If you want to view stars, planets, and meteors, there are two requirements: a clear sky and a dark sky.
Some planets, like Jupiter, can be spotted with minimal darkness, but most of the best night sights need to be seen away from city lights.
When you get to your destination, make sure all of the lights around you are shut off, including your car lights. Then, your eyes will take 10 to 15 minutes to adjust to the darkness.
The moon appears larger for the first half of July, up until the full phase on the 19th—that’s when night viewing won’t be as good due to the moon’s brightness. Native Americans call July’s full moon the Buck Moon because this is when the bucks begin to grow their antlers. It’s also called the Thunder Moon because of the frequency of thunderstorms this time of year.
Dusk is a good time to check out the planets. The stars won’t be as bright, so it makes planets a bit easier to pick out.
Saturn and Mars are in the southern sky. Antares, one of the brighter stars, is just below Saturn. In the western sky, Jupiter is the brightest object at dusk, though it’s also appearing near it’s minimum size for the year.
This July, the International Space Station is another easy-to-see object.
Its best viewing this month is in the wee hours of the morning. If you’re willing to get up super-, super-early with the kids, it’s a fun thing to catch as a family.
There is also a meteor shower late this month called the Delta Aquarid.
This isn’t a big meteor shower. Also, truth be told, the Southern Hemisphere and tropics to the north will get a better show. But if you want to check it out, the so-called peak of the shower is July 27-30, and as these peaks aren’t very defined, there will be meteors for many days before and after those dates.
Next month, though, is the much anticipated Perseid meteor shower. More on that coming later…