Here are the Moon phases in the Northern hemisphere for July 2010 and other interesting things of note in the sky.
4th July: Last Quarter
11th July: New Moon
18th July: First Quarter
26th July: Full Moon
The Earth is at ‘aphelion’ on 6th July. Aphelion is when the Earth is at its furthest distance from the Sun in its journey around the star (the centre of these bodies lie 152,096,448 km apart!). Perihelion is the closest point at which Earth comes to the Sun in its orbit (147,098,040 km) – this year, that took place in the early hours of 3rd January.
Although the long, light nights of summertime make spotting the fainter points of light in the sky harder (especially in Scotland and further north where the Sun doesn’t really even dip below the horizon), there are still things to look out for:
‘The Summer Triangle’ (in the image above) is the well-known asterism that is made of the 3 bright stars, Deneb, Altair and Vega. An asterism is a pattern of stars seen from the Earth that is not an official constellation. In this case, Deneb is the tail of the swan, Cygnus; Vega is the brightest star in Lyra the harp; and Altair is the eye of the eagle, Aquila. The eagle-eyed amongst you will also spot the Milky Way running through the constellations of Aquila and Cygnus.
You might also be incredibly fortunate to spot noctilucent clouds which are illuminated in an ethereal blueish-silver as they reflect the Sun’s light. Found over 50miles above the surface of the Earth, these clouds are the highest in our sky and are something of a mystery. They can generally only be seen in latitudes between 50 and 65 degrees North and South during summer months and are believed to be comprised of water ice.
If you can stand the cheesy singing (or just hit mute!) this video from NASA on Youtube is worth a look to see the beauty of noctilucent clouds:
And from the chap who brought us the beautiful “The Cloud Collector’s Handbook” comes another pocket-sized hardback that you’ll find indispensable; “The Wavewatcher’s Companion” by Gavin Pretor-Pinney.
If you’ve ever thought about waves%