Tips for the best stargazing before the end of July

Must See 19/07/2018

It's shaping up to be a brilliant month for stargazing, with a blood moon and a planetary alignment.

Stardome's Josh Kirkley told Newshub how to find the planets in the vast night sky, as they won't stay in place for very long.

He said the best time to look for the alignment would be from 6:30pm to 7:30pm each night over the next two weeks, and you should look for a vantage point that gives unobstructed views of the east and west horizon.

Getting away from light pollution

If you don't mind missing out on the alignment, any time after 7pm is good for stargazing, but you may need to head away from the city to escape light pollution.

Mr Kirkley said a map would be quite helpful in these cases and there is a good one available for free online.

Finding the stars in the sky

Online is also a very good place to find maps of the sky itself, which can help you find constellations and planets.

"Some great apps are Sky Map, Sky Guide or Star Walk. There are many free ones on the app store if you search 'astronomy'."

The Blood Moon

The Eastern Hemisphere, including New Zealand, will witness the longest lunar eclipse to occur in the 21st century in July.

The eclipse is expected to happen in the early hours of July 28. The spectacle takes place when the Sun, Earth and Moon are directly aligned, and the moon's orbit brings it into Earth's shadow, Business Insider reports.

This is approximately when Kiwis can watch the eclipse

  • 5:14am: The eclipse begins when the Earth's penumbra begins to touch the moon
  • 7:30am: The total eclipse will make the moon look red
  • 8:21am: You will be able to see a maximum eclipse
  • 9:13am: The total eclipse will end