Mercury is low west-northwest at dusk the first week of the month and will be at inferior conjunction (between us and the sun) on July 28. - Mars and Saturn start the month 24 degrees apart in the southwest after dark and will only be eight degrees apart by the end of July. At dusk, you can find Mars to the upper right of the moon on July 24 and then Saturn to the upper right of the moon on July 25.
Venus and Jupiter are brilliant and spectacular just before dawn in the east-northeast - with Jupiter above Venus. The star Aldebaran is very near Venus the first 12 days of the month. Venus, Jupiter, Aldebaran and the crescent moon are the coolest things in the sky the Sunday morning of July 15.
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At the planetariums
Science Center of Pinellas County,7701 22nd Ave. N, St. Petersburg: NASA workshop for girls starts Aug. 6. Check the website for details. St. Petersburg Astronomy Club meets July 27 at 8 p.m. Learn how to build a telescope at the ongoing classes on Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. in the optical laboratory in the annex building (behind the main building). The St. Petersburg Astronomy Club meets at the Science Center the fourth Friday of every month at 8 p.m. Details at stpeteastronomyclub.org. For more information, call (727) 384-0027 or visit sciencecenterofpinellas.org.
St. Petersburg College,Fifth Avenue and 69th Street N, St. Petersburg: Free planetarium shows on Fridays at 7 and 8:15 p.m. The Stars of Summer, which ends July 20, will be the last show until Aug. 24. No admittance after the show starts, and no children younger than 5. When the skies are clear the observatory will be open after the second show. More details at spcollege.edu/spg/planetarium.htm or (727) 341-4320.
Gulfport: Telescopes will be set up July 6 at dusk at the corner of Beach Boulevard and 31st Avenue S if the skies are clear.
South Florida Museum and Bishop Planetarium, 210 10th St. W, Bradenton: Four different shows and a manatee to visit at the facility. Details at southfloridamuseum.org or (941) 746-4131.
Museum of Science and Industry,4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa: The M.O.S.I. Show. The astronomy club (M.A.R.S.) meets July 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the Science Works Theatre. marsastro.org. Call (813) 987-6100 or visit mosi.org for more events.
Daryl L. Schrader is professor emeritus at St. Petersburg College and teaches astronomy at the University of South Florida.
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July sky calendar
1-6: Look for Mercury low in the west-northwest at dusk. The stars, Pollux and Castor, are to its right. At dawn in the east-northeast, Aldebaran, Venus, Jupiter and the Pleiades form an almost perpendicular line to the horizon. Moon closest (perigee) at 225,164 miles on July 1.
2: Full moon.
3: Earth at its greatest distance from sun at 94.5 million miles.
10: Last quarter moon.
12: Venus at its greatest brightness.
13: Moon at an apogee of 251,518 miles.
15: An hour before sunrise, Venus, Jupiter and Aldebaran group with the crescent moon.
19: New moon.
24: Mars is the upper right of the moon at dusk.
25: Saturn to the upper right of the moon at dusk.
28: Mercury is in inferior conjunction (between us and the sun).
29: Moon is at a perigee of 228,239 miles.
31: Spica, Saturn and Mars (reddish) form a triangle west-southwest at dusk.