The Night Skies – July 2023

Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.  (Daniel 12:3)

With all the wide, dark skies in our Benefice, we have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the beauty of the wider Universe.  Here are a few notable objects to keep an eye out for:

Mercury, Venus and the Moon align

If you’re out and about just after sunset and before roughly 10.45pm, keep an eye close to the horizon and you might spot Venus on her travels.  Venus and Mercury are elusive, as even a distant house or tree might hide them from view, and they don’t stay in the sky very long!  As we move into late summer, Venus and Mercury will be hidden from us entirely as they are outshone by the setting Sun.

There’s another object sneaking close to the horizon – keep an eye on the western horizon around midnight and you might spot the Andromeda Constellation, named after a princess of Greek myth and first recorded by Ptolemy in 150AD.  Look closely at the princesses’ knee and you might be lucky enough to spot M31, otherwise known as the Andromeda Galaxy.  Best viewed with binoculars or a telescope, but it can be seen clearly with the naked eye.

Perseid Meteor Shower

Finishing with one of the most spectacular events in the night sky, the Perseid Meteor Shower will be starting on the 17th  July, as the Earth passes through the trail of Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle.  Whilst the shower won’t peak until the 12th August, keep an eye on the sky if you’re somewhere without lights and obscured horizons and you could see upwards of 100 meteors per hour!

I’ll be back next month with some more interesting celestial objects!


“The heavens declare the glory of God;
The skies proclaim the work of his hands”.
(Psalm 19: 1)

The hymn The spacious firmament on high is based on Psalm 19: 1-6
No. 493, Hymns Old & New, New Anglican Edition, Kevin Mayhew Ltd, 1996

If you would like to listen to the hymn, please click the link.

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