Category: Uncategorized

October 2019

A thin, crescent moon greets us in the western sky at dusk when October starts. See Antares and Jupiter in the southwest and Saturn in the south. Venus and Mercury are evening object, too. But they’re barely there, setting almost as soon as the sun does. The moon passes by Antares in the claws of […]

August 2019

Mars, heading toward conjunction with the sun in early September, begins and ends August with conjunctions with the moon. Don’t count on seeing both. The second happens on the same day as a new moon. The red planet will simply be too close to the sun to see. Similar story for a close call with […]

July 2019

Mercury and Mars are paired in the dusky glow at the start of July. The moon passes by on the 3rd. You don’t get many more evenings to see Mercury though. It quickly drops below Mars and sets too soon after sunset to be seen. Mercury is at inferior conjunction on the 20th. You don’t […]

June 2019

Mercury is nicely situated for evening viewing for northern hemisphere sky watchers as June starts. It’s quickly moving from next to Auriga into Gemini. A thin, crescent moon passes by on the 4th. The moon is passing Mars in the middle of Gemini the next evening. Mars seems to be moving away from Mercury, going […]

April 2019

As we start April 2019, Uranus and Mars are both evening objects. The former will probably require a pair of binoculars or a telescope for you to see. It will also require a sufficiently dark sky. But it’s there between Pisces and Cetus in the west not long after the sun goes down. Mars is […]

June 2017

Mars is in the west just after sunset at the start of June. Find it below Gemini. A thickening crescent moon is approaching Leo. Jupiter is in Virgo on the meridian as darkness sets in while Arcturus is high in the east.. Saturn rises not long after sunset. You’ll find the ringed planet in the […]

January 2017

If you haven’t seen Neptune or you may have but aren’t sure, your best chance to positively identify it is on New Year’s Eve. Mars is next to it in the evening to the west. The rocky red planet is easy to identify with the naked eye. Point a telescope or binoculars at it to […]

December 2016

For northern hemisphere observers, the sun sets at its earliest times in December. Saturn is not far above the horizon in the southwest as darkness sets in at December 2016’s start. Left of it is Mercury. Above them both is a thin crescent moon. In just a couple of nights, the thicker crescent will be […]

November 2016

Look for a crescent moon in the west just after sunset at the start of November. The two bright planets above and left of it are Venus (on the left) and Saturn. Reddish Antares is below them. For northern hemisphere viewers, this scene is a little south of west. In any case, the moon will […]

October 2016

October 2016 starts with a new moon. Mercury is easy to spot below Leo in the morning. Venus, Saturn, and Mars are evening objects. You won’t see Jupiter at first.   Mercury is heading from greatest elongation late in September to superior conjunction on the 27th. So try to see it in the first week or two of the month. Even better, try to see it just 0.8° from Jupiter on the 11th. The messenger planet will drop below the big planet after that. Then Jupiter will climb to a pre-dawn spot below Leo, although Leo will have climbed a bit higher by then.   In the evening sky, Venus will move leftward each evening until it’s below Saturn on the 28th and 29th. Saturn is clearly to the right of Venus by the end of the month. The moon passes these wanderers, Venus on the 3rd and 4th, Saturn on the 6th, and Mars on the 8th and 9th. The moon is at first quarter around the time is passes the red planet.   Full moon is on the 16th, it’s waning gibbous during an occultation of Aldebaran on the 19th, last quarter on the 22nd, and new moon comes again on the 30th just two mornings after a thin crescent passes by Jupiter. The moon is farthest south on the 8th and farthest north on the 20th.     That occultation of Aldebaran is visible from eastern and southern USA and Central America.   Mars is at perihelion on the 29th. Venus is at aphelion on the 31st.     Uranus is at opposition on the 15th. It’s 18.95 astronomical units (earth-sun distances) away. Seeing it at this time will be made harder by the nearly full moon. Uranus is close to the western fish in Pisces. It will move just a little from night to night.   And your best chance to see the first known asteroid is this month. Ceres is at opposition on the 21st. It’s 1.9 astronomical units away. It takes a small telescope or binoculars to see it. It also requires a dark sky. With the moon at last quarter, your best bet is to look during the evening. Ceres is south of the point where the fish of Pisces are joined. It will also move a little from night to night.   Meteor showers this month include the Draconids and Orionids. The Draconids peak at about 10 per hour around the 8th. The Orionids will show about 20 to 30 meteors per hour around the 22nd.