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Archive for the 'Observations' category

Comet ZTF visible in January

January 12 2023, Bernd Gährken

The discovery of dark matter is one of the greatest astronomical achievements of the last 100 years. Fritz Zwicky was the first to research this phenomenon. He recognised that gravity produced by unknown particles was a dominant force in our universe and that the majority of the matter in our universe is not visible. He was never awarded a Nobel Prize for dark matter as he died in 1974. But the significance of his discovery is clear today.

Zwicky’s domain was Mount Palomar. A new camera system there has been named after him. It was developed to detect transient objects with rapidly changing magnitudes, such as supernovae, gamma ray bursts, neutron star collisions, and moving objects like comets and asteroids.

In March 2022, the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) detected a new comet, which is able to cross over to being visible with the naked eye at the beginning of 2023. It will not be a bright object when seen with the naked eye, however it should already be clearly visible with binoculars or a telescope by the end of December.

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) will reach its maximum magnitude of 5 mag and will then be visible in the sky near the Polaris for a few days. A dark sky is important for observation, a moonless night preferably. The Moon is waxing at this time and the full moon is on 5th February. The comet is circumpolar and visible for the entire night. However, the waxing Moon means that the moonless early morning hours will be ideally suited to observation. Finder charts can be found at:

https://cometchasing.skyhound.com/

It is 2 years since the last comets were visible from the UK. In summer 2020, comet NEOWISE adorned the sky. A comparable spectacle should not be expected for ZTF. But comets are unpredictable. Even NEOWISE was predicted to be much fainter than it was.

Neowise im Jahre 2020

Astronomy Highlights in Winter 2022/2023

November 30 2022, Marcus Schenk

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

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

December

02/12 Conjunction between the Moon and Jupiter

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

05/12 The Moon occults Uranus

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

07/12 Conjunction between the Moon and Plejades

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

08/12 The Moon occults Mars/Opposition

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

14/12 Geminids

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

Lunar phases:

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

January

01/01 Conjunction between the Moon and Uranus

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

03/01 Conjunction between Moon and Mars

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

03/01 Quadrantids

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

16/01 Pallas at opposition

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

22/01 Conjunction between Saturn and Venus

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

23/01 The Moon near Venus and Saturn

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

30/01 Conjunction between the Moon and Mars

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

Lunar phases:

07/01 Full moon, 15/01 Waning quarter, 21/01 New moon, 28/01 Waxing quarter

February

15/02 Conjunction between Venus and Neptune

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

22/02 Conjunction between Venus and Jupiter

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

27/02 Conjunction between the Moon and Mars

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

Lunar phases:

05/02 Full moon, 13/02 Waning quarter, 20/02 New moon, 27/02 Waxing quarter

Video: Solar observation with telescopes and filter tips (with English subtitles)

October 19 2022, Marcus Schenk

Want to observe the Sun? Welcome to the solar observation club!

In this video we show you how to easily observe the Sun, sunspots or solar prominences using your telescope. Additionally, you will learn which filters and what additional equipment you need for this. Finally, fantastic images of the Sun await you. A guide for beginners and other fans of our central star. Solar observation is fun!

But beware… Never observe the Sun without a suitable solar filter! And never leave children unattended with a telescope or binoculars near the Sun!

Good to know: We will have a partial solar eclipse on 25 October. Secure your solar filter and solar eclipse glasses now – our stocks are limited.

From the video:

 

  1. Take care when observing the Sun
  2. What you must consider
  3. The technique of white light observation
  4. What is it and what can you see?
  5. Which filter works for me?
  6. What to consider for solar lens filters
  7. Glass or foil and finding the correct filter size
  8. How to locate the Sun quickly in your telescope
  9. Herschel wedges for refracting telescopes
  10. Observing solar prominences and chromospheres
  11. Impressions of the Sun in H-alpha


Products shown in the video:

 

Omegon 45791 solar filter

Omegon ProNewton N 153/750 OTA

iOptron GEM28 GoTo LiteRoc mount

Baader AstroSolar solar eclipse glasses

Astrozap solar filter for external diameters of 232 to 238mm

Baader AstroSolar® OD 5.0 A4 210x297mm solar filter film

Baader AstroSolar ASTF 200mm telescope solar filter

Omegon 150mm solar filter

APM Herschel wedge 2″ FastLock

MEADE 2″ Herschel wedge with ND3 filter and ceramic plate

Omegon Pro APO AP 72/400 ED Quintuplet OTA apochromatic refracting telescope

Coronado ST 40/400 OTA PST Personal Solar Telescope

Coronado ST 40/400 0.5Å OTA PST Personal Solar Telescope

Daystar QUARK H-alpha solar filter, Chromosphere

Daystar QUARK H-alpha solar filter, Prominence

Astronomy highlights in Autumn 2022

August 31 2022, Marcus Schenk

Autumn is on its way, and the evenings get dark earlier. For many, this marks the start of a great observing season. And it’s all there: Saturn is eye-catching as it shines in the night sky, Jupiter is at opposition and there will even be a partial eclipse of the Sun! What’s more, the Moon will occult Uranus. And that’s just the start!

In our “Astronomy Highlights in Autumn 2022” infographic, you’ll find many of the important celestial events at a glance. Information and further explanations of the events can be found in the accompanying text.

Have fun observing!

September

11/09 Conjunction between the Moon and Jupiter

The Moon and Jupiter rise almost together and we can admire them at around 9 p.m. above the eastern horizon.

14/09 The Moon occults Uranus

The Moon and the planets move along an imaginary line in the sky known as the ecliptic. This refers to the apparent path along which planets move around the Sun. Once in a while the Moon occults one of the planets. Now, on the 14th, it’s that time again: the Moon approaches with its illuminated side and occults Uranus at around 10 p.m.

16/09 Conjunction between the Moon and Mars

Shortly before midnight, the constellation Taurus climbs above the eastern horizon and will look particularly attractive today, because it also marks the meeting place of Mars and the Moon. Together with Aldebaran, Capella and the Pleiades, it makes a lovely sight.

16/09 Neptune at opposition

Our farthest planet is at opposition to the Sun tonight. Neptune is currently 4.3 billion kilometres away from us and shines with a magnitude of 7.8. Its light takes 4 hours to reach the Earth. We can even see Neptune with binoculars, though it cannot be distinguished from a star. It is only with a telescope that can we identify it as a planet with certainty. But it’s not so easy to find as Jupiter or Saturn. A star chart or app will help you.

26/09 Jupiter at opposition

An opposition is quite special: for this is when a planet is directly opposite the Sun and shines brightly all night long. Jupiter is currently at an altitude of 42 degrees above the horizon. This is considerably higher than in recent years, which greatly improves the quality of our observations.

Lunar phases:

03/09 First Quarter, 10/09 Full Moon, 17/09 Last Quarter, 25/09 New Moon

October

05/10 Conjunction between the Moon and Saturn

Tonight, the Moon passes below the ringed planet. On the Moon you can also observe the phenomenon known as the Golden Handle, an illuminated mountain at the Moon’s terminator.

08/10 Conjunction between the Moon and Jupiter

Time for a planetary evening! The Moon and Jupiter meet today in the constellation Capricorn. In September, Jupiter was at opposition to the Sun and is still an excellent object for any telescope. Tonight, we won’t be disturbed by a bright Moon.

11/10 Mercury in the morning

From 5 October, we can catch Mercury in the morning sky. The closest planet to the Sun is usually too close to it, which is why we rarely see it. October is the only time this year that it is visible in the night sky.

14/10 Conjunction between the Moon and Mars

From midnight, we get a taste of winter because then the constellations Auriga and Taurus appear above the horizon. In the middle of all this we can also see Mars and the Moon, which are particularly close to one another today. Can you see the red colour of our neighbouring planet?

21/10 Orionids

The Orionids are a small meteor shower producing around 20 meteors per hour. The radiant is located in the constellation Orion near the star Betelgeuse. Although you can observe the shooting stars throughout the month, they will be at their peak between 20 and 21 October. The best time to observe them is between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.

24/10 Conjunction between the Moon and Mercury

Are you an early riser? Perfect, because this morning you can take a quick look at the slender crescent Moon and Mercury. For this you will need an elevated location or an unobstructed view towards the horizon. Then, just before sunrise from 6:50 a.m., you will discover the two celestial bodies.

25/10 Partial solar eclipse

The last partial eclipse that was visible to us was on 10 June 2021. A little more than a year later we can follow the next one. It starts at around 11a.m. on 25 October when the Moon moves in front of the Sun and obscures around 25% of it.

Important: use a solar filter when observing. Safe filters are available in our Astroshop.

Lunar phases: 09/10 Full Moon, 17/10 Last Quarter, 25/10 New Moon

November

01/11 Conjunction between the Moon and Saturn

The waxing crescent Moon and the planet Saturn are now to be found together in the constellation Capricorn.

04/11 Conjunction between the Moon and Jupiter

This evening, the waxing Moon meets the planet Jupiter, which was at opposition in September. Over the course of the night, the two celestial bodies approach at a distance of around 2 degrees.

09/11 Uranus at opposition

Uranus is one of the most distant gas giants. It appears only as a tiny, greenish disc in a telescope and we cannot make out any detail. However, you can still distinguish it as a planet. Find Uranus with a star chart or, easier still, with your telescope’s GoTo system. Then you can identify the planet using 150 to 200 times magnification.

11/11 Conjunction between the Moon and Mars

Tonight, the waning Moon finds itself close to the planet Mars. The Red Planet is between the Moon and Aldebaran, the brightest star in the constellation Taurus. An interesting task for today is to compare the intensity of the red colours of Mars, Aldebaran and Betelgeuse.

17/11 Leonids

From 16 to 17/11, the Leonids reach their peak. Together with the Perseids, they are among the most famous meteor showers. In some years these meteors fall like raindrops from the sky. This usually happens every 33 years when the Earth meets the Leonids’ debris cloud. In normal years, the peak does not exceed 20 meteors per hour. This year, you can observe them during the first half of the night, undisturbed by moonlight.

Lunar phases: 08/11 Full Moon, 16/11 Last Quarter, 23/11 New Moon, 30/11 First Quarter

Astronomy Highlights – Summer 2022

June 1 2022, Marcus Schenk

Summer shooting stars, planetary chains and Saturn and Pluto at opposition… Don’t miss out on these astronomical delicacies. And in August, an occultation of a bright star by the Moon awaits us.

In the “Astronomy Highlights in Summer 2022” infographic, you can find numerous important celestial events at a glance. You can find dates and detailed descriptions of the events in the accompanying text.

Have fun observing!

June

03/06 Conjunction between the Moon and M44

The waxing Moon crosses the ecliptic within the constellation Cancer this evening. In doing so, it approaches the M44 star cluster. You can admire both using binoculars with a large field of view.

16/06 Mercury at greatest western elongation

Mercury is at its greatest western elongation today. It, therefore, reaches its greatest angular distance from the Sun. Unfortunately, we have almost no time to view it and only experienced binocular observers will be able to make it out at dawn.

18/06 Conjunction between the Moon and Saturn

This morning, the Moon visits Saturn and both can be found 9 degrees apart in the constellation Capricorn.

22/06 Conjunction between Jupiter and Mars

Time for night owls and astronomers. From 2am, you can see Jupiter and Mars rising up over the eastern horizon. The Moon can be found at the centre of the event. A wonderful sight.

26/06 The Moon near Venus

This month, the planets are predominantly visible in the morning sky. They are lined up along a diagonal like a cosmic chain. The Moon will be paying most of the planets a visit and, on the 26th, it is Venus’ turn. The display is especially attractive three days before new Moon.

July

01/07   Conjunction between Venus and Aldebaran

Venus is almost as bright as possible – even bright stars found nearby can appear quite dull in comparison. On the first of the month, Venus approaches Taurus’ main star: Aldebaran.

16/07 Conjunction between the Moon and Saturn

The Moon passes by Saturn tonight and moves from the constellation Capricorn to Aquarius. The ringed planet is then even more visible and it reaches its opposition next month. This marks the start of the Summer of the Gas Giants.

19/07 Conjunction between the Moon and Jupiter

There are two competitors in the sky: the Moon and Jupiter. The gas giant has a magnitude of -2.5 and is only outshone by Venus and our own Moon.

20/07 Pluto at opposition

The former planet and current dwarf planet is at opposition and shining with a magnitude of 14.3. Finding it with a telescope is a challenge and it will only work if you have an  accurate star chart.

22/07 Conjunction between the Moon and Mars

After rising shortly before 1am, the Moon meets Mars, which is glowing red at a distance of five degrees. However, our satellite is much closer to Uranus, with only 2.6 degrees between them today.

26/07 Conjunction between the Moon and Venus

When the first light of dawn appears, it’s worth taking a glance at the horizon. There is a conjunction between the dazzling Venus and the wafer thin, 27-day-old crescent moon this morning. An excellent opportunity for some stunning photographs!

August

06/08 The Moon occults Delta Sco

Delta Sco is a star within the constellation of Scorpio which, at a magnitude of 2, can be found in the centre of its distinctive, tripartite pincers. This evening the dark side of the Moon is occulting it. This is always the best kind of occultation as the star suddenly disappears as if into thin air. To follow the start of the occultation at 23:52, you need a high elevation and an excellent view of the southwest horizon.

11/08 Conjunction between the Moon and Saturn

In the night between 11 and 12 August, the Moon approaches the ringed planets. As Saturn reaches it opposition this month, it can be easily seen for the entire month.

13/08 Perseids

The absolute highlight of every August is the Perseids meteor shower. We are able to see up to 100 meteors per hour tonight. Admittedly, this is only because the Moon is not interfering. This year, the bright, almost full Moon disrupts viewing and you will only be able to possibly see the brightest meteors. Using binoculars you have a chance to catch a few dim ones.

14/08 Saturn at opposition

In past years, Saturn has stopped just above the horizon due to the location of the ecliptic. This made successful viewing difficult. But the ringed planet climbed higher up the celestial ladder and reached an altitude of 20 degrees in 2019 and of 24 degrees in 2021. During its current opposition in August 2022, it reaches even greater heights of up to 26 degrees. A clear advantage as, the higher the position, the less we have to battle against light pollution. On 14 August, Saturn reaches opposition and can be clearly seen for the whole night. We can recognise it by its yellow colour and its gentle glow.

15/08 Conjunction between the Moon and Jupiter

During the nights of 14 and 15 August, the Moon approaches and passes by Jupiter. This encounter can be seen all night as our largest planet will now be visible throughout the night. Jupiter reaches opposition in the coming month.

19/08 Conjunction between the Moon and Mars

Are you missing that winter sky feeling? And in summer? You can get the chance after midnight. Then, there is a conjunction between Mars and the Moon within the constellation Taurus, right at the Golden Gate of the Ecliptic. A little higher up, the Pleiades light up the sky.

Total lunar eclipse on 16th May 2022

April 25 2022, Marcus Schenk

After more than three years, we are once again about to enjoy a total lunar eclipse. It is a memorable experience when the full moon gradually disappears from the sky, smouldering with an unearthly rust-coloured glow.

This year, we are only able to view the first partial phase up until the start of the totality. You can find everything you need to know in the “Brief information about the total lunar eclipse” infographic.

We wish you a very happy lunar experience! With the naked eye, a telescope or binoculars.


Useful products for the lunar eclipse

Do you have a telescope and want to quickly and easily photograph the Moon? The Omegon Easy-Pic smartphone adapter is ideally suited to this. Simply attach it to the eyepiece and lock your smartphone in place –  and you’ll soon have a lasting memory of this unique experience.

Smartphoneadapter für die Mondfinsternis

Our infographic provides the most important information about the current lunar eclipse. When the Moon shines red in the sky, it shines several magnitudes less bright. Photographing it with a long enough focal length without a telescope can be a challenge – especially during totality. Is there a simple solution? Yes. The Omegon Mini Track. Although most often used for the Milky Way and deep sky astronomy, it is also an excellent tool here. Tracking provides sharp images of the red Moon.

Die MiniTrack nimmt auch eine Mondfinsternis auf

Of course, every telescope and every pair of handheld binoculars are suitable for observation. Take a look at our product pages – you can find a suitable device for every type of observation.

Like our infographic? You can share and print out our graphic, hang it in your observatory for visitors or create a link to it on your website (at: www.astroshop.eu).

Want to soak up some of the atmosphere? In this blog post, you can see images of the lunar eclipse created by our colleagues in 2018.

Astronomy Highlights Spring 2022

March 1 2022, Marcus Schenk

Close conjunctions between planets, a bright Venus and a total lunar eclipse: In this quarter, the heavens are offering up some delicious morsels which are worth viewing. What’s happening with Mercury, for example? The small, nimble planet will soon reach its best evening visibility.

In the “Astronomy Highlights in Spring 2022” infographic, you can find at a glance numerous important celestial events. You can find dates and detailed descriptions of the events in the accompanying text.

Have fun observing!

March

08/03 Conjunction between the Moon and the Pleiades

This evening, the six-day-old Moon approaches the Pleiades open star cluster.

12/03 Conjunction between Venus and Mars

Shortly before sunrise, Venus and Mars can be seen over the south-eastern horizon. Venus is almost half-illuminated and shining with a magnitude of magnitude -4.5

20/03 Venus at greatest western elongation

Venus is at its greatest western elongation today. It, therefore, reaches its greatest angular distance from the Sun and can maintain an acceptable altitude above the horizon. It is now 50% illuminated.

23/03 Conjunction between Saturn and Mars

Just above the horizon, we can look forward to an attractive celestial display. Venus, Mars and Saturn are waiting for us in a planetary triangle. A good opportunity to compare their various magnitudes.

28/03 Conjunction between the Moon, Venus, Saturn and Mars

On 23 March, we are able to marvel at three planets. Today the slender crescent moon is keeping the trio company. Grab your camera and capture this beautiful event for ever.

April

05/04 Conjunction between Mars and Saturn

A rare event? Yes, because this morning Mars is passing by the ringed planet at a distance of only 20 arc seconds. A good opportunity to view both planets through binoculars or a telescope, or for a photo of both celestial bodies.

05/04 Moon in Davis’ Dog

An asterism is a random collection of stars which we perceive in pretty patterns. Today the Moon brushes past “Davis’ Dog”, a pattern of stars which resembles a dog or a fox. When viewed through binoculars, the sight is very delightful. In some places, the Moon occults bright stars.

17/04 Conjunction between Mercury and Uranus

This evening sees Mercury passing Uranus at a distance of only two degrees. This means you can locate both planets within the visual field of a pair of binoculars. A high vantage point is desirable since the planets are only 4 degrees above the horizon at 9pm.

24/04 Mercury in the evening sky

Mercury achieves its best evening visibility this year. Do you still want to see it? Then the time is now. At dusk, it can be found just above the western and north-western horizon. But only for the next 10 to 14 days, before it disappears.

27/04 Conjunction between Venus and Jupiter

Three days before the new Moon, its narrow crescent comes into conjunction with the planets Venus and Jupiter.

29/04 Conjunction between Mercury and the Pleiades

The winter constellation of Taurus goes down in the west. In the twilight, Mercury approaches the well-known Pleiades star cluster. You can marvel at both in the visual field of a pair of binoculars.

May

01/05 Conjunction between Venus and Jupiter

At a distance of barely 20 arc seconds, Venus “scrapes” past Jupiter. Such a close encounter is seldom seen. The only downside is that you have to drag yourself out of bed early as it can only be seen in the morning sky.

02/05 Conjunction between the Moon and Mercury

For those who prefer to observe in the evenings, you can catch a last glimpse of Mercury today. The spectacle takes place just above the western horizon but is especially attractive. A delicate waxing crescent moon to the left and, to the right, the Pleiades.

12/05 Venus, Jupiter, Mars in alignment

Shortly before dawn, we can see Venus, Jupiter and Mars sitting in a neat row. A little further up, we can also find Saturn. The band of planets stretches from the eastern horizon almost diagonally across the sky.

16/05 Total lunar eclipse

The last visible lunar eclipse took place in January 2019. Three years later, the event is repeating itself. However, visibility for the current eclipse is sadly not optimal. We cannot fully follow it, only the first part. The Moon enters the Earth’s umbral shadow at 04:28. At this time, our satellite is still 8 degrees above the horizon. Just at the start of the totality, the Moon goes down in the southwest. We won’t be able to see another total lunar eclipse until 2025 – and that will be in the evening.

28/05 Tau Herculids

The Tau Herculids are a meteor shower which we have not previously recommended in our Astronomy Highlights. Why? They are usually barely noticeable and not so exciting with a maximum of two meteors per hour. Only avid meteor fans get anything out of them. But this year could be different. This year, the Earth crosses paths with the trail of dust left by the disintegrating 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 comet in 1995. This year, it could be quite the shower. The International Meteor Organisation (IMO) is encouraging people to collect observational data.

29/05 Conjunction between Mars and Jupiter

At three in the morning, Mars and Jupiter climb above the horizon. It will be immediately apparent that we are dealing with a very close conjunction here. The two planets pass each other at a distance of around 0.5 degrees. When viewed through binoculars, they will appear as a stunning pair in the same visual field.

Astronomy Highlights in Winter 2021/22

December 3 2021, Marcus Schenk

The highlights of the winter sky are the bright stars around the constellations Orion and Taurus. But the next three months also offer us more to discover: a bright evening star, meteor showers and a beautiful necklace made of planets.

In the “Astronomy Highlights in Winter 2021/22” infographic, you will find many important celestial events at a glance. Information and further explanations of the events can be found in the accompanying text.

We wish you lots of observing pleasure.

December:

4 December Bright Venus

Venus is at its brightest at the beginning of this month. At mag -4.8, it stands out in the evening sky now and is, after the Moon, the brightest object in the sky.

7 December The Moon near Venus

In the early evening sky, the waxing crescent Moon joins an attractive planetary parade. Venus, Jupiter and Saturn are visible, looking almost like a pearl necklace.

8 December The Moon near Saturn and Jupiter

Those who sighted the Moon yesterday will discover it higher and about 14 degrees distant today, between Saturn and Jupiter.

13 December Geminids

If the sky is clear in the evening, you should take a look towards the south. There you will find the Geminids meteor shower, appearing to emerge from the constellation Gemini. More precisely: from a point two degrees above the star Pollux. The best time for observing it is between 21:00 and 06:00. With 120 meteors per hour, the Geminids are among the most prolific meteor showers. This year we have to wait until the morning hours to observe undisturbed and with no Moon.

17 December The Moon occults Tau (τ) Tauri

Tau Tauri is a star in the constellation Taurus and, at magnitude 4.3, it is visible with the naked eye. Since the Moon’s orbit appears to run through Taurus, occultations often occur. This is the case today: at 22:30 Tau Tauri disappears behind the almost full Moon and appears around 80 minutes later on the other side.

29 December Mercury near Venus

Mercury begins to be visible in the evening and meets with neighbouring planet Venus at dusk. If you have a good view of the horizon, you will discover both planets from 17:00.

January:

3 January Quadrantids

The Quadrantids are a meteor shower originating from the constellation Boötes. The new year brings us up to 100 meteors per hour, but they are only moderately bright. The radiant, from where the shooting stars seem to originate, does not appear until after midnight. The new Moon was just yesterday, making astronomical observations particularly worthwhile right now.  Green light for all deep sky observers!

5 January The Moon nears Mercury, Saturn and Jupiter

Planet fans will be delighted: at dusk you can see a beautiful chain of planets consisting of Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury. The three-day-old crescent Moon accompanies the trio. A lovely way to welcome the new year.

6 January The Moon occults Tau (τ) Aquarii

It’s still twilight and we’re waiting for the night to come. But the first astronomical highlight is already taking place. At 17:00, the Moon occults the mag 4 bright star Tau Aquarii in the constellation Aquarius. In this occultation, the Moon approaches from its unlit side.

8 January Mercury in the evening sky

Over the last few days, Mercury has become increasingly visible in the evening sky. It’s not exactly bombastic, but for those who would like to see reclusive Mercury, now is a great opportunity. Today and for the next two days, the conditions are particularly good, because its brightness and altitude in the sky are aligned. Soon Mercury will sink back toward the horizon and disappear.

11 January The Moon near Uranus

The planet Uranus is a distant agent in the solar system. Today, it is just 2.5 degrees from the Moon. Try your luck with a pair of binoculars.

26 January The Moon occults Alpha (α) Librae

This is something for early risers only: an occultation by the Moon of a star in the constellation Libra. More specifically, the Moon occults the mag 2.7 bright double star Alpha Librae. It gets going at 6:40!

29 January The Moon near Mars

Those with a great craving for the planet Mars will be able to see it at dawn in the south-east on 29 January. On this day there is an attractive meet-up with the narrow crescent Moon. You won’t catch another glimpse of Mars in the night sky until the coming summer.

February:

3 February The Moon near Jupiter

Jupiter accompanied us last year and was visible every evening in the sky. But soon it will escape our gaze and disappear from the sky for a while. On 3 February, it reveals itself once more in the twilight in a duo together with the delicate crescent Moon.

7 February The Moon near Uranus

Tonight, the Moon passes the planet Uranus at a distance of just 1.5 degrees.

9 February The Moon passes the Golden Gate of the Ecliptic

The area between the Hyades and the Pleiades has a name: the Golden Gate of the Ecliptic. Today, the Moon is a nocturnal wayfarer between the two well-known star clusters.

9 February Bright Venus

Venus lives up to its title of the Morning Star. Because with almost mag -5, it is radiantly bright. This astronomical spotlight appears above the horizon at around 05:00. It shines so brightly that no one can miss it.

27 February The Moon near Mars and Venus

Bright Venus, red Mars and a slender crescent Moon, just before the new Moon. What a great motivation to take a very early morning look at the sky. A peaceful morning mood is guaranteed.

 

Infographic: Astronomy Highlights Autumn 2021

September 1 2021, Marcus Schenk

Autumn has a planetary focus on Jupiter and Saturn which are both still brilliantly visible. Additionally, you have the chance to see the two outermost planets, Uranus and Neptune, at opposition.

In the “Astronomy Highlights in Autumn 2021” infographic, you can find numerous important celestial events at a glance. You can find dates and detailed descriptions of the events in the accompanying text.

Have fun observing!

September

September occurs in the period between summer and autumn. This can also be seen in the night skies. The constellations Hercules and Lyra drift westward. Contrastingly, the constellation Capricorn is conspicuous alongside the large planets Jupiter and Saturn in the south.

02/09 The Moon occults Epsilon Gem – In the early hours of the morning, the slender crescent moon occults the star Epsilon Gem in the constellation Gemini. The Moon approaches with its illuminated side at around 2am. You need a very good view of the horizon facing towards the north-east. (Visibility depends on observer location)

03/09 The Moon occults Epsilon Gem – At 4:38am, the slender crescent moon occults the star Kappa Gem in the constellation Gemini. An attractive occultation as the Moon appears as a narrow crescent. (Visibility depends on observer location)

3.9. Conjunction between the Moon and Pollux – In the second half of the night, the Moon appears over the horizon in the constellation Gemini. Only 3 degrees separate it from Pollux.

14.9. Neptune at opposition – The solar system’s furthest planet is at opposition and looks magnificent. You can see it as a star by using binoculars but it is only by using a telescope that you can see the 2.3 arc second planet as a small sliver. A star chart or an app would benefit you here.

17.9. Conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn – Both large planets meet in the constellation Capricorn. With the Moon in the middle, they form a triangle.

October

October definitively marks the start of autumn. High above our heads we can see the famous Great Square of Pegasus and the constellation Andromeda. Time to take an extensive trip to the Andromeda Galaxy. Always an experience with binoculars.

03/10 The Moon occults Eta Leo – In the early hours of the morning, at around 5:27am, it is still dark. It is now that the Moon occults the 3.4 mag star Eta Leo with its narrow-illuminated side. It is definitely the most impressive star occultation of the quarter. (Visibility depends on observer location)

08/10 Giacobinids – The Giacobinids or Draconids are a meteor shower which appears to stem from the constellation Draco. The maximum fall rates can be expected on 8 October. Unfortunately, the expected number cannot be predicted as it can vary considerably. The radiant is located near the star Beta Draconis. Draco is part of a circumpolar constellation which is why the radiant is at its optimal visible altitude in the evening.

09/10 Conjunction between the Moon and Venus – At sunset, a brilliant Venus and a 3.5-day-young crescent moon rise in the southwest. There is a maximum time window of 2 hours until Venus disappears below the horizon.

14-15/10 Conjunction between the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn – At the end of the civil twilight, at around 19:00, the planets Jupiter and Saturn rise dominantly in the sky. Although they were at opposition in August, they are still a rewarding target. The Moon does not disrupt their observation.

21/10 Orionids – The Orionids are a smaller meteor shower with around 20 meteors per hour. The radiant is located in the constellation Orion, near the star Betelgeuse. Although you can observe the meteor shower all month, it peaks between October 20 and 21. The best time for observing is between 22:00 and 05:00.

23/10 Mercury in the morning sky – In May, Mercury could be seen in the evening sky whereas now the planet is offering us a short period of morning visibility. Between 23/10 and 31/10, you can see it just above the eastern horizon.

November

The constellation Perseus is near the zenith in November. This is where you will find the two brightest stars, Mirfak and Algol. The famous binary star cluster h + chi illuminates the space between Perseus and Cassiopeia and can be seen with the naked eye in dark areas.

03/11 Conjunction between the Moon and Mercury – There are two reasons to get up early today. This morning, the delicate crescent moon and Mercury are in conjunction. One of the last opportunities before Mercury disappears into the Sun’s glare.

05/11 Uranus at opposition – At mag. 5.6, Uranus is currently visible with the naked eye. However, it is easier to spot using binoculars or a telescope. This makes it appear as a tiny green disc with no recognisable details. However, it can still be identified as a planet.

08/11 Conjunction between the Moon and Venus – The waxing crescent moon is in conjunction with the twinkling brightness of Venus.

10/11 Conjunction between the Moon and Saturn – The Moon passes Saturn only 4.5 degrees beneath it.

11/11 Conjunction between the Moon and Jupiter – Tonight the Moon passes Jupiter, moving at almost one degree per hour. We can track the movement relative to Jupiter quite well.

17/11 Leonids – The Leonids reach their peak from November 16 to 17. Along with the Perseids, they are one of the most famous meteor showers. There have been years in which these meteors have fallen like raindrops from the sky. This generally takes place every 33 years when the Earth runs into the Leonid cloud. In normal years, the shower does not exceed 20 meteors per hour at its peak. This year, the slender crescent moon sets early on and we can enjoy the meteors all night long without interruption.

Astro-highlights – Summer 2021

June 4 2021, Marcus Schenk

A solar eclipse after six years, the large planets in opposition and the August meteor shower is visible without any moonlight.

If you’re not looking at the stars this summer, you’re missing something. The sky chart “Astro-highlights – Summer 2021” shows you all the significant celestial events at a glance so that you don’t miss anything. Additional information about these events can be found below the graphic.

We wish you lots of observing pleasure!

June

10/6 Partial solar eclipse

The last partial solar eclipse in Europe was visible on 20 March 2015. The Moon covered up to 80% of the Sun’s disk then. The next solar eclipse occurs on 10 June. It is an annular solar eclipse visible in Greenland and Northern Canada, and partially visible in Central Europe. It is relatively unspectacular, only covering a few percent of the Sun.  The further north you are, the higher the degree of the eclipse. In Munich, only 6.3% of the lunar limb touches the Sun, whereas in Hamburg it is 17.3%. The eclipse begins at 11:35a.m. and ends at 13:22 (depending on the exact location). Caution: Only observe the Sun with a suitable solar filter, which you can purchase from our online shop.

Degree of coverage at our Astroshop sites:

Landsberg, Germany: 6.56%

Marseille, France: 2.7%

Malaga, Spain: 1.3%

Warsaw, Poland: 9.9%

Hasselt/Genk, Belgium: 14.9%

Aveiro, Portugal: 9%

Palermo, Italy: 0%

12/6 The Moon meets Venus

The faint waxing crescent Moon and brilliant Venus appear low to the west shortly after sunset. To the upper left, you will discover Mars. If you are observing with binoculars, a short diagonal sweep to the upper left will bring you to the Beehive Cluster M44.

13/6 The Moon meets Mars

Today the Moon rises higher and joins the planet Mars, which it passes at a distance of 1.8 degrees. Both make a beautiful view through binoculars.

27/6 June Bootids

The June Bootids meteor shower originates in the Boötes constellation. The number of falling stars is small but variable. There have been years in which no meteors were sighted at all, but there have also been occurrences of 100 per hour. This meteor shower is exciting and worth taking a closer look at.

27/6 The Moon meets Saturn

Those who want to see the big gas giants will have to wait until midnight in June. Saturn is currently in the constellation of Capricorn, the horned mountain goat that climbs the meridian at the peak of the sky before dawn. The Moon passes Saturn today at a distance of about 9 degrees.

29/6 The Moon meets Jupiter

On its way along the ecliptic this morning, the Moon passes about 5 degrees below Jupiter. The large differences in brightness between the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn and the brightest stars are interesting to observe.

July

8/7 The Moon meets Mercury

Mercury hovers low over the horizon in the morning sky for the next few days. We can observe it with a perfect horizon view well after 4a.m., close above a flat landscape. The crescent Moon joins it 2.5 degrees above. The new Moon is in two days’ time.

12/7 The Moon meets Venus and Mars

As dusk falls, the Moon and the two planets Venus and Mars make for a delightful sight. The pouncing Leo seemingly about to snap at the three objects. You can admire both celestial bodies through binoculars in one field of view. It’s also a great opportunity to take a photo at dusk.

18/7 Pluto in opposition

Pluto is a dwarf planet that is not easily visible and a challenge for larger telescopes.  Once the 9th planet, it was stripped of its planetary dignity in 2006, but of course our enthusiasm for the solar system’s outpost remains undiminished. If you want to set your sights on it, the best time to do so is during its opposition. Use your GoTo mount’s controller and a star chart to distinguish it from the background stars.

Coordinates for GoTo controller (23:59 CEST): RA: 19h49m59s, Dec: -22°38′

19/7 Golden Handle

The Golden Handle of the Moon? It does exist, but only during a certain lunar phase. Appearing like a handle of light, it is an effect caused by light on the lunar surface, along the terminator line. We are gazing at the Mare Imbrium in the Sinus Iridum crater region and the Montes Jura. Here, the sun rises at the day-night boundary. While the crater is still in darkness, the peaks of Montes Jura catch the sunlight at their summits. A golden ring in the darkness. Best seen between 18:00 and 21:30 CEST.

20/7 The Moon meets Antares

This evening, the Moon remains to the east of the star Antares. It is a red supergiant and shines bright with a reddish hue in the night sky. Its diameter is 700 times greater than that of our Sun and it would swallow some planets, including our Earth, if it were to take the place of our own celestial body.

21/7 Venus meets Regulus

With a good view of the horizon, you will discover Venus at the foot of the constellation Leo after sunset. In the immediate vicinity you will find the star Alpha Leonis, better known as Regulus. The name means  “little King” or “prince”. If you’re thinking of little Simba and the Lion King, you’re probably right.

24/7 The Moon meets Saturn

Shortly before midnight, the constellation of Capricorn appears above the horizon. It is easily recognised by its bowl-like shape. The Moon passes below Saturn at a distance of 4.6 degrees on this night. If you focus on Saturn with binoculars, you will notice a magnitude 5.8 star on your left.

25/7 The Moon meets Jupiter

One day after its encounter with Saturn, the Moon meets Jupiter in the constellation of Aquarius. On this night, the two celestial bodies are separated by 5.5 degrees. Next month, the two gas giants will be in opposition to the Sun.

28/7 Delta Aquariids

The Delta Aquariids are a meteoroid stream that appear to originate in Aquarius. With around 25 meteors per hour, however, it trails far behind the August meteor shower in terms of prominence. Because the Moon phase is very high, the only suitable time for observation is before moonrise.

August

1/8 Jupiter’s moon Ganymede covers Europa

If you take a look through a telescope after Jupiter rises, you will notice the two moons of Jupiter, Europa and Ganymede.  Like double stars, they appear close to each other. At 0:00 CEST, Ganymede partially obscures the somewhat smaller Europa, and at around 2:00 CEST, the two moons go their separate ways again.

2/8 Saturn in opposition

Due to the low position of the ecliptic plane, Saturn has remained low above the horizon in recent years. In 2019, it reached a height of about 20 degrees. During its opposition this year, we can observe it at an altitude of 24 degrees. Over the next few years, Saturn will continue to climb higher. The higher its position, the less we have to contend with atmospheric air turbulence.

On 2 August it reaches its opposition and shines brightly in the sky with a magnitude of 0.1. In doing so, it competes with the brightest stars. We recognise it by its yellowish colour and calm glow. Its ring opening is 18 degrees and if we look at the ring system from the north, we can easily identify the Cassini division.

11/8 The Moon meets Venus

A gaze into the evening twilight is well worth it, Venus shines brightly low in the west with the narrow crescent Moon just above it.

12/8 Perseids

Enjoy the most beautiful shooting stars of the year. The Perseids can be seen at their best this year, there will be a new Moon and dark skies all night while we observe them. The meteor shower is most intense during the morning hours of 12 August. At this time, up to 100 shooting stars fall through our atmosphere each hour at a speed of approximately 216,000 km/h. The best observation time is between 22:00 and 4:00 CEST.

18/8 Mars meets Mercury

An extremely close encounter for seasoned observers. At dusk on 18 August, Mars and Mercury meet only about 3 degrees above the horizon. The sun is barely below the horizon at this time.

20/8 Jupiter in opposition

You can already see Jupiter rising flat in the east at twilight, at magnitude -2.8, a bright object that is hard to miss. But the evening sky has even more to offer in terms of conspicuous objects; the moon and Saturn in close proximity and radiant Venus close above the western horizon.

Today, Jupiter draws all the attention – it is in opposition to the Sun and can be admired all night long. It is now separated from Earth by 600 million kilometres and the light takes just over half an hour to reach us. Its apparent diameter is 49″, it reaches its meridian passage and thus its best visibility and highest position at 1:14 CEST.