Sun sets at 6:52pm
Sun rises at 5:42am
Moon phase: full moon, waning
Moon rises: Saturday at 6:35pm
Moon sets: Sunday at 5:55am
The Full Thunder Moon reigns supreme over this weekend’s nights, given that moniker due to the summer rain storms that loom ever near. We often call the July full moon the Buck Moon in North America, because at this time of year, buck deer begin to grow their velvety antlers, but some call the July full moon the Hay Moon because this is when farmers are struggling to put hay in their barns.
Whatever you call this month’s full moon, take a moment to observe certain details. The full moon displays the crater Tycho in the southern half of the lunar orb. Tycho is an impact crater, formed by the ancient collision of the moon with a meteor. The crater itself is rather small, but its ejecta rays are amazingly long, and stretch out from the crater. Ejecta rays represent the path of the material thrown out from the crater at the moment of impact. Throw a round stone into some wet sand to experiment with craters, rays and ejected material.
Saturday night, the thunder moon hangs in the constellation of Sagittarius. Nearby, to the east of the moon, look for the planet Saturn and farther to the east is the planet Jupiter. Saturn is about halfway from the moon to the bright star Antares in the constellation Scorpius. Jupiter lies currently in the constellation Virgo.
If you are an early riser, July is a good time to see the planet Venus beaming in front of the constellation Taurus the Bull. Wake up an hour or so before sunrise and look eastward.
Given clear skies, there’s no way you can miss Venus, the third-brightest celestial object after the sun and moon. If you’re up while it’s still rather dark, Venus will draw your eye to the Bull’s two most prominent signposts: the bright star Aldebaran and the easy-to-see, dipper-shaped Pleiades star cluster.
Because Venus is a planet and not a star, this world isn’t a permanent resident of Taurus. It’s only a temporary visitor. In fact, the word planet means “wanderer” because the ancients noticed that Venus and all the planets move relative to the fixed backdrop constellations of the zodiac.
During the coming week, look for the daytime moon in a waning gibbous phase, rising after nightfall and setting in a westward direction after sunrise. This upcoming week, you can see the daytime moon in the morning sky. If you look for the moon at the same time every morning, you’ll see the moon climbing higher and higher up into the sky each day all week long.
Thank you for keeping up with the Night Sky articles. If you are out later on in the week, each star rises about four minutes earlier each day than written here, and the moon rises 50 minutes later. Night Sky is researched and compiled by Lisa Davis-Burnett. Earthsky.org is a key resource for information and images. Questions or comments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org