Welcome to SkyEye, your guide to this month's celestial events.
|1||Friday||Moon at perigee|
|2||Saturday||Moon occults first-magnitude star Aldebaran: daytime event|
|Earth at aphelion|
|5||Tuesday||NASA's Juno mission is scheduled for Jupiter Orbit Insertion at 02:30 UT (spacecraft time - Earth received time is 48 minutes later). It was launched on 5 August 2011 to study the origin and evolution of the planet Jupiter. The mission is set to run until February 2018.|
|7||Thursday||Mercury at superior conjunction|
|Pluto at opposition|
|9||Saturday||Moon occults Jupiter: partially visible from sections of Antarctica|
|12||Tuesday||First Quarter Moon|
|13||Wednesday||Moon at apogee|
|16||Saturday||Uranus at west quadrature|
|23||Saturday||Moon occults Neptune: visible from about 05:00 UT in central and eastern North America|
|26||Tuesday||Last Quarter Moon|
|27||Wednesday||Moon at perigee|
|29||Friday||Moon occults first-magnitude star Aldebaran: visible from about 9:30 UT in Mexico and Central America|
|30||Saturday||The waning crescent Moon should not hamper observations of the Southern δ Aquarid meteor shower. There may be several sub-maxima between 26 July and 31 July.|
The word planet is derived from the Greek word for 'wanderer'. Unlike the background stars, planets seem to move around the sky, keeping mostly to a narrow track called the ecliptic, the path of the Sun across the stars. Dwarf planets and small solar-system bodies, including comets, are not so constrained, often moving far above or below the ecliptic.
Earth reaches its farthest point from the Sun on 4 July. The date of aphelion can range from 2 July to 6 July. The equation of time reaches a shallow minimum of nearly seven minutes on 25 July.
Invisible at the beginning of the month, Mercury is at superior conjunction on 7 July. It then appears in the evening sky shortly afterwards. The best sunset views of this tiny planet are from southern latitudes. It passes close to the first-magnitude star Regulus on 30 July.
Venus is the evening star for the rest of the year. It starts quite close to the horizon for northern hemisphere observers and is not much higher when seen from the southern half of our planet. Venus will remain rather low for most of the year but is best viewed from the southern hemisphere. Look for our nearest neighbour to pass in front of the open star cluster M44, the Beehive Cluster, on 18 July.
The red planet is well-situated for viewing after nightfall, not setting until after midnight.
The largest planet in the solar system gets another visitor from Earth when the spacecraft Juno enters orbit on 5 July. Jupiter is found in the west as darkness falls and sets earlier every night. Penguins might catch a glimpse of it disappearing behind the Moon's disc on 9 July.
This bright planet is not far from Mars, setting about an hour afterwards.
Rising about midnight at the beginning of the month, Uranus reaches west quadrature on 16 July.
A small telescope is necessary to view the most distant planet in the solar system. It rises in the evening and is up most of the night as it heads for opposition in early September. Parts of North America can see it being occulted by the Moon on 23 July.
A medium-sized telescope and a detailed star chart is necessary to see this magnitude 14 dwarf planet at opposition on 7 July. It is not far from the star π Sgr but much, much fainter.