The month opens with the moon just about at full phase, which occurs July 3. The moon is also at perigee July 1, making this a rather large full moon. July 15, in the morning dawn, Venus is 4 degrees below the thin crescent moon, while Jupiter is an equal distance above; July 20, in the western evening sky, Mercury is half a degree north of a very slender new moon; Mars shares the evening spotlight with the waxing gibbous moon July 24; and a day later, Saturn is within a hand-width.
Occultations occur when one solar system object crosses in front of another or in front of a star. Two such occurrences are scheduled for July, except neither is visible from central Canada. Jupiter is occulted by the Moon for viewers in Europe, N. Africa, and east to Japan; Spica is occulted for viewers in the extreme south of South America and Antarctica when the moon passes in front of the bright star.
Mercury is as high as it can get in the western evening sky at the beginning of the month, and gradually closing in on the sun throughout July. Watch for the challenge of seeing the small planet next to the thin crescent moon July 20.
Venus, having passed in front of the sun in its transit June 5, is now a morning object. For about two hours, the morning star shines in the east before sunrise. The bright planet attains greatest illuminated extent (GIE) July 12, its brightness greater than any other solar system object except the sun. Jupiter and Venus are paired for the first half of the month, lying about 7 degrees apart in the constellation Taurus, the bull.
Mars rises in the early afternoon, becoming visible at dusk in the southern sky. The red planet sets shortly after midnight. The night of July 24 sees Mars, Saturn and the moon in close quarters in the southwestern sky.
Jupiter rises in the early morning eastern sky, also in Taurus with Venus for the first part of the month. Watch for a close brush with the moon July 15.
Saturn rises shortly after noon and sets near midnight, sharing the same part of the sky as Mars. The ringed planet, Mars and the moon share centre stage July 24.
Uranus rises near midnight in the constellation Cetus, the whale.
Neptune rises about an hour earlier than Uranus, in Aquarius.
The south delta-Aquarid meteor shower peaks July 28. This shower lasts for about eight