J U L Y S K Y W A T C H
by Maya del Mar
Mars is big stuff this monthliterally. And its very, very bright as its growing in apparent size. As the month begins, Mars rises in the east around midnight. Each night Mars slowly moves eastward against the background stars, rising a bit earlier, and each night it brightens, gaining 33% in brightness during the month. On July 29, Mars stops that eastward movementalthough it continues to brightenas it stations and turns retrograde relative to earth. It will then slowly move westward for the next two months. For four monthsJuly, August, September and OctoberMars will cover and recover the longitudinal area from 0-10 degrees of Pisces. In the sky, the backdrop will be the constellation of Aquarius.
In the sky, Mars makes a loop around the visible star Tau Aquarii, which is on the eclipticthe planets pathway. A rare sight will greet those of us checking Mars at 4:00 a.m. EDT on July 17. Its brilliant disc will hang just above the waning moon. People viewing from southern Florida, Central America, northwest South America, and the Caribbean will see a spectacular occultation, as Moon briefly hides the disk of Mars. Watch for this area to have extra strife during the next few weeks, perhaps beginning when Mars turns direct on September 27, or perhaps around the November Lunar Eclipse, when Mars returns to this same degree.
(There are two more occultations, or eclipses, of Mars this yearone on September 9, while Mars is still retrograde, and the other on October 6, just after Mars has turned direct. Mars is, and will be very potent indeed during this time.)
This is the last month to see Jupiter in the evening sky. Look at the constellation Leo, low in the western sky shortly after sunset. On the evening of July 1, Jupiter makes a beautiful sight paired with the new crescent moon. On July 2 it will be below the crescent moon. Mercury joins Jupiter in the evening sky during the last ten days of August. Watch Jupiter through your binoculars, and look for a point of light to the lower right. By July 25, Mercury will creep past Jupiter. On July 30, we can see the new delicate crescent moon above this pair.
Venus and Saturn meet now as morning stars. We can see them low in the east-northeast shortly before sunrise. Because of the sunlight, binoculars will be a big help. On July 8, Venus and Saturn have their conjunction, and then take different paths. Fast Venus quickly moves into the Suns glow, where we cannot see her. Slow Saturn, on the other hand, has Sun moving away from it, and will rise earlier for easier viewing as the months move on.
This is our last month, then, to catch Jupiter as evening star, and Venus as morning star.
Red Mars is the big star of these months, both astrologically and celestially. For more on Mars, see this month's retrograde report.