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What to see in the sky this July

NASA, ESA, S. Beckwith (STScI) and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
This star chart for M51 represents the view from mid-northern latitudes for the given month and time.

There's a lot to see in the night skies in July. Astronomer Dean Regas says the moon will be part of a rare event starting July 13. The moon will block out one of the brighter stars in the sky, in what's called an occultation.

"The star is there and then — poof! It’s gone," he says. "The moon will block it out in about a second. You'll see a really bright star next to the moon by about 11 o'clock at night, and then right around 11:17 (for Cincinnati) that moon will just block out the light, and it'll be gone. That's the moment. You always want to watch it when it dims out."

Regas says the star is called "Spica," and it's in the constellation Virgo. He says it should be visible again by about 12:30 a.m.

Virgo isn’t the only constellation visible this month.

RELATED: Dean Regas plans to keep looking up after leaving the Cincinnati Observatory

"You've got this pattern called the 'Summer Triangle' that's coming up in the eastern sky — three really bright stars that mark the season," he explains. "If you see the triangle, you know what you're seeing because it's a really bright show up there. And in the southern sky, you've got Scorpius and Sagittarius very low in the sky. So for all you astrology fans and zodiac people, you can watch those two zodiac constellations go up above the southern horizon."

Regas says Venus is about to return to the evening sky. Before sunrise right now, he says you can see Jupiter next to the moon, and with some hunting, Saturn and Mars are visible too.

In August, a meteor shower returns.

"The Perseids are always a nice one because it's in the warmer months," he says. "The moon will be out of the way by midnight. So on the night of (August) 12 and the 13, you'll want to be up pretty late. The morning hours is best, so 2 to 5 a.m. is always better than earlier. Get away from city lights, and you might see about 10 to 20 meteor streaks per hour."

Regas is the host of our space podcast, "Looking Up."

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.