What’s Up June 2017

Events of interest for June ….

June – Aurora season is coming to an end, as the nights become shorter and less dark we will have to wait until September before it picks up pace again though there are one or two exceptions if it is strong enough.. Please visit our sister site AUK – Aurora UK for “real time” notifications. Also look out for Nacreous clouds – the high “oil puddle” in the sky and also Noctilucent clouds 😉
1st June – CLUSTER – The Hercules globular cluster (M13, NGC 6205) will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of +36°28′, it is easiest to see from the northern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much south of 33°S. From Scarborough, it will be visible all night. It will become visible at around 00:20 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 70° above your south-eastern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight at around 01:43, 71° above your south-western horizon. At magnitude 5.9, M13 is quite faint, and certainly not visible to the naked eye, but can be viewed through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

1st June – MOON – The Moon will be prominent in the evening sky, setting around midnight. From Scarborough, it will become visible at around 21:54 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 33° above your south-western horizon. It will then sink towards the horizon, setting 4 hours and 46 minutes after the Sun at 02:07.

2nd June – VENUS/URANUS – Venus and Uranus will share the same right ascension, with Venus passing 1°46′ to the south of Uranus. At around the same time, the two objects will also make a close approach, technically called an appulse. From Scarborough, the pair will be difficult to observe as they will appear no higher than 8° above the horizon. They will be visible in the dawn sky, rising at 02:58 (BST) – 1 hour and 37 minutes before the Sun – and reach an altitude of 8° above the eastern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks at around 04:02. Venus will be at mag -4.3, and Uranus at mag 5.9, both in the constellation Pisces. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible through a pair of binoculars.

3rd June – CLUSTER – The globular cluster M12 (NGC 6218) in Ophiuchus will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of -01°57′, it is visible across much of the world; it can be seen at latitudes between 68°N and 71°S. From Scarborough, it will be visible all night. It will become visible at around 00:32 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 33° above your southern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight at around 01:33, 33° above your southern horizon. At magnitude 6.6, M12 is quite faint, and certainly not visible to the naked eye, but can be viewed through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

3rd June – VENUS/URANUS – Venus and Uranus will make a close approach, passing within 1°41′ of each other. From Scarborough, the pair will be difficult to observe as they will appear no higher than 8° above the horizon. They will be visible in the dawn sky, rising at 02:54 (BST) – 1 hour and 39 minutes before the Sun – and reach an altitude of 8° above the eastern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks at around 04:00. Venus will be at mag -4.3, and Uranus at mag 5.9, both in the constellation Pisces. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible through a pair of binoculars. At around the same time, the two objects will also share the same right ascension – called a conjunction.

3rd June – VENUS – The planet Venus reaches greatest eastern elongation of 45.9 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Venus since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the morning sky. Look for the bright planet in the eastern sky before sunrise.

4th June – MOON/JUPITER – The Moon and Jupiter will make a close approach, passing within 2°11′ of each other. The Moon will be 10 days old. From Scarborough, the pair will become visible at around 21:55 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 30° above your southern horizon. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting 5 hours and 22 minutes after the Sun at 02:44. The Moon will be at mag -12.2, and Jupiter at mag -2.2, both in the constellation Virgo. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

5th June – CLUSTER – The globular cluster M10 (NGC 6254) in Ophiuchus will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of -04°05′, it is visible across much of the world; it can be seen at latitudes between 65°N and 74°S. From Scarborough, it will be visible all night. It will become visible at around 00:47 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 31° above your southern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight at around 01:19, 31° above your southern horizon. At magnitude 6.6, M10 is quite faint, and certainly not visible to the naked eye, but can be viewed through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

5th June – COMET – Comet C/2015 V2 (Johnson) is forecast to reach its brightest, at around mag 7.1. It will lie at a distance of 1.65 AU from the Sun, and at a distance of 0.82 AU from the Earth. From Scarborough, it will be visible all night. It will become visible at around 00:36 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 48° above your south-western horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight at around 01:22, 43° above your south-western horizon. Note that the future positions of comets are typically known with a high degree of confidence, but their brightnesses are often much more unpredictable, since it is impossible to predict with certainty how they will respond as they move closer to the Sun. Magnitude estimates should be assumed to be highly provisional more than a few weeks in advance.

9th June – FULL MOON – The Moon will reach full phase. At this time in its monthly cycle of phases, the Moon lies almost directly opposite the Sun in the sky, placing it high above the horizon for much of the night. The sequence of full moons through the year are often assigned names according to the seasons in which they fall. This month’s will be the third to fall in spring 2017 – the Flower Moon. Over the nights following 9 June, the Moon will rise around an hour later each day, becoming prominent later in the night. Within a few days, it will only be visible in the pre-dawn and early-morning sky. By the time it reaches last quarter, a week after full moon, it will rise at around midnight and set at around noon. At the exact moment when the Moon reaches full phase, it will lie at a declination of -18°18′ in the constellation Ophiuchus , and so will appear highest in the southern hemisphere. It will be visible from all latitudes north of 61°N. Its distance from the Earth will be 406,000 km.

10th June – METEORS – The Ophiuchid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on 10 June 2017. Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from 19 May to Jul. The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible is around 5 per hour (ZHR). However, this assumes a perfectly dark sky and that the radiant of the meteor shower is directly overhead. In practice, the number of meteors you are likely to see is lower than this, and can be calculated from the ZHR formula. From Scarborough, the radiant of the shower will appear 12° above your southern horizon at midnight. This means you are likely to see only around 1 meteors per hour, since the radiant will be low in the sky, reducing the chance of seeing meteors. The radiant of the Ophiuchid meteor shower is at around right ascension 16h40m, declination -23°, as shown by the green cross on the planetarium above. All of the meteors will appear to be travelling directly outward from this point, as indicated by the white lines drawn above. The Moon will be 16 days old at the time of peak activity, and being so close to Full Moon will severely limit the observations that will be possible. To see the most meteors, the best place to look is not directly at the radiant itself, but at any dark patch of sky which is around 30–40° away from it. It is at a distance of around this distance from the radiant that meteors will show reasonably long trails without being too spread out.

10th June – MOON/SATURN – The Moon and Saturn will make a close approach, passing within 3°04′ of each other. The Moon will be 16 days old. From Scarborough, the pair will be difficult to observe as they will appear no higher than 13° above the horizon. They will be visible between 22:59 and 03:44. They will become accessible at around 22:59, when they rise 7° above your south-eastern horizon, and then reach its highest point in the sky at 01:24, 13° above your southern horizon. They will become inaccessible at around 03:44 when they sink to 8° above your south-western horizon. The Moon will be at mag -12.5, and Saturn at mag 0.0, both in the constellation Ophiuchus. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

12th June – MOON/PLUTO – The Moon and 134340 Pluto will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 2°16′ to the north of 134340 Pluto. The Moon will be 18 days old. From Scarborough, the pair will be difficult to observe as they will appear no higher than 14° above the horizon. They will be visible in the morning sky, becoming accessible at around 00:31, when they rise 7° above your south-eastern horizon. They will then reach its highest point in the sky at 02:59, 14° above your southern horizon. They will be lost to dawn twilight at around 03:53, 13° above your southern horizon. The Moon will be at mag -12.4, and 134340 Pluto at mag 14.9, both in the constellation Sagittarius. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible through a pair of binoculars.

15th June – SATURN – Saturn will be well placed for observation, in the constellation Ophiuchus. It will be visible for much of the night, reaching its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. From Scarborough, it will be difficult to observe as it will appear no higher than 13° above the horizon. It will be visible between 23:06 and 02:55. It will become accessible at around 23:06, when it rises 9° above your south-eastern horizon, and then reach its highest point in the sky at 01:02, 13° above your southern horizon. It will become inaccessible at around 02:55 when it sinks to 10° above your south-western horizon.

16th June – MOON/NEPTUNE – The Moon and Neptune will make a close approach, passing within 0°41′ of each other. The Moon will be 22 days old. From Scarborough, the pair will be visible in the dawn sky, rising at 01:01 (BST) – 3 hours and 27 minutes before the Sun – and reach an altitude of 20° above the south-eastern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks at around 03:53. The Moon will be at mag -12.0, and Neptune at mag 7.9, both in the constellation Aquarius. The pair will be a little too widely separated to fit comfortably within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible through a pair of binoculars.

17th June – MOON – The Moon will be prominent in the dawn sky, rising at around midnight. From Scarborough, it will be difficult to observe as it will appear no higher than 18° above the horizon. It will be visible in the dawn sky, rising at 01:26 (BST) – 3 hours and 2 minutes before the Sun – and reach an altitude of 18° above the south-eastern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks at around 03:53.

20th June – METEORS – The Ophiuchid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on 20 June 2017. Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from 19 May to Jul. The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible is around 5 per hour (ZHR). However, this assumes a perfectly dark sky and that the radiant of the meteor shower is directly overhead. In practice, the number of meteors you are likely to see is lower than this, and can be calculated from the ZHR formula. From Scarborough, the radiant of the shower will appear 15° above your southern horizon at midnight. This means you are likely to see only around 1 meteors per hour, since the radiant will be low in the sky, reducing the chance of seeing meteors. The radiant of the Ophiuchid meteor shower is at around right ascension 17h20m, declination -20°, as shown by the green cross on the planetarium above. All of the meteors will appear to be travelling directly outward from this point, as indicated by the white lines drawn above. The Moon will be 26 days old at the time of peak activity, presenting minimal interference. To see the most meteors, the best place to look is not directly at the radiant itself, but at any dark patch of sky which is around 30–40° away from it. It is at a distance of around this distance from the radiant that meteors will show reasonably long trails without being too spread out.

20th June – MOON/VENUS – The Moon and Venus will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 2°22′ to the south of Venus. The Moon will be 26 days old. At around the same time, the two objects will also make a close approach, technically called an appulse. From Scarborough, the pair will be difficult to observe as they will appear no higher than 10° above the horizon. They will be visible in the dawn sky, rising at 02:35 (BST) – 1 hour and 55 minutes before the Sun – and reach an altitude of 10° above the eastern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks at around 03:55. The Moon will be at mag -10.7, and Venus at mag -4.2, both in the constellation Aries. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

21st June – SOLSTICE – 21 June will be the longest day of 2017 in the northern hemisphere, midsummer day. This is the day of the year when the Sun’s annual passage through the constellations of the zodiac carries it to its most northerly point in the sky, in the constellation of Cancer at a declination of 23.5°N. On this day, the Sun is above the horizon for the longer than on any other day of the year in the northern hemisphere. This is counted by astronomers to be the first day of summer, though meteorologists often take summer to start on June 1. Conversely, in the southern hemisphere, the Sun is above the horizon for less time than on any other day of the year and astronomers define this day to be the first day of winter. At the June solstice, the Sun appears overhead at noon when observed from locations on the tropic of Cancer, at a latitude 23.5°N. This fact was used by the ancient Greek astronomer Eratrosthenes in around 200 BC to work out the radius of the Earth for the first time. He knew that at midsummer, the Sun appeared exactly overhead in the Egyptian city of Swenet (now Aswan), because its light shone right down to the bottom of deep wells. He travelled to Alexandria, on the Egyptian north coast, at a distance of 5,000 stades from Swenet. Here, he used a stick in the ground to determine that the Sun was seven degrees away from the zenith at midsummer, implying that a distance of 5,000 stades around the circumference of the Earth corresponded to a distance of seven degrees around the Earth’s curved surface. Thanks to this experiment, the ancient Greeks were well aware that the Earth was spherical and had a very good idea exactly how big it was, long before anyone had circumnavigated the globe.
24th June – NEW MOON – The Moon will pass close to the Sun and become lost in the Sun’s glare for a few days. The Moon’s orbital motion carries it around the Earth once every four weeks, and as a result its phases cycle from new moon, through first quarter, full moon and last quarter, back to new moon once every 29.5 days. This motion also means that the Moon travels more than 12° across the sky from one night to the next, causing it to rise and set nearly an hour later each day. Click here for more information about the Moon’s phases. At new moon, the Earth, Moon and Sun all lie in a roughly straight line, with the Moon in the middle, appearing in front of the Sun’s glare. In this configuration, we see almost exactly the opposite half of the Moon to that which is illuminated by the Sun, making it doubly unobservable because the side we see is unilluminated. Over coming days, the Moon will rise and set an hour later each day, becoming visible in the late afternoon and dusk sky as a waxing crescent which sets soon after the Sun. By first quarter, in a week’s time, it will be visible until around midnight.
Dates highlighted in BOLD are good photographic opportunities
AIUK – Astronomy Imaging UK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/453388178104679/

sister group to ……

AUK – Aurora UK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/AuroraUK/

Note: Times are UK (BST) unless noted differently.

Share

What’s Up – May 2017

Events of interest for May ….

May – Aurora season is coming to an end, as the nights become shorter and less dark we will have to wait until September before it picks up pace again.. Please visit our sister site AUK – Aurora UK for “real time” notifications. Also look out for Nacreous clouds – the high “oil puddle” in the sky and also Noctilucent clouds 😉
3rd May – MOON – The Moon will be prominent in the evening sky, setting around midnight. From Scarborough, it will become visible at around 20:59 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 46° above your south-western horizon. It will then sink towards the horizon, setting 6 hours and 20 minutes after the Sun at 02:52. At this time in its monthly cycle of phases, it appears almost exactly half illuminated.

6th May – METEORS – The η–Aquarid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on 6 May 2017. Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from 24 Apr to 20 May. The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible is around 40 per hour (ZHR). However, this assumes a perfectly dark sky and that the radiant of the meteor shower is directly overhead. In practice, the number of meteors you are likely to see is lower than this, and can be calculated from the ZHR formula. From Scarborough, the radiant of the shower will appear 23° below your north-eastern horizon at midnight. This means the shower will be unobservable, as the radiant will be below the horizon. The radiant of the η–Aquarid meteor shower is at around right ascension 22h30m, declination -01°, as shown by the green cross on the planetarium above. All of the meteors will appear to be travelling directly outward from this point, as indicated by the white lines drawn above. The Moon will be 10 days old at the time of peak activity, and being so close to Full Moon will severely limit the observations that will be possible. To see the most meteors, the best place to look is not directly at the radiant itself, but at any dark patch of sky which is around 30–40° away from it. It is at a distance of around this distance from the radiant that meteors will show reasonably long trails without being too spread out.

7th May – MOON/JUPITER – The Moon and Jupiter will make a close approach, passing within 1°59′ of each other. The Moon will be 11 days old. From Scarborough, the pair will be visible in the evening sky, becoming accessible at around 21:12 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 27° above your south-eastern horizon. They will then reach its highest point in the sky at 22:53, 31° above your southern horizon. They will continue to be observable until around 03:37, when they sink to 8° above your western horizon. The Moon will be at mag -12.5, and Jupiter at mag -2.4, both in the constellation Virgo. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

8th May – JUPITER/MAKEMAKE – Jupiter and 136472 Makemake will share the same right ascension, with Jupiter passing 29°43′ to the south of 136472 Makemake. From Scarborough, the pair will be visible all night. They will become visible at around 21:11 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 55° above your south-eastern horizon. They will be lost to dawn twilight at around 04:42, 22° above your western horizon. Jupiter will be at mag -2.4 in the constellation Virgo, and 136472 Makemake at mag 17.0 in the neighbouring constellation of Coma Berenices.

9th May – MOON/HAUMEA – The Moon and 136108 Haumea will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 25°39′ to the south of 136108 Haumea. The Moon will be 13 days old. From Scarborough, the pair will be visible all night. They will become visible at around 21:13 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 41° above your south-eastern horizon. They will be lost to dawn twilight at around 04:40, 25° above your western horizon. The Moon will be at mag -12.5 in the constellation Virgo, and 136108 Haumea at mag 17.3 in the neighbouring constellation of Bootes.

10th May – FULL MOON – The Moon will reach full phase. At this time in its monthly cycle of phases, the Moon lies almost directly opposite the Sun in the sky, placing it high above the horizon for much of the night. The sequence of full moons through the year are often assigned names according to the seasons in which they fall. This month’s will be the second to fall in spring 2017 – the Milk Moon. Over the nights following 10 May, the Moon will rise around an hour later each day, becoming prominent later in the night. Within a few days, it will only be visible in the pre-dawn and early-morning sky. By the time it reaches last quarter, a week after full moon, it will rise at around midnight and set at around noon. At the exact moment when the Moon reaches full phase, it will lie at a declination of -13°01′ in the constellation Libra , and so will appear highest in the southern hemisphere. It will be visible from all latitudes north of 66°N. Its distance from the Earth will be 404,000 km.

11th May – GLOBULAR CLUSTER – The globular cluster M5 (NGC 5904) in Serpens will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of +02°04′, it is visible across much of the world; it can be seen at latitudes between 72°N and 67°S. From Scarborough, it will be visible all night. It will become visible at around 22:55 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 31° above your south-eastern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight at around 03:02, 32° above your south-western horizon. At magnitude 5.8, M5 is quite faint, and certainly not visible to the naked eye, but can be viewed through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

13th May – METEORS – The α–Scorpiid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on 13 May 2017. Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from 20 Apr to 19 May. The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible is around 5 per hour (ZHR). However, this assumes a perfectly dark sky and that the radiant of the meteor shower is directly overhead. In practice, the number of meteors you are likely to see is lower than this, and can be calculated from the ZHR formula. From Scarborough, the radiant of the shower will appear 4° above your south-eastern horizon at midnight. This means you are likely to see only around 0 meteors per hour, since the radiant will be low in the sky, reducing the chance of seeing meteors. The radiant of the α–Scorpiid meteor shower is at around right ascension 16h50m, declination -24°, as shown by the green cross on the planetarium above. All of the meteors will appear to be travelling directly outward from this point, as indicated by the white lines drawn above. The Moon will be 17 days old at the time of peak activity, and being so close to Full Moon will severely limit the observations that will be possible. To see the most meteors, the best place to look is not directly at the radiant itself, but at any dark patch of sky which is around 30–40° away from it. It is at a distance of around this distance from the radiant that meteors will show reasonably long trails without being too spread out.

14th May – MOON/SATURN – The Moon and Saturn will make a close approach, passing within 3°04′ of each other. The Moon will be 17 days old. From Scarborough, the pair will be difficult to observe as they will appear no higher than 13° above the horizon. They will be visible in the morning sky, becoming accessible at around 00:58, when they rise 7° above your south-eastern horizon. They will then reach its highest point in the sky at 03:18, 13° above your southern horizon. They will be lost to dawn twilight at around 04:29, 12° above your southern horizon. The Moon will be at mag -12.4, and Saturn at mag 0.1, both in the constellation Sagittarius. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

15th May – MOON/PLUTO – The Moon and 134340 Pluto will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 2°21′ to the north of 134340 Pluto. The Moon will be 19 days old. From Scarborough, the pair will be difficult to observe as they will appear no higher than 14° above the horizon. They will be visible in the dawn sky, rising at 00:57 (BST) – 4 hours and 2 minutes before the Sun – and reach an altitude of 14° above the southern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks at around 04:29. The Moon will be at mag -12.3, and 134340 Pluto at mag 15.0, both in the constellation Sagittarius. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible through a pair of binoculars.

17th May – MERCURY – Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation. The planet Mercury reaches greatest western elongation of 25.8 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the morning sky. Look for the planet low in the eastern sky just before sunrise.

20th May – DSO’s – with the new moon only 5 days away, the next 10 days will be a great time for looking at those Dark Sky Objects (DSO’s).

25th MAY – NEW MOON – The Moon will pass close to the Sun and become lost in the Sun’s glare for a few days. The Moon’s orbital motion carries it around the Earth once every four weeks, and as a result its phases cycle from new moon, through first quarter, full moon and last quarter, back to new moon once every 29.5 days. This motion also means that the Moon travels more than 12° across the sky from one night to the next, causing it to rise and set nearly an hour later each day.
Dates highlighted in BOLD are good photographic opportunities
AIUK – Astronomy Imaging UK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/453388178104679/

sister group to ……

AUK – Aurora UK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/AuroraUK/

Note: Times are UK (BST) unless noted differently.

Share

What’s Up – April 2017

Events of interest for April ….

April – Aurora season is coming to an end, as the nights become shorter and less dark we will have to wait until September before it picks up pace again.. Please visit our sister site AUK – Aurora UK for “real time” notifications. Also look out for Nacreous clouds – the high “oil puddle” in the sky 😉
1st April – MERCURY – Mercury will be well placed for observation in the evening sky, shining brightly at mag -0.2. From Scarborough, it will be difficult to observe as it will appear no higher than 11° above the horizon. It will become visible at around 20:08 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 11° above your western horizon. It will then sink towards the horizon, setting 2 hours and 3 minutes after the Sun at 21:35. Mercury’s orbit lies closer to the Sun than the Earth’s, meaning that it always appears close to the Sun and is very difficult to observe most of the time. It is observable only for a few days each time it reaches greatest separation from the Sun – moments referred to as greatest elongation. These apparitions take place alternately in the morning and evening skies, depending whether Mercury lies to the east of the Sun or to the west. When it lies to the east, it rises and sets a short time after the Sun and is visible in early evening twilight. When it lies to the west of the Sun, it rises and sets a short time before the Sun and is visible shortly before sunrise. On this occasion, it lies 18° to the Sun’s east.

3rd April – MOON – The Moon will be prominent in the evening sky, setting around midnight. From Scarborough, it will become visible at around 20:03 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 53° above your southern horizon. It will then sink towards the horizon, setting 7 hours and 34 minutes after the Sun at 03:13. At this time in its monthly cycle of phases, it appears almost exactly half illuminated.
4th April – GALAXIES – M94, a spiral galaxy in Canes Venatici will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. It a declination of +41°07′, it is easiest to see from the northern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much south of 28°S. From Scarborough, it will be visible all night. It will become visible at around 21:14 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 50° above your eastern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight at around 04:56, 50° above your western horizon. At magnitude 8.2, M94 is quite faint, and certainly not visible to the naked eye, but can be viewed through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

4th April – COMET – Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak is forecast to reach its brightest, at around mag 8.0. It will lie at a distance of 1.06 AU from the Sun, and at a distance of 0.14 AU from the Earth in the constellation of Draco. From Scarborough, it will be very well placed – it will be close enough to the north celestial pole that it will be high above the horizon all night. This event was automatically generated on the basis of orbital elements published by the Minor Planet Center (MPC), and is updated daily (last update, 31 Mar 2017). Note that the future positions of comets are typically known with a high degree of confidence, but their brightnesses are often much more unpredictable, since it is impossible to predict with certainty how they will respond as they move closer to the Sun. Magnitude estimates should be assumed to be highly provisional more than a few weeks in advance. The exact position of comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak will be: RA 14h28m00s DEC +62°50′

7th April – JUPITER – Jupiter will be well placed for observation, in the constellation Virgo. It will be visible for much of the night, reaching its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. From Scarborough, it will be visible between 20:33 and 05:40. It will become accessible at around 20:33, when it rises 7° above your eastern horizon, and then reach its highest point in the sky at 01:08, 30° above your southern horizon. It will become inaccessible at around 05:40 when it sinks to 8° above your western horizon. Jupiter opposite the Sun -This optimal positioning occurs when Jupiter is almost directly opposite the Sun in the sky. Since the Sun reaches its greatest distance below the horizon at midnight, the point opposite to it is highest in the sky at the same time. At around the same time that Jupiter passes opposition, it also makes its closest approach to the Earth – termed its perigee – making it appear at its brightest and largest. This happens because when Jupiter lies opposite the Sun in the sky, the solar system is lined up so that Jupiter, the Earth and the Sun form a straight line with the Earth in the middle, on the same side of the Sun as Jupiter. In practice, however, Jupiter orbits much further out in the solar system than the Earth – at an average distance from the Sun of 5.20 times that of the Earth, and so its angular size does not vary much as it cycles between opposition and solar conjunction. On this occasion, Jupiter will lie at a distance of 4.46 AU, and its disk will measure 43.3 arcsec in diameter, shining at magnitude -2.5. Even at its closest approach to the Earth, however, it is not possible to distinguish it as more than a star-like point of light with the naked eye, though a good pair of binoculars is sufficient to reveal it as a disk of light with accompanying system of moons.

10th April – MOON/JUPITER – The Moon and Jupiter will make a close approach, passing within 2°03′ of each other. The Moon will be 13 days old. From Scarborough, the pair will be visible between 20:18 and 05:27. They will become accessible at around 20:18, when they rise 7° above your eastern horizon, and then reach its highest point in the sky at 00:55, 30° above your southern horizon. They will become inaccessible at around 05:27 when they sink to 8° above your western horizon. The Moon will be at mag -12.6, and Jupiter at mag -2.5, both in the constellation Virgo. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

11th April – FULL MOON – The Moon will reach full phase. At this time in its monthly cycle of phases, the Moon lies almost directly opposite the Sun in the sky, placing it high above the horizon for much of the night. The sequence of full moons through the year are often assigned names according to the seasons in which they fall. This month’s will be the first to fall in spring 2017 – the Egg Moon. Over the nights following 11 April, the Moon will rise around an hour later each day, becoming prominent later in the night. Within a few days, it will only be visible in the pre-dawn and early-morning sky. By the time it reaches last quarter, a week after full moon, it will rise at around midnight and set at around noon. At the exact moment when the Moon reaches full phase, it will lie at a declination of -04°43′ in the constellation Virgo , and so will appear high in the sky at all but the most extreme latitudes. It will be visible at all latitudes between 75°N and 84°S. Its distance from the Earth will be 398,000 km.

12th April – METEORS – The Virginid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on 12 April 2017. Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from 7 Apr to 18 Apr. The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible is around 5 per hour (ZHR). However, this assumes a perfectly dark sky and that the radiant of the meteor shower is directly overhead. In practice, the number of meteors you are likely to see is lower than this, and can be calculated from the ZHR formula. From Scarborough, the radiant of the shower will appear 22° above your south-eastern horizon at midnight. This means you are likely to see only around 1 meteors per hour, since the radiant will be low in the sky, reducing the chance of seeing meteors. The radiant of the Virginid meteor shower is at around right ascension 14h00m, declination -09°, as shown by the green cross on the planetarium above. All of the meteors will appear to be travelling directly outward from this point, as indicated by the white lines drawn above. The Moon will be 15 days old at the time of peak activity, and being so close to Full Moon will severely limit the observations that will be possible. To see the most meteors, the best place to look is not directly at the radiant itself, but at any dark patch of sky which is around 30–40° away from it. It is at a distance of around this distance from the radiant that meteors will show reasonably long trails without being too spread out.

12th April – COMET – Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak will make its closest approach to the Sun, at a distance of 1.05 AU. From Scarborough, it will be visible all night because it is circumpolar. It will be highest in the sky at 04:02, 86° above your northern horizon. At dusk, it will become visible at around 21:27 (BST), 40° above your north-eastern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight at around 04:32, 84° above your north-western horizon. For more information about its path across the sky, see In-The-Sky.org’s ephemeris page for comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak. This event was automatically generated on the basis of orbital elements published by the Minor Planet Center (MPC), and is updated daily (last update, 31 Mar 2017). Note that the future positions of comets are typically known with a high degree of confidence, but their brightnesses are often much more unpredictable, since it is impossible to predict with certainty how they will respond as they move closer to the Sun. Magnitude estimates should be assumed to be highly provisional more than a few weeks in advance. The exact position of comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak will be: RA 16h22m30s DEC +57°53′ in the constellation of Draco.

14th April – GALAXIES – The whirlpool galaxy (M51, NGC 5194) will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of +47°12′, it is easiest to see from the northern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much south of 22°S. From Scarborough, it will be visible all night. It will become visible at around 21:38 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 57° above your eastern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight at around 04:27, 57° above your western horizon. At magnitude 8.4, M51 is quite faint, and certainly not visible to the naked eye, but can be viewed through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

17th April – CLUSTERS – The globular cluster M3 (NGC 5272) in Canes Venatici will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of +28°22′, it is easiest to see from the northern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much south of 41°S. From Scarborough, it will be visible all night. It will become visible at around 21:45 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 46° above your eastern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight at around 04:18, 46° above your western horizon. At magnitude 6.4, M3 is quite faint, and certainly not visible to the naked eye, but can be viewed through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

19th April – MOON – The Moon will be prominent in the dawn sky, rising at around midnight. From Scarborough, it will be difficult to observe as it will appear no higher than 14° above the horizon. It will be visible in the dawn sky, rising at 02:55 (BST) – 2 hours and 56 minutes before the Sun – and reach an altitude of 14° above the south-eastern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks at around 05:25.

20th April – DSO’s – As the moon is gradually moving towards New Moon, the next 10 days are so are a good time to start chasing those Deep Sky Objects.

22nd April – GALAXIES – The pinwheel galaxy (M101, NGC 5457) will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of +54°21′, it is easiest to see from the northern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much south of 15°S. From Scarborough, it will be visible all night because it is circumpolar. It will be highest in the sky at 01:03, 89° above your north-eastern horizon. At dusk, it will become visible at around 21:59 (BST), 63° above your eastern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight at around 04:02, 64° above your western horizon. At magnitude 7.7, M101 is quite faint, and certainly not visible to the naked eye, but can be viewed through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

23rd April – METEORS – The Lyrid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on 23 April 2017. Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from 19 Apr to 25 Apr. The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible is around 10 per hour (ZHR). However, this assumes a perfectly dark sky and that the radiant of the meteor shower is directly overhead. In practice, the number of meteors you are likely to see is lower than this, and can be calculated from the ZHR formula. From Scarborough, the radiant of the shower will appear 31° above your eastern horizon at midnight. This means you may be able to see around 5 meteors per hour, since the radiant will be high in the sky, maximising the chance of seeing meteors. The radiant of the Lyrid meteor shower is at around right ascension 18h10m, declination +32°, as shown by the green cross on the planetarium above. All of the meteors will appear to be travelling directly outward from this point, as indicated by the white lines drawn above. The Moon will be 26 days old at the time of peak activity, presenting minimal interference. To see the most meteors, the best place to look is not directly at the radiant itself, but at any dark patch of sky which is around 30–40° away from it. It is at a distance of around this distance from the radiant that meteors will show reasonably long trails without being too spread out.

26th April – NEW MOON – The Moon will pass close to the Sun and become lost in the Sun’s glare for a few days. The Moon’s orbital motion carries it around the Earth once every four weeks, and as a result its phases cycle from new moon, through first quarter, full moon and last quarter, back to new moon once every 29.5 days. This motion also means that the Moon travels more than 12° across the sky from one night to the next, causing it to rise and set nearly an hour later each day. At new moon, the Earth, Moon and Sun all lie in a roughly straight line, with the Moon in the middle, appearing in front of the Sun’s glare. In this configuration, we see almost exactly the opposite half of the Moon to that which is illuminated by the Sun, making it doubly unobservable because the side we see is unilluminated. Over coming days, the Moon will rise and set an hour later each day, becoming visible in the late afternoon and dusk sky as a waxing crescent which sets soon after the Sun. By first quarter, in a week’s time, it will be visible until around midnight.

28th April – METEORS – The α–Scorpiid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on 28 April 2017. Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from 20 Apr to 19 May. The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible is around 5 per hour (ZHR). However, this assumes a perfectly dark sky and that the radiant of the meteor shower is directly overhead. In practice, the number of meteors you are likely to see is lower than this, and can be calculated from the ZHR formula. From Scarborough, the radiant of the shower will appear 2° above your south-eastern horizon at midnight. This means you are likely to see only around a few meteors per hour, since the radiant will be low in the sky, reducing the chance of seeing meteors. The radiant of the α–Scorpiid meteor shower is at around right ascension 16h20m, declination -24°, as shown by the green cross on the planetarium above. All of the meteors will appear to be travelling directly outward from this point, as indicated by the white lines drawn above. The Moon will be 2 days old at the time of peak activity, presenting minimal interference. To see the most meteors, the best place to look is not directly at the radiant itself, but at any dark patch of sky which is around 30–40° away from it. It is at a distance of around this distance from the radiant that meteors will show reasonably long trails without being too spread out.

Dates highlighted in BOLD are good photographic opportunities
AIUK – Astronomy Imaging UK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/453388178104679/

sister group to ……

AUK – Aurora UK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/AuroraUK/

Note: Times are UK (BST) unless noted differently.

Share

What’s Up – March 2017

Events of interest for March ….

MARCH – Aurora season is in full swing – from now till around the end of March is the best time for viewing the northern lights here from the UK. Please visit our sister site AUK – Aurora UK for “real time” notifications. Also look out for Nacreous clouds – the high “oil puddle” in the sky  😉

1st March – MOON/MARS – The Moon and Mars will make a close approach, passing within 4°07′ of each other. The Moon will be 3 days old. From Scarborough, the pair will become visible at around 18:00 (GMT) as the dusk sky fades, 31° above your south-western horizon. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting 4 hours and 11 minutes after the Sun at 21:48. The Moon will be at mag -10.6, and Mars at mag 1.3, both in the constellation Pisces. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

3rd March – MOON – The Moon will reach the closest point along its orbit to the Earth and will appear slightly larger than at other times. The Moon’s distance from the Earth varies because its orbit is not perfectly circular – it is instead slightly oval-shaped, tracing out a path called an ellipse. As the Moon traverses this elliptical path around the Earth each month, its distance varies by around 10%, between 363,000 km and 405,000 km. Its angular size also varies by the same factor, and its brightness also changes, though this is hard to detect in practice, given the Moon’s phases are changing at the same time. The exact period of the Moon’s cycle between perigee (closest approach), apogee (furthest recess) and back again is 27.555 days – a period of time called an anomalistic month. This is very close to the Moon’s orbital period (27.322 days), but slightly longer. As the perigee of 3 March 2017 will occur close to the time of new moon, the moon will appear as no more than a thin crescent. On this occasion the Moon will pass within a distance of 369,000 km of the Earth, and appear with an angular diameter of 32.36 arcsec. This may be compared to its average size of 31.07 arcmin.

4th March – 1st QUARTER MOON – The Moon will be prominent in the evening sky, setting around midnight. From Scarborough, it will become visible at around 18:06 (GMT) as the dusk sky fades, 53° above your southern horizon. It will then sink towards the horizon, setting 8 hours and 13 minutes after the Sun at 01:55. At this time in its monthly cycle of phases, it appears almost exactly half illuminated.

12th March – FULL MOON – The Moon will reach full phase. At this time in its monthly cycle of phases, the Moon lies almost directly opposite the Sun in the sky, placing it high above the horizon for much of the night. The sequence of full moons through the year are often assigned names according to the seasons in which they fall. This month’s will be the third to fall in winter 2017 – the Lenten Moon. Over the nights following 12 March, the Moon will rise around an hour later each day, becoming prominent later in the night. Within a few days, it will only be visible in the pre-dawn and early-morning sky. By the time it reaches last quarter, a week after full moon, it will rise at around midnight and set at around noon. At the exact moment when the Moon reaches full phase, it will lie at a declination of +04°44′ in the constellation Leo, and so will appear high in the sky at all but the most extreme latitudes. It will be visible at all latitudes between 84°N and 75°S. Its distance from the Earth will be 388,000 km.

14th March – MOON/JUPITER – The Moon and Jupiter will make a close approach, passing within 2°19′ of each other. The Moon will be 16 days old. From Scarborough, the pair will be visible in the morning sky, becoming accessible at around 21:24, when they rise 7° above your eastern horizon. They will then reach its highest point in the sky at 01:53, 29° above your southern horizon. They will be lost to dawn twilight at around 05:56, 10° above your south-western horizon. The Moon will be at mag -12.5, and Jupiter at mag -2.4, both in the constellation Virgo. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

16th March – VENUS/MERCURY – Venus and Mercury will share the same right ascension, with Venus passing 9°32′ to the north of Mercury. From Scarborough, the pair will be difficult to observe as they will appear no higher than 11° above the horizon. They will become visible at around 18:30 (GMT) as the dusk sky fades, 11° above your western horizon. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting 1 hour and 50 minutes after the Sun at 19:56. Venus will be at mag -4.3, and Mercury at mag -1.4, both in the constellation Pisces. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope or pair of binoculars, but will be visible to the naked eye.

18th March – LAST QUARTER MOON – The Moon will reach the furthest point along its orbit to the Earth and will appear slightly smaller than at other times. The Moon’s distance from the Earth varies because its orbit is not perfectly circular – it is instead slightly oval-shaped, tracing out a path called an ellipse. As the Moon traverses this elliptical path around the Earth each month, its distance varies by around 10%, between 363,000 km and 405,000 km. Its angular size also varies by the same factor, and its brightness also changes, though this is hard to detect in practice, given the Moon’s phases are changing at the same time. The exact period of the Moon’s cycle between perigee (closest approach), apogee (furthest recess) and back again is 27.555 days – a period of time called an anomalistic month. This is very close to the Moon’s orbital period (27.322 days), but slightly longer.  As the apogee of 18 March 2017 will occur when the moon is around last quarter phase, it will appear in the morning sky. On this occasion the Moon will recede to a distance of 404,000 km from the Earth and appear with an angular diameter of 29.52 arcsec. This may be compared to its average size of 31.07 arcmin.

20th March – MARCH EQUINOX –  Today is the March equinox, a day when the Sun is above the horizon for exactly half the time everywhere on Earth. According to the astronomical definitions of the seasons, this day marks the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere and of autumn in the southern hemisphere. On the day of the equinox, the Sun will appear to rise from the point on the horizon which lies due east, and set beneath the point which lies due west. This happens as the Sun’s annual journey across the sky, through the constellations of the zodiac, carries it across the celestial equator. As a result the Sun appears directly overhead at noon on the Earth’s equator.  Equinoxes occur twice a year – in March and September – once when the Sun is travelling northwards, and once when it is travelling southwards. The position of the Sun at the moment of the March equinox is used to define the zero point of both right ascension and declination. In practice this is not exactly the case, however, because of a phenomenon called the precession of the equinoxes. Over hundreds of years, the direction of the Earth’s spin axis in space changes because it acts like a gyroscope. This means that the location of the equinoxes creep across the sky at a rate of around 50 arcseconds each year. Astronomers quote right ascensions and declinations based on the configuration of the Earth’s path around the Sun on January 1, 2000. Even in the years that have passed since the year 2000, the precession of the equinoxes has moved them by several arcminutes.
Aurora’s are normally very strong around the equinox period as the solar wind speed can often double  !!!

22nd March – SATURN – Saturn at Opposition. The ringed planet will be at its closest approach to Earth. This is the best time to view and photograph Saturn and its moons. Saturn’s rings will be nearly edge-on this year and will be very difficult to see. A medium-sized or larger telescope will allow you to see Saturn’s rings and a few of its brightest moons.

23rd March – COMET – 136472 Makemake will be well placed for observation, in the constellation Coma Berenices. It will be visible for much of the night, reaching its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. From Scarborough, it will be visible all night. It will become visible at around 19:43 (GMT) as the dusk sky fades, 27° above your eastern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight at around 04:29, 41° above your western horizon.

27th March – MERCURY/URANUS – Mercury and Uranus will share the same right ascension, with Mercury passing 2°24′ to the north of Uranus. From Scarborough, the pair will be difficult to observe as they will appear no higher than 9° above the horizon. They will become visible at around 19:49 (GMT) as the dusk sky fades, 9° above your western horizon. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting 1 hour and 36 minutes after the Sun at 20:59. Mercury will be at mag -0.8, and Uranus at mag 5.9, both in the constellation Pisces. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible through a pair of binoculars.

28th March – NEW MOON – The Moon will pass close to the Sun and become lost in the Sun’s glare for a few days. The Moon’s orbital motion carries it around the Earth once every four weeks, and as a result its phases cycle from new moon, through first quarter, full moon and last quarter, back to new moon once every 29.5 days. This motion also means that the Moon travels more than 12° across the sky from one night to the next, causing it to rise and set nearly an hour later each day. Click here for more information about the Moon’s phases. At new moon, the Earth, Moon and Sun all lie in a roughly straight line, with the Moon in the middle, appearing in front of the Sun’s glare. In this configuration, we see almost exactly the opposite half of the Moon to that which is illuminated by the Sun, making it doubly unobservable because the side we see is unilluminated. Over coming days, the Moon will rise and set an hour later each day, becoming visible in the late afternoon and dusk sky as a waxing crescent which sets soon after the Sun. By first quarter, in a week’s time, it will be visible until around midnight.

29th March – MOON/MERCURY – The Moon and Mercury will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 6°35′ to the south of Mercury. The Moon will be 1 days old. From Scarborough, the pair will be difficult to observe as they will appear no higher than 12° above the horizon. They will become visible at around 19:51 (GMT) as the dusk sky fades, 12° above your western horizon. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting 1 hour and 57 minutes after the Sun at 21:24. The Moon will be at mag -8.6, and Mercury at mag -0.6, both in the constellation Pisces. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope or pair of binoculars, but will be visible to the naked eye.
After sunset, stargazers should look toward the western sky to see the thin crescent moon forming an impressive celestial triangle with Mercury to its lower right and ruddy Mars above the pair. What makes this event worth watching for, beyond the lovely display, is that the formation will help viewers see Mercury at its brightest and highest in our skies.

Dates highlighted in BOLD are good photographic opportunities

AIUK – Astronomy Imaging UK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/453388178104679/

sister group to ……

AUK – Aurora UK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/AuroraUK/

Note: Times are UK (BST) unless noted differently.

Share

What’s Up – February 2017

Events of interest for February ….

FEBRUARY – Aurora season is in full swing – from now till around the end of March is the best time for viewing the northern lights here from the UK. Please visit our sister site AUK – Aurora UK for “real time” notifications. Also look out for Nacreous clouds – the high “oil puddle” in the sky  😉

1st February – MOON/MARS – The Moon and Mars will make a close approach, passing within 2°12′ of each other. The Moon will be 4 days old. From Scarborough, the pair will become visible at around 17:01 (GMT) as the dusk sky fades, 32° above your south-western horizon. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting 4 hours and 56 minutes after the Sun at 21:31. The Moon will be at mag -10.9, and Mars at mag 0.7, both in the constellation Pisces. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

4th February – MOON – 1st quarter moon –  The Moon will be prominent in the evening sky, setting around midnight. From Scarborough, it will become visible at around 17:08 (GMT) as the dusk sky fades, 46° above your southern horizon. It will then reach its highest point in the sky at 17:58, 47° above your southern horizon. It will continue to be observable until around 00:12, when it sinks to 8° above your western horizon. At this time in its monthly cycle of phases, it appears almost exactly half illuminated.

6th February – MOON – The Moon will reach the closest point along its orbit to the Earth and will appear slightly larger than at other times. The Moon’s distance from the Earth varies because its orbit is not perfectly circular – it is instead slightly oval-shaped, tracing out a path called an ellipse. As the Moon traverses this elliptical path around the Earth each month, its distance varies by around 10%, between 363,000 km and 405,000 km. Its angular size also varies by the same factor, and its brightness also changes, though this is hard to detect in practice, given the Moon’s phases are changing at the same time. The exact period of the Moon’s cycle between perigee (closest approach), apogee (furthest recess) and back again is 27.555 days – a period of time called an anomalistic month. This is very close to the Moon’s orbital period (27.322 days), but slightly longer. As the perigee of 6 February 2017 will occur when the moon is around first quarter phase, it will appear in the evening sky. On this occasion the Moon will pass within a distance of 368,000 km of the Earth, and appear with an angular diameter of 32.38 arcsec. This may be compared to its average size of 31.07 arcmin.

9th February – COMET – Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova is forecast to reach its brightest, at around mag 6.6. It will lie at a distance of 0.95 AU from the Sun, and at a distance of 0.09 AU from the Earth. From Scarborough, it will be visible in the dawn sky, rising at 01:01 (GMT) – 6 hours and 33 minutes before the Sun – and reach an altitude of 40° above the south-eastern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks at around 06:05. This event was automatically generated on the basis of orbital elements published by the Minor Planet Center (MPC), and is updated daily (last update, 30 Jan 2017). Note that the future positions of comets are typically known with a high degree of confidence, but their brightnesses are often much more unpredictable, since it is impossible to predict with certainty how they will respond as they move closer to the Sun. Magnitude estimates should be assumed to be highly provisional more than a few weeks in advance.

9th February – MOON/JUPITER – The Moon and Jupiter will make a close approach, passing within 2°33′ of each other. The Moon will be 18 days old. From Scarborough, the pair will be visible in the morning sky, becoming accessible at around 23:22, when they rise 7° above your south-eastern horizon. They will then reach its highest point in the sky at 03:46, 28° above your southern horizon. They will be lost to dawn twilight at around 06:58, 16° above your south-western horizon. The Moon will be at mag -12.3, and Jupiter at mag -2.3, both in the constellation Virgo. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

11th February – FULL MOON – The Moon will reach full phase. At this time in its monthly cycle of phases, the Moon lies almost directly opposite the Sun in the sky, placing it high above the horizon for much of the night. The sequence of full moons through the year are often assigned names according to the seasons in which they fall. This month’s will be the second to fall in winter 2017 – the Wolf Moon.Over the nights following 11 February, the Moon will rise around an hour later each day, becoming prominent later in the night. Within a few days, it will only be visible in the pre-dawn and early-morning sky. By the time it reaches last quarter, a week after full moon, it will rise at around midnight and set at around noon. At the exact moment when the Moon reaches full phase, it will lie at a declination of +13°09′ in the constellation Leo , and so will appear highest in the northern hemisphere. It will be visible from all latitudes south of 66°S. Its distance from the Earth will be 377,000 km.

11th February – MOON – There will be a penumbral eclipse of the Moon, visible from Scarborough in the southern sky. The Moon will lie 48° above the horizon at the moment of greatest eclipse. The eclipse will last from 22:35 until 02:54, and maximum eclipse will occur at 00:45 (all times given in Scarborough time). Like other lunar eclipses, penumbral eclipses occur whenever the Earth passes between the Moon and Sun, such that it obscures the Sun’s light and casts a shadow onto the Moon’s surface. But unlike other kinds of eclipses, they are extremely subtle events to observe. In a penumbral eclipse the Moon passes through an outer region of the Earth’s shadow called the penumbra. This is the outer part of the Earth’s shadow, in which the Earth appears to cover part of the Sun’s disk, but not all of it (see diagram below). As a result, the Moon’s brightness will begin to dim, as it is less strongly illuminated by the Sun, but the whole of the Sun’s disk will remain illuminated to some degree. Although the Moon’s light dims considerably during a penumbral eclipse, this is only perceptible to those with very astute vision, or in carefully controlled photographs. This is a rare occasion when the whole of the Moon’s face will pass within the Earth’s penumbra, and so the reduction of the Moon’s brightness will be more perceptible than usual. Such events are called total penumbral lunar eclipses, and are rare because the statistical chance that the Moon will enter the Earth’s umbra at some point is very high once it has passed fully within its penumbra, and this makes an eclipse a partial lunar eclipse.

15th February – MOON/JUPITER – The Moon and Jupiter will make a close approach, passing within 2°33′ of each other. The Moon will be 18 days old. From Scarborough, the pair will be visible in the morning sky, becoming accessible at around 23:22, when they rise 7° above your south-eastern horizon. They will then reach its highest point in the sky at 03:46, 28° above your southern horizon. They will be lost to dawn twilight at around 06:58, 16° above your south-western horizon. The Moon will be at mag -12.3, and Jupiter at mag -2.3, both in the constellation Virgo. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

17th February – VENUS – Venus will be well placed for observation in the evening sky, shining brightly at mag -5.5. From Scarborough , it will become visible at around 17:34 (GMT) as the dusk sky fades, 31° above your south-western horizon. It will then sink towards the horizon, setting 4 hours and 13 minutes after the Sun at 21:22. Venus’s orbit lies closer to the Sun than the Earth’s, meaning that it always appears close to the Sun and is very difficult to observe most of the time. It is observable only for a few weeks each time it reaches greatest separation from the Sun – moments referred to as greatest elongation. On these occasions, however, Venus is so bright and conspicuous that it becomes the third brightest object in the sky after the Sun and Moon. It is often called the morning or evening star. Venus’s brightness depends on two factors: its closeness to the Earth, and its phase. Its phase varies depending on its position relative to the Earth. When it passes between the Earth and Sun, for example, the side that is turned towards the Earth is entirely unilluminated, like a new moon. Conversely, when it lies opposite to the Earth in its orbit, passing almost behind the Sun, it appears fully illuminated, like a full moon. However, at this time it is also at its most distant from the Earth, so it is actually fainter than at other times. Venus reaches its brightest when it is still a crescent – with less than half of its disk illuminated. This is because it is much closer to the Earth during its crescent phases than at other times. As a result, during evening apparitions, Venus reaches maximum brightness a few days after it is at greatest separation from the Sun, which always coincides with it showing half-phase (dichotomy). Conversely, during morning apparitions, Venus reaches maximum brightness a few days before it is at greatest separation from the Sun.

18th February – BODES GALAXY – Bode’s galaxy (M81, NGC 3031) in Ursa Major will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of +69°04′, it is easiest to see from the northern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much south of 0°S. From Scarborough, it will be very well placed – it will be close enough to the north celestial pole that it will be high above the horizon all night. At magnitude 6.9, M81 is quite faint, and certainly not visible to the naked eye, but can be viewed through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

18th February – MOON – Moon is at last quarter – The Moon will be prominent in the dawn sky, rising at around midnight. From Scarborough, it will be visible in the morning sky, becoming accessible at around 02:37, when it rises 7° above your south-eastern horizon. It will then reach its highest point in the sky at 06:04, 20° above your southern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight at around 06:52, 20° above your southern horizon. Over coming days, the Moon will rise later each day, so that it is visible for less time before sunrise and it less far above the eastern horizon before dawn. By the time it reaches new moon, it will rise at around dawn and set at around dusk, making it visible only during the daytime.

20th February – MOON/SATURN – The Moon and Saturn will make a close approach, passing within 3°34′ of each other. The Moon will be 23 days old. From Scarborough, the pair will be difficult to observe as they will appear no higher than 12° above the horizon. They will be visible in the dawn sky, rising at 03:54 (GMT) – 3 hours and 18 minutes before the Sun – and reach an altitude of 12° above the southern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks at around 06:48. The Moon will be at mag -11.3 in the constellation Sagittarius, and Saturn at mag 0.2 in the neighbouring constellation of Ophiuchus. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

22nd February – MOON/PLUTO – The Moon and 134340 Pluto will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 2°47′ to the north of 134340 Pluto. The Moon will be 25 days old. From Scarborough, the pair will be difficult to observe as they will appear no higher than 8° above the horizon. They will be visible in the dawn sky, rising at 05:16 (GMT) – 1 hour and 52 minutes before the Sun – and reach an altitude of 8° above the south-eastern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks at around 06:43. The Moon will be at mag -10.6, and 134340 Pluto at mag 14.9, both in the constellation Sagittarius. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible through a pair of binoculars.

26th February – NEW MOON – Now is the time to be looking at all the Deep Sky Objects with no moon to interfere

27th February – MARS/URANUS – Mars and Uranus will share the same right ascension, with Mars passing 0°37′ to the north of Uranus. At around the same time, the two objects will also make a close approach, technically called an appulse. From Scarborough, the pair will become visible at around 18:21 (GMT) as the dusk sky fades, 27° above your south-western horizon. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting 4 hours and 12 minutes after the Sun at 21:41. Mars will be at mag 1.0, and Uranus at mag 5.9, both in the constellation Pisces. The pair will be a little too widely separated to fit comfortably within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible through a pair of binoculars.

28th February – MOON/VENUS – The Moon and Venus will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 10°15′ to the south of Venus. The Moon will be 2 days old. From Scarborough, the pair will become visible at around 17:58 (GMT) as the dusk sky fades, 26° above your western horizon. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting 3 hours and 35 minutes after the Sun at 21:09. The Moon will be at mag -9.7 in the constellation Cetus, and Venus at mag -5.4 in the neighbouring constellation of Pisces. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope or pair of binoculars, but will be visible to the naked eye.

Dates highlighted in BOLD are good photographic opportunities

AIUK – Astronomy Imaging UK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/453388178104679/

sister group to ……

AUK – Aurora UK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/AuroraUK/

Note: Times are UK (BST) unless noted differently.

Share

Astrophotography Talks – receiving some lovely feedback

Last night I gave my astrophotography talk to the Kirbymoorside and District Camera Club. An absolutely delightful group of people. Very warm and welcoming, full of enthusiasm and it was a fabulous evening.The same can also be said with the other clubs I have given the talk to that are mentioned below.
I have been tailoring this talk to suit different audiences and hopefully deliver the content in a way that benefits the clubs purpose. This talk is aimed at all clubs from Astro to Photography and from WI to Schools. It is delivered on Powerpoint and I am happy to travel anywhere to provide this.

 

Astronomy clubs – equipment connectivity, software packages and a little processing guidance, understanding and application of calibration frames. Pro’s & Con’s  using a standard camera, an astro modified camera and a CCD with peltier cooling. Discussion about remoting and the IT side to make this happen – this is my own end goal.

Photography clubs – how to achieve widefield astrophotography using just a camera and lens – zoom and wide angle and how to achieve quality results with just a simple camera tripod with no star trails by applying a simple formula. Discussions on iso, shutter speed and aperture settings. How to obtain critical focus using liveview and software. Explanation for the need to image stack and by using just a couple of software packages you will surprise yourself with the results.

General clubs – concentrating more on the results with a general talk on how the photos were achieved from the “back yard”. An explanation on how when to see the northern lights (aurora borealis activity) and how often we can actually see these from the UK  (for example, it was seen on average 3x a month last year from Scarborough, North Yorkshire). There are lots of photos to see.

These talks are roughly between 60 to 90 minutes in length and will continue to evolve as new images are added once skill levels increase further or if new imaging equipment is acquired. Every talk will be different and humour is always included 😉

 

So far the presentation has been really well received at the following clubs with some multiple times:

Harrogate Astronomical Society

Scarborough and Ryedale Astronomical Society

Scarborough Photographic Society  

Scarborough Amateur Radio Society

Mexborough and Swinton Astronomical Society

Scarborough Rotary

York Astronomical Society

Ashington Photography Club

Kirbymoorside and District Camera Club

Upcoming talks with dates to be fixed for the following clubs

23rd February – York Camera Club

Cheltenham and Gloucester Photography club – TBA

 

Share

What’s Up – January 2017

Events of interest for January ….

Firstly, a very Happy New Year to everyone and I hope 2017 is …. astronomical   😉

JANUARY – Aurora season is in full swing – from now till around the end of March is the best time for viewing the northern lights here from the UK. Please visit our sister site AUK – Aurora UK for “real time” notifications.

1st January – MARS/NEPTUNE – Mars and Neptune will share the same right ascension, with Mars passing 0°01′ to the south of Neptune. At around the same time, the two objects will also make a close approach, technically called an appulse. From Scarborough, the pair will become visible at around 16:38 (GMT) as the dusk sky fades, 26° above your southern horizon. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting 5 hours and 32 minutes after the Sun at 21:15. Mars will be at mag 0.5, and Neptune at mag 7.9, both in the constellation Aquarius. The pair will be close enough to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will also be visible through a pair of binoculars.

2nd January – MOON/VENUS – The Moon and Venus will make a close approach, passing within 1°50′ of each other. The Moon will be 4 days old. From Scarborough, the pair will become visible at around 16:15 (GMT) as the dusk sky fades, 21° above your southern horizon. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting 4 hours and 20 minutes after the Sun at 20:05. The Moon will be at mag -10.7, and Venus at mag -5.0, both in the constellation Aquarius. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars. At around the same time, the two objects will also share the same right ascension – called a conjunction.

4th January – METEORS – The Quadrantid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on 4 January 2017. Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from 1 Jan to 6 Jan. The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible is around 80 per hour (ZHR). However, this assumes a perfectly dark sky and that the radiant of the meteor shower is directly overhead. In practice, the number of meteors you are likely to see is lower than this, and can be calculated from the ZHR formula. From Scarborough, the radiant of the shower will appear 22° above your north-eastern horizon at midnight. This means you are likely to see only around 30 meteors per hour, since the radiant will be low in the sky, reducing the chance of seeing meteors. The radiant of the Quadrantid meteor shower is at around right ascension 15h30m, declination +50°, as shown by the green cross on the planetarium above. All of the meteors will appear to be travelling directly outward from this point, as indicated by the white lines drawn above. The Moon will be 6 days old at the time of peak activity, presenting minimal interference. To see the most meteors, the best place to look is not directly at the radiant itself, but at any dark patch of sky which is around 30–40° away from it. It is at a distance of around this distance from the radiant that meteors will show reasonably long trails without being too spread out.

5th January – MOON – Moon at 1st quarter from Scarborough, it will become visible at around 16:21 (GMT) as the dusk sky fades, 34° above your south-eastern horizon. It will then reach its highest point in the sky at 18:01, 38° above your southern horizon. It will continue to be observable until around 23:23, when it sinks to 8° above your western horizon.

10th January – MOON – Moon at perigee. The Moon will reach the closest point along its orbit to the Earth and will appear slightly larger than at other times. The Moon’s distance from the Earth varies because its orbit is not perfectly circular – it is instead slightly oval-shaped, tracing out a path called an ellipse. As the Moon traverses this elliptical path around the Earth each month, its distance varies by around 10%, between 363,000 km and 405,000 km. Its angular size also varies by the same factor, and its brightness also changes, though this is hard to detect in practice, given the Moon’s phases are changing at the same time. The exact period of the Moon’s cycle between perigee (closest approach), apogee (furthest recess) and back again is 27.555 days – a period of time called an anomalistic month. This is very close to the Moon’s orbital period (27.322 days), but slightly longer.  The perigee of 10 January 2017 will occur when the Moon is close to full phase, and so it will appear fractionally larger and brighter than usual. On this occasion the Moon will pass within a distance of 363,000 km of the Earth, and appear with an angular diameter of 32.88 arcsec. This may be compared to its average size of 31.07 arcmin.

12th January – FULL MOON – The Moon will reach full phase. At this time in its monthly cycle of phases, the Moon lies almost directly opposite the Sun in the sky, placing it high above the horizon for much of the night. The sequence of full moons through the year are often assigned names according to the seasons in which they fall. This month’s will be the first to fall in winter 2017 – the Old Moon. Over the nights following 12 January, the Moon will rise around an hour later each day, becoming prominent later in the night. Within a few days, it will only be visible in the pre-dawn and early-morning sky. By the time it reaches last quarter, a week after full moon, it will rise at around midnight and set at around noon. At the exact moment when the Moon reaches full phase, it will lie at a declination of +18°13′ in the constellation Gemini , and so will appear highest in the northern hemisphere. It will be visible from all latitudes south of 61°S. Its distance from the Earth will be 366,000 km.

12th January – VENUS –  Venus at Greatest Eastern Elongation. The planet Venus reaches greatest eastern elongation of 47.1 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Venus since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the evening sky. Look for the bright planet in the western sky after sunset.

13th January – VENUS/NEPTUNE – Venus and Neptune will share the same right ascension, with Venus passing 0°24′ to the north of Neptune. At around the same time, the two objects will also make a close approach, technically called an appulse.
From Scarborough, the pair will become visible at around 16:28 (GMT) as the dusk sky fades, 25° above your southern horizon. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting 4 hours and 31 minutes after the Sun at 20:30. Venus will be at mag -5.2, and Neptune at mag 7.9, both in the constellation Aquarius. The pair will be close enough to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will also be visible through a pair of binoculars.

14th January – STAR CLUSTER – The open star cluster M47 (NGC 2422) in Puppis will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of -14°30′, it is easiest to see from the southern hemisphere; it can be seen at latitudes between 55°N and 84°S. From Scarborough, it will be visible between 22:33 and 01:29. It will become accessible at around 22:33, when it rises 18° above your south-eastern horizon, and then reach its highest point in the sky at 23:59, 21° above your southern horizon. It will become inaccessible at around 01:29 when it sinks to 18° above your southern horizon. At magnitude 4.4, M47 is tricky to make out with the naked eye except from a dark site, but is visible through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

14th January – SPIRAL GALAXY – NGC 2403, a spiral galaxy in Camelopardalis will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of +65°35′, it is easiest to see from the northern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much south of 4°S. From Scarborough, it will be very well placed – it will be close enough to the north celestial pole that it will be high above the horizon all night. At magnitude 8.4, NGC2403 is quite faint, and certainly not visible to the naked eye, but can be viewed through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

14th January – COMET – Comet 74P/Smirnova-Chernykh is forecast to reach its brightest, at around mag 12.9. It will lie at a distance of 3.76 AU from the Sun, and at a distance of 2.79 AU from the Earth. From Scarborough, it will be visible between 17:49 and 05:07. It will become accessible at around 17:49, when it rises 24° above your eastern horizon, and then reach its highest point in the sky at 23:26, 62° above your southern horizon. It will become inaccessible at around 05:07 when it sinks to 25° above your western horizon. For more information about its path across the sky, see In-The-Sky.org’s ephemeris page for comet 74P/Smirnova-Chernykh. This event was automatically generated on the basis of orbital elements published by the Minor Planet Center (MPC), and is updated daily (last update, 31 Dec 2016). Note that the future positions of comets are typically known with a high degree of confidence, but their brightnesses are often much more unpredictable, since it is impossible to predict with certainty how they will respond as they move closer to the Sun. Magnitude estimates should be assumed to be highly provisional more than a few weeks in advance.

19th January – MERCURY – Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation. The planet Mercury reaches greatest western elongation of 24.1 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the morning sky. Look for the planet low in the eastern sky just before sunrise.

19th January – MOON/JUPITER – The Moon and Jupiter will make a close approach, passing within 2°33′ of each other. The Moon will be 21 days old. From Scarborough, the pair will be visible in the morning sky, becoming accessible at around 01:11, when they rise 7° above your south-eastern horizon. They will then reach its highest point in the sky at 05:31, 28° above your southern horizon. They will be lost to dawn twilight at around 07:41, 22° above your south-western horizon. The Moon will be at mag -12.0, and Jupiter at mag -2.1, both in the constellation Virgo. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

22nd January – MOON – Moon at apogee.  The Moon will reach the furthest point along its orbit to the Earth and will appear slightly smaller than at other times. The Moon’s distance from the Earth varies because its orbit is not perfectly circular – it is instead slightly oval-shaped, tracing out a path called an ellipse. As the Moon traverses this elliptical path around the Earth each month, its distance varies by around 10%, between 363,000 km and 405,000 km. Its angular size also varies by the same factor, and its brightness also changes, though this is hard to detect in practice, given the Moon’s phases are changing at the same time. The exact period of the Moon’s cycle between perigee (closest approach), apogee (furthest recess) and back again is 27.555 days – a period of time called an anomalistic month. This is very close to the Moon’s orbital period (27.322 days), but slightly longer. For more information on why these periods don’t exactly match, see In-The-Sky.org’s glossary article for the term month. As the apogee of 22 January 2017 will occur close to the time of new moon, the moon will appear as no more than a thin crescent. On this occasion the Moon will recede to a distance of 404,000 km from the Earth and appear with an angular diameter of 29.50 arcsec. This may be compared to its average size of 31.07 arcmin.

24th January – MOON/SATURN – The Moon and Saturn will make a close approach, passing within 3°36′ of each other. The Moon will be 26 days old. From Scarborough, the pair will be difficult to observe as they will appear no higher than 10° above the horizon. They will be visible in the dawn sky, rising at 05:30 (GMT) – 2 hours and 33 minutes before the Sun – and reach an altitude of 10° above the south-eastern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks at around 07:36. The Moon will be at mag -10.3, and Saturn at mag 0.3, both in the constellation Ophiuchus. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

28th January – NEW MOON – The Moon will pass close to the Sun and become lost in the Sun’s glare for a few days. The Moon’s orbital motion carries it around the Earth once every four weeks, and as a result its phases cycle from new moon, through first quarter, full moon and last quarter, back to new moon once every 29.5 days. This motion also means that the Moon travels more than 12° across the sky from one night to the next, causing it to rise and set nearly an hour later each day. Click here for more information about the Moon’s phases. At new moon, the Earth, Moon and Sun all lie in a roughly straight line, with the Moon in the middle, appearing in front of the Sun’s glare. In this configuration, we see almost exactly the opposite half of the Moon to that which is illuminated by the Sun, making it doubly unobservable because the side we see is unilluminated. Over coming days, the Moon will rise and set an hour later each day, becoming visible in the late afternoon and dusk sky as a waxing crescent which sets soon after the Sun. By first quarter, in a week’s time, it will be visible until around midnight.

30th January – BEEHIVE CLUSTER – The Beehive open star cluster (M44, NGC 2632, also known as Praesepe) will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of +19°58′, it is easiest to see from the northern hemisphere; it can be seen at latitudes between 89°N and 50°S. From Scarborough, it will be visible between 18:00 and 06:03. It will become accessible at around 18:00, when it rises 15° above your eastern horizon, and then reach its highest point in the sky at 00:04, 55° above your southern horizon. It will become inaccessible at around 06:03 when it sinks to 16° above your western horizon. At magnitude 3.1, M44 is tricky to make out with the naked eye except from a dark site, but is visible through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

31st January – MOON/VENUS – The Moon and Venus will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 4°03′ to the south of Venus. The Moon will be 3 days old. At around the same time, the two objects will also make a close approach, technically called an appulse. From Scarborough, the pair will become visible at around 17:02 (GMT) as the dusk sky fades, 31° above your south-western horizon. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting 4 hours and 35 minutes after the Sun at 21:11. The Moon will be at mag -10.6 in the constellation Aquarius, and Venus at mag -5.4 in the neighbouring constellation of Pisces. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

Dates highlighted in BOLD are good photographic opportunities

AIUK – Astronomy Imaging UK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/453388178104679/

sister group to ……

AUK – Aurora UK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/AuroraUK/

Note: Times are UK (BST) unless noted differently.

Share

Top position on Gurushots – cannot believe it !!

Earlier in the week I reached the Top Level of Gurushots, an incredible online sharing site with some superb photographers.

Just learned one of my photographs was ranked Top position – the old favourite of a lizards eye macro.

Gurushots

Share

Astrophotography talk has now gone international

After a photography trip down to the south atlantic, an opportunity arose to deliver my astrophotography talk.

Around 50 people turned up and the talk went really well despite a dodgy projector – lots of people came to see me afterward to look at the images on the laptop instead !

Share

What’s Up – December 2016

Events of interest for December ….

DECEMBER – Aurora season has started – from now till around the end of March is the best time for viewing the northern lights here from the UK. Please visit our sister site AUK – Aurora UK for “real time” notifications.

10th December – MOON – Conjunction between the moon and Ceres. The Moon and 1 Ceres will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 6°07′ to the north of 1 Ceres. The Moon will be 11 days old. From Scarborough, the pair will be visible in the evening sky, becoming accessible at around 16:02 (GMT) as the dusk sky fades, 14° above your eastern horizon. They will then reach its highest point in the sky at 20:12, 35° above your southern horizon. They will continue to be observable until around 01:18, when they sink to 8° above your western horizon. The Moon will be at mag -12.5 in the constellation Pisces, and 1 Ceres at mag 7.3 in the neighbouring constellation of Cetus.

10th December – MOON – Conjuction between the moon and Eris. The Moon and 136199 Eris will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 9°14′ to the north of 136199 Eris. The Moon will be 11 days old. From Scarborough, the pair will be visible in the evening sky, becoming accessible at around 16:03 (GMT) as the dusk sky fades, 11° above your eastern horizon. They will then reach its highest point in the sky at 20:22, 32° above your southern horizon. They will continue to be observable until around 01:15, when they sink to 8° above your western horizon. The Moon will be at mag -12.6 in the constellation Pisces, and 136199 Eris at mag 18.7 in the neighbouring constellation of Cetus.

12th December – MOON – The moon is at perigee. The Moon will reach the closest point along its orbit to the Earth, and as a result will appear slightly larger than at other times. This close approach will occur when the Moon is almost at full phase, and so it will appear unusually large and bright – a sight that is sometimes dubbed a supermoon. The Moon’s distance from the Earth varies because its orbit is not perfectly circular – it is instead slightly oval-shaped, tracing out a path called an ellipse. As the Moon traverses this elliptical path around the Earth each month, its distance varies by around 10%, between 363,000 km and 405,000 km. This means that its size in the night sky also varies over the course of each month, by around 13%. It brightness also varies slightly – the Moon appears a little brighter when it is closer to the Earth. In practice, however, this variability is swamped by the much stronger effect that the Moon’s changing phases have over its brightness. The Moon’s distance varies between perigee (closest approach), apogee (furthest recess) and back again once every 27.555 days – a period of time called an anomalistic month. This is very close to the Moon’s orbital period (27.322 days), but slightly longer. For more information on why these periods don’t exacty match, see In-The-Sky.org’s glossary article for the term month. This perigee will coincide closely with the time of month when the Moon is at full phase, a phenomenon that is sometimes called a “supermoons”. The full moon this month will appear fractionally larger and brighter than usual, but so too will the full moons that fall immediately before and after a supermoon, when the Moon will also be close to perigee. On this occasion the Moon will pass within a distance of 358,000 km of the Earth, and appear with an angular diameter of 33.32 arcsec. This may be compared to its average size of 31.07 arcmin. The genuine variation in the Moon’s angular size that is associated with its changing distance from the Earth should not be confused with the Moon illusion – an optical illustion that makes the Moon appear much larger than it really is when it is close to the horizon. The reason why we experience this optical illusion is still hotly debated.

12th December – MOONs BULLSEYE – The moon will appear near the eye of the constellation Taurus the bull tonight. What is referred to as the ‘eye’ is really the red giant star Aldebaran, which sits 67 light-years from Earth and is the brightest in its constellation.

13th December – ALDEBARAN – Aldebaran is 0.5° south of the moon

14th December – METEORS – The Geminid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on 14 December 2016. Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from 7 Dec to 16 Dec. The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible is around 100 per hour (ZHR). However, this assumes a perfectly dark sky and that the radiant of the meteor shower is directly overhead. In practice, the number of meteors you are likely to see is lower than this, and can be calculated from the ZHR formula. From Scarborough, the radiant of the shower will appear 60° above your south-eastern horizon at midnight. This means you may be able to see around 87 meteors per hour, since the radiant will be high in the sky, maximising the chance of seeing meteors. The radiant of the Geminid meteor shower is at around right ascension 07h20m, declination +33°, as shown by the green cross on the planetarium above. All of the meteors will appear to be travelling directly outward from this point, as indicated by the white lines drawn above. The Moon will be 15 days old at the time of peak activity, and being so close to Full Moon will severely limit the observations that will be possible. To see the most meteors, the best place to look is not directly at the radiant itself, but at any dark patch of sky which is around 30–40° away from it. It is at a distance of around this distance from the radiant that meteors will show reasonably long trails without being too spread out. Geminid meteors travel fairly slowly, at around 22 miles (35 km) per second.

14th December – STAR CLUSTER – The open star cluster NGC 1981 in Orion’s sword will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of -04°25′, it is visible across much of the world; it can be seen at latitudes between 65°N and 74°S. From Scarborough, it will be visible between 20:49 and 03:15. It will become accessible at around 20:49, when it rises 18° above your south-eastern horizon, and then reach its highest point in the sky at 00:04, 31° above your southern horizon. It will become inaccessible at around 03:15 when it sinks to 19° above your south-western horizon. At magnitude 4.6, NGC1981 is too faint to be seen with the naked eye from any but the very darkest sites, but is visible through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

14th December – MOON – Full Moon also being named SUPERMOON (if you believe the Daily Mail)  😉

17th December – MOON – The Beehive cluster is 4.1° north of the moon

18th December – MOON – Regulus is 1° north of the moon

21st December – MOON – Last Quarter moon – The Moon will be prominent in the dawn sky, rising at around midnight. From Scarborough, it will be visible in the morning sky, becoming accessible at around 00:44, when it rises 7° above your eastern horizon. It will then reach its highest point in the sky at 06:01, 37° above your southern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight at around 07:49, 33° above your south-western horizon.

21st Decembere – SOLSTICE – 21 December will be the shortest day of 2016 in the northern hemisphere, midwinter day. This is the day of the year when the Sun’s annual path through the constellations of the zodiac reaches its most southerly point in the sky, in the constellation of Capricornus at a declination of 23.5°S. On this day, the Sun is above the horizon for the less time than on any other day of the year in the northern hemisphere. This is counted by astronomers to be the first day of winter, though meteorologists often consider winter to start on December 1. Conversely, in the southern hemisphere, the Sun is above the horizon for longer than on any other day of the year, and astronomers define this day to be the first day of summer. At the December solstice, the Sun appears overhead at noon when observed from locations on the tropic of Capricorn, at a latitude 23.5°S. Christmas borrows its date from ancient pagan midwinter festivals, even though in the modern calendar Christmas now falls a few days after astronomical midwinter. This anomaly has come about because the system of leap days which are sometimes inserted into our calendar on February 29 was only refined to its present form by the Gregorian calendar reforms of the 16th century. Before this, the average length of each year did not quite match the period of time with which the seasons repeat – 365.2422 days – and so the seasons drifted through the year by a small amount each century. So, in the distant past, the winter solstice occured a few days later than it does today.

22nd December – METEORS – Ursid meteor shower –  The Ursid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on 22 December 2016. Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from 17 Dec to 25 Dec. The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible is around 10 per hour (ZHR). However, this assumes a perfectly dark sky and that the radiant of the meteor shower is directly overhead. In practice, the number of meteors you are likely to see is lower than this, and can be calculated from the ZHR formula. From Scarborough, the radiant of the shower will appear 46° above your northern horizon at midnight. This means you may be able to see around 7 meteors per hour, since the radiant will be high in the sky, maximising the chance of seeing meteors. The radiant of the Ursid meteor shower is at around right ascension 14h20m, declination +78°, as shown by the green cross on the planetarium above. All of the meteors will appear to be travelling directly outward from this point, as indicated by the white lines drawn above. The Moon will be 23 days old at the time of peak activity, presenting minimal interference. To see the most meteors, the best place to look is not directly at the radiant itself, but at any dark patch of sky which is around 30–40° away from it. It is at a distance of around this distance from the radiant that meteors will show reasonably long trails without being too spread out.

22nd December – MOON/JUPITER – The Moon and Jupiter will make a close approach, passing within 2°17′ of each other. The Moon will be 23 days old. From Scarborough, the pair will be visible in the morning sky, becoming accessible at around 02:46, when they rise 7° above your eastern horizon. They will then reach its highest point in the sky at 07:11, 29° above your southern horizon. They will be lost to dawn twilight at around 07:53, 28° above your southern horizon. The Moon will be at mag -11.4, and Jupiter at mag -1.9, both in the constellation Virgo. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

23rd December – MOON – Conjunction of the moon and Haumea. The Moon and 136108 Haumea will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 25°01′ to the south of 136108 Haumea. The Moon will be 24 days old. From Scarborough, the pair will be visible in the dawn sky, rising at 00:22 (GMT) – 8 hours and 2 minutes before the Sun – and reach an altitude of 52° above the southern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks at around 07:54. The Moon will be at mag -11.0 in the constellation Virgo, and 136108 Haumea at mag 17.3 in the neighbouring constellation of Bootes.

25th December – MOON – Moon is at apogee – The Moon will reach the furthest point along its orbit to the Earth, and as a result will appear slightly smaller than at other times. The Moon’s distance from the Earth varies because its orbit is not perfectly circular – it is instead slightly oval-shaped, tracing out a path called an ellipse. As the Moon traverses this elliptical path around the Earth each month, its distance varies by around 10%, between 363,000 km and 405,000 km. This means that its size in the night sky also varies over the course of each month, by around 13%. It brightness also varies slightly – the Moon appears a little brighter when it is closer to the Earth. In practice, however, this variability is swamped by the much stronger effect that the Moon’s changing phases have over its brightness. The Moon’s distance varies between perigee (closest approach), apogee (furthest recess) and back again once every 27.555 days – a period of time called an anomalistic month. This is very close to the Moon’s orbital period (27.322 days), but slightly longer. For more information on why these periods don’t exacty match, see In-The-Sky.org’s glossary article for the term month. As the apogee of 25 December 2016 will occur close to the time of new moon, the moon will appear as no more than a thin crescent. On this occasion the Moon will recede to a distance of 405,000 km from the Earth and appear with an angular diameter of 29.43 arcsec. This may be compared to its average size of 31.07 arcmin. The genuine variation in the Moon’s angular size that is associated with its changing distance from the Earth should not be confused with the Moon illusion – an optical illustion that makes the Moon appear much larger than it really is when it is close to the horizon. The reason why we experience this optical illusion is still hotly debated.

26th December – METEORS – Puppid-Velid meteor shower – The Puppid–Velid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on 26 December 2016. Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from 17 Nov to Jan. The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible is around 15 per hour (ZHR). However, this assumes a perfectly dark sky and that the radiant of the meteor shower is directly overhead. In practice, the number of meteors you are likely to see is lower than this, and can be calculated from the ZHR formula. From Scarborough, the radiant of the shower will appear 50° below your south-eastern horizon at midnight. This means the shower will be unobservable, as the radiant will be below the horizon. The radiant of the Puppid–Velid meteor shower is at around right ascension 12h40m, declination -65°, as shown by the green cross on the planetarium above. All of the meteors will appear to be travelling directly outward from this point, as indicated by the white lines drawn above. The Moon will be 27 days old at the time of peak activity, presenting minimal interference. To see the most meteors, the best place to look is not directly at the radiant itself, but at any dark patch of sky which is around 30–40° away from it. It is at a distance of around this distance from the radiant that meteors will show reasonably long trails without being too spread out.

27th December – STAR CLUSTER – The open star cluster NGC 2232 in Monoceros will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of -04°45′, it is visible across much of the world; it can be seen at latitudes between 65°N and 74°S. From Scarborough, it will be visible between 20:40 and 03:25. It will become accessible at around 20:40, when it rises 17° above your south-eastern horizon, and then reach its highest point in the sky at 00:04, 30° above your southern horizon. It will become inaccessible at around 03:25 when it sinks to 17° above your south-western horizon. At magnitude 3.9, NGC2232 is tricky to make out with the naked eye except from a dark site, but is visible through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

28th December – MOON/SATURN – A crescent moon is very close to Saturn tonight

29th December – STAR CLUSTER – The open star cluster NGC 2244, in the rosette nebula in Monoceros will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of +04°52′, it is visible across much of the world; it can be seen at latitudes between 74°N and 65°S. From Scarborough, it will be visible between 19:47 and 04:13. It will become accessible at around 19:47, when it rises 19° above your eastern horizon, and then reach its highest point in the sky at 23:58, 40° above your southern horizon. It will become inaccessible at around 04:13 when it sinks to 19° above your western horizon. At magnitude 4.8, NGC2244 is too faint to be seen with the naked eye from any but the very darkest sites, but is visible through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

29th December – NEW MOON – Now is the best time for looking at deep sky objects now the moon is out of the way

31st December – COMET – Comet 45P potentially visible through binoculars

Dates highlighted in BOLD are good photographic opportunities

AIUK – Astronomy Imaging UK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/453388178104679/

sister group to ……

AUK – Aurora UK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/AuroraUK/

Note: Times are UK (BST) unless noted differently.

Share