Astronomical SIGHTS Coming to a SKY NEAR YOU!

Graphics c/o Starry Night Education

This page updated July 16, 2018.

See the HOME page or COMING EVENTS for daily listings.

VIS. COMETS page has more details and finder charts for currently visible comets.

The Planets for June/July 2018:

The only planet in the evening sky has been Venus for a while but this month Mercury re-appears in the west. It is at its farthest from the Sun on July 12. Look for it near the lunar crescent on July 14.

In addition, both of the gas giants,
Uranus and Neptune have come out from behind the Sun in the east and are getting above the horizon for viewing by around midnight or so. They get higher as the summer progresses.

Venus continues as the prominent Evening Star in the west until well into late summer. Venus tracks eastward along the ecliptic for the rest of the spring, passes the Pleiades around April 26 and crosses Taurus in short order. It passes into Gemini in May (close pass to ε-Gem May 27) and by June is tracking through Cancer passing almost through the Beehive Cluster on June 19. By the end of the summer it is found in Leo and makes a close 1° pass at Regulus July 9. There is a nice collection of crescent Moon, Venus, Regulus and Mercury in the sky July 15.

Jupiter has reached opposition (May 7) and Saturn and Mars appear in the east before midnight. Jupiter hangs around in Libra while Mars will have slipped into Capricornus by the end of July when it reaches its opposition. Saturn sitting above the Teapot lid changes the appearance of Sagittarius noticeably. This summer will be the time to watch Mars especially as it gets closest to us this summer (since 2003) and largest and brightest in our sky for many years.

Saturn stays above the Teapot of Sagittarius for the next several months and as it brightens this year towards its opposition in June, it makes for a nice companion for Mars.

Pluto is in Sagittarius right between Mars and Saturn and visible only in moonless sky and with larger telescopes. Finder charts are found on our CHARTS/FORMS page.

July/August 2018 Sky Sights

Jupiter well up, Saturn opposition June 27, Mars July 27
Jupiter is the first star (after Venus) to poke through twilight in the early evening after the Sun goes down. The King of Planets will be featured in several of the BAS Dark of the Moon viewing nights with the Great Red Spot visible on the planet on June 9 at least.

Saturn opposition is June 27 and at magnitude 0.0 it is brightly shining to the left of the Milky Way near the lid of the Teapot. Saturn’s rings are tilted nearly the maximum they can be (26°) this summer.

Mars reaches opposition a month later and all three will be visible for much of the summer along the ecliptic from SW to SE. The diameter of Mars will steadily growing to a maximum of 24 arc seconds near opposition. This is bigger than the disk of Saturn (which ranges from 15 to 18 seconds at opposition) but not as big as Jupiter (31 to 45 seconds across). Surface features on Mars will become detectable easily this month as long as seeing is good. This is problematic because Mars does not get more than 20° high above the southern horizon even at its best. So go out and observe often and hope for one or two nights when steady air prevails

June 27, 2018
Saturn reaches Opposition
Saturn reaches opposition on Jun 27 this year and so rises in the east at sunset and sets in the west at sunrise. It is still good viewing either side of this date, but is more conveniently placed in the dark evening hours now. Look for it in the sky all summer and into the fall when it will be high up in the SW at dark. Ring tilt isa maximum at 26 degrees and the planet is bright, shining at magnitude 0 or so. The diagram below shows the sky at 1:30 am. Note that Mars is also above the horizon and it will also become a viewing target later in the summer when it, too, reaches opposition. Saturn viewing guide here: S&T Saturn Guide
And here is a Saturn Viewing Guide form Cosmic Pursuits:
Viewing Saturn 2018

Saturn opposition June 27

July 15, 2018
Venus, Crescent Moon, Regulus and Mercury
There is a nice collection of objects in the west tonight with two planets, the crescent Moon and a bright star. Look for -4 magnitude Venus 2° to the left of the 3.5 day-old crescent Moon, and Regulus (mag. 1.3) about 5° to the right of the Moon. Closer to the horizon is Mercury (mag. 0.7) about 10° farther to the right and down. The night before, July 14, Mercury and a younger 2.5 day crescent were about 2° apart.

Crescent Venus Regulus Jul 15

July 27, 2018
Mars reaches Opposition (magnitude -2.76 !)


The planet Mars has been brightening and growing in size in our sky up to now and reaches the culmination of its visibility tonight. Up to now we have had to wait until well into the evening to view Mars, but from now on, it is in the sky at sunset and in an hour or so climbs above the murky air near the horizon into good viewing position. This year, Mars is closer at just under 58 million km than it was since 2003. Brightness is a spectacular -2.76 and it is 24 arc seconds across. The only down side is that it is only 20° above the southern horizon when it reaches the meridian around 1 am EDT so features will be viewed through a larger column of turbulent air that at other oppositions. In any case, get out to view Mars often and there will be times when the atmosphere steadies down and allows glimpses of the surface features there. SkyNews magazine has a Mars viewing Guide here: Mars in 2018

Aug 12, 2018
Persend Meteor Shower peaks
The peak night of this shower should see 90 meteors/h, and we have only a very thin Moon (4%) to contend with so this is undoubtedly the best meteor shower of the year! Many BAS members will be back from Starfest by now and there will likely be viewing at Fox but you only need a dark sky location with a view to the NE for meteor watching. Observe with your friends and family, it should be a good show. Here is an article about how to get the best out of meteor watching: Meteor shower 2018 guide S&T and how to watch: Watching Meteors
Also here is a one page download:
Meteor watching

The Perseid radiant appears at the head of Perseus and is the point from which meteors appear to stream. Think railway tracks converging at the horizon or snow flakes appearing to come from a point in front as you drive into them. Diagram by Sky&Telescope magazine.

A summary of the entire 2018 year of ASTRONOMY events can be found here:
ASTRONOMY 2018 Events
An astronomical calendar for 2018 (with diagrams of sky sights like those above) will be available soon for download from Alan Dyer's website here: (look at the bottom of the "about Alan" page).