Look to the skies! Plenty to see in July before August’s total solar eclipse

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – There’s a lot of talk right now about next month’s total solar eclipse, but there’s no need to rush to August because there’s still plenty to see in the July sky.

Solar eclipses occur when a new moon passes between Earth and the sun, and the moon casts a traveling shadow on Earth. A total solar eclipse occurs when the new moon is in the right position to exactly cover the sun’s disk. This will happen next month when the moon will completely block our view of the sun along a narrow path from Oregon to South Carolina.

Related: Map tells you exactly when, how long you’ll see total solar eclipse of 2017

During August’s solar eclipse it may be dark enough to see some of the brighter stars and a few planets.

Two weeks before or after a solar eclipse there’s often, but not always, a lunar eclipse. However, it’s not necessarily a total lunar eclipse. This will happen because the moon will be at opposition. The full moon, the Earth and the sun will be lined up with the Earth in the middle.

We can see all the moon’s phases beginning on July 1, when the first quarter moon rises at noon and sets at midnight. Even through binoculars you’ll see craters and some of the prominent mare or “seas.” Many of the Apollo landing sites are located on the lit side of the first quarter moon. To see the landing sites, though, you’ll have to rely on photographs taken by lunar orbiting spacecraft.

The full moon rises on July 9 at sunset and sets at dawn. July 16 is the last quarter. It rises at midnight and doesn’t set until noon allowing you to enjoy a nice moon view in the morning sky.

The new moon occurs July 23. The new moon is the phase we’ll look forward to in August when it’ll give us that total solar eclipse. July will end with another first quarter moon phase on the 30th.

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