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Saturn's Rings, Jupiter and Venus will dazzle this July

Three spectacular things to observe in the night sky this month, highlighted by Sherry Buttnor, the president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada's Victoria chapter.

Three planets offer remarkable views for stargazers this month

A Perseid meteor streaks across the sky, but it's the planets that are putting on a show this month. (The Associated Press)

It's a great time of year for sky watching, out at the beach, in a camp ground, or in your backyard. 

Here are three things to look for in the night sky this month, highlighted by Sherry Buttnor, the president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada's Victoria chapter.

1. Saturn's rings

This image of Saturn was captured through an 82" telescope at The University of Texas' McDonald Observatory, Ft. Davis, Texas. (Jeff Barton and Josh Walawender/Flickr)

If you look to the south, you'll what looks like a creamy, yellow bright star.  That's Saturn, which is spectacular for viewing this time of year, said Buttnor.  

Right now, we appear to be above Saturn, meaning the planet's rings are tilted from our perspective, Buttnor said.

"Sometimes, you look at Saturn and the rings are almost dead on, and it's not that much of a good view. When the rings are tilted towards us, it's absolutely magnificent."

Even small telescopes, five to eight centimetres in diameter and with a magnification of 40 or 50 times can be used to spot those rings, said Buttnor.  

"Once you see those rings, you will never, ever forget it."

2. Venus and Jupiter side by side

The planets Venus, left, and Jupiter, right, with three of its moons visible, appear close to each other in the sky above tree branches after dusk Wednesday, July 1, 2015, in Tacoma, Wash. In reality, the planets are millions of miles apart, but to viewers from earth they have appeared very close together recently. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) (The Associated Press)

The two planets recently came together in a spectacular event called a conjunction, something that won't be seen again until the year 2023.  

Venus and Jupiter still appear extremely close to one another in the night sky, and with a small telescope, you'll be able to observe them as discs rather than bright pinpoints of light.

3. Milky Way

The Milky Way as captured by a Large Binocular Telescope. (E Burk/Flickr)

Looking to the East, beginner skygazers with nothing more than a set of simple binoculars will be able to see the summer Milky Way and its millions and millions of stars, said Buttnor.  

For those in mid-northern latitudes, this is the richest, brightest portion of the galaxy.

"It's absolutely incredible just to scan the Milky Way without looking for anything in particular."

To hear the full interview with Sherry Buttnor, listen to the audio labelled: Stargazing in July.


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