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Nighttrek Report: What to See in the July Sky

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By Neill Simmons

The highlight of July is watching the super bright planet Venus.   From July 7 – 9 Venus reaches its maximum brightness.  It will be quite a sight! 

 July 26 to 29 brings the fast little planet Mercury to the area of where Venus is.  Enjoy all this action as Venus will disappear from the night sky and moves into the morning sky in September.

We have not had a Super

DAWN PATROL:  Jupiter is very bright before sunrise at 5:45 am.  Saturn is also up early in the morning.  Both of these planets are visible with the naked eye.

July brings into view the great constellations of Scorpius and Sagittarius.  On summer nights, the curving body of Scorpius moves slowly in the south. It is home to a bright red star called Antares. Scorpius’ neighbor to the left is Sagittarius, also known as the “Teapot” due to its distinctive shape.  Both of these constellations straddle the Milky Way galaxy.  The Milky Way galaxy was named to describe the galaxy’s appearance from Earth which is a hazy or “milky” band of light seen in the night sky, formed from stars that cannot be individually distinguished by the naked eye. Try to get away from the city lights to see the glory of this sight!

In July, everyone’s favorite constellation, Ursa Major, better known as the “Big Dipper,” is hanging down in the north.   While this is going on, Ursa Minor or the “Little Dipper” is upright and appears to be standing on the North Star, Polaris.  A common misconception is that Polaris is the brightest star in the sky.  It is not.  However, it is certainly the most important one.  This is because Polaris lies nearly in a direct line with the Earth’s axis above the North Pole so that Polaris doesn’t move and all the stars appear to rotate around it.  Therefore, it has been used for centuries for celestial navigation.

Every night, three bright stars, Vega, Deneb, Altair form a giant “Summer Triangle” in the east.  This formation covers a very large portion of the night sky.  This constellation is visible each night until November.

FUN FACTS:  In 1923 most astronomers believed that there was only one galaxy, our own Milky Way, in  outer space.  Today that number is between 100 to 200 billion galaxies in the “observable” universe.  The total size of the universe is unknown. Mind-boggling isn’t it?

The Griffith Observatory is putting on a “Free Star Party” on the front grass lawn at dusk on Saturday, July 22. Telescopes will be set up.  This event is over at 10 pm. 

Vandenberg Space Force Base in Lompoc plans a rocket launch of a Falcon 9 rocket on Sunday, July 30 at 7 pm.  The rocket trail is visible far and wide.  Look northwest. 

When not stargazing, Neill Simmons is a Wealth Advisor with LPL Financial in Woodland Hills.  If you have any astronomy or financial questions, he may be reached at (818)  936-2626 or emailed at

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