Five planets are visible to the unaided eye in the early evening sky. Bright Venus and Mercury are low in the west after twilight ends (Mercury in July only). At the same time Jupiter is due north and Saturn in the east, with Mars rising below the ringed world – splendid!
Near the ‘spout’ star of Sagittarius’s teapot lies the centre of the Milky Way. Binoculars show the area is rich in dark clouds, scattered throughout with bright nebulae and star clusters. Check out the open clusters, M6 and M7, near the end of Scorpius’s tail.
You can’t miss Venus passing through Leo and Virgo. July opens with its phase like a gibbous nine-day-old Moon, which shrinks to a five-day crescent by the end of August. Reflected sunlight off the clouds shrouding the planet causes its brilliance.
Glenn Dawes is a co-author of the yearbook Astronomy 2018 Australia (Quasar Publishing).