July is the time to say good-bye to the classic constellation Leo, the Lion. The bright star on Leo’s shoulder, Regulus, is close to due west at 9:30 PM EDT as it emerges from the twilight, settling lower as the twilight fades by 10 o’clock. Leo continues to settle lower each evening, and by late in the month, drops below the horizon.

Today finds the Earth at aphelion – its greatest distance from the Sun – at 94,510,539 miles. Yes, July is the hottest month of the year on average, but it is our tilted axis, angled toward the Sun in summer, and not our distance, that gives us longer days and more direct sunlight, increasing the temperatures.

This evening and again tomorrow evening, in the still-bright twilight from 9:15 to 9:30 PM, a very thin Crescent Moon peeks above the west-northwest horizon. To the Moon’s left tonight, and just below our celestial neighbor tomorrow night, you might just be able discern a spark of light, the swift planet Mercury. Mercury’s appearance will be brief, sliding back into the Sun’s glare by next weekend.