Friday, April 4, 2014

Sky Events April 2014

Moon Phases

Monday, Apr. 7, 4:31 a.m. EDT

First Quarter 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, Apr. 15, 3:42 a.m. EDT

Full Moon

The Full Moon of April is known as the Seed Moon, Pink Moon, Sprouting Grass Moon, Egg Moon, or Fish Moon. It rises around sunset and sets around sunrise, 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, Apr. 22, 3:52 a.m. EDT

Last Quarter Moon

The Last Quarter Moon rises around 2:15 a.m. and sets around 1 p.m. It is most easily seen just after sunrise in the southern sky.

Tuesday, Apr. 29, 2:14 a.m. EDT

New Moon

This is the second New Moon this month. There is no special name for this event. Notice how much closer the Sun and Moon are compared to the New Moon on April 1. At the next New Moon on April 29, the Moon will pass directly in front of the Sun, causing an annular solar eclipse, visible in Antarctica and Australia.

Observing Highlights

Thursday, Apr. 3, evening

Aldebaran and the Moon

The Moon will be close to the red giant star Aldebaran in Taurus this evening.

Tuesday, April 8, 5 p.m. EDT

Mars at opposition

Mars will be at opposition, exactly opposite the Sun in the sky. Oddly enough, Mars isn’t at its closest to the Earth for nearly 6 more days, because of Mars’ elliptical orbit.

Saturday, Apr. 12, 4 a.m. EDT

Venus and Neptune

An unusual opportunity to view the brightest and the faintest planets at the same time. This will be a difficult observation because the sky is starting to get light by the time the planets rise, making it difficult to see 8th magnitude Neptune. A low eastern horizon will be necessary.

Sunday, Apr. 13, 8 a.m. EDT

Vesta at opposition

The brightest asteroid Vesta will be opposite the Sun this morning. At magnitude 5.8 it should be just visible with the naked eye under dark skies; an easy target in binoculars.

Monday, April 14, 9 a.m.

Mars closest approach

Because of its eccentric orbit, Mars will be at its closest to Earth today, almost a week after opposition on April 8. This is an unfavourable opposition, Mars being only 15.1 arc seconds in diameter. Later today, the almost Full Moon will pass just north of Mars.

Monday, April 14, sunset

Mars and the Moon

Shortly after sunset, Mars and the Moon will be visible rising in the East.

Tuesday, Apr. 15, 2 a.m. EDT

Ceres at opposition

Ceres will be directly opposite the Sun in the sky, in Virgo. Ceres was the first asteroid discovered in 1801, and was reclassified as a dwarf planet in 2006. At magnitude 7.0, it will be easily visible in binoculars as a star-like point of light. It is less than 1 arc second in angular diameter.

Tuesday, Apr. 15, 12:54–6:38 a.m. EDT

Total eclipse of the Moon

The Moon will be completely immersed in the Earth’s shadow from 3:07 a.m. until 4:25 a.m., with partial phases being visible before and after. This eclipse will be visible over all of north and South America, across the Pacific Ocean, and in Australia and New Zealand.

Thursday, Apr. 17, 3 a.m. EDT

Saturn and the Moon

The nearly Full Moon will pass just north of the planet Saturn. Observers in southern South America and French Polynesia will see the Moon occult Saturn. Saturn is just appearing from behind the Moon as seen from Papeete, Tahiti.

Tuesday, Apr. 29

Annular Solar Eclipse

This annual eclipse will only be total in a small area in Antarctica, but will be widely seen as a partial eclipse. The partial phases all be visible from most of Australia, and far across the southern Indian Ocean. It is seen here from Hobart, Tasmania.

Planets


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


Venus is now a “morning star,” rising in the East just before the sun.


Mars is in opposition on April 8 and closest to the Earth on April 14. It is visible in Virgo all night long.



Jupiter shines brightly in the South in Gemini most of the night, setting in the northwest around 2 a.m. The Great Red Spot is easier to see than in many recent years, showing a distinct orange color.


Saturn, in Libra, rises in the eastern sky around 10 p.m., and is visible the rest of the night.


Uranus is too close to the Sun to be visible.

Neptune is close to Venus in Aquarius all month, rising just before the Sun.


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

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sky Events March 2014


Moon Phases

Saturday, Mar. 1, 3:00 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. This is the first of two New Moons this month.


Saturday, Mar. 8, 8:27 a.m. EST

First Quarter Moon

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

Sunday, Mar. 16, 1:08 p.m. EDT

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, 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, Mar. 23, 9:46 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.

Sunday, Mar. 30, 2:45 p.m. EDT

New Moon

This is the second New Moon this month. There is no special name for this event. Notice how much closer the Sun and Moon are compared to the New Moon on March 1. At the next New Moon on April 29, the Moon will pass directly in front of the Sun, causing an annular solar eclipse, visible in Antarctica and Australia.

 

Observing Highlights

Saturday/Sunday, Mar. 9/10, 1 a.m.

Jupiter and the Moon

Saturday night (or rather Sunday morning) at 2 a.m. we turn our clocks forward to Daylight Saving Time. About an hour before that happens, have a look at your western horizon. You’ll see an arch of first magnitude stars: Procyon, Pollux, Castor, and Capella, and suspended beneath them, the planet Jupiter and the slightly gibbous waxing Moon.

Friday, March 14, before sunrise

Mercury at greatest elongation

For observers in the southern hemisphere, this is the best time to see Mercury in the morning sky. Look about half an hour before sunrise, and you will see Mercury half way between brilliant Venus and the horizon, framed by first magnitude stars Altair and Fomalhaut.

Tuesday, Mar. 18–Tuesday, Apr. 1, after evening twilight

Zodiacal Light

The faint glow of the zodiacal light, reflected from millions of tiny interplanetary particles, will be visible from northern latitudes in the western sky right after evening twilight ends. Fainter than the Milky Way, this is only visible in really dark skies. The Milky Way arches from southwest to northwest, while the zodiacal light rises straight up from the western horizon underneath Jupiter.

Tuesday, Mar. 18, 10 p.m. local time

Mars, Spica, and the Moon

Look towards the eastern horizon around 10 p.m. and you’ll see the Moon, two days past Full, rising with the planet Mars to its left and Spica to its right.

Thursday, March 20, 2:07 a.m.

Asteroid Erigone occults Regulus

Asteroid 163 Erigone will pass in front of the first magnitude star Regulus, causing it to blink out of sight for a few seconds. This will be visible only on a narrow path starting over Long Island, New York, through Kingston, Ontario, Algonquin Provincial Park, and the western part of Hudson’s Bay. A map of the predicted path is shown here http://www.asteroidoccultation.com/observations/RegulusOcc/. Erigone itself will be 11th magnitude, not visible to the naked eye.

Thursday, Mar. 20, 12:57 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.

Thursday, Mar. 20, midnight

Saturn and the Moon

Saturn and the Moon rise together just before midnight in the southeastern sky. Earlier in the day, the Moon occulted Saturn as seen from northeastern South America, southern Africa, and Madagascar.

Saturday, Mar. 22, 4 p.m. EDT

Venus at greatest elongation west

Venus will be at its farthest westward from the Sun, which means that it will also be in perfect “half-moon” phase, lit exactly from its left side.

Sunday, Mar. 23, 10:08 p.m.–10:32 p.m. EDT

Double shadow transit on Jupiter

The shadows of two of Jupiter’s moons, Io and Ganymede, will cross Jupiter’s face simultaneously, visible to observers all across North America.

Thursday, Mar. 27, sunrise

The Moon close to Venus

The slender crescent moon will be just to the left of Venus, which will appear as a miniature crescent in small telescopes.


Planets


Mercury is well placed in the morning sky for observers in the southern hemisphere for most of March.


Venus is now a “morning star,” rising in the east just before the sun. It reaches greatest elongation west on March 22.


Mars is continues to brighten close to Spica in Virgo. It rises in the east in mid-evening and is visible the rest of the night.


Jupiter shines brightly in the south most of the night. The Great Red Spot is easier to see than in many recent years, showing a distinct orange color.


Saturn rises in the eastern sky around midnight in the constellation Libra.


Uranus is too close to the Sun to be visible, being in conjunction with the Sun on April 2.

Neptune is too close to the Sun to be visible.

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

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Sky Events January 2014

 

Moon Phases


Wednesday, Jan. 1, 6:14 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. This is the first of two New Moons this month.



Tuesday, Jan. 7, 10:39 p.m. EST


First Quarter Moon


The First Quarter Moon rises around 11:20 a.m. and sets around 12:50 a.m. It dominates the evening sky.



Wednesday, Jan. 15, 11:52 p.m. EST


Full Moon


The Full Moon of January is known as the Wolf Moon or the Old Moon. It rises around sunset and sets around sunrise, 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 will be the smallest full moon in 2014.



Friday, Jan. 24, 12:19 a.m. EST


Last Quarter Moon


The Last Quarter Moon rises around 1 a.m. and sets around 11:40 a.m. It is most easily seen just after sunrise in the southern sky.



Thursday, Jan. 30, 4:38 p.m. EST


New Moon


This is the second New Moon this month. There is no special name for this event.





Observing Highlights


Thursday and Friday, Jan. 2 and 3, between midnight and dawn


Quadrantid meteor shower


The Quadrantid meteor shower peaks at 3 p.m. EST on January 2, during daylight. The best times to observe will be Thursday morning and Friday morning, between midnight and dawn. The meteors appear to radiate from a point between northern Bootes and the handle of the Big Dipper, once part of an obsolete constellation called Quadrans Muralis, the Wall Quadrant.



Sunday, Jan. 5


Jupiter at opposition


Jupiter will be exactly opposite the Sun in Earth’s sky. It rises in the east at sunset and sets in the west at sunrise, visible all night long. Jupiter is currently in the far northern constellation of Gemini, so will be high in the sky for northern observers, surrounded by five of the brightest stars in the sky: Capella, Betelgeuse, Procyon, Pollux and Castor.



Saturday, Jan. 11


Venus at inferior conjunction


In its transition from “evening star” to “morning star,” Venus passes between Earth and Sun today. Because of the tilt of its orbit, it passes six degrees north of the Sun, rather than directly in front as it did in June 2012.



Thursday, Jan. 23, 5 a.m. EST


The Moon close to Spica


The Moon will pass just north of the bright star Spica in Virgo, with Mars close by.



Saturday, Jan. 25, early morning


The Moon close to Saturn


The Moon will pass just south of Saturn in Libra. The Moon will occult Saturn for observers in French Polynesia, New Zealand, southern South America, and Antarctica.



Tuesday, Jan. 28, sunrise


The Moon close to Venus


The slender crescent Moon will be just to the right of Venus.



Wednesday, Jan. 29, sunrise


The Moon close to Venus


On Wednesday morning, the Moon will be even closer to Venus, just below it and to the left, but the Moon will be only one day away from New so may be difficult to see.



Friday, Jan. 31, sunset


Mercury at greatest elongation east


Mercury will be well placed for observation just after sunset for observers in the northern hemisphere. The 1-day-old Moon will be nearby.





Planets




Mercury is well placed in the evening sky for observers in the northern hemisphere for the last week of January.





Venus passes just above the Sun on January 11. It may be glimpsed in the western sky just after sunset at the beginning of the month and in the eastern sky just before sunrise at the end of the month.





Mars is continues to brighten in Virgo in the morning sky.





Jupiter is in opposition on January 5 and shines brightly all night all month. The Great Red Spot is easier to see than in many recent years, showing a distinct orange color.





Saturn is low in the eastern sky just before sunrise, in the constellation Libra.





Uranus is visible all evening, setting around 11 p.m. It is in Pisces all month long.





Neptune, in Aquarius, is visible in the early evening and sets around 8 p.m.





Geoff Gaherty

Starry Night Software Support

All graphics © 2014 Starry Night Software