Visible Planets July 2015 – Mercury and Venus

PlanetsKam’s loving these posts about the planets.  We’re here again in July eager to find out which planets we can see.

Yesterday evening as a total bonus we saw Venus and Jupiter close together.  It’s been hard to spot the planets as it gets dark so much later.  But, Kam had a late night last night and I thought go for it, let’s see Venus and Jupiter.  He was over the moon, really  pleased and happily went to sleep afterwards!  We took a photo so overall we’re pleased.

Here is our post about the visible planets: Visible Planets.
Here is our post for the other visible planets: Visible Planets July 2015 – Mars, Jupiter and Saturn

Mercury

Mercury: NASA
Mercury: NASA

Mercury has the honour of being the closest planet to the Sun.  It’s round the Sun takes 88 days.  So, a Mercury year is 88 Earth days long.

Now, a Mercury day is 176 Earth days long! It spins or rotates very slowly on its own axis.

Mercury passes over the Sun every 7 years.  This next happens on May 16th 2016.  I’ll order some of the special glasses early.  We never look at the Sun, Brian Cox says not to!

Planets do not usually twinkle or scintillates, but Mercury does.  When it is low in the sky, close to the horizon light pierces the atmosphere at an acute angle.  This makes the light scatter more and scintillate.

Mercury – as at July 2015

Mercury close to horizon
Mercury close to horizon

As we are in the Northern hemisphere we are unlikely to see Mercury.  It may be visible very early –  pre dawn.  It will be tough to see though as it will be lost in the Sun’s glare.

You may find it if you look with binoculars or a telescope.  It will be too early for us and we won’t look into or near to the sun’s glare with binoculars, the risk of eye damage is something to avoid.

For us in the Northern Hemisphere, Mercury will return in August as an evening star.

(For those in the Southern Hempisphere Mercury is visible pre-dawn at the beginning of July, in the ENE sky.)

Venus

Venus: NASA
Venus: NASA

Venus is the closest planet in size and mass to Earth.  Sometimes it is called Earth’s sister planet.

Venus is named after the Roman god of love and beauty.

It reflects sunlight with a bright silver color. It is the second brightest object in the night sky after the moon and is sometimes mistaken for a UFO.

Venus does not have seasons as it does not tilt on its axis.

Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system.

Venus – as at July 2015

Moon, Venus and Mercury
Moon, Venus and Mercury

Venus is still an evening star and is brilliantly bright.  

In the northern hemisphere after the middle of  July we will lose Venus, it is lost in the sunset.  (In the southern hemisphere Venus is visible all month.)

Venus is at its brightest on July 10th.

On July 1st Venus passes very very close (conjunction) to Jupiter and Venus is by far the brightest of the two planets.

Southern Hemisphere – On July 19th the waxing crescent Moon passes very very close to and just south of Venus.  (An occultation is visible from northeastern Australia and the French Polynesia, you lucky people!!) And, on July 31st Venus passes close to Jupiter again.

Jupiter and Venus, June 30th
Jupiter and Venus, June 30th

To the left is our photo of Jupiter and Venus.  Jupiter is yellowish and at the top, with Venus brilliant and bright at the bottom.  Kam had had a late night and I thought ok, let’s wait a few more minutes before bedtime and at least he’d see Venus and Jupiter.  He was so pleased and loves this photo.  

A Note to You and Me

These notes are for Kam and I to find planets.  It’s tough for him at the moment as it gets dark after bedtime, especially as he would have loved to see Venus, Jupiter and the Moon as I did last month.

Mercury and Venus are two of the five visible planets from Earth.  We have another post for Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

Here is the link: Visible Planets July 2015 – Mars, Jupiter and Saturn

As always, thanks for reading and if you like it, can add to it or would like to say hello, please do so below.  x

 

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