Sky Almanac

The sky almanac is our guide to sky watching that contains useful information - how to find planets, stars and constellations, and when to look out for them.

Every month there are wonderful sights to see in the sky above.

October 2015

In predawn skies this October the brightest planets will come close together to each other, with the Moon joining in the mix. Venus (-4.5 mag.), Mars (1.8 mag.) and Jupiter (-1.8 mag.) are strung out in a line at the start of the month. The 1.3 magnitude star Regulus will also be part of this configuration, standing between Venus and Mars from October 1st to October 6th.

Venus is higher at the start of the month reaching Greatest Western Elongation on October 26th.  Before then a thin gibbous Moon is 3 degrees is above Venus with the star Regulus left of Venus forming a triangle of a star, a planet and a moon on October 8th.

The Moon is part of another triangle with Mars and Jupiter on October 9. Trace the path of the Moon to the horizon and you may see the planet Mercury low on the eastern horizon as a 0.3 magnitude star. On October 11 the Moon will be 1.2 degrees lower right of Mercury, a good chance to make a positively identify the planet Mercury.

In four days Mercury will be Greatest Western Elongation from the Sun, the highest it will reach away from the Sun.

You can find the thin crescent Moon at sunset on October 15 some 8 degrees right of 0.6 magnitude Saturn. Look early as they are low on the horizon and set early. 

Back to the morning parade, Jupiter climbs higher each night as Mars descends to the eastern horizon. Watch these two planets as Mars glides past Jupiter from October 15th - 20th They will be separated by 23 minutes of arc on October 17th. That's less that the width of the Moon.  Keep an eye on Venus on those mornings as it nears 1 degrees left of Jupiter on October 25th, Mars completes the triangle at a little over 3 degrees below Venus and Jupiter.  

The Moon will interfere with the Orionid meteor shower in the early evening hours on October 21st; the Moon setting around midnight. Watch for Orionids meteors while out watching the parade of planets in the morning sky.

November 2015

The morning parade of planets and Moon conjunctions continues for another two weeks. Starting with Venus passing close to the right of Mars from November 1st - 3rd They are closest to each other on October 3rd, a little less than 45 minutes of arc between them. Our Moon joins in the parade, pass a little less than 4 degrees right of the -1.9 magnitude planet Jupiter on November 6th. 

The next morning, November 7th, the crescent Moon is 2 degrees right of Venus and 3 degrees below Mars, and tight triangle in the sky. With binoculars you might be able to see the 4th magnitude star Beta Virginis, Zavijava, between the Moon and Mars.   

For the rest of the month Jupiter, Mars and Venus continue to separate from each other, stringing out in a near straight line on the ecliptic plane.  

December 2015 

Once more the Moon will pass by Jupiter, Mars and Venus in the morning sky. Beginning of December 1st the Moon is 4 degrees lower left of -2.0 magnitude Jupiter in the southern skies at sunrise. On December 5th the Moon is  6 degrees right of Mars, the next morning December 6th it is between Mars (1.5 mag) and Venus (-4.2 mag), closer to Mars than Venus. 

A daylight event that is worth a mention will occur on Monday afternoon Dec 7th at 12:38 p.m. At that time the Moon will pass in front of the planet Venus. The illuminated side of the crescent Moon, 13% illumination, will occult the planet Venus (-4.2 mag., 70% illuminated). Search for the Moon in the WSW sky some 30 to 20 degrees above the horizon before the start of the event. Factors against viewing this event: it's December, it may be cold, they are low on the horizon, and it's daylight. Binoculars and a telescope are required to view this event.