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This website has been created by and is supported by a group of Boston, MA - area amateur astronomers. It is intended to be a convenient site to access news and information about astronomy and space-related activities of interest to the community and the public.




 July Astronomy-Related Events in the Boston Area   




Saturday, July 5th, 9:00 - 11:00 PM

Robbins Farm Star Party

Arlington Heights, Arlington, MA.

Moon, meet Mars. The first-quarter moon lights up the night sky and has a visitor. This evening, Mars will appear to pass right beside the Moon.  With the moon partially lit, it is a great time to see the craters and rough terrain of the Moon in a telescope or even through binoculars.  Look for spots around the light/dark line (called the terminator) where you can see shadows cast by peaks on the lunar surface.




  • Thursday, July 10th, 2014, at 8:00 PM.

    Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston (Boston area’s largest and oldest astronomy club).

    (Meets every 2nd Thursday except August).

    Phillips Auditorium, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA.

  As is usual for our club, our July meeting will me a member topic night.  This year, we have lined up the following speakers:
- Mike Hill will give a talk on his 4 1/4" reflector rebuild
- Bruce Berger will give us all an update on our research observatory, "ARIO"
- Eileen Myers and Steve Clougherty will do a presentation on the reconstruction and installation of the twenty five inch Dob which is housed in the Roll off Observatory at our Westford clubhouse
- Nick Bealo will speak on the observatory he built for his high school
- Paul Valleli will cover the ATMoB participation in Operation Moonwatch.




Thursday, July 24, 2014 - Sunday, July 27, 2014

Springfield, VT




Friday, July 25, 2014 - Sunday, August 3, 2014

Summer Star Party
Peppermint Park Camping Resort
Plainfield, MA







Boston University

Boston, MA.
Open Night at Coit Observatory most Wednesdays 8:30 PM - 9:30 PM.




Guililland Observatory

Museum of Science

Boston, MA

"Astronomy After Hours" Friday nights 8:30 PM - 10:00 PM.



The Sky Report for the Month of June 2014




Current Night Sky: At A Glance


Phases of the Moon:


First Quarter

July 5

7:59 AM EDT

Full Moon

July 12

7:25 AM EDT

Last Quarter Moon

July 18

10:08 PM EDT

New Moon

July 26

6:42 PM EDT





The Moon & Planets:


On July 5th, the Moon, at First Quarter phase, passes just ¾ of a degree S of Mars. A day later, Spica is just 2½° to its W. On the 6th, the Moon passes a degree and a half to the S of Saturn. On the dawn of the 24th, the waning crescent Moon lies about 8° to the right of Venus. A day later it rises about 7° to the right of Mercury.



Evening Planets (after sunset):

      • Mercury, in NW
      • Jupiter, in NW
      • Mars, in SW
      • Saturn, in S


Visible At Midnight:
    • Mars, in W
    • Saturn, in SW
    • Neptune, in SE


Morning Planets (before sunrise):

      • Neptune, in S
      • Uranus, in SE
      • Venus, in E
      • Mercury, in NE




  • There are no comets brighter than magnitude 8.0 visible in June.





  • There are no major meteor showers in June.






A Schedule of Events


  • Date Weekday Time   Event
    July 3 Thur. 8:00 PM EDT Earth @ aphelion (152,114,137 km. / 94,506,000 mi. from Sun)
    July 4 Fri. 1:00 AM EDT Pluto @ opposition (mag. 14.1)
    July 4 Fri. 5:00 PM EDT Asteroid 4 Vesta (mag. 7.1) 0.19° SSW of 1 Ceres (mag. 8.4)
    July 5 Sat. 7:59 AM EDT First Quarter Moon
    July 5 Sat. 9:00 PM EDT Moon passes 0.2° N of Mars
    July 6 Sun, 4:00 AM EDT Moon, Mars, and Spica within circle 3.78° in diameter
    July 7 Mon. 10:00 PM EDT Moon passes 0.4° S of Saturn
    July 12 Sat. 7:25 AM EDT Full Moon ("Full Buck Moon" or "Full Thunder Moon")
    July 12 Sat. 2:00 PM EDT Mercury @ greatest elongation (21° W of Sun)
    July 13 Sun. 4:26 AM EDT Moon @ perigee (56.17 Earth radii)
    July 14 Sun. 12:00 AM EDT Mars 1.3° NNE of Spica
    July 18 Fri. 10:08 PM EDT Last Quarter Moon
    July 19 Sat. 2:00 AM EDT Mars @ eastern quadrature
    July 20 Sun. 4:18 PM EDT 45th Anniversary of 1st Manned Lunar Landing (1969)
    July 20 Sun. 7:53 PM EDT 38th Anniversary of Viking 1: First Mars Landing (1976)
    July 24 Thur. 2:00 PM EDT Moon 4.4° S of Venus
    July 24 Thur. 5:00 PM EDT Jupiter @ solar conjunction
    July 25 Fri. 10:00 AM EDT Moon 5° S of Mercury in morning sky
    July 26 Sat. 4:00 PM Moon 5.3° SSW of Jupiter (just 3° from Sun)
    July 26 Sat. 6:42 PM EDT New Moon
    July 27 Sun. 11:28 PM EDT Moon @ apogee (63.74 Earth radii); most distant of year
    Aug. 3 Sun. 8:50 PM EDT First Quarter Moon
    Aug. 10 Sun. 2:09 PM EDT Full Moon ("Full Sturgeon Moon")
    Aug. 12 Tue. 8:15 PM EDT Perseid Meteor peak
    Aug. 17 Sun. 8:26 AM EDT Last Quarter Moon
    Aug. 25 Mon. 10:13 AM EDT New Moon

  • Bold Type = Important or Way Cool


  • * = approximate                          



    The Planets



Jupiter is getting progressively lower every evening. By mid-July, it is no longer visible. It reaches solar conjunction on the 24th. Next month it will appear in the morning sky.


Mars is still in a prime viewing location, and becomes visible shortly after sunset. On the 13th, it moves to within a degree and a half of first-magnitude Spica; even though Mars is dimming, it still manages to outshine the star. Their close approach lets you appreciate the contrast between the blue-white star and the reddish planet.


Saturn lies high in the S as night falls. It’s among the dim stars of Libra, so recognizing it should be easy. Any telescope will reveal the planet’s magnificent ring system, and perhaps its largest moon Titan as well.


Neptune rises about midnight in mid-July. The planet lies in Aquarius, and shines at a magnitude 7.9, well below naked-eye visibility.


Uranus rises after midnight at midmonth. Its observing prospects improve at the month goes on. By the 31st, it is rising almost 6 hours before the Sun. The distant, magnitude 5.7 planet moves slowly; it spends most of the month within 2½° of 4th-magnitude Epsilon Piscium.


Venus rises just 2 hours before the Sun at midmonth, and it barely climbs out of the morning twilight before sunrise. It shines at “just” magnitude -3.8 - its faintest for the year. It gains some slight altitude during the month, rising from 7° to 12° at sunrise during July. In a telescope, its nearly-full disk appears only 12 arc-seconds in diameter.


Mercury becomes progressively more visible in the morning sky. It reaches greatest elongation - 21° W of the Sun – on July 12th.  



Dwarf Planets/Asteroids:


The dwarf planet/asteroid 1 Ceres and the asteroid 4 Vesta make a particularly close approach in July. (See our “What’s New” page for more info).  


Pluto is at opposition on July 4th, so this is prime time to hunt the planet down – if you have a large telescope, that is! It shines no brighter than magnitude 14.1, and is in rich star fields in Sagittarius. On the 21st it passes just 1.2 arc-minutes S of the 5th-magnitude star 29 Sagittarii.



    What's New


  • Two Asteroids Synch Up


  • This month, the objects known as 1 Ceres and 4 Vesta approach each other in the sky more closely than they have since they were discovered. Ceres, which is now considered (at least according to the International Astronomical Union) both a dwarf planet and an asteroid) was discovered in 1801. It turned out to be the largest member of a belt of asteroids orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter. Vesta, which was discovered six years later, turned out to be the second most-massive member of the Belt, and – as it turned out – the brightest. (In fact, under ideal conditions, Vesta can be seen with the naked eye).

    By coincidence, both objects have been cruising in the same part of the sky. Both reached opposition in mid-April, when they were at their brightest and closest to Earth. But, as it happens, they appear closest to each other in July. On the evening of July 4th and 5th, they will be separated by only 10 arc-minutes – one-third of the diameter of the Full Moon! They will appear in the same field of view of the average telescope even at high power!

    Of course, recognizing them for what they are is another matter; they still appear as dimensionless points of light even in the most powerful telescope. But if you plot their motion against the background stars from night to night, you should be able to distinguish them.

    Of course, this apparent alignment is only the view from our perspective on Earth; in space, Ceres lies 53 million miles beyond Vesta. One other thing they have in common: they have had - or will have - a visitor from Earth. The ion-powered spacecraft Dawn has already spent 14 months orbiting and mapping Vesta. In is now on its way to do the same job at Ceres, which it should reach in 2015. The difference between their appearance from distant Earth and a spacecraft close up is illustrated in the following images:





    A global map of Vesta, made by the Dawn spacecraft in orbit around the asteroid.




    The best image of Ceres currently available, taken in 2007 by the Hubble Space Telescope. 



July 2014 Star Chart





July 2014 Star Chart

       9:00 PM EST

Looking at Zenith, South at Bottom


The Big Dipper rides high in the NW on late July evenings. To the NE, the bright stars of the Summer Triangle – Vega, Altair, and Deneb – form their own recognizable pattern. Both are actually asterisms rather than constellations; they are well-known patterns formed from stars belonging to a single constellation or patterns made up of stars from several constellations. A prominent star pattern that is a true constellation in the deep south, Scorpius, truly resembles its namesake; there is a group of moderately-bright stars making up the Scorpion’s head and claws, and the bright red star Antares representing its heart. Finally, there is a long sinuous string of stars representing its hindquarters – complete with stinger!


* Text, graphics, and animations by John Sheff. Graphics courtesy of Starry Night Pro Plus 6 / Imaginova Corp. Starry Night images are used with permission from Imaginova Corp.