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Sky Report

This is the monthly Griffith Observatory Sky Report.

A telescope at the Griffith Observatory.

This is the Griffith Observatory Sky Report from July 1st through July 31, 2021. Here are the events happening in the sky of southern California.

Mercury is in the morning sky. On the 1st, Mercury rises at 4:28 a.m., and the sun rises at 5:46 a.m. By July 22nd, Mercury passes close to the sun and is unobservable. Never observe Mercury when the sun is in the sky, for the risk of damage to the eyes is great.

Venus is in the evening sky. On the 1st the sun sets at 8:09 p.m., and Venus sets at 9:47 p.m. On the 31st the sun sets at 7:55 p.m., and Venus sets at 9:33 p.m. Venus presents a small disk in a gibbous phase when viewed through a telescope. On July 2, Venus passes in front of the large open star cluster, cataloged as Messier 44, nicknamed the Beehive. On the 11th and 12th Mars and Venus pass each other within half a degree. On the 12th the sun sets at 8:06 p.m. and Venus sets at 9:47 p.m. Never observe Venus when the sun is in the sky, for the risk of damage to the eyes is great.

Copper-red Mars continues to recede from earth and shrinks slowly. The planet is at magnitude +1.8 and low in the west. Mars presents a small disk, and so surface features will not be visible even when viewed through a telescope. On the 1st, Mars sets at 10:06 p.m. On the 31st, Mars sets at 9:04 p.m.

Jupiter rises in the east at 11:00 p.m. on the 1st and at 8:57 p.m. on the 31st. A telescope will reveal features on the disk and the four Galilean moons, which travel in a rough line east to west around Jupiter.

Saturn rises in the east at 10:01 p.m. on the 1st and at 7:57 p.m. on the 31st. A telescope will reveal Saturn’s disk, its rings, and perhaps its brightest and largest moon, Titan.

The last quarter moon occurs on the 1st, new moon on the 9th, first quarter on the 17th, full moon on the 23rd, and last quarter again on the 31st.

The alpha Capricornid and the delta Aquariid meteor showers peak in the morning of July 29. The Capricornid meteors are faint and few with no persistent trails or fireballs. They appear to come from the constellation of Capricornus. The Aquariids have a low peak rate of five meteors per hour but can produce bright fireballs. They appear to emerge from the constellation of Aquarius. The moon will be 74-percent illuminated on the 29th and will interfere with observations.

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