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Here are the top 3 astronomical events you should look up for in July

Morning planets, eclipse highlight month

Look for a faint darkening of the moon late on the Fourth of July.
Look for a faint darkening of the moon late on the Fourth of July.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Things are going to get off to a fast start in space for the seventh month of the year as a penumbral lunar eclipse gets underway late on the Fourth of July.

Penumbral eclipse

A penumbral lunar eclipse isn’t as exciting and definitely not as noticeable as a total lunar eclipse. In a lunar eclipse, the earth is between the sun and moon. The earth then casts its shadow onto the moon. When the moon completely moves through the earth’s shadow it is known a total lunar eclipse.

This type of eclipse is typically referred to as a blood moon eclipse because the moon turns red as the moon is completely engulfed in the earth’s shadow. During a partial eclipse, it appears as if a bite has been taken out of the moon.

This is not what will be happening Saturday night into the early morning hours of Sunday. The moon will only move through the penumbra, or earth’s outer shadow rather than the umbra, the whole shadow. If you look hard enough, you’ll notice the moon darken a bit. The penumbral lunar eclipse starts at 11:07 p.m. and lasts until 1:52 a.m.

The next total or blood moon eclipse doesn’t come around for Central Florida until May 15, 2022. While not technically total, the red hue may show up with a nearly-total lunar eclipse in November 2021.

Planets galore

Through the middle of July, the planets will continue to put on a show in the morning sky. Through much of June, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars have been fairly close together in the southern/southeastern sky.

4 planets and the moon will be visible in the morning sky through the middle of July.
4 planets and the moon will be visible in the morning sky through the middle of July.

After the penumbral eclipse, the full moon will hang out with Jupiter and Saturn July 5-6. By the July 15, the crescent moon will be in between Venus and Mars.

Venus becomes the morning star

The brightest object, other than the moon in the evening sky is Venus. The evening star will now rise in the morning joining Jupiter, Saturn and Mars through the month. Jupiter and Saturn will also be brightening by the second week of July. Jupiter reaches opposition and make its closest approach to earth July 14. Saturn becomes the brightest July 20.

Delta Aquariid meteor shower

The last few days of July will throw a meteor shower our way. This isn’t the most pronounced meteor shower, but can still produce up to 20 meteors per hour away from city lights. The best time to see the show will be after midnight and before the sun comes up. Look for the meteors in the southern sky. The moon may dampen some of the fainter meteors.

For a more spectacular shower, just hold tight for a couple more weeks. The Perseids peak leading up to the second week of August. The Perseids are one of the best annual meteor showers of the year.


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