July 2010 Night Sky

Want to see where your star is in the night sky?

Stars are located within constellations, which are just areas of the night sky. Scorpius, Aries and Taurus are examples of constellations. Your Name A Star Live Star Certificate displays the name of your constellation.

You can use our online World Constellation Guide to determine if you can see your constellation during the evening hours (between sunset and midnight). Of course, you’ll need a telescope to see your star. (That’s why we include the SLOOH online telescope experience in our Deluxe, Framed and Ultimate Gift Sets!) But you can see your constellation without the use of a telescope.

You can also find your constellation by using our Virtual Planetarium™ astronomy software. A planisphere is another useful device.

A Bullet from Another Galaxy

N49 -- A supernova in the Large Magellanic Cloud
This beautiful composite image shows N49, the aftermath of a supernova explosion in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a galaxy located near our own Milky Way. A new long observation from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, shown in blue, reveals evidence for a bullet-shaped object being blown out of a debris field left over from an exploded star. The object is traveling at about five million miles per hour. Click on the photo for more information. Credit: X-ray: (NASA/CXC/Penn State/S.Park et al.); Optical: NASA/STScI/UIUC/Y.H.Chu & R.Williams et al

The Planets This Month

Several planets are visible with the naked eye in July, including Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter.

  • Venus is the bright object you’ll notice in the western sky around sunset this month. It is in the constellation Virgo throughout July.
  • Above Venus is the red planet, Mars, which is in the constellation Leo for most of this month, but moves into Virgo July 19.
  • Above Mars is the ringed planet, which is in the constellation Virgo all month. If you live in the northern hemisphere of Earth, look for Saturn toward the southwest after sunset. If you live in the southern hemisphere, look for Saturn toward the northwest after sunset. Like all the other planets, Saturn gradually moves west across the night sky. In fact, Saturn will be visible through most of each night in June.
  • If you’re an early bird, then you can see Jupiter in the hours before sunrise in July.  If you’re in the northern hemisphere of Earth, Jupiter will be the bright object in the sky almost due south at sunrise.  If you’re in the southern hemisphere, Jupiter will be almost due north at sunrise.   Next to Jupiter is the planet Uranus, but you’ll need a telescope to see it.
Views of Jupiter showing missing cloud band
The giant and stormy planet Jupiter has gone through a makeover, as seen in these comparative Hubble Space Telescope images taken nearly 11 months apart. Several months ago the dark Southern Equatorial Belt vanished. The last time this happened was in the early 1970s, when we didn’t have powerful enough telescopes to study the change in detail.
A Hubble picture from July 2009 captures the planet’s familiar appearance from the past several decades with alternating zones of high altitude ammonia ice crystal clouds (white strips) and belts of lower altitude material (dark strips). The image was taken to study a wispy patch of dark debris in the far southern hemisphere caused by the suspected explosion of an asteroid plunging into the lower atmosphere on July 19, 2009.

A Hubble picture from June 2010 reveals a slightly higher altitude layer of white ammonia ice crystal clouds that appears to obscure the deeper, darker belt clouds of the Southern Equatorial Belt. The Hubble Jupiter team predicts that these clouds should clear out in a few months.

Hubble also resolved a string of dark spots further south of the vanished belt. Based on past observations, the Hubble Jupiter team expects to see similar spots appear in the Southern Equatorial Belt, right before the white clouds clear out in a few months.

These natural colour comparative planet portraits were taken in visible light with Hubble’s new Wide Field Camera 3.

Credit: NASA, ESA, M. H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley, USA), H. B. Hammel (Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colorado, USA), A. A. Simon-Miller (Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA) and the Jupiter Impact Science Team.

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