of summer, the Sun lies in the same part of the sky as Sirius, which the ancient Greeks and Romans associated with the dog-shaped constellation Canis major, just as we do today. Sirius is its most prominent star, and it's sometimes called "the dog star." 

In Ancient Greek, Sirius means "the scorcher," and both the Greeks and Romans believed the blazing bright star's proximity in the sky added to the Sun's heat during that time of the year making it even more oppressive. And so they called this hot time of year the "dog days."

Of course, today we know the only star close enough to affect our temperatures on Earth is the Sun. And the heat we experience in July is the result of the Northern Hemisphere being tilted toward the Sun. This yields longer days and more direct sunlight, and thus warmer weather. The situation is reversed in the Southern Hemisphere, where July is right in the middle of winter.

Facing southward on July nights after sunset, you'll find a sky teeming with bright stars. Looking in that direction this time of year, you're facing the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way, all night, and there are quite a number of bright stars in that part of the sky – particularly in the constellations Scorpius and Sagittarius.

Now if you find yourself under dark skies you'll be able to fully enjoy the Milky Way core – densely packed with stars and dark clouds of dust and gas. It's dazzling this time of year, and it's visible toward the south as soon as it gets fully dark out. But even if you're under urban skies too bright to observe the Milky Way core, the group of stars in Sagittarius known as the Teapot will help you pinpoint its location on the sky. 



Just above the southern horizon is Scorpius, the scorpion who in Greek mythology stung Orion to death before being crushed. Scorpius is a striking constellation -- one of the few that distinctly resembles the object after which it was named. The prominent fishhook star pattern of Scorpius 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.” Antares ia a reddish supergiant star nearing the end of its life. Antares is one of the largest known stars. If placed at the center of our solar system, its bloated bulk would extend past the orbit of Mars.

Next to Antares lies the globular star cluster M4 (NGC 6121). 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. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has resolved the center of the cluster, filled with thousands of ancient stars, all of which formed around the same time and are aging together.

East of Scorpius is Sagittarius, the archer. The center of our galaxy lies in the direction of the Sagittarius. 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) shines with glowing clouds of gas and dust where new stars are forming. Although it glows brightly, 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. NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has collected infrared light images from this region, revealing cool and warm gas that is otherwise invisible to human eyes. Over millions of years, the gas and dust in stellar nurseries like these will eventually come together to form new stars, adding to the constellations in the sky.

Two other star clusters, the Butterfly Cluster and the Ptolemy Cluster, can be found on the other end of Scorpius, just above the stinger. These are known as open clusters because they are much less compact than globular clusters. Each of these contains only about a hundred stars, most of which are hot, blue, and much younger than those in globular clusters.

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 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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