Aussies: Here’s Your Guide To The July Skies

Video highlights from Journey To The Edge Of The Universe

July is a great opportunity to see Saturn’s rings.

Pull out your telescope and bring a big coat – freezing cold July is full of spectacular astronomy prospects.

Saturn’s Rings

Saturn is putting on a show this month, with the shadow of the planet falling on its rings. Through a small telescope, you’ll be able to spot real detail in the rings.

More than 250,000 kilometres wide, dappled with spokes that rotate at different rates, Saturn’s awe-inspiring ring system is the most complex of all the planets. Astronomers believe Saturn's rings formed from bits of asteroids, comets or moons that shattered before they reached the planet.

Five Planets

From the start of July, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars will be visible. By mid-July, Venus and Mercury will be visible in the north-western sky, meaning all five naked-eye planets can be seen at once.

In early July, you’ll need a telescope to spot the less bright planets but, by the end of the month, all five planets may be visible without one.

Keep a special eye out for Mars as it won’t look this large or bright for another two years. Learn more about the Red Planet here.

Full Moon

The full moon will occur on Wednesday 20 July at 8.56am AEST. The shape of the moon appears to change in a repeating cycle when viewed from the Earth because the amount of illuminated moon we see varies, depending on the moon's position in relation to the Earth and the sun.

We see the full moon when the sun is directly behind us, illuminating a full hemisphere of the moon when it is directly in front of us. Read our exclusive interview with the last man on the moon here.

Comet Encounter

You’ll need binoculars or a telescope, but there’s still time to catch the tail end of comet C/2013 X1 PanSTARRS between early to mid-July. The comet can be found near the tail of the Scorpius constellation and will look like a green dot.

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