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Posts Tagged 'observation'

Astronomy highlights in Autumn 2022

August 31 2022, Marcus Schenk

Autumn is on its way, and the evenings get dark earlier. For many, this marks the start of a great observing season. And it’s all there: Saturn is eye-catching as it shines in the night sky, Jupiter is at opposition and there will even be a partial eclipse of the Sun! What’s more, the Moon will occult Uranus. And that’s just the start!

In our “Astronomy Highlights in Autumn 2022” infographic, you’ll find many of the important celestial events at a glance. Information and further explanations of the events can be found in the accompanying text.

Have fun observing!

September

11/09 Conjunction between the Moon and Jupiter

The Moon and Jupiter rise almost together and we can admire them at around 9 p.m. above the eastern horizon.

14/09 The Moon occults Uranus

The Moon and the planets move along an imaginary line in the sky known as the ecliptic. This refers to the apparent path along which planets move around the Sun. Once in a while the Moon occults one of the planets. Now, on the 14th, it’s that time again: the Moon approaches with its illuminated side and occults Uranus at around 10 p.m.

16/09 Conjunction between the Moon and Mars

Shortly before midnight, the constellation Taurus climbs above the eastern horizon and will look particularly attractive today, because it also marks the meeting place of Mars and the Moon. Together with Aldebaran, Capella and the Pleiades, it makes a lovely sight.

16/09 Neptune at opposition

Our farthest planet is at opposition to the Sun tonight. Neptune is currently 4.3 billion kilometres away from us and shines with a magnitude of 7.8. Its light takes 4 hours to reach the Earth. We can even see Neptune with binoculars, though it cannot be distinguished from a star. It is only with a telescope that can we identify it as a planet with certainty. But it’s not so easy to find as Jupiter or Saturn. A star chart or app will help you.

26/09 Jupiter at opposition

An opposition is quite special: for this is when a planet is directly opposite the Sun and shines brightly all night long. Jupiter is currently at an altitude of 42 degrees above the horizon. This is considerably higher than in recent years, which greatly improves the quality of our observations.

Lunar phases:

03/09 First Quarter, 10/09 Full Moon, 17/09 Last Quarter, 25/09 New Moon

October

05/10 Conjunction between the Moon and Saturn

Tonight, the Moon passes below the ringed planet. On the Moon you can also observe the phenomenon known as the Golden Handle, an illuminated mountain at the Moon’s terminator.

08/10 Conjunction between the Moon and Jupiter

Time for a planetary evening! The Moon and Jupiter meet today in the constellation Capricorn. In September, Jupiter was at opposition to the Sun and is still an excellent object for any telescope. Tonight, we won’t be disturbed by a bright Moon.

11/10 Mercury in the morning

From 5 October, we can catch Mercury in the morning sky. The closest planet to the Sun is usually too close to it, which is why we rarely see it. October is the only time this year that it is visible in the night sky.

14/10 Conjunction between the Moon and Mars

From midnight, we get a taste of winter because then the constellations Auriga and Taurus appear above the horizon. In the middle of all this we can also see Mars and the Moon, which are particularly close to one another today. Can you see the red colour of our neighbouring planet?

21/10 Orionids

The Orionids are a small meteor shower producing around 20 meteors per hour. The radiant is located in the constellation Orion near the star Betelgeuse. Although you can observe the shooting stars throughout the month, they will be at their peak between 20 and 21 October. The best time to observe them is between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.

24/10 Conjunction between the Moon and Mercury

Are you an early riser? Perfect, because this morning you can take a quick look at the slender crescent Moon and Mercury. For this you will need an elevated location or an unobstructed view towards the horizon. Then, just before sunrise from 6:50 a.m., you will discover the two celestial bodies.

25/10 Partial solar eclipse

The last partial eclipse that was visible to us was on 10 June 2021. A little more than a year later we can follow the next one. It starts at around 11a.m. on 25 October when the Moon moves in front of the Sun and obscures around 25% of it.

Important: use a solar filter when observing. Safe filters are available in our Astroshop.

Lunar phases: 09/10 Full Moon, 17/10 Last Quarter, 25/10 New Moon

November

01/11 Conjunction between the Moon and Saturn

The waxing crescent Moon and the planet Saturn are now to be found together in the constellation Capricorn.

04/11 Conjunction between the Moon and Jupiter

This evening, the waxing Moon meets the planet Jupiter, which was at opposition in September. Over the course of the night, the two celestial bodies approach at a distance of around 2 degrees.

09/11 Uranus at opposition

Uranus is one of the most distant gas giants. It appears only as a tiny, greenish disc in a telescope and we cannot make out any detail. However, you can still distinguish it as a planet. Find Uranus with a star chart or, easier still, with your telescope’s GoTo system. Then you can identify the planet using 150 to 200 times magnification.

11/11 Conjunction between the Moon and Mars

Tonight, the waning Moon finds itself close to the planet Mars. The Red Planet is between the Moon and Aldebaran, the brightest star in the constellation Taurus. An interesting task for today is to compare the intensity of the red colours of Mars, Aldebaran and Betelgeuse.

17/11 Leonids

From 16 to 17/11, the Leonids reach their peak. Together with the Perseids, they are among the most famous meteor showers. In some years these meteors fall like raindrops from the sky. This usually happens every 33 years when the Earth meets the Leonids’ debris cloud. In normal years, the peak does not exceed 20 meteors per hour. This year, you can observe them during the first half of the night, undisturbed by moonlight.

Lunar phases: 08/11 Full Moon, 16/11 Last Quarter, 23/11 New Moon, 30/11 First Quarter

Astronomy Highlights – Summer 2022

June 1 2022, Marcus Schenk

Summer shooting stars, planetary chains and Saturn and Pluto at opposition… Don’t miss out on these astronomical delicacies. And in August, an occultation of a bright star by the Moon awaits us.

In the “Astronomy Highlights in Summer 2022” infographic, you can find numerous important celestial events at a glance. You can find dates and detailed descriptions of the events in the accompanying text.

Have fun observing!

June

03/06 Conjunction between the Moon and M44

The waxing Moon crosses the ecliptic within the constellation Cancer this evening. In doing so, it approaches the M44 star cluster. You can admire both using binoculars with a large field of view.

16/06 Mercury at greatest western elongation

Mercury is at its greatest western elongation today. It, therefore, reaches its greatest angular distance from the Sun. Unfortunately, we have almost no time to view it and only experienced binocular observers will be able to make it out at dawn.

18/06 Conjunction between the Moon and Saturn

This morning, the Moon visits Saturn and both can be found 9 degrees apart in the constellation Capricorn.

22/06 Conjunction between Jupiter and Mars

Time for night owls and astronomers. From 2am, you can see Jupiter and Mars rising up over the eastern horizon. The Moon can be found at the centre of the event. A wonderful sight.

26/06 The Moon near Venus

This month, the planets are predominantly visible in the morning sky. They are lined up along a diagonal like a cosmic chain. The Moon will be paying most of the planets a visit and, on the 26th, it is Venus’ turn. The display is especially attractive three days before new Moon.

July

01/07   Conjunction between Venus and Aldebaran

Venus is almost as bright as possible – even bright stars found nearby can appear quite dull in comparison. On the first of the month, Venus approaches Taurus’ main star: Aldebaran.

16/07 Conjunction between the Moon and Saturn

The Moon passes by Saturn tonight and moves from the constellation Capricorn to Aquarius. The ringed planet is then even more visible and it reaches its opposition next month. This marks the start of the Summer of the Gas Giants.

19/07 Conjunction between the Moon and Jupiter

There are two competitors in the sky: the Moon and Jupiter. The gas giant has a magnitude of -2.5 and is only outshone by Venus and our own Moon.

20/07 Pluto at opposition

The former planet and current dwarf planet is at opposition and shining with a magnitude of 14.3. Finding it with a telescope is a challenge and it will only work if you have an  accurate star chart.

22/07 Conjunction between the Moon and Mars

After rising shortly before 1am, the Moon meets Mars, which is glowing red at a distance of five degrees. However, our satellite is much closer to Uranus, with only 2.6 degrees between them today.

26/07 Conjunction between the Moon and Venus

When the first light of dawn appears, it’s worth taking a glance at the horizon. There is a conjunction between the dazzling Venus and the wafer thin, 27-day-old crescent moon this morning. An excellent opportunity for some stunning photographs!

August

06/08 The Moon occults Delta Sco

Delta Sco is a star within the constellation of Scorpio which, at a magnitude of 2, can be found in the centre of its distinctive, tripartite pincers. This evening the dark side of the Moon is occulting it. This is always the best kind of occultation as the star suddenly disappears as if into thin air. To follow the start of the occultation at 23:52, you need a high elevation and an excellent view of the southwest horizon.

11/08 Conjunction between the Moon and Saturn

In the night between 11 and 12 August, the Moon approaches the ringed planets. As Saturn reaches it opposition this month, it can be easily seen for the entire month.

13/08 Perseids

The absolute highlight of every August is the Perseids meteor shower. We are able to see up to 100 meteors per hour tonight. Admittedly, this is only because the Moon is not interfering. This year, the bright, almost full Moon disrupts viewing and you will only be able to possibly see the brightest meteors. Using binoculars you have a chance to catch a few dim ones.

14/08 Saturn at opposition

In past years, Saturn has stopped just above the horizon due to the location of the ecliptic. This made successful viewing difficult. But the ringed planet climbed higher up the celestial ladder and reached an altitude of 20 degrees in 2019 and of 24 degrees in 2021. During its current opposition in August 2022, it reaches even greater heights of up to 26 degrees. A clear advantage as, the higher the position, the less we have to battle against light pollution. On 14 August, Saturn reaches opposition and can be clearly seen for the whole night. We can recognise it by its yellow colour and its gentle glow.

15/08 Conjunction between the Moon and Jupiter

During the nights of 14 and 15 August, the Moon approaches and passes by Jupiter. This encounter can be seen all night as our largest planet will now be visible throughout the night. Jupiter reaches opposition in the coming month.

19/08 Conjunction between the Moon and Mars

Are you missing that winter sky feeling? And in summer? You can get the chance after midnight. Then, there is a conjunction between Mars and the Moon within the constellation Taurus, right at the Golden Gate of the Ecliptic. A little higher up, the Pleiades light up the sky.

Astronomy Highlights Spring 2022

March 1 2022, Marcus Schenk

Close conjunctions between planets, a bright Venus and a total lunar eclipse: In this quarter, the heavens are offering up some delicious morsels which are worth viewing. What’s happening with Mercury, for example? The small, nimble planet will soon reach its best evening visibility.

In the “Astronomy Highlights in Spring 2022” infographic, you can find at a glance numerous important celestial events. You can find dates and detailed descriptions of the events in the accompanying text.

Have fun observing!

March

08/03 Conjunction between the Moon and the Pleiades

This evening, the six-day-old Moon approaches the Pleiades open star cluster.

12/03 Conjunction between Venus and Mars

Shortly before sunrise, Venus and Mars can be seen over the south-eastern horizon. Venus is almost half-illuminated and shining with a magnitude of magnitude -4.5

20/03 Venus at greatest western elongation

Venus is at its greatest western elongation today. It, therefore, reaches its greatest angular distance from the Sun and can maintain an acceptable altitude above the horizon. It is now 50% illuminated.

23/03 Conjunction between Saturn and Mars

Just above the horizon, we can look forward to an attractive celestial display. Venus, Mars and Saturn are waiting for us in a planetary triangle. A good opportunity to compare their various magnitudes.

28/03 Conjunction between the Moon, Venus, Saturn and Mars

On 23 March, we are able to marvel at three planets. Today the slender crescent moon is keeping the trio company. Grab your camera and capture this beautiful event for ever.

April

05/04 Conjunction between Mars and Saturn

A rare event? Yes, because this morning Mars is passing by the ringed planet at a distance of only 20 arc seconds. A good opportunity to view both planets through binoculars or a telescope, or for a photo of both celestial bodies.

05/04 Moon in Davis’ Dog

An asterism is a random collection of stars which we perceive in pretty patterns. Today the Moon brushes past “Davis’ Dog”, a pattern of stars which resembles a dog or a fox. When viewed through binoculars, the sight is very delightful. In some places, the Moon occults bright stars.

17/04 Conjunction between Mercury and Uranus

This evening sees Mercury passing Uranus at a distance of only two degrees. This means you can locate both planets within the visual field of a pair of binoculars. A high vantage point is desirable since the planets are only 4 degrees above the horizon at 9pm.

24/04 Mercury in the evening sky

Mercury achieves its best evening visibility this year. Do you still want to see it? Then the time is now. At dusk, it can be found just above the western and north-western horizon. But only for the next 10 to 14 days, before it disappears.

27/04 Conjunction between Venus and Jupiter

Three days before the new Moon, its narrow crescent comes into conjunction with the planets Venus and Jupiter.

29/04 Conjunction between Mercury and the Pleiades

The winter constellation of Taurus goes down in the west. In the twilight, Mercury approaches the well-known Pleiades star cluster. You can marvel at both in the visual field of a pair of binoculars.

May

01/05 Conjunction between Venus and Jupiter

At a distance of barely 20 arc seconds, Venus “scrapes” past Jupiter. Such a close encounter is seldom seen. The only downside is that you have to drag yourself out of bed early as it can only be seen in the morning sky.

02/05 Conjunction between the Moon and Mercury

For those who prefer to observe in the evenings, you can catch a last glimpse of Mercury today. The spectacle takes place just above the western horizon but is especially attractive. A delicate waxing crescent moon to the left and, to the right, the Pleiades.

12/05 Venus, Jupiter, Mars in alignment

Shortly before dawn, we can see Venus, Jupiter and Mars sitting in a neat row. A little further up, we can also find Saturn. The band of planets stretches from the eastern horizon almost diagonally across the sky.

16/05 Total lunar eclipse

The last visible lunar eclipse took place in January 2019. Three years later, the event is repeating itself. However, visibility for the current eclipse is sadly not optimal. We cannot fully follow it, only the first part. The Moon enters the Earth’s umbral shadow at 04:28. At this time, our satellite is still 8 degrees above the horizon. Just at the start of the totality, the Moon goes down in the southwest. We won’t be able to see another total lunar eclipse until 2025 – and that will be in the evening.

28/05 Tau Herculids

The Tau Herculids are a meteor shower which we have not previously recommended in our Astronomy Highlights. Why? They are usually barely noticeable and not so exciting with a maximum of two meteors per hour. Only avid meteor fans get anything out of them. But this year could be different. This year, the Earth crosses paths with the trail of dust left by the disintegrating 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 comet in 1995. This year, it could be quite the shower. The International Meteor Organisation (IMO) is encouraging people to collect observational data.

29/05 Conjunction between Mars and Jupiter

At three in the morning, Mars and Jupiter climb above the horizon. It will be immediately apparent that we are dealing with a very close conjunction here. The two planets pass each other at a distance of around 0.5 degrees. When viewed through binoculars, they will appear as a stunning pair in the same visual field.

Astronomy Highlights in Winter 2021/22

December 3 2021, Marcus Schenk

The highlights of the winter sky are the bright stars around the constellations Orion and Taurus. But the next three months also offer us more to discover: a bright evening star, meteor showers and a beautiful necklace made of planets.

In the “Astronomy Highlights in Winter 2021/22” infographic, you will find many important celestial events at a glance. Information and further explanations of the events can be found in the accompanying text.

We wish you lots of observing pleasure.

December:

4 December Bright Venus

Venus is at its brightest at the beginning of this month. At mag -4.8, it stands out in the evening sky now and is, after the Moon, the brightest object in the sky.

7 December The Moon near Venus

In the early evening sky, the waxing crescent Moon joins an attractive planetary parade. Venus, Jupiter and Saturn are visible, looking almost like a pearl necklace.

8 December The Moon near Saturn and Jupiter

Those who sighted the Moon yesterday will discover it higher and about 14 degrees distant today, between Saturn and Jupiter.

13 December Geminids

If the sky is clear in the evening, you should take a look towards the south. There you will find the Geminids meteor shower, appearing to emerge from the constellation Gemini. More precisely: from a point two degrees above the star Pollux. The best time for observing it is between 21:00 and 06:00. With 120 meteors per hour, the Geminids are among the most prolific meteor showers. This year we have to wait until the morning hours to observe undisturbed and with no Moon.

17 December The Moon occults Tau (τ) Tauri

Tau Tauri is a star in the constellation Taurus and, at magnitude 4.3, it is visible with the naked eye. Since the Moon’s orbit appears to run through Taurus, occultations often occur. This is the case today: at 22:30 Tau Tauri disappears behind the almost full Moon and appears around 80 minutes later on the other side.

29 December Mercury near Venus

Mercury begins to be visible in the evening and meets with neighbouring planet Venus at dusk. If you have a good view of the horizon, you will discover both planets from 17:00.

January:

3 January Quadrantids

The Quadrantids are a meteor shower originating from the constellation Boötes. The new year brings us up to 100 meteors per hour, but they are only moderately bright. The radiant, from where the shooting stars seem to originate, does not appear until after midnight. The new Moon was just yesterday, making astronomical observations particularly worthwhile right now.  Green light for all deep sky observers!

5 January The Moon nears Mercury, Saturn and Jupiter

Planet fans will be delighted: at dusk you can see a beautiful chain of planets consisting of Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury. The three-day-old crescent Moon accompanies the trio. A lovely way to welcome the new year.

6 January The Moon occults Tau (τ) Aquarii

It’s still twilight and we’re waiting for the night to come. But the first astronomical highlight is already taking place. At 17:00, the Moon occults the mag 4 bright star Tau Aquarii in the constellation Aquarius. In this occultation, the Moon approaches from its unlit side.

8 January Mercury in the evening sky

Over the last few days, Mercury has become increasingly visible in the evening sky. It’s not exactly bombastic, but for those who would like to see reclusive Mercury, now is a great opportunity. Today and for the next two days, the conditions are particularly good, because its brightness and altitude in the sky are aligned. Soon Mercury will sink back toward the horizon and disappear.

11 January The Moon near Uranus

The planet Uranus is a distant agent in the solar system. Today, it is just 2.5 degrees from the Moon. Try your luck with a pair of binoculars.

26 January The Moon occults Alpha (α) Librae

This is something for early risers only: an occultation by the Moon of a star in the constellation Libra. More specifically, the Moon occults the mag 2.7 bright double star Alpha Librae. It gets going at 6:40!

29 January The Moon near Mars

Those with a great craving for the planet Mars will be able to see it at dawn in the south-east on 29 January. On this day there is an attractive meet-up with the narrow crescent Moon. You won’t catch another glimpse of Mars in the night sky until the coming summer.

February:

3 February The Moon near Jupiter

Jupiter accompanied us last year and was visible every evening in the sky. But soon it will escape our gaze and disappear from the sky for a while. On 3 February, it reveals itself once more in the twilight in a duo together with the delicate crescent Moon.

7 February The Moon near Uranus

Tonight, the Moon passes the planet Uranus at a distance of just 1.5 degrees.

9 February The Moon passes the Golden Gate of the Ecliptic

The area between the Hyades and the Pleiades has a name: the Golden Gate of the Ecliptic. Today, the Moon is a nocturnal wayfarer between the two well-known star clusters.

9 February Bright Venus

Venus lives up to its title of the Morning Star. Because with almost mag -5, it is radiantly bright. This astronomical spotlight appears above the horizon at around 05:00. It shines so brightly that no one can miss it.

27 February The Moon near Mars and Venus

Bright Venus, red Mars and a slender crescent Moon, just before the new Moon. What a great motivation to take a very early morning look at the sky. A peaceful morning mood is guaranteed.

 

Infographic: Astronomy Highlights Autumn 2021

September 1 2021, Marcus Schenk

Autumn has a planetary focus on Jupiter and Saturn which are both still brilliantly visible. Additionally, you have the chance to see the two outermost planets, Uranus and Neptune, at opposition.

In the “Astronomy Highlights in Autumn 2021” infographic, you can find numerous important celestial events at a glance. You can find dates and detailed descriptions of the events in the accompanying text.

Have fun observing!

September

September occurs in the period between summer and autumn. This can also be seen in the night skies. The constellations Hercules and Lyra drift westward. Contrastingly, the constellation Capricorn is conspicuous alongside the large planets Jupiter and Saturn in the south.

02/09 The Moon occults Epsilon Gem – In the early hours of the morning, the slender crescent moon occults the star Epsilon Gem in the constellation Gemini. The Moon approaches with its illuminated side at around 2am. You need a very good view of the horizon facing towards the north-east. (Visibility depends on observer location)

03/09 The Moon occults Epsilon Gem – At 4:38am, the slender crescent moon occults the star Kappa Gem in the constellation Gemini. An attractive occultation as the Moon appears as a narrow crescent. (Visibility depends on observer location)

3.9. Conjunction between the Moon and Pollux – In the second half of the night, the Moon appears over the horizon in the constellation Gemini. Only 3 degrees separate it from Pollux.

14.9. Neptune at opposition – The solar system’s furthest planet is at opposition and looks magnificent. You can see it as a star by using binoculars but it is only by using a telescope that you can see the 2.3 arc second planet as a small sliver. A star chart or an app would benefit you here.

17.9. Conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn – Both large planets meet in the constellation Capricorn. With the Moon in the middle, they form a triangle.

October

October definitively marks the start of autumn. High above our heads we can see the famous Great Square of Pegasus and the constellation Andromeda. Time to take an extensive trip to the Andromeda Galaxy. Always an experience with binoculars.

03/10 The Moon occults Eta Leo – In the early hours of the morning, at around 5:27am, it is still dark. It is now that the Moon occults the 3.4 mag star Eta Leo with its narrow-illuminated side. It is definitely the most impressive star occultation of the quarter. (Visibility depends on observer location)

08/10 Giacobinids – The Giacobinids or Draconids are a meteor shower which appears to stem from the constellation Draco. The maximum fall rates can be expected on 8 October. Unfortunately, the expected number cannot be predicted as it can vary considerably. The radiant is located near the star Beta Draconis. Draco is part of a circumpolar constellation which is why the radiant is at its optimal visible altitude in the evening.

09/10 Conjunction between the Moon and Venus – At sunset, a brilliant Venus and a 3.5-day-young crescent moon rise in the southwest. There is a maximum time window of 2 hours until Venus disappears below the horizon.

14-15/10 Conjunction between the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn – At the end of the civil twilight, at around 19:00, the planets Jupiter and Saturn rise dominantly in the sky. Although they were at opposition in August, they are still a rewarding target. The Moon does not disrupt their observation.

21/10 Orionids – The Orionids are a smaller meteor shower with around 20 meteors per hour. The radiant is located in the constellation Orion, near the star Betelgeuse. Although you can observe the meteor shower all month, it peaks between October 20 and 21. The best time for observing is between 22:00 and 05:00.

23/10 Mercury in the morning sky – In May, Mercury could be seen in the evening sky whereas now the planet is offering us a short period of morning visibility. Between 23/10 and 31/10, you can see it just above the eastern horizon.

November

The constellation Perseus is near the zenith in November. This is where you will find the two brightest stars, Mirfak and Algol. The famous binary star cluster h + chi illuminates the space between Perseus and Cassiopeia and can be seen with the naked eye in dark areas.

03/11 Conjunction between the Moon and Mercury – There are two reasons to get up early today. This morning, the delicate crescent moon and Mercury are in conjunction. One of the last opportunities before Mercury disappears into the Sun’s glare.

05/11 Uranus at opposition – At mag. 5.6, Uranus is currently visible with the naked eye. However, it is easier to spot using binoculars or a telescope. This makes it appear as a tiny green disc with no recognisable details. However, it can still be identified as a planet.

08/11 Conjunction between the Moon and Venus – The waxing crescent moon is in conjunction with the twinkling brightness of Venus.

10/11 Conjunction between the Moon and Saturn – The Moon passes Saturn only 4.5 degrees beneath it.

11/11 Conjunction between the Moon and Jupiter – Tonight the Moon passes Jupiter, moving at almost one degree per hour. We can track the movement relative to Jupiter quite well.

17/11 Leonids – The Leonids reach their peak from November 16 to 17. Along with the Perseids, they are one of the most famous meteor showers. There have been years in which these meteors have fallen like raindrops from the sky. This generally takes place every 33 years when the Earth runs into the Leonid cloud. In normal years, the shower does not exceed 20 meteors per hour at its peak. This year, the slender crescent moon sets early on and we can enjoy the meteors all night long without interruption.

Astro-highlights – Summer 2021

June 4 2021, Marcus Schenk

A solar eclipse after six years, the large planets in opposition and the August meteor shower is visible without any moonlight.

If you’re not looking at the stars this summer, you’re missing something. The sky chart “Astro-highlights – Summer 2021” shows you all the significant celestial events at a glance so that you don’t miss anything. Additional information about these events can be found below the graphic.

We wish you lots of observing pleasure!

June

10/6 Partial solar eclipse

The last partial solar eclipse in Europe was visible on 20 March 2015. The Moon covered up to 80% of the Sun’s disk then. The next solar eclipse occurs on 10 June. It is an annular solar eclipse visible in Greenland and Northern Canada, and partially visible in Central Europe. It is relatively unspectacular, only covering a few percent of the Sun.  The further north you are, the higher the degree of the eclipse. In Munich, only 6.3% of the lunar limb touches the Sun, whereas in Hamburg it is 17.3%. The eclipse begins at 11:35a.m. and ends at 13:22 (depending on the exact location). Caution: Only observe the Sun with a suitable solar filter, which you can purchase from our online shop.

Degree of coverage at our Astroshop sites:

Landsberg, Germany: 6.56%

Marseille, France: 2.7%

Malaga, Spain: 1.3%

Warsaw, Poland: 9.9%

Hasselt/Genk, Belgium: 14.9%

Aveiro, Portugal: 9%

Palermo, Italy: 0%

12/6 The Moon meets Venus

The faint waxing crescent Moon and brilliant Venus appear low to the west shortly after sunset. To the upper left, you will discover Mars. If you are observing with binoculars, a short diagonal sweep to the upper left will bring you to the Beehive Cluster M44.

13/6 The Moon meets Mars

Today the Moon rises higher and joins the planet Mars, which it passes at a distance of 1.8 degrees. Both make a beautiful view through binoculars.

27/6 June Bootids

The June Bootids meteor shower originates in the Boötes constellation. The number of falling stars is small but variable. There have been years in which no meteors were sighted at all, but there have also been occurrences of 100 per hour. This meteor shower is exciting and worth taking a closer look at.

27/6 The Moon meets Saturn

Those who want to see the big gas giants will have to wait until midnight in June. Saturn is currently in the constellation of Capricorn, the horned mountain goat that climbs the meridian at the peak of the sky before dawn. The Moon passes Saturn today at a distance of about 9 degrees.

29/6 The Moon meets Jupiter

On its way along the ecliptic this morning, the Moon passes about 5 degrees below Jupiter. The large differences in brightness between the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn and the brightest stars are interesting to observe.

July

8/7 The Moon meets Mercury

Mercury hovers low over the horizon in the morning sky for the next few days. We can observe it with a perfect horizon view well after 4a.m., close above a flat landscape. The crescent Moon joins it 2.5 degrees above. The new Moon is in two days’ time.

12/7 The Moon meets Venus and Mars

As dusk falls, the Moon and the two planets Venus and Mars make for a delightful sight. The pouncing Leo seemingly about to snap at the three objects. You can admire both celestial bodies through binoculars in one field of view. It’s also a great opportunity to take a photo at dusk.

18/7 Pluto in opposition

Pluto is a dwarf planet that is not easily visible and a challenge for larger telescopes.  Once the 9th planet, it was stripped of its planetary dignity in 2006, but of course our enthusiasm for the solar system’s outpost remains undiminished. If you want to set your sights on it, the best time to do so is during its opposition. Use your GoTo mount’s controller and a star chart to distinguish it from the background stars.

Coordinates for GoTo controller (23:59 CEST): RA: 19h49m59s, Dec: -22°38′

19/7 Golden Handle

The Golden Handle of the Moon? It does exist, but only during a certain lunar phase. Appearing like a handle of light, it is an effect caused by light on the lunar surface, along the terminator line. We are gazing at the Mare Imbrium in the Sinus Iridum crater region and the Montes Jura. Here, the sun rises at the day-night boundary. While the crater is still in darkness, the peaks of Montes Jura catch the sunlight at their summits. A golden ring in the darkness. Best seen between 18:00 and 21:30 CEST.

20/7 The Moon meets Antares

This evening, the Moon remains to the east of the star Antares. It is a red supergiant and shines bright with a reddish hue in the night sky. Its diameter is 700 times greater than that of our Sun and it would swallow some planets, including our Earth, if it were to take the place of our own celestial body.

21/7 Venus meets Regulus

With a good view of the horizon, you will discover Venus at the foot of the constellation Leo after sunset. In the immediate vicinity you will find the star Alpha Leonis, better known as Regulus. The name means  “little King” or “prince”. If you’re thinking of little Simba and the Lion King, you’re probably right.

24/7 The Moon meets Saturn

Shortly before midnight, the constellation of Capricorn appears above the horizon. It is easily recognised by its bowl-like shape. The Moon passes below Saturn at a distance of 4.6 degrees on this night. If you focus on Saturn with binoculars, you will notice a magnitude 5.8 star on your left.

25/7 The Moon meets Jupiter

One day after its encounter with Saturn, the Moon meets Jupiter in the constellation of Aquarius. On this night, the two celestial bodies are separated by 5.5 degrees. Next month, the two gas giants will be in opposition to the Sun.

28/7 Delta Aquariids

The Delta Aquariids are a meteoroid stream that appear to originate in Aquarius. With around 25 meteors per hour, however, it trails far behind the August meteor shower in terms of prominence. Because the Moon phase is very high, the only suitable time for observation is before moonrise.

August

1/8 Jupiter’s moon Ganymede covers Europa

If you take a look through a telescope after Jupiter rises, you will notice the two moons of Jupiter, Europa and Ganymede.  Like double stars, they appear close to each other. At 0:00 CEST, Ganymede partially obscures the somewhat smaller Europa, and at around 2:00 CEST, the two moons go their separate ways again.

2/8 Saturn in opposition

Due to the low position of the ecliptic plane, Saturn has remained low above the horizon in recent years. In 2019, it reached a height of about 20 degrees. During its opposition this year, we can observe it at an altitude of 24 degrees. Over the next few years, Saturn will continue to climb higher. The higher its position, the less we have to contend with atmospheric air turbulence.

On 2 August it reaches its opposition and shines brightly in the sky with a magnitude of 0.1. In doing so, it competes with the brightest stars. We recognise it by its yellowish colour and calm glow. Its ring opening is 18 degrees and if we look at the ring system from the north, we can easily identify the Cassini division.

11/8 The Moon meets Venus

A gaze into the evening twilight is well worth it, Venus shines brightly low in the west with the narrow crescent Moon just above it.

12/8 Perseids

Enjoy the most beautiful shooting stars of the year. The Perseids can be seen at their best this year, there will be a new Moon and dark skies all night while we observe them. The meteor shower is most intense during the morning hours of 12 August. At this time, up to 100 shooting stars fall through our atmosphere each hour at a speed of approximately 216,000 km/h. The best observation time is between 22:00 and 4:00 CEST.

18/8 Mars meets Mercury

An extremely close encounter for seasoned observers. At dusk on 18 August, Mars and Mercury meet only about 3 degrees above the horizon. The sun is barely below the horizon at this time.

20/8 Jupiter in opposition

You can already see Jupiter rising flat in the east at twilight, at magnitude -2.8, a bright object that is hard to miss. But the evening sky has even more to offer in terms of conspicuous objects; the moon and Saturn in close proximity and radiant Venus close above the western horizon.

Today, Jupiter draws all the attention – it is in opposition to the Sun and can be admired all night long. It is now separated from Earth by 600 million kilometres and the light takes just over half an hour to reach us. Its apparent diameter is 49″, it reaches its meridian passage and thus its best visibility and highest position at 1:14 CEST.

Infographic: Astronomy Highlights in Spring 2021

February 26 2021, Marcus Schenk

A visit to the Pleiades, a very bright minor planet and a superbly-visible Mercury in the evening sky. There’s lots to look forward to the astronomical spring, because it has plenty to offer.

In the infographic Astronomy Highlights in Spring 2021, you have an overview of the important celestial events for the next three months.

We wish you lots of observing pleasure!

March

4/3 Mars near the Pleiades (Golden Gate of the Ecliptic)

Mars was in opposition last year and was visible in the starry evening sky. It still gleams in the night sky, disappearing ever more from the picture, along with the winter constellations. Around 4 March it nears the Pleiades at a distance of about 2 degrees. In doing so, the god of war also passes through the Golden Gate of the Ecliptic. This is the name of the area between the Hyades and the Pleiades, through which the ecliptic takes its course.

4/3 Vesta at opposition

Vesta is a goddess in Roman mythology but also the name of a well-known minor planet. With a diameter of 520 kilometres, it is the second largest in the asteroid belt.  While at opposition, it can sometimes be distinguished with the naked eye. Currently, at mag. 5.8 – 6.0, it is just beyond the visibility of the naked eye. However, it is easy to see with binoculars or a telescope. So how about observing a minor planet? That would make a very special star-gazing evening. What’s more, you can easily find Vesta in the rear part of the constellation Leo. From star Theta Leonis (the hind leg of the lion), just one degree to the northeast – et voilà.

5/3 Mercury near Jupiter

A difficult encounter: Mercury and Jupiter are near one another, but they are not easy to track. When both become visible, it will be shortly before 6:00am and the Sun will be just 8 degrees below the horizon. The time window is short and you need a clear view of the horizon as the two planets approach with a separation of just 0.3 degrees.

10/3 the Moon nears Jupiter and Saturn

Just before dawn for early risers: several objects gather together over the south-eastern horizon this morning. Almost as if they were on a diagonal pearl necklace, you will discover Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn. The delicate crescent Moon frames this meeting of the planets, and turns the morning into a wonderful astronomical event.

16/3 the Moon nears Uranus

In the evening hours we see the waxing crescent Moon between the constellations Cetus and Pisces. If you like, you can make a detour from here with your telescope, to the distant planet Uranus. Because today it is just 6 degrees above the Earth’s satellite. Uranus is always worth a look, because it is not a standard object, such as Saturn or Jupiter. As a distant planet, even in a telescope it is just a small disc which, if you look closely, is clearly different from a star. Nevertheless, it makes sense to familiarise yourself with the exact position on a star chart before observing.

18/3 Mars nears u Tauri

A few days ago, Mars moved through the Golden Gate of the Ecliptic, past the Pleiades. Today it stops at u Tauri in the constellation of Taurus, at a star that is a member of the Hyades. This is a pulsating star, which changes its luminosity within a few days. If you scan through this area with binoculars, you will notice a pattern made up of many stars. This is an asterism, a pattern-like group of stars. It’s called Davis’ Dog and depicts a dog with a nose, eyes, ears, legs and tail. Although some people see it as a fox. What do you see?

April

1/4 Antares nears the Moon

During the night from 1 – 2 April, the Moon approaches the brightest star in Scorpius: Antares. It is a red supergiant and shines brightly and red-hued in the night sky. Its diameter is 700 times greater than that of our Sun and it would swallow some planets, including our Earth, if it were to take the place of our own celestial body.

6/4 the Moon nears Saturn

The morning sky already shows us the heralds of summer: the constellations Sagittarius and especially Capricornus. In the realm of this mountain goat, the Moon and Saturn meet today and stand at a separation of 5.3 degrees.

15/4 the Moon passes the Golden Gate of the Ecliptic

Three days after the new Moon, the delicate crescent Moon appears again in the evening above the western horizon. Our satellite reaches the Golden Gate of the Ecliptic, which is flanked by the famous star clusters of the Hyades and the Pleiades.

17/4 the Moon nears Mars

The Moon and Mars meet tonight at a distance of around 2.5 degrees.  The Red Planet is still in the constellation Taurus, but on 24 April it will move to the constellation Gemini.

19/4 the Moon nears Pollux

The Moon approaches the star Pollux in Gemini at a separation of 3.3 degrees. The more interesting thing tonight, however, is the occultation of star kappa Gem by the Moon. It approaches with its unlit side and swallows the bright mag. 3.5 star for a little more than an hour. The occultation can only be followed in certain regions with sufficient darkness. In Germany, the occultation begins at around 20:21.

26/4 Venus nears Mercury

This is something for specialists: because Venus and Mercury are not yet visible in the evening sky. But at dusk, the two inner planets approach one another and pass by at a distance of 1.3 degrees. At 20:45 CEST, the Sun will be just 4 degrees below the horizon and the planets will be slightly above it. So you may catch a glimpse with large binoculars, but it’ll be difficult to observe.

May

4/5 the Moon nears Saturn

Capricornus belongs to the summer constellations and is already climbing above the horizon in the morning sky. The planet Saturn will remain in this constellation for the next two years, before it moves to Aquarius. However, this morning the Lord of the Rings gets a visit from the Moon.

5/5 the Moon nears Jupiter

Yesterday, the Moon visited Saturn, today it also calls on Jupiter. It is still in the neighbourhood, after Jupiter and Saturn met in a very close conjunction last December.

10/5 Mercury visible, evening sky

Mercury has good evening visibility this month – it’s the only month this year when it is really easy to observe. From 10 May, it’s easy to find on the western horizon. At around 21:30 it will be dark enough that you will have no problem seeing it gleaming in the sky. Venus is on the verge of setting, but Mercury is around 8.5 degrees above the horizon. This means: if you have a good view towards the horizon, you have an hour until it disappears in the haze of the horizon and sets. Over the course of the month the little planet climbs the stairway to the heavens, and will be located a little higher every day. On 18 May, it will not set until 22:53 CEST – but thereafter it sets a little earlier every day.

13/5 the Moon nears Mercury

One of the most beautiful encounters on the evening sky: shortly after sunset today, the 3.5% illuminated crescent Moon joins Mercury and will be just 2 degrees to the south. Further below you will discover Venus.

15/5 the Moon nears Mars

In the far west, today the still-narrow crescent Moon meets with Mars in the constellation Gemini. By the way, NASA launched a new robot mission to Mars last year. NASA successfully landed the Perseverance rover on Mars in February, as part of the Mars 2020 mission. The first ever Mars helicopter is on board. Controlled by rotor blades, the drone will fly through the thin “air” and help to explore Mars from a low altitude.

17/5 Mercury at greatest eastern elongation

Mercury is at its largest eastern elongation today. With this, it reaches its greatest angular distance from the Sun and holds an easy-to-observe position above the horizon. We now have more than an hour to marvel at it before it sets. If you want to observe it with a telescope, now is also the right time – as the planet sneaks away from the thicker layers of air in the atmosphere.

17/5 the Moon nears the Beehive

It is often simply called M44 or Praesepe, but a particularly nice name for this object is: the Beehive cluster. Like in a luminous beehive, there are about 300 stars bustling in this open star cluster. The Moon nears the Beehive at about 4 degrees. This means you can see both objects with a pair of binoculars in the same field of view.

19/5 the Moon nears Regulus

Tonight, the waxing Moon nears Regulus, the main star in constellation Leo, which is also called Little King in German. Its position is close to the ecliptic, which means that repeated occultations of Regulus by the Moon can occur.

28/5 Mercury near Venus

Mercury had its best evening visibility this month and was positioned high above the horizon. Meanwhile, it has lost some height and is joining up with lower-positioned Venus. They pass by one another, but meet on the 28th and approach each other at a separation of up to 0.5 degrees.

31/5 the Moon nears Saturn

In the second half of the night, you can observe the Moon and Saturn in a southerly direction in constellation Capricorn. The constellation climbs higher and higher until daybreak, and approaches the meridian, the highest point in the sky.

Astronomy Highlights in Winter 2020/21

December 2 2020, Marcus Schenk

An extremely close encounter between Jupiter and Saturn, Mars and Uranus together in your field of view and the Geminids coincide with a new Moon. Once again there are all sorts of reasons to take a look and admire the starry sky. In the infographic “Astronomy Highlights in Winter 2020/21”, you have all the important celestial events occurring in the next three months at a glance. We wish you lots of observing pleasure!

December:

13/12 Geminids

If the evening sky is clear, take a look to the south. The Geminids meteor shower will appear to be originating from the constellation Gemini. Or to be more precise: from a point two degrees above the star Pollux. The best time for observing is between 21:00 and 06:00 CEST. With 120 meteors per hour, the Geminids are among the most active meteor showers. We are especially lucky with the timing this year since we have a new Moon and so we can observe, undisturbed, all night.

13/12 Conjunction between the Moon and Venus

Are you an early bird who can think of nothing better than to gaze at the stars in the early hours? This morning it will be worth your while. From around 05:30 GMT (06:30 CET) you can see lustrous Venus in the sky and, underneath it, the delicate crescent Moon – since the very next day we have a new Moon. This weekend is perfect for deep-sky observing.

17/12 Conjunction between the Moon, Saturn and Jupiter

We are able to enjoy this attractive event thanks to the fact that at the moment it gets dark early. At dusk we see a conjunction between Jupiter, Saturn and the young waxing crescent Moon. The two gas giants accompanied us throughout last summer and every evening they were the brightest objects in the southern sky. Now they disappear early and let the winter sky take centre stage.

21/12 Ursids

The Ursids are a meteor shower on which you can keep your eye on all night. This is because they originate from the constellation Ursa Minor, from which these meteors also get their name. These beacons speed across the sky considerably slower than the Perseids – at around 35 kilometers per second.

21/12 Winter solstice

21/12 Conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn (note: they appear very close together)

Are you observing the Star of Bethlehem today? It’s the highlight of the month and you definitely shouldn’t miss it. On 21 December, coinciding with the winter solstice, Jupiter and Saturn present us with an unusual spectacle since in this conjunction they are just 5 arc minutes apart. A truly rare sight.

Let’s step back in time: Jupiter and Saturn also met one another in the year 7 BC. In that year a total of three such conjunctions in constellation Pisces between these two planets occurred. Scientists can still prove that today. We can assume that, due to its distinctive nature, this was what became to be known as the Star of Bethlehem. An interesting association so close to Christmas, isn’t it?

How about observing both of them through your telescope in a single field of view? You need to be sure to take up your observing position early. Preferably around 17:00 CET when the gas giants are sufficiently high in the sky, since in less than 1.5 hours they will disappear into the haze on the horizon.

21/12 The Moon occults mag 4.3 star

At 20:04 GMT (21:04 CET) the Moon occults the 4.3 mag star 30 PSC, which belongs to the constellation Pisces. What is especially beautiful is that the Moon moves closer to the star from its unilluminated side, so suddenly the star disappears as if it was simply switched off. At 21:15 GMT (22:15 CET) it twinkles again from the other side of the Moon.

23/12 The Moon near Mars

In October Mars stood in favourable opposition and was spectacular to see. Now it is in the constellation Pisces where it can be observed during the first half of the night. This evening the Moon joins it.

24/12

Happy Christmas!

27/12 The Moon near Aldebaran and the Pleiades

Even people who do not concern themselves with the night sky notice the Pleiades, and they often mistake them for Ursa Minor. Observers of the sky know differently: it is the best-known open star cluster which has been observed by mankind for thousands of years and which has a special significance for many cultures. Tonight the Moon meets up with the Pleiades and with Aldebaran, the brightest star in Taurus.

January:

02/01 Quadrantids

The Quadrantids is a meteor shower originating from the constellation Boötes. The new year starts with an astronomical performance which delivers around 120 meteors per hour. The radiant, from where the shooting stars appear to originate, only appears after midnight. Unfortunately, this year the bright Moon disturbs the show, since full Moon was only three days ago.

03/01 The Moon near Regulus

Today the Moon and Regulus can be seen, with a separation of 4 degrees. The name Regulus means ”little king“ in Latin. Because of its proximity to the ecliptic, it regularly meets the Moon.

07/01 The Moon near Spica

Spica is a massive blue star, a variable star, and at the same time a binary star system. 262 light years away, 13,000 times brighter than the Sun, and 7.5 times larger than the radius of the Sun, it takes 16th place in the list of the brightest stars in the sky. Spica is located at the ear of grain that Virgo holds in her left hand, this is also the origin of the star’s Latin name. On 7 January the Moon is nearby.

11/01 The Moon near Venus

On the morning of 11 January dawn is nearly over when Venus rises at 06:00 GMT (07:00 CET) and meets the slender crescent Moon above. At this point the Sun is still just 9 degrees below the horizon.

20/01 Mars near Uranus

The planet Uranus is theoretically visible with the naked eye. However, in practice the 2.9 billion kilometre distant planet is not so easy to find. The problem is that it is so small that it can be difficult to distinguish from a star. This is tricky with binoculars, but is a little easier with a telescope where you can distinguish one ”star“ with a minimally-greater diameter from another. This evening you can find Uranus more easily because it comes near Mars at a distance of 1.5 degrees.

If you use an eyepiece with a longer focal length then you can admire both in your field of view.

21/01 The Moon near Mars

Today the Moon passes Mars at a separation of 5.5 degrees.

24.01. Mercury at greatest eastern elongation

Mercury orbits the Sun so quickly and so close, that we cannot always observe it. However now Mercury is once again at a greater angular distance of 18 degrees from the Sun. That’s not a large number, but we can nonetheless observe it during its half phase. Mercury is to be seen in the evening sky shortly after sunset. Whatever you do, wait until the Sun has set. Then you will discover Mercury just above the western horizon.

27/01 Mercury at best visibility

Today Mercury reaches its highest position in the night sky, and with it its best evening visibility. From tomorrow its orbit sends it lower, back towards the horizon.

February:

03/02 The Moon near Spica

Once again, this morning the Moon passes by star Spica in Virgo. What is behind these frequent encounters? The ecliptic lies above Spica which ensures that the Moon frequently comes to visit.

06/02 The Moon near Antares

This morning, the 23-day old and waning Moon meets Antares, the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius.

19/02 The Moon near Mars, Pleiades and the Hyades

A fine sight in the evening sky: the Moon visits the constellation Taurus and remains in a position between the Hyades and the Pleiades. Both are ancient open star clusters that people have been observing since time immemorial. Mars joins in too. Isn’t this get-together worth a photo?

23/02 The Moon near Pollux

In the last days of the month the waxing Moon wanders from the constellation Taurus towards Gemini. This evening it meets Pollux, a red giant star that is 34 light years away.

26/02 The Moon near Regulus

Just a few hours before the full Moon, our satellite meets up with Regulus, the brightest star in Leo. When dusk is over we see an interesting image in the starry sky: in the west the autumn constellations are disappearing from view, in the south the winter constellations reach their highest point, and in the east spring is climbing over the horizon.

Astronomy highlights in summer 2020

May 27 2020, Marcus Schenk

Bright comets, fantastic meteors in August and multiple planets at opposition mean that the night sky in summer 2020 is full of astronomical treats.

As early as June, there will be two interesting comets to be seen, namely C/2020 F8 SWAN and C/2017 T2 PanSTARRS. The former is gradually moving from the southern night sky to the northern sky and the latter is maintaining its altitude as a circumpolar object. T2 PanSTARRS is great for telescope viewing – and you can even find it in a great position, right next to a well-known star. More on this later.

We wish you many exciting hours of viewing.

June

1 June SWAN comet

Spring 2020 was rich in comets, one of the most attractive and brightest of these being the comet C/2020 F8 SWAN. It remained in the southern sky in spring, climbed above the horizon at the end of May and can now be found in the northern sky.

4 June Mercury at greatest eastern elongation

Mercury reaches its greatest eastern elongation which, in this configuration, is 23 degrees. It can be seen in the evening sky just above the north-western horizon. When viewed through a telescope, you can see the planet almost half-illuminated.

5 June Penumbral lunar eclipse

This evening, as much as around 50% of the Moon plunges into the Earth’s penumbral shadow. The resulting penumbral eclipse is interesting astronomically but not spectacular visually, as the Moon is only obscured minimally.

We are unable to track the beginning at 19:45 CEST (17:45 UT) because the Moon is still below the horizon. At 21:24 CEST, at the time of its maximum eclipse, it is visible just above the south-eastern horizon. From now on, we can track its further progression until the Moon leaves the penumbral shadow at 23:04 CEST.

5 June PanStarrs comet

Another interesting comet which certainly warrants a quality photo is C/2017 T2 PanSTARRS. It was discovered on 01/10/2017 and has since been travelling around the Sun on a parabolic trajectory.

It is currently at magnitude 8 and is also visible with small telescopes and large binoculars. On 5 June, it will be visible at a distance of 1 degree from the bright star Dubhe (Alpha Ursae Majoris) in the Plough. It will therefore be very easy to find using any telescope and a wide-angle eyepiece or using a large telescope.

9 June Conjunction between Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon

There is rarely a more beautiful sight than this. At the start of the second half of the night, the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn are rising together over the south-eastern horizon. There are only 3 and 4 degrees between both planets and our satellite and together they make an attractive trio. To the right of this we find the constellation Sagittarius with its summer deep sky objects and, to the left, Capricorn.

13 June Conjunction between the Moon and Mars

From around 3:00 CEST (1:00 UT) we experience a conjunction between Mars and the Moon at an altitude of only 10 degrees above the horizon. A stunning sight, but who is this mysterious visitor? Almost invisible, Neptune joins them and can be found no more than 1.5 degrees above Mars with the help of binoculars.

19 June The Moon occults Venus

It is a rare event when the Moon slips in front of Venus today and occults it. However, this event is taking place during the day. But does this mean that you cannot somehow observe it? You can, but this event is more for experienced observers. At 9:55 CEST the Moon, with its narrow crescent shape, slips in front of Venus. Caution: The Sun is around 20 degrees to the east! Never look directly at the Sun with your eyes or using an optical instrument.

27 June June Bootids

The June Bootids meteor shower originates from the constellation Bootes. The number of falling meteors is small but variable. There have been years in which no meteors have been seen, however rates of 100 per hour have been seen on occasion. Because these meteors cause excitement, it is worth taking a closer look.

July

5 July Conjunction between Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon

Once night has fallen, the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn rise, drawing everyone’s gaze towards them at magnitudes of -2.7 and 0.1. Tonight the fully-illuminated Moon joins them, as the Moon was full only yesterday.

8 July Venus at greatest magnitude

Venus is currently located in the constellation Taurus or in the Hyades star cluster. Although it is only 30% illuminated, it is shining at magnitudre -4.4, the brightest magnitude achieved so far this year.

12 July Conjunction between Mars and the Moon

With 2.5 degrees between them, there is a conjunction between Mars and the Moon today. Both are in the constellation Cetus on the border of Pisces and rise after midnight. At sunrise they are 30 degrees above the horizon, they do not reach the meridian as the Sun will have already long risen by then.

12 Conjunction between Venus and Aldebaran

It is a special occurrence when a bright planet passes by a bright star. Events like these are very eye-catching and appealing to observe. On 12 July, Venus passes by the bright star Aldebaran at a distance of only 0.5 degrees. It is to be the closest encounter of any planet with Aldebaran in this century.

14 July Jupiter at opposition

Jupiter rises in the south-east as early as twilight and can be seen as a very bright object. Today it is at opposition to the Sun and can be admired throughout the entire night. A mere 619 million kilometres separate it from Earth and the light requires a little more than half an hour to reach us. Its visible diameter is 47 arc seconds and it crosses the meridian, and therefore achieves its best visibility, at 1:25 CEST (23:25 UT).

16 July Pluto at opposition

The former planet and current dwarf planet is at opposition and is shining at a magnitude of 14.2. Finding it with a telescope which only works with one accurate star chart is a challenge. Pluto is located between Saturn and Jupiter on these days, from which it is only 2 degrees to the west (on the left of the central Telrad ring).

17 July Conjunction between Venus and the Moon

A delightful sight in the morning sky in the form of today’s conjunction between Venus and the very narrow and almost 26-day-old crescent Moon in the constellation Taurus, close to the star Aldebaran.

21 July Saturn at opposition

July is the month of oppositions and today’s offering is Saturn. At magnitude 0.1, it will be shining much more faintly than its prominent colleague, Jupiter. However, Saturn is able to make up for this with its attractive rings, which we are able to see fully exposed in our view.

22 July Mercury at greatest western elongation

Whilst Mercury was at its greatest eastern elongation in June, it is now at its greatest western elongation. This means that it has now become an object in the morning sky, as it now rises before the Sun. From 4:30 CEST (2:30 UT), you should be able to see it at around 3 degrees above the horizon. At this time, the Sun is 8 degrees below the horizon.

28 July Delta Aquariids

The last event this month is the Delta Aquariids. These are shooting stars which appear to come from region containing the constellation Aquarius, at a maximum frequency of 25 per hour. The period after midnight, when the Moon has already gone down, is best suited for their observation.

August

1 August Conjunction between Jupiter and the Moon

Today there is a conjunction between the 12-day-old and almost full Moon and Jupiter.

9 August Conjunction between the Moon and Mars

This morning the Moon is approaching the planet Mars until it is around 2.75 degrees away. While Mars is in Pisces, the Moon crosses the border from Cetus to Pisces in the morning.

12 August Perseids

The absolute highlight of every August is the Perseids meteor shower. We are able to see up to 100 meteors per hour tonight. Admittedly, this is only because the Moon is not interfering. This year, we are able to view them during the first half of the night without it interfering. At 0:30 CEST (22:30 UT) the Moon rises above the horizon, the sky gets brighter and the faint Perseids are drowned out by Moonlight.

13 August Venus at greatest western elongation

Venus is the morning star and is currently at its greatest western elongation at a distance of 45 degrees between it and the Sun. When you view Venus through the telescope, it appears half-illuminated.

13 August Conjunction between the Moon and the Hyades

The Moon is in the constellation Taurus, close to the Hyades star cluster.

15 August Conjunction between Venus and the Moon

Anyone looking up at the sky in the early hours of the morning can see Venus close to the narrow crescent Moon. Both are in the constellation Gemini.

28 Conjunction between Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon

This evening there is a conjunction between the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation Sagittarius. The trio is on the left, close to the well-known Teapot asterism. If deep-sky observation is not possible today, how about a tour of the lunar craters, culminating in a glimpse of both rulers of the solar system?