Astronomy Events for July – 2017

A quick review of the astronomical events and historical events for the month of July.  These are just a few of the things we would like to highlight, and if there are things that should be added for whatever reason, please let us know and we will be glad to make those changes. Happy Viewing and check in with our website on a regular basis for more information, updates, and other cool activities that are occurring. We are in eclipse frenzy, so please feel free to ask questions and we will be here to answer those questions. Link to the eclipse information can be found here, which can also be found on the NASA website.

Astronomical Events

July 9 – Full Moon. The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 04:07 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Buck Moon because the male buck deer would begin to grow their new antlers at this time of year. This moon has also been known as the Full Thunder Moon and the Full Hay Moon.

July 23 – New Moon. The Moon will located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 09:46 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

July 28, 29 – Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower. The Delta Aquarids is an average shower that can produce up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by debris left behind by comets Marsden and Kracht. The shower runs annually from July 12 to August 23. It peaks this year on the night of July 28 and morning of July 29. The crescent moon will set by midnight, leaving dark skies for what should be a good early morning show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Aquarius, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

July 30 – Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation. The planet Mercury reaches greatest eastern elongation of 27.2 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the evening sky. Look for the planet low in the western sky just after sunset.

Historical Events

  • July 22nd, 1951 the USSR launches R-1, which contains the first dogs in space, Dezik and Tsyagn
  • July 19th, 1963 NASA performs the first reusable crewed spacecraft, the X-15 Flight 90, which flew suborbital.
  • July 14th, 1965 NASA Mariner 4 probe performs the first Mars flyby, providing the first close-up photographs of another planet. Closest approach was 9,846 kilometers.
  • July 15th
    • In 1972, NASA Pioneer 10 probe becomes the first mission to enter the asteroid belt and leave the inner Solar System.
    • In 1975 USSR and USA perform the first multinational manned mission with the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
  • July 20th, 1976 NASA Viking Lander takes the first photos and takes the first soil samples from the surface of Mars
  • July 4th, 1997 NASA Mars Pathfinder mission becomes the first operational rover on another planet.
  • July 1st 2004, the NASA, ESA, and Italian Space Agency (ASI) probe Cassini-Huygens perform the first orbit of Saturn
  • July 16th, 2011 the NASA Dawn spacecraft has its first orbit of giant asteroid named Vesta.
  • July 2015 NASA New Horizons mission performs the first flyby of a dwarf planet (Pluto) and is the last original encounter with 1 of the 9 major planets recognized in 1981.

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