High in the east-northeast is the star Deneb, the tail of Cygnus, the Swan. Deneb is Arabic for “the tail”, though Arabs described this region as the “chicken”. While Deneb is less bright than the other members of the Summer Triangle – Vega overhead, and Altair much lower toward the south – it is actually thousands of times brighter, but farther away.

The Milky Way arches high across the eastern skies in the evening, extending down to the north, where it appears dimmer, and toward the south, glowing noticeably brighter, home to the center of our Galaxy. The Milky Way swings overhead through the course of the night.

As Venus continues to settle lower, it becomes your reference point as a very slender Moon joins it, well to the left. But just to the Moon’s lower left, a tiny spark of light appears very close to 9 o’clock, the sizzling hot planet Mercury. July never offers a great view of Mercury, always very low. A pair of binoculars or a spotting scope will help.