Astronomy highlights — Dec 2017

All times shown are “universal” times or GMT or in weather usage, z times, as used in the calendar of events. For November to March in Ireland and the U.K., these are the same times as local times (e.g. 0800z is 0800h GMT), while in North America, from these z or GMT times then subtract four hours to get AST (Atlantic region of Canada, 3.5h for NDST), five hours to get EST, six hours to get CST, sevem hours to get MST (Mountain standard time, Rocky Mtns and portions of Great Plains) and eight hours to get PST (Pacific daylight saving time, west coast of North America). In Japan and eastern Australia, civil times are conversely about eight or nine hours ahead of z time. 

DECEMBER 2017

3rd — Full moon (1548z) _ no eclipse, moon is 4 deg south of ecliptic plane.

4th — Moon at perigee (0845z), 357,492 kms from earth

5th — Moon at northern declination maximum (21 deg north) (12z)

10th — Moon at last quarter (1052z)

14th — Moon appears close to Jupiter after passing Spica, a bright star visible to the lower right of Jupiter.

18th — New moon (0631z) followed by southern declination maximum (12z) at 21 deg south. Saturn in conjunction (far side of solar system) will be located just above the new moon and will be passed shortly after the event around 12z on the 18th. The slower apparent motion of the Sun in the same direction will create the conjunction during the 19th. Saturn will be very close to the Sun’s north pole (although 10 light years distant) but of course none of this can be seen from the earth due to the solar glare.

19th — Moon at apogee (0125z), 406,603 kms from earth.

26th — Moon at first quarter (0921z)

31st — Moon at northern maximum of declination (22z).

1st Jan 2018 — Moon at perigee (2148z), 356.565 kms from earth.

2nd Jan 2018 — Full moon (0218z) — supermoon, only 4.5h separation of full moon and perigee, very strong tides with storm surges likely in any stormy conditions. “King” tides will continue for several days.

 

NOVEMBER 2017

3rd — Moon 2 deg south of Uranus (12z)

4th — Full moon (0524z)

6th — Moon at perigee 361,438 km from earth (0010z) and 1 deg north of Aldebaran (03z)

7th — Moon at northern declination maximum (12z)

10th — Moon at last quarter (2038z)

11th — Moon occults Regulus (17z)

13th — Venus and Jupiter in close conjunction (pre-dawn)

15th — Moon 4 deg north of Mars (01z) then 8 deg north of Spica (22z)

17th — Moon 5 deg north of Jupiter (01z) and 6 deg north of Venus (06z)

18th — New moon (1143z)

20th — Moon 7 deg north of Mercury (06z)

21st — Moon 3 deg north of Saturn (00z) and at southern declination maximum (12z), also at apogee (1853z) 406,132 km from earth.

26th — Moon at first quarter (1704z)

27th — Moon occults Neptune (03z)

29th — Moon 2 deg south of Uranus (23z)

30th — Mercury 4 deg south of Saturn both dimly visible in evening sky

3rd DEC — Full moon (1548z)

 

OCTOBER 2017

3rd — Moon 1 deg south of Neptune (12z).

5th, 6th — Venus and Mars very close in pre-dawn skies.

5th — Full moon (1841z), no eclipse, moon 3 deg below ecliptic plane (where earth’s shadow is cast by the Sun).

8th — Mercury at superior conjunction (16z) located behind the Sun and just above its north pole by about 1-2 deg.

9th — Moon at perigee (366,855 km) at 0554z (0654 IST/BST), Moon 1 deg north of Aldebaran 18z … best views after sunset in eastern hemisphere, Moon and Aldebaran rise about 9 to 10 p.m. local times in mid-latitudes northern hemisphere.

11th — Moon at northern declination maximum (21 deg) at 12z

12th — Moon at last quarter (1227z)

15th — Moon occults Regulus (15z) —

17th — Moon 2 deg north of Mars (10z) then 2 deg north of Venus (23z)

19th — New moon (1913z) — no eclipse, Moon 4 deg north of Sun, also 8 deg north of Spica (17z) and later 4 deg north of Jupiter, 6 deg north of Mercury (20th 05z, 11z) which are both lost in the Sun’s glare in the evening skies. This series of gravitational interference peaks may be associated with a major earthquake 17th to 20th.

20th — Uranus at opposition (earth between Sun and Uranus).

24th — Moon 3 deg north of Saturn (09z) then at southern declination maximum (21 deg) around 21z.

25th — Moon at apogee (405,154 km) at 0226z (0326 IST/BST).

26th — Moon 2 deg north of Pluto (02z).

27th — Jupiter in conjunction with Sun (far side of solar system from earth) 00z then Moon at first quarter (2223z).

30th — Moon 1 deg south of Neptune (19z).

(4th Nov) — Full moon 0524z

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SEPTEMBER 2017

4th — Neptune at opposition (earth moves between Sun and Neptune)

5th — Moon 1 deg south of Neptune (17z)

6th — Full moon (0704z) … no eclipse

9th — Moon 4 deg south of Uranus (01z)

12th — Moon 1 deg north of Aldebaran (13z) … best seen from Pacific regions and east Asia. Closer separation further north, near occultation in eastern Siberia, Alaska

13th — Moon at last quarter (0626z), at perigee (1606z) 369,860 km distant.

14th — Moon at northern declination maximum (00z)

18th — Moon 2 deg south of Venus (02z) … best views from western Asia 2h before sunrise, in Ireland Venus will rise slightly ahead of the waning crescent Moon. About one hour later, the Moon is close to Regulus. Venus passes Regulus on the 20th.

18th — Moon occults both Mercury and Mars around 22z, visible in east Asia. By morning of 19th, in Ireland, it may be difficult to find the very thin lunar crescent and even more difficult to spot either Mars or Mercury (by now rising ahead of the moon) around an hour before sunrise.

20th — New moon … no eclipse (0531z)

22nd — Moon 3 deg north of Jupiter (06z) and 8 deg north of Spica (00z).

27th — Moon 3 deg north of Saturn (03z), best views from North America. Moon at apogee 0650z, 404,348 km distant.

28th — Moon at first quarter (0255z) and also at southern declination maximum. Later in the day (21z) the moon is 2 deg north of Pluto.

 

AUGUST 2017

3rd — Moon 3 deg north of Saturn (05z) — closest approach best viewed in western North America where it will be seen low in south on evening of 2nd (10 p.m. PDT). If you read this today as I post it (2nd), in Ireland, you’ll find the waxing gibbous moon off to the upper right of Saturn around that time looking south. You will also see Antares, a bright red star, to the lower right of Saturn. Saturn will have a coppery faint orange appearance (perhaps more so because of smoke in the air here).

4th — Moon at southern declination maximum (about 21 deg) by 18z. Later, the Moon passes 2 deg north of Pluto (5th, 03z). Due to the brightness of the almost full moon, it may be hard to spot the Milky Way but in dark rural skies you’ll see that the moon is crossing the galactic equator (the centre of the galaxy is fairly close to the midnight position of the Moon on night of 4th-5th.

7th — Full moon (1812z) … a small partial eclipse of the Moon will not be visible for most reading this.

9th — Moon 1 deg south of Neptune (22z). You can’t see Neptune even with binoculars (especially when it’s this close to the very bright moon) but if you could, it would be almost sitting on the north pole of the Moon around 11:15 p.m. IST/BST.

13th — Moon 5 deg south of Uranus (12z).

15th — Moon at last quarter (0116z) — the moon is a waning half moon at this point, it’s the last quarter of its orbit not of its brightness. You’ll see the half moon in the morning sky during the mid-day hours at this point in its orbit, to see it at night you need to be looking southeast a few hours before sunrise.

16th — Moon one degree north of Aldebaran (08z), best seen in North America (occultation of the Moon in far north). For example, in the eastern time zone, where 08z is 0400h, the event will be high in the southeast. From Ireland, if you are up before sunrise, you’ll see the crescent of the waning moon approaching Aldebaran as they reach the zenith in the dawn twilight around 0530h. Closest approach will then take place during daylight.

17th — Moon at northern declination maximum (almost 21 degrees this month, we are now two years past the minimum range of declination in an 18.6 year cycle), at about 21z. The Moon can only be seen for a few hours before sunrise at this point in its orbital cycle.

18th — Moon at perigee (1319z), 366,121 kms distant.

19th — Moon (a very thin waning crescent at this point) 3 deg south of Venus in the southeast (closest approach about 0440z or 0540 IST/BST), worth a look if you’re able to wake up an hour or two before sunrise. The separation will be greater for viewers at that same time of day (but later in z time) across North America. You’ll need very dark skies and a low southeast horizon to spot the thin crescent of the moon (Venus will be easy to find).

21st — Moon 2 deg south of Mars (04z), not visible due to solar glare.

21st — New moon (1831z) … total eclipse visible from various parts of the U.S.A. along a track from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, SC. Totality near ID-WY border at exact time of new moon (1131h MDT) but the cone moves east at about 1200 mph, so times for viewing the total eclipse begin around 1715z (1015h PDT) in western OR and end after 20z in the southeast U.S. Some states along the path include Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Kentucky, southern Illinois, eastern Tennessee and parts of Georgia and South Carolina. About 2.5 minutes of totality will be experienced along the centre line and totality occurs for some lesser amount of time within about 100 km north and south. … Peter O’Donnell of IWO will be selecting a viewpoint on 20th from weather guidance, and getting into position somewhere in the western U.S., reports on our facebook page (probably around the evening of 22nd, not a live blog). There will be sizeable partial eclipses in most other parts of North America, don’t attempt to view directly except at 100% total phase. As seen from Ireland (around sunset), the moon does not quite cover any part of the Sun and will set to the left of the setting sun on the 21st.

21st — About 21z the Moon passes 1 deg south of Regulus which will be hidden in the solar glare. The Sun then passes in front (just to the south) of Regulus around 22nd (23z).

22nd — Moon 8 deg north of Mercury (10z), event not visible in glare of setting Sun.

25th — Moon 3 deg north of Jupiter (15z), best viewed from eastern Asia after sunset, separations will increase going west local time. By the time you can see this in Ireland, the moon will be 8 deg north of Spica to the lower left of Jupiter. (21z) Look low in the west-southwest to find these three objects, around 10-11 p.m. local time.

26th — Mercury at inferior conjunction (moving between earth and Sun, and also quite far south of the Sun at this point in its orbit, almost 5 deg). (12z)

29th — Moon at first quarter (0814z) — appears as a half-moon, after the first quarter of its orbital cycle (these quarters begin with the new moon).

30th — Moon 4 deg north of Saturn (15z), this conjunction becomes visible low in south after sunset. The pair are rising in daylight as seen from Ireland or Britain. The moon is at apogee at 1123z, 404,308 kms distant.

31st — Moon again at its southern declination maximum (18z).

 

JULY 2017

1st — Moon at first quarter (0052z) and 3 deg north of Jupiter (08z)

2nd — Moon 8 deg north of Spica (06z)

6th — Moon at apogee (0428z) 405,934 km from earth.

7th — Moon 4 deg north of Saturn (06z)

8th — Moon at southern declination maximum (12z) then 2 deg north Pluto (20z)

9th — Full moon (0408z) — no eclipse, moon 2 deg south of earth’s shadow.

12th — Venus located between Aldebaran and Pleiades in pre-dawn skies.

13th — Moon near Neptune (16z)

16th — Moon at last quarter (1927z)

17th — Moon 3 deg south of Uranus (05z)

19th — Moon occults Aldebaran (22z)

20th — Moon 3 deg south of Venus (12z) … best views from Pacific regions (1-2h before sunrise).

21st — Moon at perigee (1711z) — 361,236 km from earth.

23rd — New moon (0947z) and Moon 2 deg south of both Sun and Mars (12z). No solar eclipse, one is coming in August though, visible in parts of the U.S.A.

25th — Moon 1 deg north of Mercury, and occulting Regulus, event is very low in evening skies (10z) in northern hemisphere, best chance of seeing it would be in parts of Australia, New Zealand or French Polynesia.

28th — Mars in conjunction with Sun (opposite point to earth in solar system) … Mars located just above the north pole of the Sun.

28th — Moon 3 deg north of Jupiter (20z), then 8 deg north of Spica (29th 16z).

30th — Moon at first quarter (1524z)

 

JUNE 2017

1st — Moon at first quarter (1243z)

4th — Moon 2 deg north of Jupiter (00z) and 7 deg north of Spica (18z)

8th — Moon at apogee (2021z), moon 406,401 km from earth,

9th — Full moon (1311z) — no eclipse.

10th — Moon 3 deg north of Saturn (02z)

11th — Moon at southern declination maximum (20 deg S) around 03z then 2 deg north of Pluto around 17z.

16th — Moon 1 deg south of Neptune (occultations in southern hemisphere) 11z.

17th — Moon at last quarter (1134z)

19th — Moon 5 deg south of Uranus (17z).

21st — Moon 3 deg south of Venus before sunrise (closest for eastern Asia 20th 21z, but a good view for Europe too around 03-04z). Pleiades off to left of both moon and Venus (most easily spotted at last full darkness before dawn).

21st — Summer solstice 0425z (0525h IST and BST, 0025 EDST, 20th 2125h PDST). See the above note about moon, Venus and Pleiades if you’re observing the solstice sunrise on 21st.

21st — Mercury at superior conjunction (17z) passing behind and slightly above the Sun on far side of solar system from earth.

22nd — Moon 1 deg north of Aldebaran, some occultations in northern hemisphere (15z, during daylight between central Russia west to the east-central Pacific so occultations and close approaches might be visible in eastern half of Asia at low to mid latitudes although very close to rising sun so probably not viewable for many).

23rd — Moon at perigee (1050z), moon 357,937 km from earth.

24th — New moon (0232z) — no eclipse, also at northern declination maximum (20 deg north, Sun meanwhile is at 23 deg north). Moon passes 4 deg south of Mercury around 09z. Mercury won’t become visible in the evening sky until well into July.

24th — Moon 7 deg south of Mars (19z).

28th — Moon occults Regulus (02z).

1st July — Moon at first quarter (0052z).

 

MAY 2017

3rd — Moon at first quarter (0248z)

4th — Moon occults Regulus (11z)

7th — (nearly full) Moon 2 deg north of Jupiter (23z), with Spica located 5 deg below.

10th — Full moon (2144z) — no eclipse, moon almost 5 deg above the earth’s shadow.

12th — Moon at apogee (1951z) 406,210 km from earth.

14th — waning gibbous moon 3 deg north of Saturn (03z) then later at its southern declination maximum (22z).

15th — Moon 2 deg north of Pluto (12z)

19th — Moon at last quarter (0034z).

20th — Moon 1 deg south of Neptune (04z).

22nd — Moon 4 deg south of Venus (13z), look for them in the east about 1.5 hours before sunrise. Closer conjunction visible in western North America and eastern Asia.

23rd — Moon 6 deg south of Uranus (20z)

24th — Moon 4 deg south of Mercury (01z)

25th — New moon (1946z), no eclipse, moon 4 deg below the Sun. (this would mean that in Ireland, the unseen moon would be setting to the left of the Sun during the evening). There is a close approach of the Moon to Aldebaran at about 21z.

26th — Moon at perigee (0120z) 357,208 km from earth.

27th — Moon 5 deg south of Mars (01z) and at its northern declination maximum by 12z.

31st — Moon occults Regulus (17z).

 

APRIL 2017

1st — Moon occults or passes near Aldebaran (08z)

2nd — Moon at northern declination maximum (about 20 deg this year, or 3 deg below the ecliptic plane). (21z) … where skies are dark enough, you’ll see the nearly half moon against the backdrop of the Milky Way.

3rd — Moon at first quarter (1841z, 1941 IST/BST)

7th — Moon very close to Regulus around 03z (0400h IST/BST) high in southwest as seen from western Europe.

7th — Jupiter in opposition (around 22z), meaning that the earth is passing between Jupiter and the Sun. As it happens, Jupiter has just passed its aphelion or furthest distance from the Sun, about 5.4 times the earth’s distance, so the separation between our two planets is about 4.4 “astronomical units” this year. Light takes about 35 minutes to travel that distance, so you’re seeing Jupiter as it looked 35 minutes ago.

10th — Moon 2 deg north of Jupiter (22z, 2300h IST/BST), then 7 deg north of Spica around 09z 11th just after full moon, so at this point, Sun, Moon, earth and Spica are almost along a straight line although the Moon is above and Spica below where north is above relative to the Sun-earth line projected outward. Spica is 250 to 260 light years from earth and is a standard for first magnitude brightness of stars (it is actually a binary pair but to the naked eye it looks like one star). Brightness is a logarithmic scale and inverse, so a second magnitude star is considerably less bright than a first magnitude star, and a few that are brighter have magnitudes of zero or even -1 as with Sirius. Venus sometimes attains a brightness of -4 mag.

11th — Full moon (0609z, 0709 IST/BST) — no eclipse, moon slightly above the earth’s shadow. The timing means that the moon will appear full on the evenings of the 10th and the 11th. In the Pacific time zone, full moon will be at 11:09 p.m. 10th.

15th — Moon at apogee (1004z, 1104 IST/BST) 405,475 km from earth (data thanks to timeanddate.com)

15th — Uranus in conjunction with Sun (15z) meaning that Uranus is located on far side of solar system at that point, with the Sun between earth and the distant planet located about 20 a.u. from the Sun or 21 a.u. from earth — it takes light almost three hours to travel that far.

16th — Moon 4 deg north of Saturn (15z) then at southern declination maximum by about 06z 17th, just north of Pluto by 07z on 18th.

19th — Moon at last quarter (0958z, 1058 IST/BST) — at about this same time, Mercury is at inferior conjunction (moving between earth and the Sun, and slightly above the Sun’s north pole as it does so).

22nd — Moon occults or very close to Neptune in sky (19z) after moon has set in western Europe, takes place unseen in daylight over North America (to be seen, Neptune requires a telescope anyway).

24th — Moon 5 deg south of Venus (00z), this not easy to find anywhere in northern hemisphere as Venus, now in the morning sky, makes slow progress away from the horizon after rising an hour before the Sun. You may spot Venus by late May ahead of the rising Sun (although that would be about 0300h-0400h in Ireland).

25th — Moon 4 deg south of Mercury then Uranus around 19z-21z (Mercury in retrograde moved past Uranus on the 23rd).

26th — New moon (1217z, 1317 IST/BST) — no eclipse, moon will pass 4 to 5 deg below the Sun (so although you can’t see it and should not try, if you can see the Sun at mid-day on the 26th, the Moon would be making a very elongated figure of eight below it, if you could see it.)

27th — Moon at perigee (1614z, 1714h IST/BST) 359,327 km from earth (data thanks to timeanddate.com) … the faster than average motion of the Moon at perigee means there is a greater chance of seeing its thin crescent after sunset on 27th than might be the case most times 33 hours after new moon. Give it a try if you have dark skies (by Pacific time zone it will be 41 hours after new moon, I have a chance).

28th — Moon 6 deg south of Mars (09z), by evening of 28th in Ireland/Britain the Moon will already have moved past Aldebaran (about 18z) and so there will be the chance to see crescent moon, Aldebaran, Mars and Pleiades star cluster in a rough alignment — these will all be above the western horizon by roughly similar amounts, the Moon furthest left and just left of Aldebaran, then Mars and Pleiades each roughly similar distances to the right. This will be easy to see in dark skies about an hour after sunset. Orion appears to the southeast striding along the horizon in chase of them all. The Milky Way appears left to right much higher in the sky at roughly 10 to 11 p.m. (sunset is about 8:30 p.m.). Looking from North America, the only difference at that time in the evening of 28th will be a greater separation of the Moon and Aldebaran.

30th — Moon at northern declination maximum (09z).

(previous entries) …

MARCH 2017

1st — Venus then Mars about 8 deg north of Moon (Venus 00z, Mars 15z).

3rd — Moon at perigee at 0725z (there is a second one in March, see 30th)

5th — Moon occults or very close to Aldebaran 04z, this occurs after they both set as seen from Europe but can be seen in North America on evening of 4th with clear skies. The event details are available from Sky and Telescope magazine on-line, for example, the star disappears for observers in New York City around 11:10 p.m. 4th and reappears around 11:31 p.m.

5th — Moon at first quarter, 1133z.

6th — Mercury at superior conjunction 14z (passing behind and just below the Sun)

6th — Moon at northern declination maximum (18z).

10th — Regulus 1 deg north of Moon (21z).

12th — Full moon, 1455z

14th — Jupiter 3 deg south of Moon (20z) then Spica 7 deg south (02z 15th).

18th — Moon at apogee 1726z.

20th — Moon at last quarter, 1559z; Saturn 4 deg south of Moon (13z)

21st — Moon at southern declination maximum (12z).

25th — Venus at inferior conjunction (10z) — this happens to be the point in Venus’ orbit when it is furthest north of the ecliptic plane so in fact Venus also passes 8 deg north of the Sun as it overtakes the earth. One consequence is that Venus will rapidly fade from its prominent position as an evening star early in March, then will reappear as a morning star in late April.

26th — Moon occults Neptune (07z)

28th — New moon, 0258z

29th — Uranus and Mercury north of Moon (Uranus 3 deg at 02z, Mercury 6 deg at 07z).

30th — Moon at perigee 1240z. Mars 4 deg north of Moon 15z

1st April, another occultation of Aldebaran 08z

 

FEBRUARY 2017

2nd — Uranus 3 deg north of Moon (12z).

4th — Moon at first quarter 0420z.

5th — Moon occults Aldebaran (22z) — event visible high in southwestern sky (if clear) for Europe. Look to southeast in eastern N America, during evening twilight, increasing separation by midnight. Note: for most reading this, in Ireland or U.K., Aldebaran will graze north pole of the Moon and will not entirely disappear. Further south in Europe south of a line from Scilly Isles to Paris to Graz (Austria) to Constanta (Romania) there will be varying periods where Aldebaran disappears behind the Moon. This is also true in eastern North America, but the event happens before full darkness except in far eastern Canada and there, no occultation takes place. Some ideally located observers in northwest France could (if skies clear) see Aldebaran playing with the limb of the moon near the north pole if they watch through powerful binoculars or a telescope.

6th — Moon at perigee 1400z.

7th — Moon at northern declination maximum above Orion (06z), best seen evening of 6th.

11th — Full moon 0034z. Partial lunar eclipse as Moon lies just south of umbra. Regulus will be situated to left of moon and will be nearly occulted at 13z but this only above horizon for eastern Asia.

15th — Moon 3 deg north of Jupiter and 7 degrees north of Spica (14z) — once again best timed for eastern Asian viewers, all three rising around 0200h local times.

18th — Moon at last quarter 1934z and at apogee 2115z.

20th — Moon 4 deg north of Saturn (23z)

21st — Moon at southern declination maximum (12z)

22nd — Moon 2 deg north of Pluto (10z)

25th — Moon 3 deg north of Mercury (22z) as the planet heads behind the Sun for its superior conjunction on 7th March.

26th — New moon 1500z. “Annular” solar eclipse, Moon too far from earth to cover all of the Sun, this visible from far southern hemisphere. Within 2 hours the moon moves 2 deg north of Neptune as the Sun will move in front of that planet on 1st of March (to be more precise, just above Neptune which currently lies almost 2 deg south of the ecliptic plane, the apparent path of the Sun).

28th — Moon moves 8 deg south of Venus during the evening hours (actual conjunction is 1st March 02z). Venus will be a dazzling evening star all month quite high in the southwest, if clear you can’t miss it. Then the Moon moves past both Mars and Uranus on the evening of March 1st.

 

JANUARY 2017

5th — Uranus 3 deg north of Moon (04z), Moon at first quarter 1948z.

9th — Moon occults Aldebaran (14z) — by the time it’s dark enough to see the nearly full moon in Ireland (18-19z), Aldebaran will be seen just to the right of the Moon, the occultation event would be viewable in dark skies further east in Asia.

10th — Lunar perigee (0608z), then moon is at northern declination maximum (21z).

12th — Full moon (1135z), no lunar eclipse, Moon 4 deg below earth’s shadow. By evening of 12th, moon is seen (from Ireland) between Sirius, the very bright star lower to the horizon, and the twin stars of Gemini, Castor and Pollux, located above the moon.

15th — Regulus 2 deg north of the Moon (04z)

19th — Jupiter 3 deg south of Moon, Spica 7 deg south of Moon (06z). Moon at last quarter 2214z.

22nd — Lunar apogee (0015z)

24th — Saturn 5 deg south of Moon (11z)

25th — Moon at southern declination maximum (12z) then about 23z passes 2 deg north of Pluto and 4 deg north of Mercury.

28th — New moon (0008z), no solar eclipse, Moon passes 2 deg below Sun

30th — Neptune 2 deg south of Moon (12z)

31st — Venus 4 deg north of Moon (16z) then Mars 2 deg north of Moon (23z)

 

DECEMBER 2016

(Nov 29 — New moon 1218z, no eclipse, moon 3 deg above Sun

Nov 30 — Saturn 3 deg south of Moon, 12z.)

Dec 1 — Mercury 7 deg south of Moon, 04z.

Dec 2 — Moon at southern declination maximum (06z) then 2 deg north of Pluto (12z)

Dec 3 — Venus 6 deg south of Moon, 13z.

Dec 5 — Mars 3 deg south of Moon, 11z.

Dec 6 — Neptune 0.7 deg south of Moon, occultation for regions in U.S., Canada, northern Caribbean, Greenland, Iceland, western Europe, 22z.

Dec 7 — Moon at first quarter, 0903z

Dec 9 — Uranus 3 deg north of Moon, 20z.

Dec 10 — Saturn in conjunction with Sun, meaning that it is essentially behind the Sun as seen from earth, although located slightly above the Sun’s north pole.

Dec 12 — Lunar perigee, 23z.

Dec 13 — Aldebaran occulted by Moon as seen from much of North America, Atlantic regions, western Europe (near moonset in Ireland), 05z.

Dec 14 — Full moon, 0006z (night of 13th-14th, no eclipse, moon about 3 deg below earth’s shadow). Moon at northern declination maximum 18z.

Dec 18 — Regulus 1.0 deg north of Moon, 19z. This starts a series of occultations, in this case only visible from near the South Pole. By later 2017 these will shift into the northern hemisphere. This event will be visible from Europe only a few hours after closest approach, central Asia best situated for a view, and Regulus will appear above the north pole of the waning gibbous moon.

Dec 21 — Moon at last quarter, 0156z

Dec 21 — Winter solstice, 1044z

Dec 22 — Jupiter 2 deg south of Moon (17z); Spica is nearby, 4 deg south of Moon by 23z — these events will have passed before the moon rises in Europe, watch for half moon to appear in southeast by 0300h with Jupiter and Spica ahead of it.

Dec 25 — Moon at apogee, 06z.

Dec 27 — Saturn 4 deg south of Moon, 21z

Dec 28 — Mercury at inferior conjunction, 19z … Mercury between Sun and earth, also a few degrees above the Sun.

Dec 29 — New moon, 0653z (no eclipse, moon about 4 deg above the Sun). The Moon is also at its southern declination maximum and about 2 deg above Mercury, then by 15z it moves 2 deg north of Pluto.

 

NOVEMBER 2016

Nov 2 — Saturn 4 deg south of Moon, 19z.

Nov 3 — Venus 7 deg south of Moon, 04z.

Nov 4 — Moon at southern declination maximum (20z) then 2 deg north of Pluto by about 02z 5th.

Nov 6 — Mars 6 deg south of Moon, 12z.

Nov 7 — Moon at first quarter 1951z

Nov 9 — Neptune 1.0 deg south of Moon, 15z, occultation in regions around eastern Mediterranean.

Nov 12 — Uranus 3 deg north of Moon.

Nov 14 — Full moon 1352z (perigee 11z, making this a “supermoon”)

Nov 15 — Aldebaran 0.4 deg south of Moon (17z), occultation in parts of Asia between Middle East and Japan.

Nov 17 — Moon at northern declination maximum (03z)

Nov 21 — Moon at last quarter 0833z and also 1.5 deg south of Regulus (09z).

Nov 25 — Jupiter 1.9 deg south of Moon, 02z.

Nov 26 — Spica 5 deg south of Moon, 16z.

Nov 27 — Moon at apogee.

Nov 29 — New moon 1218z, Juno in conjunction with Sun (20z)

Nov 30 — Saturn 3 deg south of Moon, 12z.

Dec 1 — Mercury 7 deg south of Moon, 04z.

Dec 2 — Moon at southern declination maximum (06z) then 2 deg north of Pluto (12z)

 

OCTOBER 2016

1st — New moon (0011z), no eclipse, Moon 2 deg north of Sun.

2nd — Spica 5 deg south of Moon (09z) event not visible in solar glare)

3rd — Venus 5 deg south of Moon (17z), should be an easy find in clear skies right after sunset.

4th — Moon at apogee (11z)

6th — Saturn 4 deg south of Moon (08z) closer views will be had in eastern hemisphere during evening hours (look low to southwest after sunset local times)

8th — Moon at southern declination maximum (03z) as it crosses the heart of the Milky Way.

8th — Mars 7 deg south of Moon (12z) … once again, these will be closer in sky for viewers in the far east, look rather low in south for Mars around 9-10 p.m. local times … this is about as far apart as Moon and any of the visible planets get when reaching conjunction (could be 8 deg), Moon is above our orbital plane and Mars below. By 18z the Moon is just 2 deg north of Pluto.

9th — Moon at first quarter at 0433z (it’s a half-moon in appearance, but it’s one quarter of the way through its phase cycle starting from new moon).

11th — Mercury 0.9 deg north of Jupiter 04z (north means above in sky terms) This won’t be easily viewable even in binoculars as both are almost hidden in pre-dawn glare.

13th — Neptune 1.2 deg south of the Moon (06z) … occultation event in subarctic regions from eastern Siberia to northwest Canada. This means that if you can see the moon further south (it would have set in Europe) then Neptune would be located just below the Moon’s south pole. The angles quoted (1.2 deg here) are relative to earth’s equator. Neptune is only visible in telescopes, not in most binoculars.

15th — Uranus in opposition to Sun (11z) — means that earth is then located between Sun and Uranus. The orbit of Uranus is never very far from our orbital plane and at this point if you had a view of the Sun from (a moon of the gas-giant planet) Uranus then the earth would be very close to crossing the tiny solar disk (1/20 the size that we see as Uranus is about 20 a.u. from the Sun) but would pass just above the Sun.Both Venus and Earth would appear about a tenth as bright as Mercury appears to us, out that far from the Sun. From Mars, however, Earth and Venus would be about equal in brightness and about half as bright as we see Venus. (Venus reflects more light than the Earth so it is “intrinsically brighter” cancelling out its greater distance from Mars).

16th — Full moon (0423z), no eclipse as Moon 3 deg below earth’s shadow in space. Just before that (at 02-03z), Moon passes 3 deg south of Uranus  This is almost a perigeean full moon since perigee is around 17th 00z.

19th — Aldebaran 0.3 deg south of Moon (03z), an event potentially viewable from southern Europe and parts of eastern North America. This means that a little further north, Aldebaran will graze past the Moon’s north pole (this should be easy to spot with clear skies at or about 03z, in Ireland you would be looking south to southwest and the event would be fairly high in the sky, in central North America it would be viewed in the late evening in the southeast. Where I live, the event will be happening around the time of moonrise so not as easy to view. By the time these two are high in the sky here the Moon will be noticeably further to the left of Aldebaran.

20th — Moon at northern declination maximum (21z) crossing Milky Way.

21st — Ceres, once known as the largest asteroid but nowadays a “dwarf planet” is at opposition (05z). This means we are passing between Ceres and the Sun. It’s out around halfway to Jupiter although at the moment on the other side of the solar system from the largest planet, and at a point where it’s near its furthest point from the Sun (about 3.5 a.u.) … Ceres is viewable in strong binoculars but you need a star guide to have any chance of finding it. The brightest asteroid is Vesta which is smaller but a lot more reflective (and often closer to us as well).

22nd — Moon at last quarter, 1914z

25th — Regulus 1.5 deg north of Moon. A series of occultations is about to begin for Regulus, starting in December (as the angle grows smaller and changes eventually to south).

27th — Mercury at superior conjunction (16z) meaning that Mercury is passing behind the Sun in its orbit, also it will then be slightly above the Sun.

28th — Jupiter 1.4 deg south of the Moon (10z) — this close pairing will be hard to spot about an hour before sunrise and for a close apparition one would need to be in the Pacific regions. By the time the moon and Jupiter rise in Ireland (about 06z) the moon will appear earlier, look for Jupiter between the waning lunar crescent and the southeast horizon.

30th — Venus 3 deg south of Saturn (08z), look for them on 29th or 30th in southwest after sunset (Saturn will be less bright and higher up).

30th — New moon (1738z) — no eclipse, Moon passes 4 deg north of the Sun. The Moon then passes 4 deg north of Mercury around 22z. From Ireland, around sunset on 30th, the Moon would be located above the setting sun and it would set a bit further north on the horizon almost an hour later than the Sun.

31st — Moon at apogee (19z)

 

SEPTEMBER 2016

1st — New moon (0903z), “annular” eclipse visible from south Indian Ocean regions.

2nd — Mercury 6 deg south of Moon (17z), at same time Neptune in opposition (meaning earth is passing between Neptune and Sun).

2nd — Jupiter 0.4 deg south of Moon (22z), occultation event in Pacific and southern U.S., Caribbean — your observer here saw the very thin crescent of the moon over western Utah around 3rd 03z, no sign of Jupiter possibly too close to limb? This was a very early sighting of the new moon made possible by clear desert skies (from the I-80 near Wendover, Utah).

3rd — Venus 1.1 deg south of Moon (11z), occultation in central Russia and Mongolia. At the above sighting, I saw Venus considerably above and to the left of the lunar crescent, that was quite a distance for the Moon to travel in 8 hours, possibly parallax was a factor. If you’re wondering how there can be an occultation when 1.1 deg separation, that is as seen from the earth’s equator. Hence at a higher latitude on earth, Venus is no longer seen below the moon but goes behind it.

5th — Moon 5 deg north of Spica.

6th — Moon at apogee (19z)

8th — Saturn 4 deg south of Moon (21z)

9th — Moon at first quarter (1149z), Mars 8 deg south of Moon (14z).

11th — Moon at southern declination maximum (00z) then 2 deg north of Pluto (15z).

13th — Mercury at inferior conjunction at 00z (passes between earth and Sun, also 2 deg south of the Sun).

15th — Neptune 1.2 deg south of Moon (occultation Europe, Russia).

16th — Full moon (1905z) with penumbral eclipse.

17th — Venus 3 deg north of Spica (23z). By now, Venus will be a prominent and easily spotted bright evening object, albeit rather low to the horizon as the ecliptic plane is very much tilted down in early autumn in this direction (a result of earth’s axial tilt, the opposite is true in early spring). Spica will be difficult to spot as it will be near the horizon within thirty minutes of sunset. In the brief window of opportunity to find it, Spica will be lower left of Venus.

18th — Uranus 3 deg north of Moon at lunar perigee (17z).

21st — Aldebaran 0.2 deg south of Moon (23z), occultation event in Middle East and south Asia. For most reading this, the closest separation occurs before moonrise at about midnight local time, so the conjunction will appear later in the southeast with Aldebaran leading the waning gibbous Moon, Orion to follow before sunrise. Best viewed high in south around an hour before sunrise.

22nd — Autumnal equinox (northern hemisphere) at 1421z.

23rd — Moon at northern declination maximum (crossing Milky Way) around 12z.

23rd — Moon at last quarter (0956z)

26th — Jupiter in conjunction with Sun (07z) meaning that Jupiter is on far side of Sun from the earth, and very slightly above its north pole.

27th — Regulus 1.5 deg north of Moon (21z) but this only visible after 0500h local time on 28th.

29th — Mercury 0.7 deg north of Moon (11z), occultation event in south Atlantic Ocean region.

30th — Jupiter 2 deg north of Moon (10z) unseen in solar glare very shortly before new moon in about 14 hours.

1st Oct — New moon (0011z) — no eclipse, Moon 2 deg south of Sun — this is still  September 30 in North America so for those time zones, two September new moons.

————————————————————–

AUGUST 2016

2nd — New moon (2045z), no eclipse.(moon 2 deg south of Sun)

4th — Moon 3 deg south of Venus and 2 deg south of Regulus (06z), then occults Mercury (22z) for observers in South Pacific region (Moon just below Mercury for our northern latitudes, very low in west after sunset).

6th — Moon 0.2 deg south of Jupiter. (02z) with occultation for observers in southern hemisphere — for northern observers, on evening of 5th, look for Jupiter just above the crescent of the new moon after sunset (best viewed from eastern North America where 02z is 10 p.m. EDT (on Friday 5th).

8th — Moon 5 deg north of Spica (21z)

10th — Moon at apogee (00z) and at  first quarter (1821z)

11th — Moon 8 deg north of Mars (22z)

12th — Moon 4 deg north of Saturn (12z)

14th — Moon at southern declination maximum (21z) then 2 deg north of Pluto by 15th (01z).

18th — Full moon (0927z) with penumbral eclipse in parts of western hemisphere.

19th — Moon 1.1 deg north of Neptune (12z) — occultation in northeast Russia, Alaska.

22nd — Moon at perigee (01z).then 3 deg south of Uranus (10z)

25th — Moon at last quarter (0341z)

25th — Moon occults Aldebaran (17z) — a daytime event in parts of N, central America but before sunrise in parts of South Pacific region.

27th — Moon at northern declination maximum (12z) — at 22z Venus and Jupiter have a very close conjunction in the evening skies. To see this, look to the west a half hour after sunset, the planets will be very low to the horizon, Venus the brighter of the two. You will need an unobstructed rural viewpoint to see this one. Observers in Europe will see the closest conjunction, as it will still be daylight in North America (where we will see them slightly more separated). Compare from previous two nights to get the full effect, if possible.

31st — Moon 2 deg south of Regulus (14z), not visible as objects lost in pre-dawn glare.

1st Sept — New moon (0903z), annular eclipse for viewers across parts of south Indian Ocean region, in northern hemisphere, Moon grazes southern coronal regions (not a visible event).

The Moon will then appear very close to Jupiter on the evening of the 2nd (22z), with Venus having moved further up from the horizon to be passed on evening of the 3rd although closer view of that in eastern hemisphere (11z). Both events produce occultations for observers in North America (for Jupiter) and Russia-Mongolia (for Venus).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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