Updated: Jun 27
Pools and barbeques during the day and the Milky Way at night? Must be July! It's a cruel summer for us in Las Vegas every year with the heat, but the sights at night are so worth it. As with other months of the year, we've collected a list of targets to photograph tonight. Find out what July astrophotography targets we recommend that are oh-so-cool.
We have listed 5 deep-sky objects that are at their highest elevation in July. If you reach the end and wonder if we missed one, don't worry - it might be listed under a different month. We tried to be thorough and made sure to avoid duplicates.
Of the objects listed, we included three that are considered beginner-level targets and two objects that are more challenging in case you have already captured those. A little something for any skill level! Be sure to bookmark this page for later.
Watch our video guide on YouTube
Need inspiration for summer targets? Read the 15 best summer astrophotography targets!
5 July astrophotography targets:
M8 & M20 - The Lagoon and Trifid Nebulae
The Eagle Nebula is one of the most popular targets for astrophotography in Summer. It lies in the Milky Way band not far from other great nebulae.
M16 looks great in both wide-field astrophotography and using any size of telescope. Small instruments will reveal an enormous amount of gas in the entire field of view, while larger instruments can focus on the Pillars of Creation, made famous by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995.
We imaged this target in Episode 14 of Galactic Hunter!
M8 & M20 - The Lagoon Nebula and Trifid Nebula
We decided to make this second option a two-in-one, M8 and M20 - which are also called the Lagoon Nebula and Trifid Nebula, respectively. That's because of how close Messier 8 and Messier 20 are to one another. Using a small telescope as we did in Episode 13, you'll have no problem making both fit in the same image. These two nebulae are bright, large, and look fantastic in RGB as well as in narrowband.
We imaged these objects in Episode 13 of Galactic Hunter!
The Ring Nebula is a small but very bright planetary nebula in the constellation Lyra. A small telescope is not the best fit for this object, but it is not impossible to get a beautiful image even with smaller instruments. We captured it with our Orion 8" Astrograph and stock DSLR camera several years ago. The Ring Nebula is a great RGB target although it does have quite a lot of Hydrogen Alpha as well.
We imaged M57 in Episode 2 of Galactic Hunter!
The Crescent Nebula (you can call it the "brain" nebula if you prefer) is not that difficult to capture, but the faint gas all around it is. Located in Cygnus, NGC 6888 also has a tiny faint companion, the Soap Bubble Nebula (can you spot it in our image below?) which is barely visible even with long exposures.
The Crescent Nebula is also an amazing wide-field target because it lies in the Sadr Region, an area of the sky full of hydrogen gas.
IC 1396 - The Elephant's Trunk Nebula
The Elephant's Trunk Nebula can be photographed both wide-field or from up close. Both options will give you a totally different image!
Located in Cepheus, 2,400 light-years away from Earth, IC 1396 contains a lot of hydrogen alpha gas that is sure to please owners of narrowband filters. It is at its highest in the sky in July but can be photographed all Summer long.
That's all for our July astrophotography targets. Take your time with these targets and check each one off your list (even the more challenging ones!). Come back to this page to get your next idea, and if you run out of ideas for July - take a look at August and other months and see if you can get those early!
If you breezed through our list quickly take a look at our top picks for the 15 best summer astrophotography targets. You'll have 15 to knock out and, you can even take a look at next season's targets by checking out our seasonal lists.
GALACTIC HUNTER BOOKS
Description: Discover 60 Deep Sky Objects that will considerably improve your Imaging and Processing skills! Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced astrophotographer, this detailed book of the best deep-sky objects will serve as a personal guide for years to come! Discover which star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies are the easiest and most impressive to photograph for each season. Learn how to find each object in the night sky, and read our recommendations on imaging them in a quick and comprehensive way. Each target in this guide contains our advice on imaging, photos of expected results, and a useful information table. We've also included a few cool facts about each target, a map to find it in the night sky, and more!
Description: The Astrophotographer’s Journal is a portable notebook created for the purpose of recording observations, cataloging photographs, and writing down the wonderful memories created by this hobby. This book contains more than 200 pages to memorialize your stargazing and imaging sessions, as well as a useful chart on the last pages to index exciting or important notes. Read back on the logs to see how much progress you have made through the months, the problems you overcame, and the notes taken to improve in the future. Just as the pioneers of astronomy did in their time, look up and take notes of your observations as you are the author of this star-filled journey.
Description: The Constellations Handbook is a logical guide to learning the 88 constellations. Learning the constellations is difficult. Remembering them is even harder. Have you ever wanted to look up to the night sky, name any pattern of stars and be able to tell their stories? This book groups the constellations in a logical order so that the reader can easily learn them by their origin, and see how their stories interact with one another as a group. The last pages of this book include an index of all 88 constellations, each with a slot where you can write your own personal tips and tricks in order to memorize them with ease. The Constellations Handbook is not just another guide listing all the constellations from A to Z and their location, it is the perfect companion for stargazing and a learning journey through the ages.