The Night Sky July

Cygnus is a very popular summertime target due to it’s high altitude in most areas and abundance of large, interesting targets. A favourite of mine in The Night Sky series.

The Night Sky July 2022

The Night Sky is a series I did in 2021, and now I’m bringing it back. What The Night Sky is a curated list of Deep Sky Objects, planets, events and Lunar phrases for each month.

These lists have a selection of Deep Sky Objects (DSOs) at different focal lengths. These are based on a full frame image sensor, as well as the equivalent focal length for different sensor sizes. So no matter what your gear is, I’m sure you’ll find something here.

This list is for Northern Hemisphere

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Contents

Deep Sky Objects

Click the links to jump to that section

Planets

Events

Meteor Showers

Lunar Phases

With that out of the way, let’s begin with Deep Sky Objects

Deep Sky Objects

100mm – 200mm – North America Nebula, Pelican Nebula & Sadr Region

Located in the constellation Cygnus, these targets are rich in deep, high signal hydrogen alpha. Cygnus is a very popular summertime target due to it’s high altitude in most areas and abundance of large, interesting targets. A favourite of mine in The Night Sky series.

At these very wide focal lengths, capturing these multiple targets in one frame will make for a very rewarding widefield image.

Equivalent Focal Lengths

183/533 Sensor37mm – 74mm
294 Sensor50mm – 100mm
Canon APS-C62mm – 125mm
26C/2600/Nikon APS-C66mm – 133mm
Full Frame100mm – 200mm

300 – 400mm – M31 Andromeda Galaxy

The Andromeda Galaxy is a target that need’s no introduction and was an easy choice for including in The Night Sky July. This is our closest galactic neighbour and is a rather large target. 300mm at full frame captures the majesty of Andromeda quite neatly.

Located in the constellation of Andromeda, Messier’s 31st item is a large barred spiral galaxy about 220,000 light years big. It’s a rewarding galaxy to photograph but can be a little tricky to edit due to the core’s brightness compared to the subtler dust lanes.

Equivalent Focal Lengths

183/533 Sensor111mm – 148mm
294 Sensor150mm – 200mm
Canon APS-C187mm – 250mm
26C/2600/Nikon APS-C200mm – 266mm
Full Frame300mm – 400mm

500mm – NGC 6960 West Veil Nebula

The next suggestion for The Night Sky July comes from another region within Cygnus. I did say Cygnus was a popular summertime target. The West Veil Nebula is part of a larger complex at the edges of Cygnus’ borders. At this focal length you can technically capture all of the veil complex. But it’s tight.

Whilst the Veil complex incorporates NGC 6960 West Veil, NGC 6979 Fleming’s Triangular Wisp as well as NGC 6992 East Veil Nebula. I decided for 500mm to just focus on NGC 6960 as well as NGC 6970 for July’s edition. This fits quite comfortably within the frame with a little room for cropping as required.

Equivalent Focal Lengths

183/533 Sensor185mm
294 Sensor250mm
Canon APS-C312mm
26C/2600/Nikon APS-C333mm
Full Frame500mm

600mm – IC 5070 Pelican Nebula

Surprise surprise. Another Cygnus target in The Night Sky July. The Pelican Nebula is located right next to the North America nebula. If you shoot widefield you’ve probably already captured it. However at 600mm the frame puts the Pelican Nebula solely in the frame and gives it the attention it deserves. Weirdly this nebula took me forever before I could see the Pelican.

Being another emission type target, IC 5070 will benefit greatly from the use of narrowband filters to bring out the finer detail. That’s not to say you can’t use broadband. But adding some Hydrogen Alpha details into your colour photos will really set off the fine wisp details present.

Equivalent Focal Lengths

183/533 Sensor222mm
294 Sensor300mm
Canon APS-C375mm
26C/2600/Nikon APS-C400mm
Full Frame600mm

700mm – 800mm – M33 Triangulum Galaxy

M33 is another galaxy located within the constellation Andromeda. It’s a large face on spiral type galaxy that’s absolutely gorgeous and is one of my favourite galaxies in The Night Sky. Unlike the Andromeda Galaxy however, Triangulum galaxy is much smaller and dimmer. It has less of a dynamic range between its core and its arms, which means it’s a little easier to edit. Although it is also dimmer.

This galaxy also benefits nicely from adding a drop of Hydrogen Alpha data into the red channel to really help highlight the nebulous regions within the galaxy itself. Ideally best suited for imaging towards the end of the month, it’s still a nice target if you fancy a change from M31.

Equivalent Focal Lengths

183/533 Sensor259mm -296mm
294 Sensor350mm – 400mm
Canon APS-C437mm – 500mm
26C/2600/Nikon APS-C466mm – 533mm
Full Frame700mm – 800mm

1000mm – SH2-157 Lobster Claw Nebula

The Night Sky in July holds many interesting nebulae. Particularly in Cygnus as we’ve already explored so far. Likewise Cepheus is another one of those interesting constellations that hold many interesting targets also. One of which is SH2-157 – The Lobster Claw Nebula. This fascinating emission based nebula is one of the few out there that is very apparent why it got its name. It clearly has the shape of a lobster claw.

The Lobster Claw is located in Cygnus near the Bubble Nebula and Northern Lagoon nebula. Indeed, if you decided to shoot wider, you would be able to grab all of these in one frame. The Lobster Claw nebula also is quite a dim target. So adding quite a bit of integration time in this target would really be beneficial, especially from dark skies.

Equivalent Focal Lengths

183/533 Sensor370mm
294 Sensor500mm
Canon APS-C625mm
26C/2600/Nikon APS-C666mm
Full Frame1000mm

1500mm – NGC 7380 – The Wizard Nebula

Another one in Cepheus makes it to The Night Sky July’s list. The wizard nebula is another emission based nebula. Right now, re-writing this list for the website am I really understanding how many emission nebulae I included in this month.

The Wizard Nebula is a middle-brightness target. There shouldn’t be much difficulty getting narrowband data on it, but broadband data may struggle in general. Orientated correctly the Wizard Nebula can make for an impressive image even with relatively short integration time.

Equivalent Focal Lengths

183/533 Sensor555mm
294 Sensor750mm
Canon APS-C937mm
26C/2600/Nikon APS-C1000mm
Full Frame1500mm

2000mm – NGC 4631 & NGC 4656 Whale & Hockey Stick Galaxies

Finally for long focal length users I present two galaxies for The Night Sky July. The Whale and Hockey Stick Galaxies are located within the constellation of Canes Venatici and are located quite close to one another. Side on galaxies with a subtle pop of colour, and The Whale Galaxy’s small companion galaxy NGC 4627.

For these targets broadband imaging would be the preferred choice. There isn’t much hydrogen alpha on show with these particular targets so it wouldn’t be beneficial to add much to the image at all. Therefore broadband or LRGB imaging would be your best bet. Finally there’s a nice subtle starfield separating these galaxies for a nice subtle break between the main targets.

Equivalent Focal Lengths

183/533 Sensor740mm
294 Sensor1000mm
Canon APS-C1250mm
26C/2600/Nikon APS-C1333mm
Full Frame2000mm

Planets

For planet hunters this month there are two to choose from. One brighter and more easier target, and another dimmer and more challenging planet. Bare in mind these measurements are made from my latitude of about 52′ North.

Saturn

From about mid July, the gas giant Saturn will appear in the skies. From my latitude it only raises to about 23′ altitude so it is still quite low. My cut-off is at 20′ altitude so Saturn is only just creeping in to The Night Sky July.

The superior planet is often a rewarding target with a beautiful visual point in that famous ring. With large enough aperture and a good stack you might be able to resolve gaps in the Cassini division also. If you’re at a lower altitude closer to the equator you may find that Saturn is too low to image, whilst if you’re of higher latitudes – closer to the pole – then it will be higher to photograph.

Neptune

Neptune is one of the outer gas giants. A beautiful blue orb in the Solar System. It will require patience, as well as a very large telescope with a long focal length – and even then you’ll probably require a powerful Barlow lens as it is far away, relatively small and quite dim as far as planets go.

Neptune raises from my latitude to about 35′ altitude. Much higher than Saturn which will give more imaging opportunities whilst reducing atmospheric dispersion. However you may still need to use an Atmospheric Dispersion Corrector (ADC). You know your rig more than me.

Events

The Night Sky July features a handful of noteworthy events during the month. If I’ve missed anything noteworthy be sure to leave a comment!

  • 4th July: Earth reaches Aphelion
  • Night of 15th July: Saturn is visually very close to the Moon. A 200mm – 300mm lens will capture both in one frame.
  • Night of 18th July: Jupiter is visually very close to the Moon. A 300mm lens will be able to capture both.
  • 21st July: Moon Occludes Mars. I’ve had a look and whilst a full occlusion will happen. It will be at 9pm during bright hours as well as being under the horizon.

Meteor Showers

Everyone loves a Meteor shower and in July there are two in the Northern Hemisphere we can enjoy.

Delta Aquariids

12th July – 23rd August

The Delta Aquariids shower will begin around the 12th of July and will progressively get more and more active up until the peak. The maximum occurring on the 30th July. Thankfully the Moon won’t interfere with the peak of the this meteor shower. So wide lenses and time-lapse photographers rejoice!

Perseid Meteor Shower

17th August begins but peaks within August

The Perseid meteor shower will begin in The Night Sky July. However whilst we can continue to enjoy it, I’ll go into more detail for the shower within August as that’s when the peak is. Though that doesn’t mean if you point your camera to Perseus, you won’t see any. It’s worth a go.

Lunar Phases

  • First Quarter: 7th July
  • Full Moon (Buck Moon): 13th June
  • Last Quarter: 20th July
  • New Moon: 28th July

The Buck Moon can also be called the Thunder Moon, due to the increased storms in July. As well as the Hay Moon, after the July harvest. However the Native Americans called the July Moon the Buck Moon due to the male deer, a Buck, shedding their antlers, ready to regrow them in July.


With that The Night Sky July is finished. I hope this list has been helpful for you and that it’s inspired you to get out there to shoot, or has given you some idea of just what you can image with your equipment. Remember this isn’t an exhaustive list, so I may have missed some here or there. So if you reckon something has been missed, consider this an invite to leave a comment!

Thanks very much for reading. Clear skies everybody, keep looking up and keep them cameras clicking!

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