Friday, May 1, 2015

Sky Events May 2015


Moon Phases

Sunday, May 3, 11:42 p.m. EDT

Full Moon

The Full Moon of May is known as the “Milk Moon,” “Flower Moon,”  or “Corn Planting 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.

Monday, May 11, 6:36 a.m. EDT

Last Quarter Moon

The Last Quarter Moon rises around 2 a.m. and sets around 1 p.m. It is most easily seen just after sunrise in the southern sky.

Monday, May 18, 12:13 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, May 25, 1:19 p.m. EDT

First Quarter Moon

The First Quarter Moon rises around 1 p.m. and sets around 2:15 a.m. It dominates the evening sky.

Observing Highlights

Mercury at greatest elongation

Thursday, May 7, evening twilight

This is the best evening apparition of Mercury this year for observers in the northern hemisphere. Use Venus to help you locate it. Mercury is most easily located by sweeping with binoculars, but once you’ve located it, you should be able to see it with your unaided eyes.

Uranus and the Moon

Friday, May 15, dawn

The Moon will pass just south of the Uranus just before sunrise.

Double shadow transit on Jupiter

Wednesday, May 20, 8:06–8:35 p.m. EDT

The shadows of Io and Ganymede will be on opposite limbs of Jupiter, while the moons Io and Callisto will be central on the disk.

Saturn at opposition

Friday, May 22, 10 p.m. EDT

Saturn will be in opposition to the Sun.

Note how most of Saturn’s moons are in the same plane as the rings, except for Iapetus, whose orbit is tilted 8.3 degrees. At opposition, Iapetus is close to maximum elongation towards the west, while Titan is close to maximum elongation towards the east.

Double shadow transit on Jupiter

Wednesday, May 27, 10:01 p.m.–12:18 a.m. EDT

The shadow of Io chases the shadow of Ganymede across the face of Jupiter, catching up with it and passing it at 11:48 p.m. EDT. The Great Red Spot will also cross Jupiter’s disk during this period.

Planets


Mercury is well placed for northern hemisphere observers in the evening twilight sky for the first three weeks of May.


Venus shines high in the western sky after sunset.


Mars moves from Aries to Taurus on May 3, too close to the Sun to be visible.


Jupiter is well placed in the evening sky all month.


Saturn is just north of Scorpius’ “claws.” At opposition on May 22, it is visible all night.


Uranus rises just before the Sun in Pisces.


Neptune is in the eastern morning sky in the constellation Aquarius.


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

Monday, March 9, 2015

Sky Events March 2015


Moon Phases

Thursday, March 5, 1:05 p.m. EST

Full Moon

The Full Moon of March is known as the “Worm Moon,” “Crow Moon,” “Sap Moon,” or “Lenten 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 smallest Full Moon of 2015.

Friday, March 13, 1:48 p.m. EDT

Last Quarter Moon

The Last Quarter Moon rises around 2 a.m. and sets around noon. It is most easily seen just after sunrise in the southern sky.

Friday, March 20, 5:36 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.

Friday, March 27, 3:43 a.m. EDT

First Quarter Moon

The First Quarter Moon rises around 11:30 a.m. and sets around 2:30 a.m. It dominates the evening sky.









Observing Highlights

Sunday, March 8–Sunday, March 22, after evening twilight

Zodiacal Light

Look to the south of west, just above Venus and Mars, for the faint zodiacal light, reflected from interplanetary matter along the ecliptic (marked by green line). Don’t confuse it with the brighter Milky Way to the northwest.

Friday, March 20

Total Solar Eclipse

The path of this eclipse sweeps across the North Atlantic Ocean, missing all inhabited land except for the Faroe Islands, northwest of Scotland, and the Svalberg Islands north of Norway. These images show the appearance of the eclipse from Tórshavn in the Faroes
and Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen Island in Svalberg.

Friday, March 20, 6:45 p.m. EDT

Equinox

The Sun crosses the celestial equator heading north, marking the beginning of Spring in the northern hemisphere and Autumn in the southern hemisphere.

Saturday, March 21, 7 a.m. EDT

Uranus and the Moon

The Moon will occult Uranus as seen from easternmost Brazil, central Africa, the Middle East, and western Asia.

Saturday, March 21, 6 p.m. EDT

Mars and the Moon

The Moon will occult Mars as seen from southwestern South America, seen here from Punta Arenas, Chile.

Sunday, March 22, after sunset

Venus and the Moon

The Moon and Venus will make a pretty pair in the western twilight sky.

Tuesday, March 24, 10 p.m. EDT

Aldebaran and the Moon

The First Quarter Moon passes close to the red giant star Aldebaran and the Hyades star cluster. The bright Pleiades star cluster is off to the right. The Moon will pass in front of Aldebaran for observers in northern latitudes: Kazakhstan, Russia, northeastern Scandinavia, extreme northeastern China, northern Greenland, northwestern Canada, and Alaska.

Planets

Mercury is a “morning star,” most favourably placed for observers in the Southern Hemisphere.

Venus is an “evening star” in the southwestern sky just after sunset.

Mars spends most of the month in Pisces, but makes a brief excursion into Cetus on February 1st and 2nd.


Jupiter just past opposition will be shining brightly most of the night. It is in Cancer all month.


Saturn is just north of Scorpius’ “claws,” rising near midnight. It begins retrograde motion on the 14th.


Uranus vanishes into evening twilight at mid-month.

Neptune is still too close to the Sun to be observed.


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

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

February 2015

I'm away from my computer, and the interface for blogger.com doesn't work well on my iPad, so this month I'll direct you to Space.com's version of my monthly sky events.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Sky Events January 2015


Moon Phases

Sunday, January 4, 11:53 p.m. EST

Full Moon

The Full Moon of January is known as the “Wolf Moon” or “Old 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.

Tuesday, January 13, 4:46 a.m. EST

Last Quarter Moon

The Last Quarter Moon rises around 12:30 a.m. and sets around noon. It is most easily seen just after sunrise in the southern sky.

Tuesday, January 20, 8:14 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, January 26, 11:48 p.m. EST

First Quarter Moon

The First Quarter Moon rises around 11 a.m. and sets around 1 a.m. It dominates the evening sky.


Observing Highlights

Saturday, January 3, 9 p.m. EST

Quadrantid meteor shower peaks

A waxing gibbous Moon will interfere with viewing this meteor shower. The best meteors will be visible after midnight, about 90 degrees away from the radiant in Boötes.

Tuesday, January 6, 6:56–8:08 a.m. EST

Double shadow transit on Jupiter

The shadows of Io and Europa will fall simultaneously on Jupiter.

Thursday–Monday, January 8–12, dusk

Mercury close to Venus

Mercury will be within one degree of Venus for five days, making it easy to spot in evening twilight. Mars is also visible higher in the sky.

Friday, January 9, 8:15–10:05 p.m. EST

Double shadow transit on Jupiter

The shadows of Io and Europa will fall simultaneously on Jupiter.

Friday, January 16, 1 hour before sunrise

Saturn and the Moon

Saturn will be close to the slender waning crescent Moon, just before sunrise Tuesday morning.

Friday, January 16, 10:51–11:59 p.m. EST

Double shadow transit on Jupiter

The shadows of Io and Europa will fall simultaneously on Jupiter.

Monday, January 19, dusk

Neptune and Mars

Neptune and Mars will pass within 15 arc minutes of each other, a rare planetary conjunction.

Friday–Saturday, January 23–24, 11:35 p.m.–03:00 a.m. EST

Double and triple shadow transit on Jupiter

The shadows of Io, Europa, and Callisto will fall simultaneously on Jupiter; this is an extremely rare event, which will not occur again until 2032.


Thursday, January 29, dusk

Aldebaran and the Moon

The waxing gibbous Moon is east of the red giant star Aldebaran and the Hyades star cluster. The bright Pleiades star cluster is above and towards the west.

Planets

Mercury is well placed in the evening sky close to Venus.

Venus is an “evening star” in the southwestern sky just after sunset.

 Mars spends most of the month in Aquarius, low in the southwestern sky after sunset.

Jupiter now rises in the early evening in the constellation Leo, and shines brightly in the southern sky the rest of the night. The current series of double shadow transits culminates in a triple shadow transit on the night of January 24.

 Saturn moves from Libra into Scorpius on January 17 the southeastern morning sky.

Uranus is well placed in Pisces in the evening sky, setting in late evening.

 Neptune is low the western evening sky in Aquarius.


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