The Planets for July 2015
Rising about ninety minutes before the Sun at the beginning of
July, Mercury will only be observable early in the month as it
heads toward superior conjunction with the Sun on the 24th.
After conjunction with the Sun it moves once again into the
western evening twilight sky but be hidden in the glare of the
Sun until early next month.
This brilliant pair begin the month less than half a
degree apart in the western evening sky and should be visible
together in the eyepiece of any reasonable telescope on the
evening of the 1st of the month. They immediately separate
however and by the end of the month are almost 6.5 degrees
apart. The brighter of the two, Venus passes three degrees to
the south of Leo's brightest star, Regulus on the 19th where
it is joined by a thin crescent waxing Moon. The same waxing
Moon sits six degrees to the west of Jupiter on the 18th of
the month. Worth noting for the asteroid buffs, the 10.8
magnitude 3 Juno will be 70 arc minutes to the south of
Magnitude 1.4 Regulus on the 2nd.
The red planet has re-entered the morning sky after
conjunction with the Sun on the 15th of last month but will be
hidden in the early morning twilight until next month.
Just out of the reach of the jaws of the scorpion, Saturn sits
safely on the scales of Libra as it continues its retrograde
loop against the background stars. High in the north eastern
sky after the Sun has set and in an ideal spot for
observation, the ringed planet is an awe inspiring sight even
in small telescopes. Its large moon Titan, the second largest
moon in the solar system, can be easily made out and with
larger instruments a few of its other satellites can be
spotted. On the 26th the waxing gibbous Moon will be less than
three degrees to the north of Saturn.
back to top
The Planets for August 2015
The inner planet sets just forty minutes later than the Sun at
the beginning of August but by the end of the month will not
set for a full two hours after the Sun. On the 7th it will
pass less than one degree to the north of Jupiter with Leo's
brightest star Regulus only one degree to the south east,
forming a tight triangle low in the western evening twilight.
The brightest planet, Venus lies eight degrees to the south
west of the trio. The thin crescent of the two day old Moon
hovers just above Mercury on the evening of the 16th of the
Low in the western evening twilight at the beginning of
August, Venus reveals itself as a thin crescent in the
telescope. However make the most of the first few days of the
month as on the 16th Venus will be in conjunction with the Sun
and moving into the early morning sky. By the end of the month
it will be rising 90 minutes before the Sun among the faint
stars of Cancer-The Crab.
Because of the sharp angle of the ecliptic, the red planet
will be lurking in the early morning twilight for most of the
month and fairly hard to spot. The thin crescent of the waning
Moon will rise thirty minutes before Mars on the 13th and a
week later on the 21st and 22nd of the month Mars will cross
the face of the Beehive star cluster in Cancer.
conjunction with the Sun on the 27th of the month but still
visible in the early evening twilight early in the month.
Passing half a degree to the north of Mercury on the 7th,
forming a neat triangle with Mercury Leo's brightest star
Regulus on the 8th and within half a degree of Regulus on the
12th of the month. The giant planet moves into the morning sky
after the 27th but hard to spot until at least the middle of
The ringed planet rises around mid-day at the beginning of
August and so by nightfall is high in the north eastern sky
and easy to observe. On the 3rd the planet comes to the end of
its retrograde loop and again begins to move from west to east
in relation to the background stars. This motion will take it
from Libra into Scorpius in mid October. The angle formed by
the Earth, Sun and Saturn will be 90 degrees on the 22nd and
it is at this point that a greater amount of the planet's
shadow falls upon the rings promoting a 3-D effect. The waxing
Moon will be below and to the west of Saturn on the 22nd and
the next evening the first quarter Moon will me below and to
the east of the planet.
back to top