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Star gazing reveals four planets

Astronomy
Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and Venus are all visible to the naked eye this month.

July is a star gazing delight in the Bundaberg Region, with all the brighter planets coming into clear view with the naked eye.

President at Alloway Observatory, Mac Jonson, said Jupiter and Saturn were the planets to watch in July and, along with Mars and Venus.

Venus will appear low in the east, Mars slightly higher in the southeast and Jupiter and Saturn close together in the south-southwest.

“It really is an interesting time for star gazers,” Mac said.

“At the present time, Jupiter and Saturn are high in the night sky.

“Coming in looking out toward the East is Jupiter and following it closely behind about 7-8 degrees away is Saturn.

“The higher they rise in the sky, the brighter they look. Jupiter is the brightest, quickly followed by Saturn, but you must wait until they get high up in the night sky and around 9pm is the best viewing.

“Venus is up in the sky too, but the best viewing time is early morning.”

Planets don’t twinkle

Throughout the month, different planets will reach prime “opposition”, the point in their orbit where they are on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun. 

This means they are closest and most fully illuminated from the Earth's perspective at these times, and so are at their brightest.

Jupiter is expected to reach opposition on July 14 and Saturn should be easily viewed on July 20. 

“You look at Jupiter and Saturn and they’re quite easy to spot as they look like really bright stars and unlike stars they don’t twinkle,” Mac said.

“If you’re in town or close to it, light pollution makes it difficult so you’re better off going out to Gin Gin or Childers where you’ll really get a much better view of the sky.”

Currently the Alloway Observatory remains closed as a result of COVID restrictions, al though Mac said the group were having discussions about a reopening.  

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