Mars and meteors: July skygazing guide

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(NewsNation) — July 2024 is promising to be a celestial feast for skygazers, with events ranging from meteor showers to planetary alignments.

July 1: The month kicks off with a rare sighting of Comet 13P/Olbers, visible for the first time in 69 years. Best viewed in early July, the comet can be spotted after sunset traveling beneath Ursa Major toward the northwest horizon until about midnight.

Mars will also rise in the sky where skygazers will see a thin crescent moon just above the Red Planet, Popular Science reported. The Adler Planetarium says that Mars will be slightly brighter than first magnitude in July and will gradually get even brighter as the year progresses.

July 3: Early risers can witness a conjunction between Jupiter and the moon. The celestial bodies will appear within five degrees of each other, with the moon sliding above Jupiter.

July 5: Earth reaches its farthest point from the sun, known as aphelion. At this point, our planet will be approximately 94,510,538 miles from the sun. However, this distance doesn’t affect Earth’s seasons, which are determined by the planet’s axial tilt.

On the night of the new moon, stars and galaxies will be at their brightest, Travel and Leisure reported.

July 10: Hawaiians will experience Lahaina Noon when the sun is directly overhead at solar noon, in this biannual event.

July 12-13: New York City residents and visitors have another chance to experience Manhattanhenge. This phenomenon occurs when the setting sun aligns perfectly with Manhattan’s street grid, creating a stunning visual effect. The American Museum of Natural History recommends viewing from 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd or 57th streets.

July 21: The full “Buck Moon” rises, reaching peak illumination at 6:14 a.m. EDT. Named for the growing antlers on male deer during this season, it’s also known by other names in various Native American cultures.

Mercury will also reach its greatest eastern elongation, offering a rare opportunity to spot the elusive planet just after sunset in the constellation Leo.

July 29-30: The month concludes with the peak of the Delta Aquariid meteor shower. Stargazers can expect up to 20 meteors per hour under ideal conditions. The shower is best viewed from dusk to midnight, before moonrise.

For optimal viewing of these celestial events, experts recommend finding a dark location away from city lights and allowing eyes to adjust to the darkness for about 30 minutes.

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