July Night Sky Guide: ‘Prime Time’ to Photograph the Milky Way Galaxy

NASA has released a guide to the night sky this July pointing out which celestial objects will be prominent and highlighting that it is one of the best times of year to capture the Milky Way Galaxy.

Summertime in the northern hemisphere is a good time to go outside at night with your camera, with daytime temperatures reachings into the 80s or even the 90s — nighttime photography can offer some cool relief.

Capturing the Milky Way Galaxy

July is the prime time for capturing the Milky Way Galaxy and photographers wanting to capture an epic shot of the clusters of stars, gas, and dust that we live in, then they will want to point their cameras south at around 22:00 and look for a faint diagonal band of light.

The Milky Way is best seen away from bright city lights so anyone taking a vacation to a remote area may want to consider bringing a camera and tripod. And don’t forget to read PetaPixel’s guide to photographing the Milky Way.

Venus and Mars

Venus and Mars will be close to one another in the western sky just after sunset throughout July. The two have been edging closer toward each other in June but Venus will now start tearing away from Mars getting closer to the horizon.

And in the second week of July, the Red Planet will have a new companion in the night sky — the star Regulus. Mars is currently about as far as it can be from Earth and this means Regulus and Mars will be about the same brightness. But NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory says it should be quite easy to spot Mars’s red glow versus Regulus’s blue glow using a pair of binoculars or even with the naked eye.

Regulus and Mars will be closest together on July 9 and 10 and then on July 20, the Moon will pass through the pair. Mercury will also appear in the same area of the sky but will be very close to the horizon.

Jupiter and Saturn

For those who would rather go to bed after the sun sets, gas giants Jupiter and Saturn will be visible before sunrise. On July 11, Jupiter will shine brightly beneath a crescent Moon.

Saturn will also be visible in the sky at the same time, but Jupiter will be far brighter and that’s because Saturn is significantly further away from Earth and the Sun.

But Saturn won’t be alone, with it just before sunrise will be the bright star Fomalhaut. The young whippersnapper of a star (it’s only 440 million years old) was recently captured by the James Webb Space Telescope where it was revealed that its asteroid belt has more complex structures than previously thought.