Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sky Events February 2016


Moon Phases

Monday, February 8, 9:39 a.m. EST

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, February 15, 2:46 a.m. EST

First Quarter Moon

The First Quarter Moon rises around 10:45 a.m. and sets around 1:15 a.m. It dominates the evening sky.

Monday, February 22, 1:20 p.m. EST

Full Moon

The February Full Moon is known as the Snow Moon or Hunger 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.


Note that there is no Last Quarter Moon in February in North America, the previous one occurring on January 31 at 10 28 p.m. EST, and the next one occurring on March 1 at 6:11 p.m. EST. This is because, even though there are 29 days in February this leap year, the synodic lunar month (New Moon to New Moon) is 29.53 days long.

Observing Highlights

Mercury, Venus, and the Moon

Saturday, February 6, dawn

A slender crescent Moon will be framed by the planets Mercury and Venus at dawn this morning.

Mercury at greatest elongation west

Sunday, February 7, dawn

Mercury will be at its farthest from the Sun. Because of the angle the ecliptic makes with the horizon, this will be more favorable in the Southern Hemisphere, seen here half an hour before sunrise in Melbourne, Australia.

Aldebaran occulted by Moon

Monday, February 15, evening

The first quarter Moon will occult the bright red star Aldebaran against the backdrop of the Hyades star cluster, as seen from Hawaii, Japan, southern China, and southeast Asia.

Jupiter and the Moon

Tuesday, February 23, 11 p.m. EST

The Moon and Jupiter will rise close together in the southeastern sky.

Zodiacal Light

Wednesday, February 24–Wednesday March 9, evening

The faint glow of the zodiacal light will be visible for the next two weeks in the western sky after the end of evening twilight. It is a faint cone of light following the ecliptic, the green line shown here, quite distinct from the faint glow of the Milky Way to the Northwest.

Double shadow transit on Jupiter

Friday, February 26, 4:37–5:03 a.m. EST

Jupiter’s moons Io and Europa will chase their shadows across the face of Jupiter. The Great Red Spot will also be well placed for observation.

Planets

All five naked eye planets will be arrayed across the morning sky for most of the month.

Mercury is well placed low in the eastern sky at dawn for most of the month. It will be at greatest elongation west of the Sun on February 7. This apparition is more favorable for observers in the Southern Hemisphere because of the angle the ecliptic makes with the horizon.


Venus continues to shine brightly at dawn all month, but is dropping towards the Sun. It will be close to Mercury on the 13th.


Mars, in the morning sky, will be in Libra all month. Its tiny disk grows from 7 to 9 arc seconds during the month, as it moves towards opposition on May 22. Observers with good telescopes should begin to see some of the dark markings on Mars’ surface this month.


Jupiter is now rising around 9 p.m. and shines brightly in Leo the rest of the night.


Saturn is well placed in Ophiuchus in the morning sky. Its rings are now spread widely, making it a beautiful sight in a small telescope.


Uranus sets in the west in mid-evening.


Neptune is in conjunction with the Sun on 28th, making it too close to the Sun to be observed all month.


Geoff Gaherty
Starry Night Software Support
All graphics © 2016 Starry Night Software

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Sky Events December 2015

Moon Phases

Thursday, December 3, 2:40 p.m. EST

Last Quarter Moon

The Last Quarter Moon rises around 11:45 p.m. and sets around 1 p.m. It is most easily seen just after sunrise in the southern sky.

Friday, December 11, 5:29 a.m. EST

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, December 18, 10:14 a.m. EST

First Quarter Moon

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

Friday, December 25, 6:11 a.m. EST

Full Moon

The December Full Moon is known as the Oak Moon, Cold Moon or Long Nights 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

Jupiter and the Moon

Friday, December 4, dawn

Jupiter will be 2 degrees north of the Moon.


Venus and the Moon

Monday, December 7, morning

Venus will about a degree away from the Moon at dawn. The Moon will move to occult Venus over most of North America around noon EST, a good opportunity to locate Venus in the daytime sky.

Geminid meteors

Monday–Tuesday, December 14–15, midnight to dawn

The Geminid meteor shower, one of the most reliable in the year, peaks near midday on December 14, so the best times to observe will be between midnight and dawn on the mornings of the 14th and 15th.

Solstice

Monday, December 21, 11:48 p.m.

The Sun reaches its southernmost declination for the year, resulting in the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere and the longest day of the year in the southern hemisphere.

Mercury at greatest eastern elongation

Tuesday, December 29, dusk

Mercury will be well placed for observation in the western sky about half an hour after sunset.

Jupiter and the Moon

Wednesday, December 30, before midnight

Jupiter and the Moon are close in the sky, and rise together just before midnight.

Planets

Mercury is well placed low in the western sky at the end of the month.


Venus continues to shine brightly at dawn all month, but is dropping towards the Sun.


Mars, in the morning sky, moves eastward in Virgo all month.




Jupiter shines brightly in Leo rising around midnight.


Saturn is too close to the Sun to be observed all month.


Uranus is well placed in Pisces in the evening sky all month.



 
Neptune sets in the late evening in the constellation Aquarius.


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

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Sky Events November 2015

Moon Phases

Tuesday, November 3, 7:24 a.m. EST

Last Quarter Moon

The Last Quarter Moon rises around 11 p.m. and sets around 1 p.m. It is most easily seen just after sunrise in the southern sky.

Wednesday, November 11, 12:47 p.m. EST

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.

Thursday, November 19, 1:27 a.m. EST

First Quarter Moon

The First Quarter Moon rises around 12:30 p.m. and sets around 11:30 p.m. It dominates the evening sky.

Wednesday, November 25, 5:44 p.m. EST

Full Moon

The November Full Moon is known as the Beaver Moon or Frosty 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 Mars

Tuesday, November 3, dawn

Venus and Mars are less than a degree apart, with Jupiter nearby. Venus is by far the brightest of the three, with Mars a tiny red dot just above brilliant white Venus.

Jupiter and the Moon

Friday, November 6, dawn

Jupiter will be 2 degrees north of the Moon, with Mars and Venus nearby.

Venus and the Moon

Saturday, November 7, dawn

Venus will be 1.2 degrees north of the Moon, with Mars and Jupiter nearby.

Leonid meteors

Wednesday, November 18, midnight to dawn

Although not predicted to be active this year, this shower has often performed well in the past, and is worth a look.

Occultation of Aldebaran

Thursday, November 26, before sunrise

For observers in Canada and the northern USA, the Moon will pass in front of the bright red giant star Aldebaran in Taurus. The exact times of disappearance and reappearance will vary depending on your location. A program like Starry Night will give you the exact times for your location.


Planets

Mercury is too close to the Sun to be observed this month.


Venus continues to shine brightly at dawn all month.


Mars, in the morning sky, moves from Leo into Virgo on November 1, and continues to move eastward in Virgo for the rest of the month. It starts the month close to Jupiter, and ends it halfway between Jupiter and Venus.


Jupiter shines brightly in Leo in the eastern pre-dawn sky all month.


Saturn is too close to the Sun to be observed all month.


Uranus is well placed in Pisces in the evening sky all month.


Neptune is well placed in the evening sky all month in the constellation Aquarius.


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

Friday, October 2, 2015

Sky Events October 2015

Moon Phases

Sunday, October 4, 5:06 p.m. EDT

Last Quarter Moon

The Last Quarter Moon rises around 11:15 p.m. and sets around 2:30 p.m. It is most easily seen just after sunrise in the southern sky.

Monday, October 12, 8:06 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.

Tuesday, October 20, 4:31 p.m. EDT

First Quarter Moon

The First Quarter Moon rises around 2:15 p.m. and sets around 12:30 a.m. It dominates the evening sky.

Tuesday, October 27, 8:05 a.m. EDT

Full Moon

The October Full Moon is known as the Hunter's Moon or Blood or Sanguine 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

Moon near Aldebaran

Friday, October 2, 9 a.m. EDT

The  waning gibbous Moon will occult Aldebaran as seen from Micronesia, Japan, and North America. This occultation will be in daylight in eastern North America, but Aldebaran should be visible in a telescope.

Moon near Venus

Thursday, October 8, 5 p.m. EDT

The Moon will occult Venus as seen from Australia, New Zealand, and Melanesia. Best seen in North America around dawn on October 8.

Best seen in Australia and New Zealand at dawn on October 9.

Moon near Mercury

Sunday, October 11, sunrise

The Moon will occult Mercury as seen from southern South America. Best viewed in North America half an hour before sunrise.

Zodiacal light

Monday, October 12–Thursday, October 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). Don’t confuse it with the Milky Way, further south.

Opposition of Uranus

Sunday, October 12, midnight EDT

Find Uranus at opposition by following the chain of stars in Pisces to a spot half way between Zeta and Epsilon Piscium, and a little to the south.

Mercury at greatest elongation west

Thursday, October 15, 11 p.m. EDT

Mercury will be 18 degrees west of the Sun, best seen at dawn in the southern hemisphere.

Mars near Jupiter

Sunday, October 18, before dawn

Jupiter and Mars will be close enough to fit in the same field of a telescope.

Double shadow transit on Jupiter

Sunday, October 18, 6:42–8:08 a.m. EDT

The shadow of Io chases Ganymede’s shadow across Jupiter’s face.

Double shadow transit on Jupiter

Sunday, October 25, 8:36–10:53 a.m. EDT

Shadows of Io and Ganymede enter Jupiter’s disk simultaneously, but Io’s shadow completes the transit by 10:53 while Ganymede’s takes over an hour longer. Best viewed in western North America.

Venus at greatest elongation west

Monday, October 26, 3 a.m. EDT

Venus will be 46 degrees west of the Sun.

Venus near Jupiter

Monday, October 26, 4 a.m. EDT

Venus will pass close to Jupiter.

Moon near Uranus

Monday, October 26, 6 a.m. EDT

The Moon will occult Uranus as seen from New Zealand and French Polynesia. Here as seen from Auckland.

Moon at perigee

Monday, October 26, 9 a.m. EDT

The Moon will be at its closest to the Earth this month. Expect high tides for the next four days.

Moon near Aldebaran

Thursday, October 29, 8:30 p.m. local time

The Moon again passes close to Aldebaran.


Planets

Mercury is well placed in the morning twilight for the most of the month. This apparition is more favorable for observers in the Southern Hemisphere.


Venus is reaches its greatest western elongation from the Sun on the 26th.


Mars is low in the morning sky, moving eastward through Leo.


Jupiter shines brightly eastern pre-dawn sky all month. It passes close to Mars on the 17th and Venus on the 26th.


Saturn is low in the southwest evening twilight sky, and sets soon after. It moves from Libra into Scorpius on the 16th.


Uranus is in opposition on the 12th in Pisces, and is visible all night. Its closeness to the Moon on October 26 will be a good opportunity to observe it.


Neptune is visible most of the night in the constellation Aquarius.


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