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Posts Tagged 'astronomy-highlights'

Astronomy Highlights in Winter 2022/2023

November 30 2022, Marcus Schenk

Mars at opposition, two planetary occultations by the Moon, the Geminids and beautiful triangular arrangements between the Moon and the planets. This winter, there are many reasons to look towards the stars. And you should join in!

In the “Astronomy Highlights in Winter 2022/23” infographic, you can find important celestial events for the next three months. Have fun observing!

December

02/12 Conjunction between the Moon and Jupiter

When darkness is upon us, we can gaze at the Moon and Jupiter on the south-eastern horizon. The gas giant will be blazing with an intensity of -2.5 magnitudes.

05/12 The Moon occults Uranus

The Moon and the planets travel along an imaginary line known as the ecliptic. This is the plane along which the planets and the Sun appear to move. Every now and then, the Moon occults one of the planets. And that time has come once again, as the dark side of the Moon approaches and occults Uranus at 5:34pm.

07/12 Conjunction between the Moon and Plejades

In the early hours of 7 December, the almost-full moon reaches the Golden Gate of the Ecliptic, which is flanked by the famous Hyades and Pleiades star clusters.

08/12 The Moon occults Mars/Opposition

Mars is at opposition to the Sun today and is  shining particularly bright and looks magnificent through a telescope. During this year’s opposition, the planet reaches a diameter of 17 arc seconds and a height of 66 degrees above the horizon from central Europe. And today is also a double event as, in the early hours of 8 December, at around 6am, our Moon occults the Red Planet.

14/12 Geminids

If the skies are clear in the evening, look towards the south. You will see the Geminids meteors emerging from the constellation of Gemini. Or more precisely, from a spot two degrees above the star, Pollux. With 120 meteors per hour, this shower is one of the events with the highest fall rates. In the early evening, up to 10pm, you can view it undisturbed by the Moon, as this is when our satellite appears over the horizon.

Lunar phases:

08/12 Full moon, 16/12 Waning quarter, 23/12 New moon, 30/12 Waxing quarter

January

01/01 Conjunction between the Moon and Uranus

Over and over, encounters or occultation between the Moon and planets take place along the path of the ecliptic. At the start of the new year, the Moon scrapes past Uranus at a distance of only half a degree.

03/01 Conjunction between Moon and Mars

Two bodies are competing for brightness today… the Moon and Mars. Both appear in the eastern skies when darkness falls. The Moon passes eastward beneath Mars.

03/01 Quadrantids

The next meteors are on their way to us – the Quadrantids. This meteor shower originates in the constellation of Bootes. The meteors shoot across the sky at a maximum rate of 120 per hour. The Moon only leaves our field of vision in the early hours of the morning.

16/01 Pallas at opposition

With a diameter of 588 kilometres, the asteroid Pallas is the second largest in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. During its opposition, it is so bright that we can easily see it with a small telescope and, theoretically, even with binoculars. To tell it apart from the stars, you should use a star chart whilst observing.

22/01 Conjunction between Saturn and Venus

A good view of the horizon is essential for this event. During twilight, the stunningly bright Venus outshines the considerably weaker, but still bright, Saturn above the western horizon. From 5:30pm, we have an hour-long opportunity to follow this celestial pair, both of which become weaker and then disappear into the haze.

23/01 The Moon near Venus and Saturn

An attractive event for all who are interested… Today a slim crescent moon joins the planets Venus and Saturn. Together, they are a dream team for a wonderful twilight photo.

30/01 Conjunction between the Moon and Mars

This evening, the Moon visits the Red Planet. During the night, our satellite draws nearer until both objects are around one degree apart in the morning hours.

Lunar phases:

07/01 Full moon, 15/01 Waning quarter, 21/01 New moon, 30/12 Waxing quarter

February

15/02 Conjunction between Venus and Neptune

Venus and Neptune come to within 0.25 degrees of each other – a very close encounter between two very different planets. Whilst Venus beams like a floodlight, Neptune shines 50,000 times less bright.

22/02 Conjunction between Venus and Jupiter

This evening, the crescent moon appears with two planets. A beautiful view which you should not miss.

27/02 Conjunction between the Moon and Mars

This evening, Mars and the Moon can both be found in the constellation Taurus.

Lunar phases:

05/02 Full moon, 15/01 Waning quarter, 20/02 New moon, 27/02 Waxing 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.