Dates and times shown are NZST (UT + 12 hours). Rise and Set times are for Wellington. They will vary by a few minutes elsewhere in NZ. Data is adapted from that shown by GUIDE 9.1.

THE SUN and PLANETS in July 2020, Rise & Set  Mag. & Cons.
          July 1     NZST               July 31    NZST  
      Mag  Cons    Rise    Set     Mag  Cons    Rise    Set
SUN  -26.7  Gem   7.44am  5.04pm  -26.7  Cnc   7.27am  5.27pm
Merc   5.6  Gem   7.28am  5.19pm   -0.8  Gem   6.32am  4.03pm
Venus -4.7  Tau   4.57am  3.01pm   -4.6  Tau   4.21am  2.10pm
Mars  -0.5  Psc  11.40pm 12.04pm   -1.1  Psc  11.01pm 10.46am
Jup   -2.7  Sgr   5.58pm  8.50am   -2.7  Sgr   3.41pm  6.39am
Sat    0.2  Cap   6.28pm  9.10am    0.1  Sgr   4.19pm  7.05am
Uran   5.8  Ari   2.57am  1.26pm    5.8  Ari   1.02am 11.26am
Nep    7.9  Aqr  10.48am 11.28am    7.8  Aqr   8.48pm  9.30am
Pluto 14.4  Sgr   5.56pm  8.54am   14.5  Sgr   3.54pm  6.54am

              July 1  NZST                July 31  NZST
Twilights    morning     evening        morning     evening
Civil:    start 7.16am, end  5.33pm   start 7.00am, end  5.55pm
Nautical: start 6.42am, end  6.08pm   start 6.27am, end  6.28pm
Astro:    start 6.08am, end  6.42pm   start 5.54am, end  7.01pm

   July PHASES OF THE MOON, times NZ & UT
  Full Moon:     July  5 at  4.44pm (04:44 UT)
  Last quarter:  July 13 at 11.29am (Jul 12, 23:29 UT)
  New Moon:      July 21 at  5.33am (Jul 20, 17:33 UT)
  First quarter: July 28 at 12.33am (Jul 27, 12:33 UT)

A slight partial penumbral eclipse of the moon on July 5 is not visible from NZ.


MERCURY is at inferior conjunction with the Sun at about 3pm on July 1.

After conjunction Mercury becomes a morning object, rising shortly before the Sun. By mid month Mercury will rise some 85 minutes earlier than the Sun, but the planet will be only 4.5° above the horizon 45 minutes before sunrise, making it a difficult object at magnitude 0.8. The planet is stationary on the 12th, as a result the interval between Mercury's rise and the Sun's diminishes during the rest of the month.

On the morning of the 19th, the moon, a very thin crescent, will be 6° to the left of Mercury.

VENUS will be a brilliant morning object to the northeast easily visible from well before dawn. On the morning of the 17th the crescent moon will be about 6° to the left of the planet.

MARS, in Pisces, rises shortly before midnight during June, brightening a little as the month progresses. The best time for observing Mars will be an hour or so before sunrise. On the morning of the 12th, Mars, magnitude -0.7, will be 1.5° from the moon.

JUPITER and SATURN continue to move in tandem during July. They are 6° apart on the 1st and just over 7.5° apart on the 31st, both at present moving in an apparent retrograde sense as the Earth overtakes them. Jupiter is at opposition on the 14th, Saturn on the 23rd.

By the end of July, the two planets rise an hour or two before sunset. Since they also set after sunrise, they will be easily visible all night.

On June 6, the moon, just past full, will be 2° from Jupiter shortly before dawn. Later, in the evening, the moon will be a similar distance from Saturn.

PLUTO starts July less than a degree from Jupiter but the latter pulls away from Pluto during the rest of July so they are 3° on the 31st.

URANUS moves further up into the morning sky during July, rising about 1am on the 31st.

NEPTUNE will be in the late evening sky, rising about 9pm on the 31st.


                   July 1 NZST          July 30 NZST  
                Mag  Cons  transit    Mag  Cons  transit
(1)  Ceres      8.6   Aqr  .4.59am    8.0   Aqr  2.59am
(4)  Vesta      8.1   Gem  12.34pm    8.3   Gem 11.33pm
(7)  Iris       8.9   Sgr  12.07am    9.6   Sgr  9.42pm
(532) Herculina 9.3   Sgr  12.30am   10.1   Sgr 10.07pm

CERES rises at 9.45 pm on the 1st and 7.34 pm on the 31st. So it becomes well placed for viewing mid to late evening during the month.

VESTA is in conjunction with the Sun early in July. It is behind the Sun, as "seen" from the Earth for just over 24 hours on the 5th and 6th NZ time. After conjunction Vesta becomes a morning object, but will be too close to the Sun for observation during the rest of July.

IRIS fades a little during July, following opposition at the end of June

HERCULINA is less than 6° from Iris at the beginning of July.

Brian Loader