Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Sky Events September 2015

Moon Phases

Saturday, September 5, 5:54 a.m. EDT

Last Quarter Moon

The Last Quarter Moon rises around 11:30 p.m. and sets around 3 p.m. It is most easily seen just after sunrise in the southern sky.

Sunday, September 13, 2:41 a.m. EDT

New Moon

The Moon is not visible on the date of New Moon because it is too close to the Sun, but can be seen low in the East as a narrow crescent a morning or two before, just before sunrise. It is visible low in the West an evening or two after New Moon.

Monday, September 21, 4:59 a.m. EDT

First Quarter Moon

The First Quarter Moon rises around 1:30 p.m. and sets around midnight. It dominates the evening sky.

Sunday, September 27, 10:51 p.m. EDT

Full Moon

The September Full Moon is known as the Harvest Moon or Full Corn Moon. It rises around sunset and sets around sunrise; this is the only night in the month when the Moon is in the sky all night long. The rest of the month, the Moon spends at least some time in the daytime sky.


Observing Highlights

Neptune at opposition

Tuesday, September 1, midnight

Neptune will be directly opposite the Sun in the sky, and visible all night. It is located in Aquarius but is too faint to be seen with the unaided eye. Use binoculars and a star chart from Starry Night.

Mercury at greatest elongation east

Thursday and Friday, September 3 and 4, dusk

Mercury will be well placed in the evening sky for observers in the southern hemisphere, less so for observers in the north.


Aldebaran and the Moon

Friday/Saturday, September 4/5, near midnight EDT

Observers on the eastern part of North America with low eastern horizons may be able to see the Moon occult the first magnitude star Aldebaran just after moonrise (around midnight, but check for local times). Observers in Europe will see it just before sunrise on the 5th.

Zodiacal light

Friday, September 11–Thursday, September 24, before dawn

The best time in the year to see the dim glow of the zodiacal light in the pre-dawn eastern sky, the light reflected from millions of interplanetary particles. It lies along the ecliptic (shown in green).

Partial solar eclipse

Sunday, September 13

This eclipse will be visible from southern Africa, Antarctica, and the oceans in between. Seen here is the maximum eclipse in Cape Town, South Africa.

Equinox

Wednesday, September 23, 4:21 a.m. EDT

The Sun crosses the celestial equator moving southward, causing the days to grow shorter in the northern hemisphere and longer in the southern hemisphere.

Lunar trio

Sunday, September 27, evening

There will be a triple treat for observers in eastern North America as sun, Earth, and moon align: a total lunar eclipse, the moon at its closest, and a full moon, all in one evening. At 8:12 p.m. EDT, the lunar eclipse will begin with the first faint Earth shadow creeping onto the moon. At 9:48, the moon reaches an extreme perigee, the closest it will get to Earth in all of 2015: 221,753 miles (356,877 km). Total phase of the eclipse will begin at 10:11 p.m. and mid eclipse will be at 10:47. At 10:51 it will be the instant of full moon, the largest full moon in 2015. At 11:23, the total phase of the eclipse will end, and at 1:23 a.m. the last of the Earth’s shadow will leave the moon. In western North America, the moon will already be in eclipse when the moon rises. Observers in South America, Europe, and Africa will also see most of this eclipse. The illustration shows the moon just entering the umbral shadow of Earth at 9:12 p.m. EDT.

Vesta at opposition

Monday, September 28, 11 p.m. EDT

The brightest asteroid Vesta will be directly opposite the Sun and visible all night in Cetus. At magnitude 6.2, it will be right at the limit of naked-eye visibility, but easily spotted with binoculars.

Planets

Mercury is well placed in the evening twilight for the first half of the month. This apparition is more favorable for observers in the Southern Hemisphere.


Venus is now a bright object in the pre-dawn sky, reaching maximum brightness of magnitude –4.8 on the 21st.


Mars is low in the eastern twilight, moving eastward through Cancer into Leo.


Jupiter reappears in the eastern pre-dawn sky in the middle of the month.


Saturn is low in the southwest mid-evening sky, and sets in late evening.


Uranus rises in mid-evening in Pisces, nearing opposition on October 12.


Neptune is in opposition on the 1st, visible all night in the constellation Aquarius.


Geoff Gaherty
Starry Night Software Support
All graphics © 2015 Starry Night Software

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Sky Events August 2015

Moon Phases

Thursday, August 6, 10:03 p.m. EDT

Last Quarter Moon

The Last Quarter Moon rises around midnight and sets around 3 p.m. It is most easily seen just after sunrise in the southern sky.

Friday, August 14, 10:53 a.m. EDT

New Moon

The Moon is not visible on the date of New Moon because it is too close to the Sun, but can be seen low in the East as a narrow crescent a morning or two before, just before sunrise. It is visible low in the West an evening or two after New Moon.

Saturday, August 22, 3:31 p.m. EDT

First Quarter Moon

The First Quarter Moon rises around noon and sets around midnight. It dominates the evening sky.

Saturday, August 29, 2:35 p.m. EDT

Full Moon

The August Full Moon is known as the Corn Moon, Sturgeon Moon, Red Moon, Green Corn Moon, or Grain Moon. It rises around sunset and sets around sunrise; this is the only night in the month when the Moon is in the sky all night long. The rest of the month, the Moon spends at least some time in the daytime sky.


Observing Highlights

Uranus and the Moon

Wednesday/Thursday, August 5/6, dawn

The Moon will be close to Uranus just before sunrise. In southern South America, the Falkland Islands, and parts of Antarctica, the Moon will actually occult Uranus.

Mercury and Jupiter within 0.6 degrees

Thursday, August 6, dusk

Mercury and Jupiter will pass really close to each other, appearing within the same telescope field.

Mercury, Jupiter and Regulus within 1 degree

Friday, August 7, dusk

These three bright objects will form a tight triangular pattern low in the western sky after sunset.

Aldebaran and the Moon

Saturday, August 8, early morning

The waning crescent moon will pass close to the bright red star Aldebaran low in morning twilight. The Moon will occult Aldebaran as seen from the Middle East, eastern Europe, northwestern Asia, Scandinavia, Russia, Alaska, and northwestern Canada.

Jupiter and Regulus within 0.5 degrees

Monday, August 10, dusk

Jupiter will pass just north of the bright star Regulus in the constellation Leo.

Perseid meteor shower peaks

Thursday, August 13, 2 a.m.

The Perseid meteor shower is always the most reliable in the year, and this year benefits from having the moon out of the sky for most of the night. Although Perseid meteors can be seen at any time of night, there are always more meteors after midnight because then the Earth is heading directly into the shower. Although they appear to radiate from a point in the constellation Perseus in the northeastern sky, they can be seen anywhere in the sky.

Mars in the Beehive

Thursday, August 20, before dawn

Mars, just past conjunction with the sun, passes in front of the Beehive Cluster, Messier 44.

Moon close to perigee

Saturday, August 29, 8 p.m. local time

The moon will be closest to the Earth at 11 a.m. on August 30, 222,631 miles or 358,290 km. distant. The moon will be below the horizon at that time for observers in North America. The best time to observe this “supermoon” will be just after it rises on Saturday night, August 29. Those living near the ocean should expect higher tides than normal for the next few days.

Planets

Mercury is visible low in the western sky after sunset for most of the month, This apparition is more favorable for observers in the Southern Hemisphere.


Venus moves from the evening to the morning sky on the 15th, but will be hard to observe for northern observers because of its closeness to the sun. Southern observers will have an easier time, and on the 15th may actually be able to observe Venus as a morning star in the east and an evening star in the west.


Mars reappears in dawn twilight after its conjunction with the sun on June 14.


Jupiter is too close to the sun to observe this month.


Saturn is well placed in Libra in the evening sky.


Uranus rises in the late evening in Pisces.


Neptune rises in the mid-evening in the constellation Aquarius.


Geoff Gaherty
Starry Night Software Support
All graphics © 2015 Starry Night Software

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Sky Events July 2015


Moon Phases

Wednesday, July 1, 10:20 p.m. EDT

Full Moon

The Full Moon of July is known as the “Hay Moon,” “Buck Moon,” or “Thunder Moon.” It rises around sunset and sets around sunrise; this is the only night in the month when the Moon is in the sky all night long. The rest of the month, the Moon spends at least some time in the daytime sky. This is the first of two Full Moons this month.

Wednesday, July 8, 4:24 p.m. EDT

Last Quarter Moon

The Last Quarter Moon rises around 1:30 a.m. and sets around 1:30 p.m. It is most easily seen just after sunrise in the southern sky.

Wednesday, July 15, 9:24 p.m. EDT

New Moon

The Moon is not visible on the date of New Moon because it is too close to the Sun, but can be seen low in the East as a narrow crescent a morning or two before, just before sunrise. It is visible low in the West an evening or two after New Moon.

Friday, July 24, 12:04 a.m. EDT

First Quarter Moon

The First Quarter Moon rises around 1:15 p.m. and sets around 12:30 a.m. It dominates the evening sky.


Friday, July 31, 6:43 a.m. EDT

Full Moon

This is the second Full Moon in July, what is sometimes called a “Blue Moon.” It rises around sunset and sets around sunrise; this is the only night in the month when the Moon is in the sky all night long. The rest of the month, the Moon spends at least some time in the daytime sky.


Observing Highlights

Venus and Jupiter within 0.3 degrees

Wednesday, July 1, dusk

Venus and Jupiter will pass really close to each other, appearing within the same telescope field. Both will be 32 arc seconds in diameter, but Jupiter is much further away from both the Earth and the sun, so will be much fainter than Venus.

Uranus and the Moon

Wednesday/Thursday, July 8/9, dawn

The Moon will be close to Uranus just before sunrise. In the lands surrounding the Indian Ocean, the Moon will actually occult Uranus.

Venus at greatest brilliancy

Thursday, July 9, dusk

Venus reaches its greatest brilliancy at magnitude –4.7.

Aldebaran and the Moon

Sunday, July 12, sunrise

The waning crescent moon will pass close to the bright red star Aldebaran low in morning twilight. The Moon will occult Aldebaran as seen from eastern Russia, northern Japan, Alaska, northern Canada, Greenland, and Iceland.

Venus and the Moon

Saturday, July 18, dusk

The Moon will be close to Venus just after sunset. Venus will appear in binoculars as a tiny crescent just north of the crescent moon. The moon will occult Venus as seen from New Guinea, northeastern Australia, Melanesia, and French Polynesia.

Ceres at opposition

Saturday, July 25, 4 a.m. EDT

Ceres, the largest asteroid or smallest dwarf planet, will be in opposition to the Sun. At magnitude 7.5, it will be located right on the border between Sagittarius and Microscopium, just south of Capricornus.


Planets


Mercury is well placed in the eastern sky at dawn for the first half of the month for observers in the Southern Hemisphere.


Venus shines high in the western sky after sunset, reaching its greatest brilliancy from the sun on July 9.


Mars is too close to the Sun to be visible.


Jupiter is low in the western evening sky all month, close to Venus on the 1st and 31st of the month.


Saturn is well placed in Libra in the evening sky.


Uranus rises near midnight in Pisces.


Neptune rises in the late evening in the constellation Aquarius.


Geoff Gaherty
Starry Night Software Support
All graphics © 2015 Starry Night Software