Throughout July keep an eye to the western horizon just after sunset for a performance by the planets! Starting on the 10th, Mars will appear right next to the bright star Regulus and Venus! Keen eyed observers may also spot the ISS passing by this triplet of lights around 6pm. Watch Mars drift away from Regulus and Mercury and take centre stage throughout the month, culminating in Mercury making a very close approach to Regulus on the 29th. Even the Moon will join in, making a close approach on the 20th and 21st!
Use the Quasar Publishing image above as a guide. To find out more about what to see in the night sky, grab a copy of their latest Astronomy Australia almanac at at Quasar Publishing.
When to look: Earlier in the month, watch from sunset to 7.30pm, by the end of July, this event can only be seen from 6.00pm to 6.30pm.
Which direction to look: West north west, very low to the horizon.
Sometimes, planets pass directly in front of stars in events known as occoltations. Astronomers take this opportunity to investigate the atmospheres of planets! By examining the light of the star in the moments just before it is blocked by the planet, astronomers get a glimpse into the composition of the planet’s atmosphere. Find out more about this process here.