Astronomy News for the Month of July 2021

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Due to hardware issues, links with the Allstar node, Echolink and the Cripple Creek repeater are down until further notice.
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For special JPL programs and presentations in your area visit the JPL Solar System Ambassador website.
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In this Newsletter...

Background screen credits: NGC5775
Imaged March 21/22, 2001
using the 16" Kitt Peak Visitors Center telescope
as part of the Kitt Peak Advanced Observing Program.

The Month At-A-Glance
A calendar displaying the daily astronomical events.

17 day moon

The Moon



Moon/Planet Pairs

For reference: The Full Moon subtends an angle of ~0.5°.

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The Planets & Dwarf Planets

Planetary Reports generated by "TheSkyX" software. These reports provide predicted data for the planets for the first of each month for the current year. The rise and set times for the Sun and the Moon for each day of the month as well as meteor shower radiants are also included in the reports. These reports have been optimized for the Denver, Colorado location, however, the times will be approximate for other locations on Earth.

(All times are local unless otherwise noted.)

Planetary Highlights for July

"The shorter summer evenings still offer a wide range of planetary events for casual and serious observers alike. Venus dominates the evening sky, while Mars lingers in twilight as well. The midnight sky brings Jupiter and Saturn into view as they approach their best appearance for the year. Binoculars can track down Uranus and Neptune, both of which lie near field stars. Mercury makes an appearance as dawn breaks; see if you can catch it before the Sun bakes the sky blue." Astronomy Magazine, July 2021, P. 32.


Is at greatest western elongation (22°) on the 4th. Mercury rises about 4:24 a.m. on the 1st and about 5:56 a.m. by month's end. Look for Mercury to the east about 30 minutes before sunrise. Mercury moves from the constellation of Taurus into Cancer shining at magnitude -0.6 on the 15th.


Sets at 10:08 p.m. on the 1st and about 9:45 p.m. by month's end. Look for Venus in the west soon after sunset. Venus is in conjunction with Mars on the 13th, passed within a half degree of each other. Venus moves from the constellation of Taurus into Cancer shining at magnitude -3.9 on the 15th.


Is at aphelion (94.5 million miles from the Sun) on the 5th.


Sets at 10:27 p.m. on the 1st and about 9:17 p.m. by month's end. Mars is at aphelion (154.9 million miles from the Sun) on the 12th. Look for Mars to the west soon after sunset. Mars moves from the constellation of Cancer into Leo shining at magnitude 1.8.


Rises at 11:12 p.m. on the 1st and about 9:04 p.m. by month's end. Look for Jupiter in the late evening and throughout the night as it crosses from horizon to horizon. Jupiter is in the constellation of Aquarius shining at magnitude -2.7.


Rises at 10:16 p.m. on the 1st and about 8:09 p.m. by month's end. Look for Saturn in the late evening and throughout the night as it crosses from horizon to horizon preceding Jupiter by about an hour all month. Saturn is in the constellation of Capricornus shining at magnitude 0.2.


Rises at 2:11 a.m. on the 1st and around 12:12 a.m. by month's end. Look to the southeast before sunrise to spot Uranus. Uranus is in the constellation of Aries shining at magnitude 5.8.


Rises at 12:04 a.m. on the 1st and about 10:02 p.m. by month's end. Look to the south before sunrise to spot Neptune in the constellation of Aquarius shining at magnitude 7.7.

Dwarf Planets


Rises at 2:58 a.m. on the 1st and about 1:27 a.m. by month's end. Look to the southeast to spot Ceres before sunrise. Ceres moves from the constellation of Aries into Taurus shining at magnitude 9.2.


Is at opposition on the 17th, rising as the Sun sets. Pluto rises at 9:27 p.m. on the 1st and about 7:23 p.m. by month's end. Pluto is visible all night long under the right conditions. Pluto is in the constellation of Sagittarius shining at magnitude 14.9.

As always, good luck at spotting Neptune, Ceres and Pluto, a large telescope and dark skies will be needed.

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Astronomical Events

Meteor Showers

  • The Southern Delta Aquarids - This meteor shower - has a duration of July 14 - August 18. Maximum hourly rates of 15-20 occur on July 28/29.

  • The Northern Delta Aquarids extends from July 16 to September 10. Maximum occurs on August 13. The hourly rates reach a high of 10.

    Meteor Shower Radiant Report

    For more information about Meteor Showers, visit Gary Kronk's Meteor Showers Online web page.

    Meteor Scatter (or Meteor burst communications) - "is a radio propagation mode that exploits the ionized trails of meteors during atmospheric entry to establish brief communications paths between radio stations up to 2,250 kilometres (1,400 mi) apart." Tune your shortwave or your HF amateur radio to 54.310 MHz SSB and see if you can hear any pings. Try other frequencies as well... 6m FT8 digital - 50.313 Mhz & 50.276 Mhz, JP-65 digital mode and the carrier frequencies of the lower VHF bands for TV channels 2, 3 & 4.

    Meteor Rx How-To by Terry Bullett (WØASP)

  • Comets

    "Clear summer nights often leave you wanting more. If your latitude only gives you four hours of darkness, going 'till 3 a.m. is worth the preparation. Several periodic comets float in the predawn sky: 15P/Finlay and 8P/Tuttle are low in the horizon haze, while 4P/Faye glides above.

    Dark country skies are needed to pick up Faye's 10th-magnitude glow in a 4-inch scope. An 8-incher should reveal a stubby tail off to the north, while the southern flank sports a more well-defined boundary. Although Faye returns every 7.5 years, we only get a decent look every 15, because that extra six months puts Earth on the far side of the Sun in our January location every other orbit." Astronomy Magazine, July 2021, p. 38.

  • For information, orbital elements and ephemerides on observable comets, visit the Observable Comets page from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

    For more information about Comets, visit Gary Kronk's webpage.

  • Eclipses

    Solar Eclipses

  • No solar eclipse activity this month.

    Lunar Eclipses

  • No lunar eclipse activity this month.

  • Observational Opportunities

  • Look for Venus, Mars and Pluto in the evening.
  • Look for Saturn and Jupiter in the evening and after midnight.
  • Look for Neptune and Uranus in the morning before sunrise.

  • Asteroids

    (From west to east)
    • Vesta is in the constellation of Virgo.
    • Hebe is at opposition on the 17th in the constellation of Aquila.
    • Victoria is at opposition on the 30th in the constellation of Aquila.
    • Ariadne is in the constellation of Aquarius.
    • Julia is in the constellation of Aquarius.
    • Pallus is in the constellation of Pisces.
    • Iris is in the constellation of Taurus.

    • Information about the Minor Planets can be found at the Minor Planet Observer website.

    IOTA Logo

  • Information on various occultations can be found by clicking the IOTA logo.
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    Subscriber Gallery

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    Member Meteor Sightings

    In this section I will post meteor, fireball, etc sightings that have been published on the American Meteor Society's web site. I want to make this an active section of the web pages and newsletter and would like to publish the links to member sightings. If you have any published sightings, please provide me with the links and I will post them here for all to enjoy.

    Event ID Date/Time Location Observer Link
    3587-2015 2015-11-22 17:38 MST CO Kevin S 3587aw
    3829-2015 2015-12-05 18:06 MST CO Burness A 3829a
    3871-2015 2015-11-13 01:55 MST CO Charles N 3871a
    986-2020 2020-02-21 22:20 MST CO Lukas S 986
    3716-2020 2020-07-24 23:22 MST CO Lukas S 3716

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    Planetary/Lunar Exploration Missions

    (Excerpts from recent JPL mission updates)

    JPL Latest News
    The Latest from Space

    JPL Latest News

    July 01, 2021
    National Space Society Honors Bobby Braun, Rob Manning

    Full Article & Images

    "Braun and Manning have received 2021 Space Pioneer Awards for their entry, descent, and landing contributions.

    The Director for Planetary Science at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, Bobby Braun, and JPL's Chief Engineer, Rob Manning, are recipients of 2021 Space Pioneer Awards from the National Space Society. The awards recognize their accomplishments framing the unique challenges of, and designing solutions for, the problem of entry, descent, and landing (EDL) at Mars."

    Read the latest news and discoveries from JPL's dozens of active space missions exploring Earth, the solar system and worlds beyond.

    Past, Present, Future and Proposed JPL Missions.

    For special JPL programs and presentations in your area visit the JPL Solar System Ambassador web site.

    Juno - July 01, 2021

    Full Article & Images

    "New eye-catching posters celebrate the five year anniversary of Juno's orbit insertion at Jupiter in psychedelic style.

    On July 4, 2016, NASA's Juno spacecraft arrived at Jupiter on a mission to peer through the gas giant planet's dense clouds and answer questions about the origins of our solar system. Since its arrival, Juno has provided scientists a treasure trove of data about the planet's origins, interior structures, atmosphere and magnetosphere. Juno is the first mission to observe Jupiter's deep atmosphere and interior, and will continue to delight with dazzling views of the planet's colorful clouds and Galilean moons. As it circles Jupiter, Juno provides critical knowledge for understanding the formation of our own solar system, the Jovian system and the role giant planets play in putting together planetary systems elsewhere."

    Images from NASA's JunoCam.

    More information on the Juno mission is available at: Juno and Mission Juno.

    The public can follow the Juno mission on Facebook and Twitter.

    New Horizons - June 28, 2021
    After 60 Years, Nuclear Power for Spaceflight is Still Tried and True

    Full Article & Images

    "Six decades after the launch of the first nuclear-powered space mission, Transit IV-A, NASA is embarking on a bold future of human exploration and scientific discovery. This future builds on a proud history of safely launching and operating nuclear-powered missions in space.

    "Nuclear power has opened the solar system to exploration, allowing us to observe and understand dark, distant planetary bodies that would otherwise be unreachable. And we're just getting started," said Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. "Future nuclear power and propulsion systems will help revolutionize our understanding of the solar system and beyond and play a crucial role in enabling long-term human missions to the Moon and Mars." "

    New Horizons gallery

    Find New Horizons in the iTunes App Store.

    For more information on the New Horizons mission - the first mission to the ninth planet - visit the New Horizons home page.

    TESS - June 10, 2021
    Citizen Scientists Discover Two Gaseous Planets around a Bright Sun-like Star

    Full Article & Images

    "At night, seven-year-old Miguel likes talking to his father Cesar Rubio about planets and stars. "I try to nurture that," says Rubio, a machinist in Pomona, California, who makes parts for mining and power generation equipment.

    Now, the boy can claim his father helped discover planets, too. Cesar Rubio is one of thousands of volunteers participating in Planet Hunters TESS, a NASA-funded citizen science project that looks for evidence of planets beyond our solar system, or exoplanets. Citizen science is a way for members of the public to collaborate with scientists. More than 29,000 people worldwide have joined the Planet Hunters TESS effort to help scientists find exoplanets."

    For more information on the TESS mission, visit the Latest Tess Stories page.

    Past, Present, Future and Proposed JPL Missions

    Visit JPL's mission pages for current status.

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    Mars Missions

    Be A Martian

    Mars website mobile version is here!

    Mars Daily Weather Report

    Mars on the Go! NASA Be A Martian Mobile App
    If you want the latest news as it happens, try our Be A Martian app.
    Download on Mobile Devices
    Android | iPhone | Windows Phone

    JMARS is an acronym that stands for Java Mission-planning and Analysis for Remote Sensing. It is a geospatial information system (GIS) developed by ASU's Mars Space Flight Facility to provide mission planning and data-analysis tools to NASA's orbiters, instrument team members, students of all ages, and the general public.

    Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics

    "The Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU) began in 1948, a decade before NASA. We are the world's only research institute to have sent instruments to all eight planets and Pluto.

    LASP combines all aspects of space exploration through our expertise in science, engineering, mission operations, and scientific data analysis. As part of CU, LASP also works to educate and train the next generation of space scientists, engineers and mission operators by integrating undergraduate and graduate students into working teams. Our students take their unique experiences with them into government or industry, or remain in academia to continue the cycle of exploration.

    LASP is an affiliate of CU-Boulder AeroSpace Ventures, a collaboration among aerospace-related departments, institutes, centers, government labs, and industry partners."

    LASP/MAVEN - March 9, 2021
    Hope Probe captures new images of Mars with the Emirates Ultraviolet Spectrometer

    Full Article & Images

    "Key takeaways:

  • March 9th marks one month since the Hope Probe successfully entered into orbit around Mars.

  • The Emirates Ultraviolet Spectrometer (EMUS) took its first science images on February 20th, 2021, providing information on the composition of Mars' upper atmosphere.

  • The orbiter, named 'Hope' (Al Amal in Arabic), and two of the three science instruments on board, Emirates eXploration Imager (EXI) and Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer (EMUS) were developed at LASP in partnership with MBRSC engineers.

  • The mission, the first interplanetary exploration undertaken by an Arab nation, will spend one Martian Year (about two Earth years) orbiting around the red planet gathering crucial scientific data on its atmosphere."

    Visit LASP and MAVEN for more information.

  • Mars 2020 - Perseverance - July 01, 2021
    NASA's Self-Driving Perseverance Mars Rover 'Takes the Wheel'

    Full Article & Images

    "The agency's newest rover is trekking across the Martian landscape using a newly enhanced auto-navigation system.

    NASA's newest six-wheeled robot on Mars, the Perseverance rover, is beginning an epic journey across a crater floor seeking signs of ancient life. That means the rover team is deeply engaged with planning navigation routes, drafting instructions to be beamed up, even donning special 3D glasses to help map their course."

    Learn more about the Mars 2020 (Perseverance) mission.

    Mars Science Laboratory - Curiosity - June 29, 2021
    First You See It, Then You Don't: Scientists Closer to Explaining Mars Methane Mystery

    Full Article & Images

    "Why do some science instruments detect the gas on the Red Planet while others don't?

    Reports of methane detections at Mars have captivated scientists and non-scientists alike. On Earth, a significant amount of methane is produced by microbes that help most livestock digest plants. This digestion process ends with livestock exhaling or burping the gas into the air.

    While there are no cattle, sheep, or goats on Mars, finding methane there is exciting because it may imply that microbes were, or are, living on the Red Planet. Methane could have nothing to do with microbes or any other biology, however; geological processes that involve the interaction of rocks, water, and heat can also produce it."

    For information about NASA's partnership with Foursquare.

      Mars Rover Landing - Free for the Xbox 360 (requires Kinect)

      Visit the Mars Science Laboratory page.

    Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission - February 8, 2021
    Where Should Future Astronauts Land on Mars? Follow the Water

    Full Article & Image

    "A new NASA paper provides the most detailed map to date of near-surface water ice on the Red Planet.

    So you want to build a Mars base. Where to start? Like any human settlement, it would be best located near accessible water. Not only will water be crucial for life-support supplies, it will be used for everything from agriculture to producing the rocket propellant astronauts will need to return to Earth.

    Schlepping all that water to Mars would be costly and risky. That's why NASA has engaged scientists and engineers since 2015 to identify deposits of Martian water ice that could be within reach of astronauts on the planet's surface. But, of course, water has huge scientific value, too: If present-day microbial life can be found on Mars, it would likely be nearby these water sources as well."

    All of the HiRISE images are archived here.

    More information about the MRO mission is available online.

    Mars Odyssey Orbiter - April 7, 2021
    NASA's Odyssey Orbiter Marks 20 Historic Years of Mapping Mars

    Full Article and Images

    "NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft launched 20 years ago on April 7, making it the oldest spacecraft still working at the Red Planet. The orbiter, which takes its name from Arthur C. Clarke's classic sci-fi novel "2001: A Space Odyssey" (Clarke blessed its use before launch), was sent to map the composition of the Martian surface, providing a window to the past so scientists could piece together how the planet evolved."

    Daily Mars Odyssey THEMIS Images
    Can be found at the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) website.

    The Odyssey data are available through a new online access system established by the Planetary Data System.

    Visit the Mars Odyssey Mission page.

    Journey to Mars - InSight - Revealing the Heart of Mars - June 03, 2021
    NASA's InSight Mars Lander Gets a Power Boost

    Full Article and Images

    "The spacecraft successfully cleared some dust off its solar panels, helping to raise its energy and delay when it will need to switch off its science instruments.

    The team behind NASA's InSight Mars lander has come up with an innovative way to boost the spacecraft's energy at a time when its power levels have been falling. The lander's robotic arm trickled sand near one solar panel, helping the wind to carry off some of the panel's dust. The result was a gain of about 30 watt-hours of energy per sol, or Martian day."

    Interactive selection of raw images taken by the cameras aboard InSight.

    Learn more about the InSight Mission.

    Mars Missions Status

    New Mars missions are being planned to include several new rover and sample collection missions. Check out the Mars Missions web page and the Mars Exploration page.

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    Astronomy Links and Other Space News

    (If you have a link you would like to recommend to our readers, please feel free to submit it.)

    Green Laser

    Colorado Astronomy Links

    Radio Astronomy Links

    Other Astronomy Links

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    Astronomical Lexicon

    Definitions of astronomical terms. Many of the astronomical terms used in this newsletter are defined here.

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    UT Logo

    Read the Universe Today Newsletter by clicking on the logo.

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    Acknowledgments and References

    Much of the information in this newsletter is from Astronomy® Magazine (Kalmbach Publishing), JPL mission status reports, the Internet, "Meteor Showers - A descriptive Catalog" by Gary W. Kronk, Sky & Telescope web pages, and other astronomical sources that I have stashed on my bookshelves.

    The author will accept any suggestions, constructive criticisms, and corrections. Please feel free to send me any new links or articles to share as well. I will try to accommodate any reasonable requests. Please feel free to send questions, comments, criticisms, or donations to the email address listed below. Enjoy!

    More Acknowledgements and References

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