Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Skygazing in July

By David Reneke

Your guide to the night sky this month.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

There’s a New Moon on July 11 so, for awhile, the skies are going to be nice and dark. Ideal for stargazing! In fact this month is full of stargazing goodies so see you in the backyard right after dinner, OK?

With the glare of moonlight gone so many more stars are visible and the colours stand out nicely as well. Watch for a lot of twinkling stars this month due to unsteady air currents and water vapour in the atmosphere. Add in a bit of wind and you start to get a ‘star’ which can change colour and make people wonder if they are seeing a UFO.

After dominating the morning sky for months, bright white Venus, now the ‘morning star,’ is rising above the Eastern horizon just before twilight. Be quick to catch it.

So, what’s the difference between the morning star and the evening star I hear you ask? Nothing, they’re actually the same thing, namely Venus. The distinction between “morning” and “evening” merely refers to the time at which the planet is visible. Simple isn’t it? And you thought astronomy was hard!

Jupiter is high above the north eastern sky with Mars rising later and much lower down. Saturn is readily visible all night long and almost overhead, high enough for telescopic observation in the early evening. Saturn will be big and beautiful for many weeks to come.

July is the best time to view the Southern Cross. You can always...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

David Reneke is a feature writer for major Australian publications including Australasian Science magazine and a science correspondent for ABC and commercial radio. Get David’s free astronomy newsletter at