This month there is a noticeable shift in our planet parade. Jupiter and Venus have made it back into the morning sky. Also they will spend most of the month in fairly close proximity to each other. The fun starts on the first of July about one hour before sunrise.
Looking east-northeast, about 12 degrees above the horizon, (remember your fist held at arm’s length is about 10 degrees) both planets can be found between the Pleiades (Seven Sisters) and the bright star Aldebaran in Taurus (The Bull). On the 10th, Venus will be a scant 2.5 degrees above Aldebaran.
Venus blazes away at magnitude -4.7 while Jupiter shines at a respectable magnitude of -2.1. Since they are so close together, it will be interesting to compare their brightness.
On July 15, Venus, Jupiter, Aldebaran and the Moon will form a tight grouping that will be a really neat sight. As the month continues, both planets will rise higher in the early morning sky. Additionally, the spacing between the two planets will grow larger.
However, the evening sky still contains some excellent planetary viewing. We start with Mercury, which will be visible at 8 degrees above the west-northwest horizon for about the first week of July. Find a low, clear horizon and look for it about 45 minutes after sunset.
Mars and Saturn are high in the southwest sky just after sunset. It will be interesting to watch the distance between the two shrink as the month progresses. Starting at 24 degrees separation, they will be within 8 degrees of each other by the end of the month.
Saturn will be of special interest to those with small to medium sized telescopes. Having reached quadrature, the sun angle on the ringed planet will make it appear almost three dimensional. One result of this is that the shadow of its rings on the planet should be quite pronounced and visible.
The Moon will be full on the July 3, last quarter on the July 11, new on July 19 and first quarter on July 26.
On July 15 the waning crescent Moon will be between and slightly to the left of Jupiter and Venus in the early morning sky. On July 24 and 25, the waxing Moon will pass first Mars and then Saturn.