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

Monday, December 1, 2014

December 2014



Moon Phases

Saturday, December 6, 7:27 a.m. EST

Full Moon

The Full Moon of December 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.

Sunday, December 14, 7:51 a.m. EST

Last Quarter Moon

The Last Quarter Moon rises around 11:45 p.m. and sets around 12:15 p.m. It is most easily seen just after sunrise in the southern sky.

Sunday, December 21, 8:36 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.

Sunday, December 28, 1:31 p.m. EST

First Quarter Moon

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

 

Observing Highlights

Monday, December 1, 7 p.m. EST

Uranus and the Moon

The waxing gibbous Moon will pass just north of the planet Uranus. Observers in northwestern Canada and eastern Alaska will see the Moon occult Uranus, as in this view from Yellowknife, NWT, Canada.

Friday, December 5, midnight EST

Aldebaran and the Moon

The nearly full Moon passes just north of the red giant star Aldebaran and the Hyades star cluster. The bright Pleiades star cluster is above and towards the West.

Monday, December 8, 11:20–11:25 p.m. EST

Double shadow transit on Jupiter

For a brief 5-minute period, the shadows of both Io and Europa will fall simultaneously on opposite limbs of Jupiter, the first of a series of double transit events culminating in a triple shadow and satellite transit on January 24, 2015.

Sunday, December 14, 7 a.m. EST

Geminid meteor shower peaks

A last quarter Moon will interfere with viewing this most reliable meteor shower. The best meteors will be visible about 90 degrees away from the radiant in Gemini.

Tuesday, December 16, 1:12–02:02 a.m. EST

Double shadow transit on Jupiter

For 50 minutes the shadows of both Io and Europa will fall simultaneously on Jupiter. Note that this event occurs after midnight on Monday, December 15.

Friday, December 19, 1 hour before sunrise

Saturn and the Moon

Saturn makes a reappearance as a “morning star” close to the slender waning crescent Moon, just before sunrise Friday morning.

Sunday, December 21, 6:03 p.m. EST

Winter solstice

The Sun reaches its southernmost position in the sky, and begins moving northward again. New Moon is less than 3 hours away, so the Moon is close by, and the Sun is flanked by four planets (Mars, Venus, Mercury, and Saturn) and two dwarf planets (Pluto and Ceres). As happens every year at the solstice, the Sun is only a few degrees away from “alignment” with the black hole at the center of our Galaxy. This is the summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere.

Sunday, December 28, midnight EST

Uranus and the Moon

The waxing gibbous Moon again passes just north of the planet Uranus. Observers in northeastern Asia, Alaska, and northern Canada will see the Moon occult Uranus, as in this view from Yellowknife, NWT, Canada.

 

Planets


Mercury is too close to the Sun to observe all month. 
 

Venus reappears as an “evening star” in the southwestern sky just after sunset at the beginning of the month.
 

Mars moves from Sagittarius into Capricornus on the 4th low in the southwestern sky, moving behind the Sun. Mars is at its closest to the Sun (perihelion) on the 12th, and spring is well advanced in its southern hemisphere.

Jupiter now rises in mid-evening in the constellation Leo, and shines brightly in the southern sky the rest of the night. A two-month series of double shadow transits begins on December 8.

Saturn reappears in as a “morning star” in Libra in the southeastern dawn sky.

Uranus is well placed in Pisces in the evening sky, setting after midnight. Two close approaches by the Moon on the 1st and 28th will make it easy to spot.



Neptune is in the early evening sky in Aquarius, setting in late evening.





Geoff Gaherty
Starry Night Software Support
All graphics © 2014 Starry Night Software