July Skies – by Dick Cookman

Highlights:  Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, Planet Plotting, July Moon 

Focus Constellations: Ursa Minor, Ursa Major, Draco, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Camelopardalis, Lynx, Leo Minor, Leo, Coma Berenices, Canes Venatici, Bootes, Corona Borealis, Hercules, Lyra, Cygnus

  • Comet Journals

C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS) is at 8th magnitude. It is moving southward through Ophiuchus and will be closest to Earth at 168 million miles on July 14, 2022. The comet will reach perihelion on December 19, 2022. It is a huge comet, brightness estimates are variable. Some estimates reach naked eye visibility. 

C/2021 P4 (ATLAS) is at 9th magnitude in Lynx and will move into Leo by month’s end. It will pass through perihelion on July 30 and will be closest to Earth on July 13.

  • Mars Landers

The Perseverance rover is at the foot of a delta on the edge of Jezero Crater. It is busily investigating rocks that will be targeted for drilling to obtain samples for return to Earth where more capable instruments will be utilized in the search for evidence of ancient life. 

The Insight rover recorded many Marsquakes before shutting down. Scientists at the Chinese Academy of Science reexamined data collected by Insight in more detail and found evidence for 47 additional quakes beneath Cerberus Fossae. The additional quakes are most likely due to movement of magma in the martian mantle. 

University of Chicago scientists are chasing down causes for the Martian climate change mystery. Dryness and chilliness of modern Mars contrasts with abundant evidence for flowing water, lakes, and even oceans on ancient Mars. They suggest that cooling and drying of Mars which was attributed solely to loss of atmospheric CO2 was also influenced by escaping water vapor resulting in high level icy clouds which reflected incoming sunlight. 

Many martian sols ago in 2014, Curiosity Rover drilled mudstones in the Yellowknife Bay formation of Gale Crater and examined the resulting samples with its multiple instruments. In depth examination for total organic carbon in data obtained during the ensuing years revealed amounts in excess of that found in low life environments like the Atacama Desert. Gale Crater on ancient Mars had liquid water, a milder climate, chemical energy sources, low acidity, oxygen, nitrogen, and sulfur; a habitable environment for life, a potential source for the organic carbon.

  • Meteor Showers

The Delta Aquarids, the best meteor shower in July, occurs during New Moon. Most favorable viewing is in the western sky in the early predawn hours. Other showers in July are relatively minor.

July 26: Pisces Austrinids. Active July 14 – Aug. 10, Radiant 22h40m -30°, ZHR 5, 44km/sec. Waning Crescent Moon. Progenitor: Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle. 

June 28: Delta Aquarids. Active July 12 – August 23, Radiant 23h20m -16°, ZHR 20, 41km/sec. Waxing Crescent Moon. Progenitor: Comet 96P/Machholtz.

June 30:Alpha Capricornus. Active July 3 – August 15, Radiant 22h44m -10°, ZHR 5, 23km/sec. Waxing Crescent Moon. Progenitor: Comet 169P/NEAT

    • Planet Plottings 

As in June, the pre-dawn sky in early July displays a seven planet lineup stretching across the southern sky from Mercury near the east-northeast horizon to Venus, Uranus, Mars, Jupiter, Neptune, and, finally, Saturn high in the south-southwest. 

Mercury (-0.7 to -0.6) moves through Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, and into Leo during July. It drops into the glow of sunrise as it approaches superior conjunction on the 16th, then moves into evening skies by the end of the month. Venus (-3.8) is in Taurus and Gemini, Uranus (+5.8) is in Aries, and Mars (+0.5 to +0.2) is in Pisces and Aries. The distance between Mars and Uranus decreases during the month. Each appears to move higher in the predawn sky as they approach their early August close encounter. Jupiter (-2.3 to -2.5) is in Cetus, Neptune (+7.9) in Pisces, and Saturn (+0.6 to +0.4) is in Capricornus. 

By the end of July, the planetary lineup is down to six and will be missing Mercury which rises after the Sun. In order to see the remaining six, observers will have to get up earlier because Venus rises over a half hour earlier than on July 1. During the last half of July, the waning Moon passes each of the planets in the lineup in order from Saturn to Venus.




Planet Passages




Gemini, Cancer


New Moon

1:55PM EDT



Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo

-0.7 to -0.6

Superior Conjunction

4:00PM EDT



Taurus, Gemini



Pisces, Aries

+0.5 to +0.2



-2.3 to -2.5



+0.6 to +0.4







    • July Moon

The New Moon of July in Cancer on the 28th at 1:55PM EDT is the start of Lunation 1232 which ends 29.60 days later with the New Moon of August in Leo on the 27th at 4:17AM EDT. The Full Moon of July in Sagittarius is on the 13th at 2:38PM EDT. It is called The “Hay or Thunder Moon”. It was the “Summer Moon” in Colonial America and the “Mead Moon” in Medieval England. Celts called it “Moon of Claiming”, and the Chinese call it “Hungry Ghost Moon”. Of 13 Grandmother Moons during each year, the Anishnaabe (Odawa and Ojibwe) first people recognize the 6th Moon as Abitaa-niibini-giizis (Halfway Summer Moon) in the western dialect or Miin Giizis (Berry Moon) in the eastern dialect. According to the folks at Earth Haven Farm in Ontario, this Grandmother Moon is the Raspberry Moon and the cultural teaching that explains the cycle of life and nature for the Raspberry Moon of Creation is that: “It is when great changes begin. By learning gentleness and kindness, we may pass through the thorns of its bush and harvest its fruit, knowledge that will help in raising our families.” 

Lunar Perigee distance (minimum lunar distance) is 221,993 mi. (56.02 Earth radiil) on the 13th at 5:06AM EDT, 9.53 hours before Full Moon. This proximity produces a larger and brighter Full Moon, a mesmerizing SUPERMOON, the 2nd in a row which surpasses its June predecessor!

Lunar Apogee (maximum lunar distance) in July is on the 26th at 6:22AM EDT when the Moon will be at a distance of 252,447 mi. (63.70 Earth radii). 

The waning gibbous Moon appears to pass Saturn on the 15th, Neptune on the 17th and Jupiter on the 18th. The waning crescent Moon passes Mars on the 21st, Uranus on the 22nd, and Venus on the 26th. The waxing crescent passes Mercury on the 29th.




Moon Passages

Moon Phase

Moon Age

Sun Cancer


1:55PM EDT, 7/28 New 0 Days
Mercury Leo


3.4°NNE, 9:00PM EDT, 7/29 Waxing Crescent 0.88 Days
Venus Gemini


4.0°N, 10:00AM EDT, 7/26 Waning Crescent 27.46 Days
Mars Aries


1.1°N, 1:00PM EDT, 7/21 Waning Crescent 22.59 Days
Jupiter Cetus


2.0°S, 9:00PM EDT EDT, 7/18 Waning Gibbous 19.92 Days
Saturn Capricornus


4.0°S, 4:00PM EDT, 7/15 Waning Gibbous 16.71 Days
Uranus Aries


0.2°N, 2:00AM EDT, 7/22 Waning Crescent 23.13 Days
Neptune Pisces


3.0° S, 9:00PM EDT, 7/17 Waning Gibbous 18.92 Days