The Stars: July

Low down in the south of July's sky lurks a venomous monster: a mighty cosmic scorpion, riding high in the skies of Mediterranean latitudes. One of the rare constellations that actually resembles its terrestrial counterpart, Scorpius was probably first logged in the Euphrates region around 5,000BC.

How did a scorpion find its way into the sky? It has a lot to do with Orion. The bragging hunter claimed to Artemis – the venerated Greek goddess and Mistress of the Hunt – that he was capable of killing every animal on Earth. But Artemis, who protected her animals, was annoyed by Orion's posturing and sent him a scorpion which stung Orion on the foot – and the mighty hunter was no more. But Zeus, who had been watching the feud, admired the plucky scorpion and had him raised into the heavens. Artemis compassionately asked Zeus to place Orion up there as well. Both constellations are in our skies, but on opposite sides of the heavens: we see Scorpius in summer, and Orion in winter. This ensures that the scorpion can never bite Orion again.

Scorpius is dominated by baleful-red Antares, the sky's fifth brightest star. Its name means 'rival of Mars'. Placed in our Solar System, Antares – 800 times bigger than the Sun – would stretch all the way to the asteroid belt. It's a cool star on its way out, with a temperature of just 3,500C (as compared to 5,000C for our Sun). But it is 10,000 times brighter than our local star.

You can see the top of the constellation from the UK, but if you're in the Mediterranean you'll see Scorpius in all its splendour. At the top right are its three grasping pincers – the stars Acrab, Dschubba and Vrischika. Below lies Antares, the scorpion's heart. Continue sweeping down the beast's spine to find two beautiful young 'open' star clusters, M6 and M7.

Although they're so close that you can see them with the unaided eye, through a telescope they are a glorious sight. Now we reach his upturned tail. It consists of two stars: first Shaula, which means 'raised tail' in Arabic and, finally, there's Lesath: Arabic for 'the bite of a poisonous animal' – as Orion discovered to his cost.

What's Up

There's a celestial lantern to illuminate your barbecues: brilliant Venus, the 'Evening Star', which hangs in the west after sunset and grows brighter during July as this fast-moving planet closes with the Earth on their separate tracks around the Sun. To the left (southwards), you can spot two fainter planets: reddish Mars, and, to the left again, pale-yellow Saturn. Mid-month, the crescent Moonlies beneath each. It's below Venus on 14 July, Mars on 15 July and Saturn on 16 July.

And if your barbecue carries on after midnight look out for the second brightest planet, Jupiter, which rises in the east after Venus has set in the west. The Moon lies near this mighty planet on 4 July and again on 30 July.

There's a total eclipse of the Sun at the time of the New Moon on 11 July, but – sad to say – nothing of this event is visible from the UK. You'll have to be in the South Pacific, French Polynesia, Easter Island or Patagonia to witness this awesome sky sight.

Diary

6: Earth at aphelion (furthest from Sun)

11: 8.40pm New Moon; total solar eclipse (not visible from UK)

18: 11.10am Moon at First Quarter

26: 2.36am Full Moon

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Facilities Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Facilities Manager is required to join the m...

Recruitment Genius: New Business Sales Consultant - Mobile - OTE £35,000

£14000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent telecoms compa...

Recruitment Genius: New Business Sales Consultant - Unified - OTE £35,000

£14000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent telecoms compa...

Recruitment Genius: Trade Sales Consultant - Furniture

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a besp...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum