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Sky Almanac



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

October 2014  

Another Total Lunar Eclipse of the Moon occurs in the morning sky of October 8th. This happen on Wednesday Morning before sunrise. THE ECLIPSE WILL BE HISTORY IF YOU LOOK ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT.

The Moon will pass thru the northern part of the shadow of the Earth. The southern part of the Moon will be darker orange- red, the northern more of a yellow or possibly light blue. In any event the Moon will be setting in the west not long after totality and close to sunrise. The beginning will be seen in dark skies, mid-eclipse in as the sun rises. 

If using a telescope to view the lunar eclipse, you can also look for the planet Uranus 2 degrees to the upper left of the Moon.

Also keep a watch on the 5.7 magnitude star SAO109471 to the left of the moon. Around 5:00 am the moon will occult this star during the eclipse.

October 17th finds the waning Moon 9 degrees to the right of the planet Jupiter in the morning sky.

November 2014  

Since later October Mercury has been steadily climbing higher into the morning twilight sky. On November 1st  Mercury reached its Greatest Western Elongation. With the ecliptic is at a high angle to the horizon Mercury is close to 12 degree from the Sun making for good viewing conditions of the -0.5 magnitude planet.

Also riding high in the dark morning sky is the Third Quarter Moon with a -2.2 magnitude Jupiter to it's left on 14th of November.

The Leonid meteor shower peaks in the early morning hours of November 17th ,the waning moon rises around 2:00 am. The rate of meteors is very low, a Zenith Hourly Rate expected to be in the 10-15 range.  Recall ZHR is a average of what a person could expect to see if one could see in all directions at the same time. Real numbers will be much lower per person.

The waxing crescent Moon is joined by Mars on the 25th of November in the western sky after sunset. Mars is dimmer by 2 magnitudes from when it was at opposition in April.

December 2014  

Rising in the east late in the evening on the 11th of December Jupiter and the waning gibbous Moon are separated by 5 degrees of sky.

Saturday evening November 13  the Geminid meteor shower will climb to maximum ZHR on Sunday morning. Rated at ZHR 120 meteors per hour, this is one of the better annual meteor showers. If only the weather were warmer during this event. The  last quarter Moon rise in the east around 11:30 am putting a damper on the number that can be seen.

Saturn is close to the waning crescent Moon an hour before sunrise on the 19th of December.

The waxing crescent Moon makes another pass of Mars on 23rd of December is the western sky. Mars is 6 degrees left of the Moon.

January 2015  

With the Moon 2 days shy of Full Moon phase  only the brightest meteors of the annual Quadrantids can be seen. These medium speed meteors from parent object asteroid 2003 EH produce many fireballs, usually without lasting trains. To watch the  Quadrantids this year one needs persistence and good weather. Should reach peak performance in early evening of January 3th, 2015.  Is it too cold to be outside on a clear night? You can see what you missed by looking at Keystone College Thomas G Cupillari  AllSky Camera online at web site  http://skysentinel.nmsu.edu/allsky/node/node64 .

Rising in the east 2 day later on January 7th is the bright planet Jupiter around 5 degrees to the left of the Gibbous moon. Look for them around 9:00 pm. 

The Moon and bright planet Venus will be your guide to finding Mercury in the west after sunset. Start to look to the western sky early on the January 12th to locate Venus. Mercury will be moving up from the horizon for the remainder of the week before leving the sky early next week. Not a great apparition but with luck and a clear horizon you may catch sight of Mercury.

Look to the eastern horizon between 4 am and 5 am on the morning of January 16th for a crescent Moon and the planet Saturn just over 1 degree below the Moon. Better before twilight begins to drown out Saturn in the sky.

The best opportunity to find Mercury is after sunset on January 21st, then a sliver of a crescent Moon will be 4 degrees above Mercury and 6 degrees right of Venus. A difficult sight but it is possible to seen the Moon from a triangle with the two planets. Get a early start to find Mercury.

Viewing is easier on January 22nd, the Moon still a thin crescent 12 degrees above a -4 magnitude Venus hugging close to the horizon. To the upper left at some 4 degrees from Moon is Mars shinning at 1st magnitude. Unseen to the eye is the 8th magnitude planet Neptune some 2 degrees lower right of Mars and 3 degrees left of the Moon. Not a chance to see this planet in twilight skies

February 2015  

The Full moon rising on February 3 will have the company of a -2.6 magnitude planet Jupiter, a better sight before the end of twilight, but with a Full Moon still good after twilight.

The planets Venus and Mars will perform a celestial  dance in the western sky after sunset this month. Venus at -4 magnitude  is rising up to meet 1st magnitude Mars. They begin to close in on each other during the middle of the month. They are higher in the sky at sunset, lower an closer to the horizon one hour after sunset. Begin to watch this event unfold by starting to watch the western sky after sunset on February 8th, 2015 when bright planet Venus is 6 degrees below Mars. Venus will move close to Mars each night. By the end of the week on February 14th, Venus will cut the apparent separation between them to 3 degrees.

Set a reminder on your calendar for February 20th for a grand view of Venus and Mars just 3/4 of a degree apart, with a thin crescent moon a little less than 2 degrees to their right. The next 2 night Venus and Mars are separated buy 1/2 of a degree of sky between them, that is the apparent size of our Moon in the sky. They start moving apart with Venus now higher in the sky than Mars. They are separated by 3 degrees on the evening of February 28th.

Early riser should see a fat gibbous Moon in the east on February 13th at 4:00am. Some 5 degrees to the right is the planet Saturn shining at magnitude 0.5.  Four days later on the morning of February 17th, the thin crescent moon is 5 degrees left of the 0.0 magnitude planet Mercury. Be quick to see these two before sunrise.

March 2015

The very fat gibbous Moon will move past the planet Jupiter on the evening of March 2nd. Look to the south to find the Moon 6 degrees below the planet Jupiter. As the Moon continues in it path across the sky it will encounter Saturn in the morning sky on March 12th at 3:00 am at which time it will show a gibbous phase with Saturn 1 1/2 degrees to it's lower right.

Use Venus as your guide on March 21st  to point the way to a thin crescent Moon with Mars less than 2 degrees to the upper right of the Moon. They will be close to the horizon one hour after sunset, and the planet Venus 13 degrees directly above them. The following night, March 22nd, the crescent Moon and Venus will be side by side separated by 3 degrees. 

The Moon will past underneath the planet Jupiter on March 29th. Look for them in the south around 9:30 pm, Jupiter a little over  6 degrees to the upper left of the fat gibbous moon.

April 2015

Have you heard about the Lunar Eclipse on April 4, 2015?  If you are anticipating the arrival of this sky show, then here is a reality check to plan by.  First the eclipse is a Partial, meaning only a part of the Moon will enter the shadow of the Earth, not the entire Moon. THIS IS NOT A TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE.

Examine the timetable of events. The Moon will start First Contact, start to enter the darker inner part of the shadow at 6:06 AM; morning twilight start an hour previous so the sky will be daylight blue. The Sun will rise in 46 minutes, and the Moon will set 4 minutes later. Less than half of the Moon will be in the umbra shadow by the time the Moonset.  All times are based upon a perfect sphere, i.e. no obstruction to the horizons by a uneven terrain, such as mountains and valleys locations.

Based upon my own view and photographs of Total Lunar Eclipse during a Sunrise and Moonset, the best one can expect to see of this Partial Lunar Eclipse will be a small darker shading of the left side of the Moon. All of this depends on the atmospheric sky condition at the time. Clouds, fog, humidity all affect the transparency of the sky at twilight.

DST

The morning event of April 8th, 2015 to see between the hours of 3 am and 4 am involves the gibbous Moon close to the planet Saturn. The planet Saturn will be 3 degrees to the lower left of the Moon.

Turn now to the evening sky at sunset on April 19th. High in the western sky, shinning at -4.1 magnitude is the planet Venus, This is you guide to find the thin crescent Moon nearly directly below Venus and close to the horizon. Four degrees to the right of the Moon is 1.5 magnitude Mars. Four degrees to the lower right of Mars is Mercury at -1.5 magnitude. They set around 8:30 pm so you must allow time to find them. Venus will be visible to the eye before sunset.

Mars is moving toward the horizon while Mercury is rise up higher each day. They will pass close to each on April 21st, and April 22nd. Mercury will be less than 2 degrees left of Mars on both days. If you observe from the same location, recall where the Moon was in reference to object on your local horizon on April 19, i.e. trees, towers or  mountain features. On April 21st, the Moon is 7 degrees left of Venus.  

One day past First Quarter phase on April 26, the Moon is left of the -2.2 magnitude planet Jupiter in the WSW sky. 

May 2015

The sky is not dark now until after 10:00 pm. Look for the rising Moon in the in southeast. At 3 days past Full Moon on May 5th it still brighten the sky. Seven degrees to the upper right shins the planet Saturn. 

The inner planet Mercury climbs to it furthest distance in our sky from the Sun on May 7. Venus is 21 degrees higher in the sky. Scan with binoculars toward the region of the setting Sun to locate 0.5 magnitude Mercury.

After sunset on May 21st look for a crescent Moon 8 degrees left of the planet Venus.

Saturn is at opposition on May 22nd. A telescope view shows the north pole of Saturn tilting 25 degrees towards the Earth. The rings are close to full on view now, showing this aspect for a few more years before the apparent tilt begins to close up.

One day before the First Quarter moon on May 24th, the planet Jupiter is 12 degrees left of the moon.

Before the end of the month the planets Mercury and Mars have disappeared into the glare of the Sun. 

June 2015

On June 1st the Full Moon is rising in the east with the planet Saturn 4 degrees to it's right.

Venus has been in western the sky for few months now, approaching great brilliance after climbing it's greatest distance in the sky from the Sun on June 6th. It is possible to find the planet Venus with the unaided eye during the early afternoon on days with clear transparent skies. It takes time, patience and some planning to do so, or by chance looking at the right place in the sky. 

Soon Jupiter will be in the same area of the sky as Venus. Start watching the western sky after sunset to see the the daily movement of Jupiter toward Venus. On June 29th the crescent Moon, Venus and Jupiter will make a nice triangle configuration. The moon is on the left, Venus on the right and Jupiter the tip of the triangle.

On the evening of June 28th the Moon and Saturn will make one of their closest approach of the year. Look for the gibbous Moon after 10 pm in the Southern sky. With the use of a small telescope or steady had held binoculars, the 4th magnitude star Theta Librae will slip behind the dark limb of the Moon some time close to 11:00 pm.