On July 6, Earth reaches its furthest point from the Sun along its slightly elliptical orbit.

The difference between closest to the Sun (in January) and furthest is about three million miles.

For our neighbouring planets, Venus has an orbit that is closer to being a perfect circle, but Mars has a much more eccentric (less circular) orbit.

For Mars, the difference between closest and furthest points to the Sun is 27 million miles. Such a variation if applied to the Earth would have a major effect on our seasons and climate.

Full Moon this month is during daytime on the 3rd. On the two nights either side, the Moon barely reaches 10 degrees in altitude above the horizon when in the South.

This month the Full Moon is also a “Super Moon”, when it is larger in the sky due to being near to its closest to the Earth along its elliptical orbit.

The low Super Moon will appear larger still due to the ‘Moon Illusion’ when the Moon is seen just above the horizon.

After several months brightly shining in the evening sky, Venus is now starting to sink into the evening western twilight as it swings in between the Earth and the Sun along its faster orbit. As it does so, its phase reduces.

On July 9 the phase is 25 per cent and in binoculars or a small telescope Venus will look like a small version of a young crescent Moon.

Saturn and Jupiter by contrast are becoming more prominent in the night sky, but in the early morning before dawn. 

Jupiter is joined by the waning crescent Moon on the morning of July 12, best seen at 3am, looking directly to the East.

Looking to the North East at midnight, about half way up the sky is the recognisable ‘W’ shape of the constellation of Cassiopeia (see map).

The five stars that make up the W shape are a good example of the varying distances of stars.

They all appear to be similar in brightness, but whilst the top right star of the W, called Caph, is about 50 light years away from our solar system, the central star (which unusually does not have an ancient name) is much more distant and powerful.

It lies about 600 light years away and has a luminosity 40,000 times that of our Sun.