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Archive for the 'Observations' category

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.

Infographic: Astronomy Highlights in Spring 2021

February 26 2021, Marcus Schenk

A visit to the Pleiades, a very bright minor planet and a superbly-visible Mercury in the evening sky. There’s lots to look forward to the astronomical spring, because it has plenty to offer.

In the infographic Astronomy Highlights in Spring 2021, you have an overview of the important celestial events for the next three months.

We wish you lots of observing pleasure!

March

4/3 Mars near the Pleiades (Golden Gate of the Ecliptic)

Mars was in opposition last year and was visible in the starry evening sky. It still gleams in the night sky, disappearing ever more from the picture, along with the winter constellations. Around 4 March it nears the Pleiades at a distance of about 2 degrees. In doing so, the god of war also passes through the Golden Gate of the Ecliptic. This is the name of the area between the Hyades and the Pleiades, through which the ecliptic takes its course.

4/3 Vesta at opposition

Vesta is a goddess in Roman mythology but also the name of a well-known minor planet. With a diameter of 520 kilometres, it is the second largest in the asteroid belt.  While at opposition, it can sometimes be distinguished with the naked eye. Currently, at mag. 5.8 – 6.0, it is just beyond the visibility of the naked eye. However, it is easy to see with binoculars or a telescope. So how about observing a minor planet? That would make a very special star-gazing evening. What’s more, you can easily find Vesta in the rear part of the constellation Leo. From star Theta Leonis (the hind leg of the lion), just one degree to the northeast – et voilà.

5/3 Mercury near Jupiter

A difficult encounter: Mercury and Jupiter are near one another, but they are not easy to track. When both become visible, it will be shortly before 6:00am and the Sun will be just 8 degrees below the horizon. The time window is short and you need a clear view of the horizon as the two planets approach with a separation of just 0.3 degrees.

10/3 the Moon nears Jupiter and Saturn

Just before dawn for early risers: several objects gather together over the south-eastern horizon this morning. Almost as if they were on a diagonal pearl necklace, you will discover Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn. The delicate crescent Moon frames this meeting of the planets, and turns the morning into a wonderful astronomical event.

16/3 the Moon nears Uranus

In the evening hours we see the waxing crescent Moon between the constellations Cetus and Pisces. If you like, you can make a detour from here with your telescope, to the distant planet Uranus. Because today it is just 6 degrees above the Earth’s satellite. Uranus is always worth a look, because it is not a standard object, such as Saturn or Jupiter. As a distant planet, even in a telescope it is just a small disc which, if you look closely, is clearly different from a star. Nevertheless, it makes sense to familiarise yourself with the exact position on a star chart before observing.

18/3 Mars nears u Tauri

A few days ago, Mars moved through the Golden Gate of the Ecliptic, past the Pleiades. Today it stops at u Tauri in the constellation of Taurus, at a star that is a member of the Hyades. This is a pulsating star, which changes its luminosity within a few days. If you scan through this area with binoculars, you will notice a pattern made up of many stars. This is an asterism, a pattern-like group of stars. It’s called Davis’ Dog and depicts a dog with a nose, eyes, ears, legs and tail. Although some people see it as a fox. What do you see?

April

1/4 Antares nears the Moon

During the night from 1 – 2 April, the Moon approaches the brightest star in Scorpius: Antares. It is a red supergiant and shines brightly and red-hued 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.

6/4 the Moon nears Saturn

The morning sky already shows us the heralds of summer: the constellations Sagittarius and especially Capricornus. In the realm of this mountain goat, the Moon and Saturn meet today and stand at a separation of 5.3 degrees.

15/4 the Moon passes the Golden Gate of the Ecliptic

Three days after the new Moon, the delicate crescent Moon appears again in the evening above the western horizon. Our satellite reaches the Golden Gate of the Ecliptic, which is flanked by the famous star clusters of the Hyades and the Pleiades.

17/4 the Moon nears Mars

The Moon and Mars meet tonight at a distance of around 2.5 degrees.  The Red Planet is still in the constellation Taurus, but on 24 April it will move to the constellation Gemini.

19/4 the Moon nears Pollux

The Moon approaches the star Pollux in Gemini at a separation of 3.3 degrees. The more interesting thing tonight, however, is the occultation of star kappa Gem by the Moon. It approaches with its unlit side and swallows the bright mag. 3.5 star for a little more than an hour. The occultation can only be followed in certain regions with sufficient darkness. In Germany, the occultation begins at around 20:21.

26/4 Venus nears Mercury

This is something for specialists: because Venus and Mercury are not yet visible in the evening sky. But at dusk, the two inner planets approach one another and pass by at a distance of 1.3 degrees. At 20:45 CEST, the Sun will be just 4 degrees below the horizon and the planets will be slightly above it. So you may catch a glimpse with large binoculars, but it’ll be difficult to observe.

May

4/5 the Moon nears Saturn

Capricornus belongs to the summer constellations and is already climbing above the horizon in the morning sky. The planet Saturn will remain in this constellation for the next two years, before it moves to Aquarius. However, this morning the Lord of the Rings gets a visit from the Moon.

5/5 the Moon nears Jupiter

Yesterday, the Moon visited Saturn, today it also calls on Jupiter. It is still in the neighbourhood, after Jupiter and Saturn met in a very close conjunction last December.

10/5 Mercury visible, evening sky

Mercury has good evening visibility this month – it’s the only month this year when it is really easy to observe. From 10 May, it’s easy to find on the western horizon. At around 21:30 it will be dark enough that you will have no problem seeing it gleaming in the sky. Venus is on the verge of setting, but Mercury is around 8.5 degrees above the horizon. This means: if you have a good view towards the horizon, you have an hour until it disappears in the haze of the horizon and sets. Over the course of the month the little planet climbs the stairway to the heavens, and will be located a little higher every day. On 18 May, it will not set until 22:53 CEST – but thereafter it sets a little earlier every day.

13/5 the Moon nears Mercury

One of the most beautiful encounters on the evening sky: shortly after sunset today, the 3.5% illuminated crescent Moon joins Mercury and will be just 2 degrees to the south. Further below you will discover Venus.

15/5 the Moon nears Mars

In the far west, today the still-narrow crescent Moon meets with Mars in the constellation Gemini. By the way, NASA launched a new robot mission to Mars last year. NASA successfully landed the Perseverance rover on Mars in February, as part of the Mars 2020 mission. The first ever Mars helicopter is on board. Controlled by rotor blades, the drone will fly through the thin “air” and help to explore Mars from a low altitude.

17/5 Mercury at greatest eastern elongation

Mercury is at its largest eastern elongation today. With this, it reaches its greatest angular distance from the Sun and holds an easy-to-observe position above the horizon. We now have more than an hour to marvel at it before it sets. If you want to observe it with a telescope, now is also the right time – as the planet sneaks away from the thicker layers of air in the atmosphere.

17/5 the Moon nears the Beehive

It is often simply called M44 or Praesepe, but a particularly nice name for this object is: the Beehive cluster. Like in a luminous beehive, there are about 300 stars bustling in this open star cluster. The Moon nears the Beehive at about 4 degrees. This means you can see both objects with a pair of binoculars in the same field of view.

19/5 the Moon nears Regulus

Tonight, the waxing Moon nears Regulus, the main star in constellation Leo, which is also called Little King in German. Its position is close to the ecliptic, which means that repeated occultations of Regulus by the Moon can occur.

28/5 Mercury near Venus

Mercury had its best evening visibility this month and was positioned high above the horizon. Meanwhile, it has lost some height and is joining up with lower-positioned Venus. They pass by one another, but meet on the 28th and approach each other at a separation of up to 0.5 degrees.

31/5 the Moon nears Saturn

In the second half of the night, you can observe the Moon and Saturn in a southerly direction in constellation Capricorn. The constellation climbs higher and higher until daybreak, and approaches the meridian, the highest point in the sky.

Astronomy Highlights in Winter 2020/21

December 2 2020, Marcus Schenk

An extremely close encounter between Jupiter and Saturn, Mars and Uranus together in your field of view and the Geminids coincide with a new Moon. Once again there are all sorts of reasons to take a look and admire the starry sky. In the infographic “Astronomy Highlights in Winter 2020/21”, you have all the important celestial events occurring in the next three months at a glance. We wish you lots of observing pleasure!

December:

13/12 Geminids

If the evening sky is clear, take a look to the south. The Geminids meteor shower will appear to be originating from the constellation Gemini. Or to be more precise: from a point two degrees above the star Pollux. The best time for observing is between 21:00 and 06:00 CEST. With 120 meteors per hour, the Geminids are among the most active meteor showers. We are especially lucky with the timing this year since we have a new Moon and so we can observe, undisturbed, all night.

13/12 Conjunction between the Moon and Venus

Are you an early bird who can think of nothing better than to gaze at the stars in the early hours? This morning it will be worth your while. From around 05:30 GMT (06:30 CET) you can see lustrous Venus in the sky and, underneath it, the delicate crescent Moon – since the very next day we have a new Moon. This weekend is perfect for deep-sky observing.

17/12 Conjunction between the Moon, Saturn and Jupiter

We are able to enjoy this attractive event thanks to the fact that at the moment it gets dark early. At dusk we see a conjunction between Jupiter, Saturn and the young waxing crescent Moon. The two gas giants accompanied us throughout last summer and every evening they were the brightest objects in the southern sky. Now they disappear early and let the winter sky take centre stage.

21/12 Ursids

The Ursids are a meteor shower on which you can keep your eye on all night. This is because they originate from the constellation Ursa Minor, from which these meteors also get their name. These beacons speed across the sky considerably slower than the Perseids – at around 35 kilometers per second.

21/12 Winter solstice

21/12 Conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn (note: they appear very close together)

Are you observing the Star of Bethlehem today? It’s the highlight of the month and you definitely shouldn’t miss it. On 21 December, coinciding with the winter solstice, Jupiter and Saturn present us with an unusual spectacle since in this conjunction they are just 5 arc minutes apart. A truly rare sight.

Let’s step back in time: Jupiter and Saturn also met one another in the year 7 BC. In that year a total of three such conjunctions in constellation Pisces between these two planets occurred. Scientists can still prove that today. We can assume that, due to its distinctive nature, this was what became to be known as the Star of Bethlehem. An interesting association so close to Christmas, isn’t it?

How about observing both of them through your telescope in a single field of view? You need to be sure to take up your observing position early. Preferably around 17:00 CET when the gas giants are sufficiently high in the sky, since in less than 1.5 hours they will disappear into the haze on the horizon.

21/12 The Moon occults mag 4.3 star

At 20:04 GMT (21:04 CET) the Moon occults the 4.3 mag star 30 PSC, which belongs to the constellation Pisces. What is especially beautiful is that the Moon moves closer to the star from its unilluminated side, so suddenly the star disappears as if it was simply switched off. At 21:15 GMT (22:15 CET) it twinkles again from the other side of the Moon.

23/12 The Moon near Mars

In October Mars stood in favourable opposition and was spectacular to see. Now it is in the constellation Pisces where it can be observed during the first half of the night. This evening the Moon joins it.

24/12

Happy Christmas!

27/12 The Moon near Aldebaran and the Pleiades

Even people who do not concern themselves with the night sky notice the Pleiades, and they often mistake them for Ursa Minor. Observers of the sky know differently: it is the best-known open star cluster which has been observed by mankind for thousands of years and which has a special significance for many cultures. Tonight the Moon meets up with the Pleiades and with Aldebaran, the brightest star in Taurus.

January:

02/01 Quadrantids

The Quadrantids is a meteor shower originating from the constellation Boötes. The new year starts with an astronomical performance which delivers around 120 meteors per hour. The radiant, from where the shooting stars appear to originate, only appears after midnight. Unfortunately, this year the bright Moon disturbs the show, since full Moon was only three days ago.

03/01 The Moon near Regulus

Today the Moon and Regulus can be seen, with a separation of 4 degrees. The name Regulus means ”little king“ in Latin. Because of its proximity to the ecliptic, it regularly meets the Moon.

07/01 The Moon near Spica

Spica is a massive blue star, a variable star, and at the same time a binary star system. 262 light years away, 13,000 times brighter than the Sun, and 7.5 times larger than the radius of the Sun, it takes 16th place in the list of the brightest stars in the sky. Spica is located at the ear of grain that Virgo holds in her left hand, this is also the origin of the star’s Latin name. On 7 January the Moon is nearby.

11/01 The Moon near Venus

On the morning of 11 January dawn is nearly over when Venus rises at 06:00 GMT (07:00 CET) and meets the slender crescent Moon above. At this point the Sun is still just 9 degrees below the horizon.

20/01 Mars near Uranus

The planet Uranus is theoretically visible with the naked eye. However, in practice the 2.9 billion kilometre distant planet is not so easy to find. The problem is that it is so small that it can be difficult to distinguish from a star. This is tricky with binoculars, but is a little easier with a telescope where you can distinguish one ”star“ with a minimally-greater diameter from another. This evening you can find Uranus more easily because it comes near Mars at a distance of 1.5 degrees.

If you use an eyepiece with a longer focal length then you can admire both in your field of view.

21/01 The Moon near Mars

Today the Moon passes Mars at a separation of 5.5 degrees.

24.01. Mercury at greatest eastern elongation

Mercury orbits the Sun so quickly and so close, that we cannot always observe it. However now Mercury is once again at a greater angular distance of 18 degrees from the Sun. That’s not a large number, but we can nonetheless observe it during its half phase. Mercury is to be seen in the evening sky shortly after sunset. Whatever you do, wait until the Sun has set. Then you will discover Mercury just above the western horizon.

27/01 Mercury at best visibility

Today Mercury reaches its highest position in the night sky, and with it its best evening visibility. From tomorrow its orbit sends it lower, back towards the horizon.

February:

03/02 The Moon near Spica

Once again, this morning the Moon passes by star Spica in Virgo. What is behind these frequent encounters? The ecliptic lies above Spica which ensures that the Moon frequently comes to visit.

06/02 The Moon near Antares

This morning, the 23-day old and waning Moon meets Antares, the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius.

19/02 The Moon near Mars, Pleiades and the Hyades

A fine sight in the evening sky: the Moon visits the constellation Taurus and remains in a position between the Hyades and the Pleiades. Both are ancient open star clusters that people have been observing since time immemorial. Mars joins in too. Isn’t this get-together worth a photo?

23/02 The Moon near Pollux

In the last days of the month the waxing Moon wanders from the constellation Taurus towards Gemini. This evening it meets Pollux, a red giant star that is 34 light years away.

26/02 The Moon near Regulus

Just a few hours before the full Moon, our satellite meets up with Regulus, the brightest star in Leo. When dusk is over we see an interesting image in the starry sky: in the west the autumn constellations are disappearing from view, in the south the winter constellations reach their highest point, and in the east spring is climbing over the horizon.

Mars opposition 2020

October 1 2020, Marcus Schenk

Astronomy Highlights in Autumn 2020

August 28 2020, Marcus Schenk

Mars at opposition, Moon-less Leonids and an interesting star occultation in the evening. Once again, there are plenty of reasons to look to the stars.

Don’t let anything pass you by in the next three months: In the ‘Astronomy Highlights in Autumn 2020’ infographic, you will find a quick overview of numerous important celestial events. In the accompanying text you will find further useful details.

We wish you many exciting hours of viewing.

September:

06/09 Conjunction between the Moon and Mars

On the evening of the 5th, the Moon and Mars are in close alignment and both appear above the eastern horizon from 21:30 CEST. They draw ever closer throughout the night, until the early hours of 06/09 when they are less than one degree apart.

11/09 Neptune at opposition

Neptune is the solar system’s outermost planet. Many observers have only caught glimpses of it to date. But now it has reached its opposition and will spend the whole night in a favourable position in the sky. We can find it above the eastern horizon, between Aquarius and Pisces, during the evening. At mag 7.8, it can be found using any pair of binoculars, but 4.3-billion-kilometre-away Neptune’s planetary disc can only be seen through a telescope.

14/09 Conjunction between the Moon, Venus and M44

Are you an early riser? Excellent. Then you will be able to enjoy an encounter between the Moon, Venus and the open star cluster, M44. It can be seen by the naked eye in dark skies. All three celestial objects are in an almost straight line, with M44 at its centre. What makes this particularly attractive is that the Moon is waning and only 14% illuminated.

25/09 Conjunction between the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn

Throughout the summer, we have been able to observe Saturn and Jupiter in Sagittarius in the evenings. It was the highlight of every astronomical observation. Shortly after the start of autumn, on 25/09, an attractive view of them presents itself with the Moon.

October:

03/10 Conjunction between the Moon and Mars

This month, the Moon has also noticed that Mars is the star of the month. After all, there are two conjunctions between them in October. Tonight they are separated by a distance of 4 degrees.

03/10 Conjunction between Venus and Regulus

Just before dawn, we see the spring constellation Leo appearing in the east. Venus and the main star, Regulus, are strikingly close together – the latter of which ranks as the 22nd brightest star in the night sky. It is fun to compare the large difference in magnitudes between the two celestial bodies at the same time.

08/10 Giacobinids

The Giacobinids or Draconids are a meteor shower which appears to stem from the constellation Draco. The maximum 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.

14/10 Mars at opposition

Mars orbits the Sun once every 686 days, reaching opposition approximately once every two years. The last opposition, in 2018, gave us a perigee and a supersized Mars, but it was low above the horizon. This year, its disc diameter is only two arc seconds smaller but it is located considerably higher in the sky. This results in one of the best opportunities for observation in the coming years.

21/10 Orionids

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

21/10 The Moon occults Gamma Sgr

Lunar occultations are fascinating for every observer, especially when they start on the dark side of the Moon. The evening of 21 October provides an ideal example of this. The bright mag 2.8 star, Gamma Sgr, is occulted in the constellation Sagittarius at 20:35. With bright stars like this, the effect is amazing. It disappears behind the Moon as if it has been switched off and only reappears at 21:42 on the far side. In many places, the Moon may have already set by then.

22/10 Conjunction between the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn

Barely one month after the last conjunction, the Moon once again joins the planets Jupiter and Saturn. The best observation time is at dusk.

29/10 Conjunction between the Moon and Mars

This evening, the Moon and Mars are meeting and will be separated by a distance of 3 degrees.

31/10 Uranus at opposition

Uranus is one of the outermost gas giants. In telescopes, it appears as a tiny green disc with no recognisable details. However, it can still be identified as a planet. Look for Uranus using a star chart or, even easier, with your telescope’s GoTo system. The planet’s disc can then be identified at a magnification of 150-200x.

November:

10/11 Mercury at greatest western elongation

Mercury is at its 19 degree greatest angular distance from the Sun. This results in it reaching its best morning visibility for the year. From the 10th, we can see Mercury rising above the eastern horizon at around 05:30. Emerging from the haze, it shines brightly below Venus.

11/11 The Moon occults v Virgo

You should get out of bed early on 11 November as,  from 06:40 in the morning, a rare and very visible star occultation is taking place. The Moon occults the bright, mag 4 star, v Virgo.

12/11 Conjunction between Jupiter and Pluto

Jupiter and Pluto are passing each other and reach a proximity of up to 40 arc seconds on 12 November. Normally, it is difficult to readily find the former planet and current dwarf planet. This is because it is faint and undistinguishable from a star. However, Jupiter provides us with a good reference point for spotting Pluto without using GoTo mounts.

13/11 Conjunction between the Moon, Mercury and Venus

Daybreak presents a configuration to make every skywatcher’s eyes light up. Venus, Mercury and the almost-translucent crescent Moon can be found towards the east, in the constellation Virgo. The perfect chance for an atmospheric picture of the night sky.

16/11 Leonids

The Leonids reach their peak between 16 and 17 November. 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 meteors all night long without interruption.

19/11 Conjunction between the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn

The constellation Sagittarius finally disappears from the early evening sky, however today we can spot the five-day-old Moon and the planets Jupiter and Saturn in a neat group just above the horizon.

25/11 Conjunction between the Moon and Mars

The Moon and Mars today meet each other at a distance of around 6 degrees.

Images of C/2020 F3 NEOWISE: How our colleagues have been viewing the comet [Photo gallery]

July 20 2020, Marcus Schenk

Here at Astroshop.eu, we have a conspicuous cluster of amateur astronomers and people who have spent years gazing at the sky in awe. You can probably picture the scene – during the lunch break, comets were the topic of discussion, accompanied by tomato soup and tortellini. We had hoped for an amazing, bright comet in spring but all of the most recent visitors failed to meet expectations. We were, therefore, even more excited when comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) was discovered in March.

Initially visible in the southern sky, it has gradually climbed into the northern hemisphere. At the start of July, it was still close to the horizon and could only be seen in the early hours of the morning. It can now be admired in the late evening and in the morning from 3am as a bright, elongated fist above the northern horizon. It is so bright that it can even be seen with the naked eye from within cities.

Some are even comparing it to Hyakutake, which swept rapidly across the sky in 1996 with a long tail. And it is a fact that we have not had comets this exciting since Hyakutake and Hale-Bopp.

In the following image gallery, some of our colleagues present their photographs of the comet, all of which were taken in the last few days:

Komet Neowise Michele Russo

Photographer: Michele Russo

 

Komet Neowise von Uli Zehndbauer

Photographer: Uli Zehndbauer, Sony RX-100 Mk I, 10s ISO 800 single frame without tracking. 10/07/2020 03:15, Location: Kalvarienberg, Karlskron/Pobenhausen

 

Photographer: Frank Gasparini, single-shot exposure 400 ASA, 4 sec, 70mm with Pentax K3

 

Photographer: Marcus Schenk, shot using Sony Alpha 7s full format, 70mm, f/5.6, 3.1 seconds, 03:41.

 

Photographer: Michal Baczek, telescope: SW 120/600 on Meade LX85 mount. Nikon D3200 camera, time 1x30s

 

Photographer: Carlos Malagon, Omegon ED80 with reducer, Canon 350D camera, stacked 30×20 seconds.

 

Photographer: Joao Martins, Sony A7 III camera, Sigma 50mm, f/5,0, 15 seconds, Pateira de Fermentelos – Portugal

 

If you want to view the comet yourself, you can find a star chart in our blog entry: C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) A new comet in the spotlight?

Have fun observing!

PS: Are you still looking for binoculars to observe the comet? We have some binoculars recommendations.

19.05.2022
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