All information presented here is taken from my 74 page book NightScenes 2016.

Click on the monthly image to get a larger high resolution view of the night sky set for 53° N (Horncastle, England) but is usable for the UK and Eire.  All charts are set for the 1st of the month at 22:00 GMT (10pm), 23:00 BST during Summer Time and can be used on the other dates and times shown in each corner of the chart.

July 2016

The visible planets & small worlds

For most charts see the buttons at the top for various planets etc.. Charts & images in the text can be clicked to give a larger view.


In Nightscenes, the book, it doesn't feature the Dwarf Planet Pluto with its own full page entry but for those with large telescopes, Pluto comes to opposition on July 7th at mag 14.1 and is located in the Teaspoon asterism in Sagittarius as shown here. Since the New Horizons spacecraft flew past in July 2015 it has turned out to be a very interesting world indeed so it is a shame it is so faint and far away. Still, the Teaspoon is a nice asterism to take a look at and when you do, you know that amongst its stars at the moment lies this distant world. Further finder charts can be found from the Pluto button above with more detailed close up charts for those who want them.

Now back to things that are easier to see!

July-mn-jup.jpgOver in the bright evening twilight around 10:30pm lurks Leo the lion as it sinks into the solar glare. Just before it does so the crescent moon guides you to Regulus on the 7th when the moon lies directly below the star (right). The next evening it lies between Regulus and Jupiter then on the 9th it is a thicker crescent to the left of Jupiter. Jupiter is also slowly moving against the background stars and on the 13th/14th it lies below Sigma Leonis for the second time this year, the first time was back on March 2nd when it lay half the distance compared with July 13th when it will be 32 arc minutes south of the star. TechnJuly-jup-sigma.jpgically conjunction occurs on the 14th but really from the 12th to 14th is the time range to watch.

The view at right is set for the 13th at 10:30pm and is just over 1/2° view so needs a telescope to see it like this. However with binoculars you will see a star just above Jupiter which will be Sigma. On the 13th the Galilean moons wJuly-jup-sigma-mns.jpgill again show Europa crossing the disk of the planet with Io and Callisto on one side with Ganymede on the other. Worth pointing a telescope at them!

July-mn-mars-sat.jpgThe moon passes by the other two bright evening planets, Mars and Saturn from the 14th to 16th as shown on the right set for 10:30pm. On the 14th it lies close to Zuben Elakrab or Gamma Librae and above Mars. The next evening it forms a triangle with Saturn and Antares whilst on the 16th it forms a line with Saturn and Mars. All these make interesting astrophoto's done with a camera and tripod and no fancy gear so why not have a go?

Mars and Saturn are worth viewing with a telescope if you have one - the Martian disk size is still large enough to Mars-size-2016.jpgspot subtle features whilst Saturn is always stunning with its ring system.


Saturn has 62 moons but with a telescope there are around 4 to 8 that can be spotted with care. The brightest is Titan, second largest moon in the solar system (after June-sat-titan-to-sept.jpgGanymede at Jupiter) and it can be spotted with a pair of 10x50 binoculars if they are attached to a sturdy and stable tripod. Titan takes ~16 days to complete one orbit around Saturn so using the chart and the table at left, look out for it as it makes its way around Saturn over the next few months.

July-mn-neptune.jpgOnce past Full Moon (July 19th) it lies in the morning sky and is very close to Neptune and Lambda Aquarii on the 23rd, look around 4am as shown here at right. Lambda is mag 3.7 compared with the much fainter mag 7.8 Neptune but they and the moon should be viewable in binoculars attached to a tripod. Note that on the chart above Neptune is greatly exaggerated! Neptune is in conjunction with Lambda for the second time this year on the 24th.


On the 29th the thick crescent moon lies close to, and occults, Gamma Tauri, Hyadum I. The view at left shows the moon close to the star and we all should see the disappearance before the sky gets too light with morning twilight. More details of this event can be found using the occultation's button above.


Clear skies and happy sky watching.


The UK & Ireland Night Sky for 2016 AD


Earth is at Aphelion (furthest from the Sun) on July 4th at 16hrs UT (17hrs BST) when it will be at a distance from the Sun of 152 million km or 95 million miles.

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