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Venus and Jupiter shine together brightly in the western evening sky after sunset, with Venus the brighter of the two. They are lovely to see, especially early on in the month when they are higher above the horizon as dusk falls. On 20 June, the new moon is near the pair, and Venus, Jupiter and the bright star Regulus make a rough line in the sky. The two planets are closest on 1 July, when Venus passes half a degree south of Jupiter. As seen from Europe, the pair are closest on the evening of 30 June, probably best seen within an hour or so of sunset, low in the west. If the skies are clear either evening, it will be worth getting to a place where you can see them. By the end of the month, the pair are much lower in the evening twilight, and Jupiter is very hard to see. Saturn is still bright in the evening and night sky between the stars of Libra and Scorpius. The moon is nearby on the night of 28/29 June. On 24 June, Mercury reaches 22.5°W of the sun in the morning sky, better seen from the southern hemisphere. On 9 July, the moon occults Uranus over the southern Indian Ocean. Mars is out of view on the far side of the sun. The New Horizons space mission is due to fly past Pluto and its moons on 14 July. Pluto is the final member of the iconic 1930-2006 set of nine planets to be explored.
On the evening of 18 July, the new crescent moon is near the Venus-Jupiter pair immediately after sunset, and this may be your last chance to see Jupiter before it slips behind the sun. Venus is passing this side of the sun, and is very bright, albeit low down in the west, and sinking fast. If you look at it through binoculars or a small telescope, you should easily make out the crescent shape. On 18/19 July, the moon is so close to Venus that it occults it as seen from north-east Australia and the nearby Pacific in daylight on 19 July, and from French Polynesia just after sunset on 18 July. By full moon, even Venus is out of view. Further out into the evening sky is Saturn, setting around midnight, between Libra and Scorpius. The moon is nearby on the evenings of 25 and 26 July. Mars begins to emerge into the morning sky, rising just before dawn. The very old moon is nearby, but well to its south, on the morning of 13 August. On 5 August, the moon occults Uranus after dark over extreme SE South America. Look out for the wonderful Perseid meteors on 11/12 August. This year, the moon is in its old crescent phase, and doesn’t outdazzle the display, even when it rises in the early hours. See also the Delta Aquarid meteors on 27/28 July, though the waxing gibbous moon makes them harder to see until it sets in the early hours.