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Archive for the 'Observations' category

Infographic: The Astronomy Highlights of Autumn 2019

September 2 2019, Marcus Schenk

 

In the next three months, from September to November, there are once again some great observing opportunities that we should not miss. A special event is fast approaching: the very rare transit of Mercury across the Sun. But there are also other smaller events to be seen.

The new astronomical infographic “Astronomy Highlights in Autumn 2019” offers you a quick graphical overview. This will keep you up to date and let you know what is happening in the sky.

September:

1 September: Alpha Aurigids

The Alpha Aurigids are a fast meteor shower moving at a speed of 65 km/s, which originated from the comet Kiess C/1911. At their peak on 1 September, around six meteors per hour are visible. The radiant, that is the place from which the meteors appear to originate, lies in the constellation Auriga below the star Capella.

6 September: The Moon meets Jupiter

At a distance of just under 5° the Moon is approaching Jupiter this evening. At dusk we see them as bright objects that are close to one another.

8 September: The Moon meets Saturn

While the Moon was seen near Jupiter two days ago, it is today visiting the ringed planet Saturn. Both celestial bodies approach one another at a distance of 1.5°.

9 September: The Moon’s Golden Handle

This evening we experience the Moon’s golden handle. A fairly rare event that can only be seen during a Moon phase of 83%. We can then discover a closed semicircle of golden light on the dark side of the Moon’s boundary between light and shadow. The reason for this: we are looking at Mare Imbrium and Sinus Iridum crater, which is surrounded by the Montes Jura range. While the crater is still lying in darkness, the Sun rises over the mountain peaks and we see the famous handle.

10 September: Neptune in opposition

Neptune is one of the outlying gas giants of our solar system. At a distance of 4.5 billion kilometres, it takes 165 years to orbit the Sun. Its light is en route for 4 hours and 10 minutes before it arrives at the Earth. During its opposition it is particularly easy to see in Aquarius. At 1am it reaches its highest point, around 36° above the horizon.

20 September: The Moon meets Aldebaran

The waning Moon, which is 72% illuminated, meets Aldebaran, the main star of Taurus, during the night of September 20. Aldebaran is a red giant, a star that has reached the last phase of its life. It shines 150 times brighter than the Sun and is so large that if it were to replace of the Sun it would reach as far as Mercury.

October

3 October: The Moon meets Jupiter

An especially pretty sight awaits us this evening: the Moon meets up with bright Jupiter. This impressive conjunction is worth observing, especially as dusk begins.

5 October: The Moon meets Saturn

In the early evening in Sagittarius, just above the horizon, today you can see a conjunction of Saturn and the Moon.

9 October: The October Draconids

Shooting stars appear to be falling from the constellation Draco on 9 October: this is the Draconids meteor shower. As they dart across the sky they are a fascinating spectacle, even for amateur astronomers. The radiant is located near the star Draconis. Draco is a circumpolar constellation, therefore the radiant lies at an optimal visible altitude in the evening sky.

12 October: Amphitrite in opposition

Amphitrite is a sea goddess in Greek mythology and is married to Poseidon. In the sky, however, Amphitrite is an asteroid of the main asteroid belt, which is now in opposition. It is 211 million kilometres away from Earth. It is currently in Pisces below the constellation Andromeda.

17 October: The Moon meets the Hyades

The Hyades open star cluster is very old at 600 million years and forms a V-shape with its brightest stars. The Moon visits the cluster tonight. By the way: the star Aldebaran does not belong to the Hyades.

20 October: Mercury’s greatest eastern elongation

Mercury is at its greatest elongation angle of 24°, but we still don’t see it in the evening sky.

21 October: Orionids

The Orionids are a smaller meteor shower with an activity of about 25 meteors per hour. The radiant is located in the constellation Orion near the star Betelgeuse. Although you can watch the shooting stars all month long, the peak is seen between 20 and 21 October.

23 October: The Moon meets Regulus

Today the slender crescent moon can be found at a distance of around 10 degrees from Regulus, the main star in Leo.

28 October: Uranus in opposition

Now there is another opportunity to take a look at distant Uranus: it can be seen all night during its opposition. With a brightness of 5.6 mag. you can see it with binoculars alone, but it is only recognisable as a planet using a telescope. You will find it in the constellation Aries. To find it draw a line from the bright star β Ari to the just 4.3 mag. dim star ξ1 Cet in the constellation Cetus. At the start of the last third of the line to ξ1 Cet, you will find the planet.

31 October: The Moon meets Jupiter

Tonight we see a slender and only 15% illuminated crescent Moon directly next to Jupiter.

November

2 November: The Moon meets Saturn and Jupiter

This evening we see a nice conjunction of the Moon, Saturn and Jupiter on the southwestern horizon.

6 November: Taurids

The Taurids are a two-part meteor shower with just 10 meteors per hour expected. What is much more interesting is that some bright fireballs may also be visible.

11 November: Mercury Transit

It only happens every 13 years: Mercury passes across the solar disc and we can follow this transit live through a telescope. It starts at 13:35 CET, the 2nd contact is at 13:37 CET, the middle at 16:19 CET, the 3rd contact 19:02 CET, finishing at 19:04 CET. Unfortunately we can only observe half of the transit because the Sun would have already disappeared under the horizon. Attention! Always use a suitable solar filter for your observation! Never observe the Sun without one! Observation without a special solar filter is dangerous and will lead to severe retinal damage. Let us advise you.

14 November: Asteroid Vesta in opposition

The asteroid Vesta belongs to the main asteroid belt and was one of the first bodies of its kind to be discovered. After Pallas, it is one of the largest asteroids with a diameter of 516 kilometres. On 14 November Vesta reaches a brightness of 6.5 mag. and so you can find and observe it with any telescope. It is currently in the constellation Cetus. You can find it relatively easily by extending a line from o Tau (in Taurus) about 2 degrees to the west. A star atlas is useful here.

17 November: Leonids

On 17 November the Leonids reach their peak. In addition to the Perseids, they are amongst the most famous meteor showers. There have been years when these meteors fell like raindrops from the sky. This usually happens every 33 years when the Earth collides with the Leonid cloud.

In normal years, the shower reaches a peak of no more than 20 meteors per hour. This year the rate of occurrence is a little lower, with 15 meteors per hour expected.

24 November: Jupiter meets Venus and the Moon meets Mars

In the last days of November there are two conjunctions: the Moon and Mars, and Jupiter and Venus.

In the early morning of the 24th we see a delicate crescent moon, Mars and, a little further below, Mercury. Then the following evening, in the very early twilight, there is a beautiful view of Jupiter and Venus.

28 November: Mercury’s greatest western elongation

Mercury reaches the best morning visibility of the year from 28 November at its greatest western elongation, now it has an angular separation from the Sun of 20 degrees. Through a telescope Mercury appears half-illuminated.

Infographic: 50th anniversary of the Moonlanding

July 19 2019, Marcus Schenk

moonlanding infographic

Infographic: The Astronomy Highlights of Summer 2019

June 3 2019, Marcus Schenk

Summer and warm temperatures: now all those who were hibernating in the winter can venture outside for a glimpse at the stars. But unfortunately it also gets darker later and then, as if turbocharged, light again just a few hours later. So you need to make good use of the hours of darkness, because when the summer Milky Way stretches across the sky there’s so much to discover.

The new astronomical infographic “Highlights in the Summer Sky” shows you at a glance what is happening in the sky in the months from June to August. Also included: a short description of the events.

June 5: The Moon meets Mars

Just two days after the new Moon, the slender crescent Moon stands seemingly fragile as dusk falls in the evening sky. Inconspicuous at around 2.5 degrees further to the right you will find the 1.7 magnitude bright Mars.

June 10: Jupiter in Opposition

You can now observe the largest planet in the solar system all night. Jupiter is in opposition this month, so this is the best time for observations. The gas giant reaches a magnitude of 2.6 and is 640 million kilometers away. As night falls the planet emerges above the horizon in the southeast, later it quickly becomes brighter and gets easier to see. At around 1:15 CEST it reaches the meridian and is particularly good to see.

June 18: Mercury Half Phase

Mercury reaches dichotomy, that is, a phase in which it is half-lit. Like the Moon or Venus, Mercury displays different phases.

June 18: Mercury meets Mars

A very beautiful event takes place shortly after the middle of the month: a close encounter between Mercury and Mars. Our innermost planet passes Mars at a distance of just half a lunar diameter, 13 arc minutes. This event takes place just above the western horizon at around 21:30 CEST. To observe these two it’s best to use binoculars.

June 19: The Moon meets Saturn

This configuration takes place in the second half of the night and can be followed until sunrise. Our Moon and the ringed planet approach each other with a minimal separation of about 2°50′.

June 24: Mercury’s greatest eastern elongation

Mercury gradually leaves the evening sky but it can still be seen, and can initially be found with the naked eye. From the second half of the month it becomes more difficult to find since it is so faint, and you’ll need the help of binoculars. It reaches its greatest angular distance of 25° from the Sun on 24 June. It reveals an almost half-lit sliver to us with a size of 8 arcseconds..  You can find Mercury with a good pair of binoculars from around 22:00 CEST.

July 2: Chile Total Solar Eclipse

In South America the Sun will grow dark. The eclipse’s shadow comes from the direction of the Pacific Ocean and stretches across Chile with a totality duration of 2:30 minutes. Later, the shadow moves onwards over Argentina. The Sun will be relatively low during this eclipse which will enable beautiful shots of the eclipsed sun against the landscape.

July 5: Noctilucent Clouds

Now in June you will be able to see them: noctilucent clouds. When the summer Sun is between 6° and 16° below the horizon it sometimes illuminates extremely thin clouds of ice crystals that are at an altitude of about 80 kilometres. These clouds are indeed so high that they are in the mesosphere part of our atmosphere. For us it is long since nightfall, but these clouds catch a little sunlight and we see bluish white clouds illuminated, which are invisible by daylight.

July 9: Saturn in Opposition

At present we have the problem that, due to the Sun’s ecliptic, many planets are far to the south and so are not high enough in the sky to be visible. Because of this we inevitably face a struggle with air turbulence. Despite this, Saturn still is worth observing, even if it only climbs to a height of 18°. On July 9 it reaches its opposition and shines brightly in the sky with a magnitude of 0.1. It is competing with the brightest stars but we can recognise it by its yellowish colouring and a faint glow that differs from the flickering of the stars. Because of this you can find it straight away and you can easily capture it with a small telescope. Its rings appear tilted at 24° and we are looking from the north at the ring system in which we can easily recognise the Cassini Division.

July 14: Pluto in Opposition

Pluto is a hard-to-see dwarf planet that used to be classified as a planet, and can barely be distinguished from a star – at least if you don’t have a map at hand. Even so, it’s worth taking a look at this outpost of the solar system with a larger telescope. GoTo coordinates: RA: 19h33m40s, DEC: -22° 07′.

July 16: Partial Lunar Eclipse

In January we had to view this in the cold, but not today. We can observe this partial lunar eclipse in warm temperatures and at a reasonable time. It gets interesting for us at 22:01 CEST, at which point the Moon enters the umbra of the Earth. Over the course of the evening it will become up to 66% obscured before the umbra moves away again and eventually disappears at 1:00 CEST.

July 20: Moon Landing 50th Anniversary

50 years ago today the whole world looked towards the Moon: to three astronauts, pioneers of humanity, who dared to set out on the greatest adventure. Apollo 11 flew to the Moon and Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on a foreign celestial body. Let us celebrate this event, remember it, and look again today towards the Moon, perhaps even to the Sea of Tranquility, the landing site of this daring mission.

July 29: The Delta Aquariids

A small meteor shower in Aquarius which we can best observe after midnight. The Earth passes through trails of small dust particles which burn up when entering the atmosphere and become streaks of light. We can expect to see 20-25 meteors per hour provided we find a dark place for our observation.

August 9: The Moon meets Jupiter

Similar to in July, the Moon and Jupiter meet again today. When it gets dark they stand dominant and bright in the sky above the southern horizon.

August 10: Mercury’s greatest western elongation

Now Mercury reaches its greatest angular distance of 19° from the Sun. Whilst before it was an object of the evening skies, for around 10 days from today we can discover it in the morning sky. On August 10 Mercury rises at 4:30 CEST, it then disappears into the haze, then it rises higher and we have a good chance of seeing it in the sky around 4:50 CEST.

August 12: The Moon meets Saturn

We have almost full Moon, so the sky is brightly lit, but Saturn shines clearly visibly and just 5° from the Moon. If our gaze wanders a little more to the right and a few degrees higher, we will also find Jupiter.

August 12: The Perseids

Every year we look forward to the most beautiful shooting stars of the year: the Perseids. In the morning of August 12 the meteor shower reaches its peak. Up to 100 shooting stars per hour rain down, thundering through our atmosphere at incredible speeds of around 216,000 km/h. The peak will be reached between 22:00 CEST and 4:00 CEST. Unfortunately this year the almost full, and far too bright, Moon will disrupt the display so that we are likely to only be able to observe the very brightest shooting stars. It’s best to find a spot away from the direct glare of the Moon. We have the comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle to thank for this meteor shower, which lost part of its mass on its orbit around the Sun. Whenever the Earth crosses the orbit of the original comet in August, the Perseids shoot across our corner of the sky.

August 23: Occultation of the Hyades by the Moon

Unfortunately, it’s not until the early hours that we can observe an interesting occultation of the star 61 Tau by the Moon. Such occultations of the Hyades star cluster are particularly interesting because it contains many bright stars and we can sometimes even see multiple occultations. Around 4:40 CEST the Moon approaches from its illuminated side and snuffs out the 3.7 magnitude bright star. The star remains hidden behind the Moon for a little more than an hour. At 6:00 CEST, as if out of nowhere, it suddenly reappears. Important: point your telescope at the Moon a few minutes beforehand to ensure you don’t get the timing wrong.

August 27: Occultation of Delta Geminorum (Wasat) by the Moon

The Moon has migrated to the next constellation in recent days and is about to enter its new Moon phase. Before sunrise, it occults a really bright star: this time the double star 55 Gem in the constellation Gemini. The Moon, at this stage just a thin sickle-shape in the sky, approaches from its illuminated side. At 5:50 CEST the time has come: the star disappears behind the Moon and reappears nearly an hour later at 6:40 CEST. But by then the Sun has long since risen, the sky is bright and so the reappearance is difficult to observe with a telescope.

Infographic: Astronomy Highlights Spring 2019

February 28 2019, Joshua Taboga

As the temperatures grow warmer, many stargazers are ready to head outside regularly again. In the spring, the sky shows us a completely different face. But what is there to see? What is worth looking for?

Your sky calendar for the next three months: The new astronomy infographic, “Highlights of the Spring Sky,” shows you what will be happening in the sky from March through May 2019, at a glance.

 

March

March 3: The Planet Chain – the Moon, Venus, Saturn and Jupiter at Dawn

A good reason to get up early: this morning, we can see the planets Jupiter, Saturn and Venus lined up like beads on a necklace. Starting at around 6 am, the Moon will peek up over the horizon and join the show. The constellations Scorpius and Sagittarius are the first heralds of summer, but it will be a long time before they are visible in the evening sky.

March 11: The Moon Meets Mars

To the naked eye or with binoculars, the Moon and Mars offer a pretty sight. They are close together, only 5 degrees apart. The Moon is just 5 days old today and shaped like a crescent.

March 16: The Golden Handle

A fascinating occurrence: the “Golden Handle” on the Moon. Like a handle made of light, it breaks through the Moonlit night just past the terminator. We can see Mare Imbrium near the Sinus Iridum crater and the tall Montes Jura range. This is where the Sun rises in the twilight zone. But while the crater is still in the dark, the Sun bathes the circular mountaintops of Montes Jura in sunlight. A golden ring in the darkness.

March 27: The Moon Meets Jupiter

Tonight, the Moon does not rise until after midnight. But it isn’t alone. It is accompanied by Jupiter, and they will travel together across the sky for the rest of the night. Jupiter will remain just below the Moon, about 50 arcseconds away.

 

 

April

April 5: Asteroid Iris in Opposition

Iris is one of the largest asteroids in the asteroid belt. This chunk of space rock has a diameter of 200 kilometers. On April 5 it will be in opposition to the Sun, reaching a brightness of 9.4 mag.

April 9: Asteroid Pallas in Opposition

The asteroid Pallas comes into opposition this month, reaching a brightness of 7.9 mag. Theoretically, it can be spotted with a pair of binoculars, and definitely with a telescope. But it appears as just another tiny dot among the stars. Between April 10 and 12, Pallas will pass by the 2.6-mag η Boötis – a great orientation point, because both objects appear in the same ocular field of view.

April 9: A Meeting of the Moon, Mars and Aldebaran

This evening the narrow crescent of the Moon will appear in the Taurus constellation, along with Mars and the constellation’s bright main star, Aldebaran.

April 11: Mercury’s Largest Western Elongation

Mercury orbits the Sun so quickly and so closely that we cannot always see it. But right now, Mercury has a large angle distance from the Sun at 27°. Still, it will be almost impossible to make out around daybreak.

April 12: Virginids

The Virginids are a meteor shower that come from the Virgo constellation. They show relatively little activity, with at most 5 shooting stars per hour. The best time to observe them is around midnight.

April 22: Lyrids

The Lyrids are a meteor shower that will produce just 10 to 20 meteors an hour at their peak on April 22. The best time to observe them is between 10 pm and 4 am; before midnight, we can enjoy the view without the disruptive Moon. The radiant, in other words the place where the shower begins, is located in the Lyra constellation.

April 25: The Moon Meets Saturn

Tonight, the Moon will pay another visit to the ringed planet. We can see this beautiful sight in the early morning hours, starting at around 3 am. Above it and to the right is the planet Jupiter, glowing with a brightness of -2.4 mag. The chain made up of these planets and the Moon offers a good opportunity to take beautiful atmospheric pictures.

 

May

May 6: Occultation of 61 Tau (For Experts)

The Moon’s path will lead through the Taurus constellation and the Hyades cluster, creating various interesting occultations with bright stars. This evening, the stars 61 Tau and 68 Tau will be hidden by the wafer-thin crescent Moon. One problem: the occultations will take place in the day sky or in the very early twilight sky, just above the horizon. At 7:18 pm CEST, the star 61 Tau (still in the day sky) will disappear on the unilluminated side of the Moon and reappear on the other side just under an hour later. Caution: at the time of the occultation, the Sun will still be in the sky. Do not stare at the Sun! Because it will still be daytime, the occultation cannot be seen from everywhere.
The next occultation, which can be observed from more southern regions, will be better: at 8:47 pm CET, the Moon will cover the star 68 Tau, and at 9:30 pm CET it will reappear on the other side.

May 8: The Moon Meets Mars

On the evenings of May 7 and 8, the Moon and Mars will come together. The Moon’s crescent will only be 8.8% illuminated, giving it a delicate look against the colorful evening sky. On the 7th the Red Planet will shine just 5 degrees above the Moon, and on the evening of the 8th the Moon will have overtaken Mars, moving from Taurus to the Gemini constellation.

May 18: Blue Moon

A “Blue Moon” has become defined as the point when we have a full Moon twice in one month.  However, the older definition of “Blue Moon” refers to the third full Moon out of four in one season and is called a Seasonal Blue Moon. Occurring about every 2.5 years, the name has nothing to do with the color of the Moon, which is the same for every full Moon.

May 20: The Moon Meets Jupiter

At 10:30 CEST, the Moon and Jupiter will cross the horizon and travel together through the second half of the night, until Sunrise. For most of the night, they will be the brightest objects in the sky. Venus only begins to shine in the East starting in the early morning.

A PDF of this infographic can be found HERE.

 

Comet 46P/Wirtanen: How to See the Christmas Comet

December 5 2018, Marcus Schenk

After quite a while, we are finally going to get another visitor…. from SPACE!  The comet 46P/Wirtanen will approach Earth, becoming brighter and brighter, and will be visible to the naked eye.  But, a look through binoculars or telescope truly allows you to take in the comet’s beauty.  The best time to see the comet is between the beginning of December and the 25th of December.

 

This photo was taken with a Celestron Teleskop Astrograph S 203/400 RASA 800 OTA.  © Michael Jäger. Thanks to Celestron, who made the photo available to us.

A Comet with the Naked Eye?

46P/Wirtanen is a short-period comet which takes 5.5 years to come back around for another visit.  This December, however, is a special visit, since the comet will appear especially bright in the night sky.  If all goes as planned, Wirtanen’s brightness could reach the 3rd class and be easily visible to the naked eye, or better yet with a pair of binos.

 

If you haven’t yet seen a comet, then now is the right time!  A bright comet is one of the most enjoyable experiences in Astronomy.

 

Why will the comet be 160,000 times brighter?

So, what is so special about it? Only every few years, we have the pleasure of seeing a comet with the naked eye.  The last occurrence was 2014/15, when comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) was visible to the naked eye for a short while at the end of the year.

Wirtanen has always been a weak comet.  But this year, we get a nice year-end present: excellent positioning.  As a result of a course correction, after a close encounter with the gas giant Jupiter, the comet’s orbit around the sun is now significantly closer to our star.  At the same time, the Earth is much closer to the comet’s orbit, making it appear brighter.  As a comparison: when discovered, 46P/Wirtanen was at a brightness of 16 mag.  When it passes by Earth, it will appear 160,000 times bright at 3 mag.

When and where can we see it?

Wirtanen will be visible in the evening sky throughout December.  On the 12th of December, it will reach its closest position to the Sun and on the 16th its closest position to the Earth at only 11 million km, roughly 30 times the distance from the Earth to the Moon.  Exactly at the point, in the evening of the 16th, the comet will reach its brightest point from Earth’s perspective, the so called perigee between the Pleiades and the Hyades.

The biggest obstacle will be the Moon spoiling the party and obscuring our view of the night sky and Wirtanen.  In the early morning hours, after the Moon sets, you will be able to catch a bit of the comet before it disappears below the horizon.

 

Find yourself a dark place

But wait, didn’t we say that the comet should be visible to the unaided eye?  Stars of a similar magnitude will also be visible, even when the Moon is bright in the sky.  Yes, but the magnitude of the comet is spread across a surface – the comet’s coma of roughly 0.5°.  As a comparison: that means the entire diameter of the Moon.  To get the best view, you should try to find a dark sport, away from man-made light, and wait until the Moon is out of the way.

Have a look first right after dusk.  At the beginning of December, the comet will hug the horizon, but climb higher and higher in the sky with each day.  On the 10th of December, it will arrive at the head of the Cetus or whale constellation and makes its way to Taurus.

From the 24th onward, you will be able to see the comet before the Moon rises in the sky. 46P/Wirtanen will then be found close to the star Capella in the constellation Auriga.  The early evening hours will give you the best chance of seeing it.  In the following days, the Moon will rise later and lunar-free periods will grow longer.

Better yet, get yourself some binoculars or a telescope

With binos or a telescope, the comet will appear much more impressive.  Take the time to check out the large green coma and if you have a telescope, even the little tail.  By the way: an excellent thing to have on hand is a pair of Omegon Wide-field Binoculars.

Take the chance now and check out, what some are calling “the Christmas Comet”.  Clear skies and have fun!

Infographic: Astronomy highlights in Winter 2018/2019

December 4 2018, Marcus Schenk

The new 3-month night sky calendar at a glance. The astronomical infographic ’Highlights of the Winter Sky 2018/2019’ shows you what will be happening in the night sky. Descriptions of the individual events are below:

05.12. The Moon near Mercury
Early in the morning, the Moon can be observed near Mercury. They are separated by about only 7 degrees – making them suitable for observing with a pair of wide-angle binoculars.

07.12. Mars near Neptune
A fantastic spectacle – a very close encounter between Mars and Neptune. Only about 4 arcminutes away from Neptune, Mars passes north of Neptune from around 18:00. You will need a pair of binoculars or, even better, a telescope to observe them.

13./14.12. Geminids
If the night sky is clear in the evening, then it is best to observe facing south, as the ‘Geminids’ meteor shower will seem to come from the constellation of the ‘twins’ – more precisely, from a point two degrees above the star Pollux. Between 21:00 and 6:00 is the best time to observe. With around 120 meteors per hour, the Geminids is one of the most intense showers. However, the full Moon will diminish the view this year. Even so, you really shouldn’t miss this event.

15.12. Moon near Mars
The 42% illuminated and waxing moon can be observed near Mars today, separated by a distance of about 5 degrees.

16.12. Comet 46P/Wirtanen
The December Comet – finally, we have a bright comet again, which can be observed with binoculars and small telescopes. Comet 46P/Wirtanen reaches its closest proximity to the Earth on the 16th and can be observed near the Pleiades (M45) open star cluster at only 3 degrees away. A beautiful ‘constellation‘ through binoculars. Wirtanen is a rare comet, which could attain a strong brightness and hence become an impressive object for beginners. If everything progresses well, it could reach a brightness of up to magnitude 4 by the end of the year and so even become visible to the naked eye. Without the disturbing presence of the Moon, the comet can be found easily in the evening sky after Christmas.

28.12. Hebe in opposition
The asteroid 6 HEBE comes into opposition on December 28, attaining a brightness of about magnitude 8.5. It can best be seen around midnight in the constellation of Monoceros or in the constellation of Orion. You will need a mid-size telescope to observe it. Its current position can be found at any time, by using the Stellarium planetarium program for example.

01.01. Planet chain Moon, Venus, Jupiter, Mercury
Just in time for New Year’s Eve, the New Year welcomes us with a pretty chain of planets. In the morning sky just before sunrise, you can see, from the top right to the bottom left to the horizon: the Moon, a bright Venus, Jupiter and even a shy Mercury close to the horizon. Tip: A great opportunity to take a beautiful photo.

04.01. Quardrantids
The next meteor shower is here – the Quadrantids. This shower comes from the constellation of Bootes, with the number of meteors observed across the sky potentially reaching a maximum of 120 per hour. Observing in the early morning will give you the best chance of successful observing.

05.01. Comet Wirtanen circumpolar
The Christmas Comet will also delight us in the new year – while the comet was only seen in the evening or in the morning sky before, it has now become circumpolar, wandering through the constellation of the Ursus Major. You can now observe it over the entire night.

06.01. Venus at greatest western elongation
The best view of Venus is now here. The ‘morning star’ shines brightly (magnitude -4.5). At 47 degrees angular separation, it is at greatest western elongation and can be seen half illuminated. The planet will first peep over the horizon at about 4:30 CET, and can be observed for about three hours before disappearing in the sunlight.

12.01. Moon near Mars
From dusk on, you can observe the Moon in the south with Mars above it. They are separated by about 7 degrees.

15.01. μ Cet occulted by the Moon (evening)
The Moon will occult the 4.1 mag star μ Cet in the very early evening. The Moon approaches the star with its dark side and finally occults it at 17:44 CET. An occultation from the Moon’s dark side is always fascinating to observe – it appears as though the star has suddenly been ‘switched off’. It will take almost an hour for the star to then reappear on the illuminated side of the Moon.

21.01. Total lunar eclipse
Everyone probably still remembers the Total Lunar Eclipse in 2018, when the Moon offered us a summer spectacle at a still-comfortable time of night. This time around the show is on the 21st of January, at a rather unfavourable time with temperatures that are too cold to be considered ‘T-shirt weather’.

Entry into the penumbra: 3:36 CET

Entry into the umbra: 4:33 CET

Beginning of totality: 5:40 CET

End of totality: 6:43 CET

Exits umbra: 7:50 CET

Exits penumbra: 8:48 CET

22.01. Venus near Jupiter
Jupiter and Venus can be observed together before sunrise. We can observe both planets shining in the southeast at a separation of only about 2 degrees. Venus is at magnitude -4.3, with Jupiter significantly weaker at magnitude -1.9. They provide a beautiful sight through binoculars, where you can admire them both in the same field of view.

31.01. Moon near Jupiter and Venus
On January 22nd the Moon joins the two planets, inserting itself in the middle between Venus and Jupiter.

02.02. Moon near Saturn (occulting in Germany and Austria)
The Moon is a waning ‘sickle’ and only 6% illuminated, so it is not visible until early in the morning. At 6.30 CET both astronomical bodies can be seen close to the horizon. The Moon can be seen to actually occult Saturn in both Germany and Austria – the ringed planet disappears behind the illuminated crescent moon at 6:37 CET, reappearing an hour later at the dark, north-eastern edge.

10.02. Moon near Mars
You can observe the crescent Moon and Mars together this evening in the same field of view in binoculars having a field of view of at least 7 degrees.

13.02. Mars near Uranus
Tonight, Mars will be less than 1.5 degrees away from the distant gas giant Uranus. The difference in brightness is significant – the red planet shines brightly at magnitude 1, whereas Uranus is only at a dim magnitude 5.8. Both objects can be observed using binoculars or a telescope. But it is definitely worthwhile – you can even see them together in the same field of view in a low magnification, wide-angle eyepiece.

27.02. Mercury at greatest eastern elongation (and half-full)
Because Mercury orbits so fast and so close to the Sun we cannot always observe it. But now Mercury is once again at a greater angular distance – of 18°- from the Sun. It’s not a huge separation, but it allows us to observe it for sufficient time during its half-full phase. Mercury can now be seen in the evening sky shortly after sunset. Be sure to wait until the sun has completely set before observing through any optics. You will then find Mercury just above the western horizon.

PDF here.

Infographic: Astronomy Highlights in Autumn 2018

August 31 2018, Marcus Schenk

Autumn brings cooler weather after the baking summer and we can look forward to long, starry nights once more. The night sky has some highlights for us, which we should definitely observe, even in the months of September, October and November.

Our new astronomical infographic ‘Astronomy highlights in autumn 2018’ provides a quick graphical overview – which will keep you up-to-date and in the know about what’s happening in the night sky.

The following text provides details about the various astronomical events we can look forward to.

 

September

01.09 Aurigids

The Aurigids is a fast meteor shower, with speeds of around 65 km/s. It originates from comet C/1911 Kiess. Around six meteors per hour are visible at shower’s maximum on September 1. The radiant, the region of sky where the meteors appear to come from, lies in the constellation of Auriga below the star Capella.

07.09. Neptune at opposition

The distant planet Neptune is once again at opposition to the Sun on the September 7. Make use of this opportunity to observe it. Neptune is a gas giant and is the outermost planet in the solar system. The light from Neptune, which is 4.5 billion kilometres away from the Earth, needs 4 hours and 10 minutes to reach us. You can find Neptune using binoculars – about halfway between the stars φ (phi) Aqr and λ (lambda) Aqr in the constellation of Aquarius. It appears as a greenish disc when observed in a telescope at 200-250 magnification.

08.09. Moon near Mercury

In the morning we experience a golden rising of Moon and Mercury. Just one day before the new Moon, the crescent moon is looking rather insubstantial. Below this we find Regulus and Mercury just above the horizon – about a hand width apart.

10.09. 21P/Giacorbini-Zinner

Comet 21P/Giacorbini-Zinner is at its closest approach to the Sun and also at its greatest brightness. With a predicted magnitude of 6.5, it has become an object for observing in any binoculars. Just one day after the new Moon is a great opportunity to observe this comet.

At the beginning of the month, it moved from the direction of Capella through the constellation of Auriga and on the 10th of September it was halfway between the Auriga stars Alnath and θ (Theta) Aur.

17.09 Moon near Saturn

Already by dusk we can observe Saturn above the ‘teapot’ of Sagittarius. The planet has become a familiar object, staying in the night sky throughout the summer. This evening it is joined by the Moon.

19.09. Moon near Mars

The Moon and the planet Mars are near one another this evening between Capricorn and Sagittarius.

21.09. The fiery splendour of Venus

Some people might think that the bright light on the horizon is an aircraft’s lights whereas, in fact, it is Venus. It is now a bright -4.9 mag object in the night sky. But the pleasure is short-lived – shortly after 8 pm it will disappear once again below the horizon.

21.09. Y cap occulted by the Moon

A star occultation can make an attractive visual observation – especially when a star visible in the telescope suddenly disappears as if by magic. The Moon will occult the star Y Cap with its dark edge at 9:40 pm on the 21st.

27.09. The star 73 Cet occulted by the Moon

Star ξ (Xi) cet in Cetus will be occulted tonight by the bright edge of the Moon. The star will disappear behind the Moon at 22:15 and reappear from its dark edge at 11:17 pm.

 

October

09.10. Draconids meteor shower

The Draconids is a meteor shower that seems to originate from the constellation of Draco. The maximum is expected on the 9th. Unfortunately, there is no prediction of the number of meteors we can expect. This can be very variable from year-to-year.

The radiant is located near the stars of the constellation Draco. The ‘dragon’ belongs to a circumpolar constellation, meaning the radiant is at an optimally visible elevation in the evening sky.

10.10. Moon near Jupiter

Just above the western horizon we can see a fragile crescent moon which is only 3% illuminated. On its left, we can see Jupiter. The planet will soon end its period of visibility and disappear from the night sky.

14.10. Moon near Saturn

The constellation of Sagittarius in October is already nearing the horizon, meaning summer is long gone and autumn has long since arrived. But at dusk we can catch a last taste of summer – Saturn and the Moon meet and go down together in the southwest in the evening sky.

18.10 Moon near Mars

A close meeting of the Moon and Mars takes place in the evening on 18.10. They are only about 3 degrees away from one another and pass the meridian at about 20:40.

17.10. ‘Small’ Moon

The Moon orbits the Earth in an ellipse – so it is sometimes closer and sometimes further away. Today, the Moon will reach apogee – that is, its distance 401,000 kilometres from Earth. This makes it appear smaller than when it is nearer the earth.

21.10. Orionids meteor shower

The Orionids is a smaller meteor shower with around 20 meteors per hour. The radiant is located in the constellation of Orion near the star Betelgeuse. Although you can watch the meteors throughout the month, the maximum is between October 20 and 21. An advantage this year is that this will fall just after the new Moon, so we can enjoy a particularly dark night. The best observing time will be between 10pm and 5am.

24.10. Uranus at opposition

Uranus is one of the remotest gas giants, only appearing as a tiny featureless greenish disc in a telescope. But it can still be identified as a planet. Locate Uranus by using a star map or, even easier, by using the Go-To system on your telescope. Then you can observe the planetary disc at around 150-200X magnification.

Although the bluish planet shines at a brightness of mag 5.6, it will be difficult to locate due to the phase of the Moon. It is worth waiting a few days and observing Neptune without the Moon making things difficult.

31.10. ‘Large’ Moon

If the Moon only had a very small apparent diameter in the sky on the 17th of October, it will now be the other way round this evening. Its elliptical orbit has now brought it to its nearest approach to the Earth. At only 367,000 kilometres away, it is now about 34,000 kilometres closer to us and has a much larger diameter of 32″.

 

November

06.11. Moon near Venus and Spica

If it is a clear night it is really worth getting up a bit earlier to enjoy a golden morning with an attractive coming together of the Moon, Venus and Spica. The Moon shows as a very thin crescent, only 2.4% illuminated. The next day brings a new Moon and the entire night is then perfect for deep sky observing.

11.11. Moon near Saturn

Because it gets dark so early at this time of the year, we can still catch a glimpse of Saturn and the Moon. They are close together at a distance of just one lunar diameter.

16.11. Moon near Mars

The small separation, about half a hand’s width, of the Moon and Mars can be admired on the evening of 16 November. Mars reaches the meridian at 18:45 CET before the Moon reaches it a little later.

17.11 Juno at opposition

Juno is a large asteroid in the asteroid belt with a diameter of 257 kilometers. It is now back at opposition to the Sun and appears as a quite bright 7.6 magnitude object. This makes it great even for observers who otherwise do not usually bother observing minor planets. Despite its brightness, Juno only shows as a point, making it indistinguishable from a star. A star map and coordinates for locating it are therefore useful – for example from recent magazines or from the Minor Planet Center.

17.11. Leonids meteor shower

The Leonids reach their maximum on the 17th of November. They are the most familiar known meteor shower after the Perseids. There have been years when their meteors fell in great numbers. This usually happens every 33 years when the earth collides with the Leonid cloud.

In normal years, the maximum currently reaches no more than 20 meteors per hour. The rate will be slightly lower this year, at about 15 meteors per hour. The bright Moon in the sky will detract from the shower this year. But if you’re looking for a good place to watch after midnight, then the Moon is only 12 degrees above the horizon and will no longer influence observing.

21.11. Comet 46P/Wirtanen

The short-period comet 46P/Wirtanen – with an orbital period of only 5.4 years – is currently the most promising candidate for naked eye observing. This comet, discovered in 1948, is currently moving towards the Sun, and will reach perihelion on December 12th, 2018. It will reach its very near minimum distance to the Earth – only 11.6 million kilometres – just a few days later.

We will get a foretaste of this comet already by November – it could achieve a brightness of magnitude 6 to 7 and so be easy to observe using binoculars. It describes a relatively small arc the night sky, staying very close to the horizon. We can find it to the right of the ‘river’ of Eridanus and below Cetus from about 20:00 CET.

23.11. Moon near Aldebaran

The full Moon can be observed near Aldebaran, the main star of the constellation Taurus, on the evening of the 23rd. It is a red giant, a 150 times brighter than the Sun. The name Aldebaran comes from the Arabic and means ‘leading star’ because it appears to precede the Pleiades.

30.11. Venus in all its splendour

Venus reaches its maximum brightness at magnitude -4.7. The brightness depends on the combination of its distance from the Earth and its current phase, and is now reaching its most favourable position. Venus can currently be admired as the ‘morning star’ and rises above the horizon after 4 AM. It reaches about 20 degrees above the horizon by 6:30 CET.

Enjoy your observing! We wish you clear skies!

PDF here

5 Simple Ways to See and Photograph the Lunar Eclipse and the Opposition of Mars

July 13 2018, Marcus Schenk

Attention all lovers of nature, amateur astronomers and night owls: the night of the 27th of July, 2018 will be totally different.  In this particular night, we will experience the Opposition of Mars and a rare Total Lunar Eclipse in Europe!  It is sure to be a midnight Summer dream, in the middle of warm temperatures and mystical experiences.

In this article, you will learn about, that which you can use to observe and photograph the Total Lunar Eclipse and Mars.

Another interesting point: currently, there are a number of other planets to see. Now is the perfect opportunity to jump into Astronomy.  You will be rewarded with a fireworks show of planets.  Mars, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn are waiting for you to rediscover them!

As the night slowly falls, the Moon will rise in the southeast.  Our satellite will look unusual and simultaneously fascinating.  Almost completely eclipsed, it will rise higher and higher.  The “blood Moon”,  which evoked fears and superstitions of death and destruction in earlier times, will be visible for us to witness with our knowledge and science in a relaxing manner and with a smile.

The highlight of this year: at a length of 1 hour and 44 minutes of totality, we will get to enjoy the longest Lunar Eclipse of the century! More information about this event is available below.

Now you can read on to learn about the 5 ways and effective products, to observe the Moon and the Planets. Let’s go!

 

1. Discover the Sky with Binoculars

The lunar eclipse is visible with the naked eye,  but with a pair of binoculars, the Moon in the Earth’s shadow becomes an especially intense experience. For an great observation, we recommend the Omegon Binoculars Nightstar 20×80.  These binos are a great alternative to a telescope or as an entry into Astronomy.  They are bright and something that you can always carry with you.  Just point the binos to the sky or mount them on a tripod.  Then you will see the Moon in all its glory and innumerable craters.  It is amazing with both eyes, as if you were there.  But there is more.  You can can even view  Jupiter and its moons as well as starclusters, such as the Pleiades or the Andromeda Galaxy.

Großfernglas 20x80

The Omegon Binoculars 20×80

2. Getting closer with a telescope

Much like a mega zoom into the cosmos: A telescope allows you to see real detail. Observe the entire Moon, singular lunar craters, Jupiter, or Saturn with its massive system of rings. However you want.  The possibilities are endless!  With a greater magnification, only available with telescopes, you will be able to see Mars for the planet that it is and not just the red “star” in the night sky.  The Omegon AC 70/700 AZ-2 is the most budget-friendly entry point.  With a 70mm aperture, it collects 100 times more light than the naked eye.  The eyepieces enable a 35x and 70x magnification, or in combination with a barlow lense up to 140x.  More details and more resolution is available in the Omegon AC 90/1000 EQ-2.  The telescope is our tip for entry into lunar and planetary observing.  With a 90mm aperture, you will be able to see many details, such as the cloud bands on Jupiter or the polar caps on Mars.

Einsteigerteleskop

The Omegon AC 90/1000 EQ-2 – Recommendation for entry into Astronomy

3. The simplest way to your own astrophotos

A photo of the lunar eclipse?  It’s possible with the simplest tools.

With a telescope, the path to your own photos is just a small step.  The best camera for such a task is right in your pocket: your smartphone!  Pick up a Smartphone adapter, which will keep your phone perfectly positioned above the eyepiece.  We also offer the more budget-friendly Omegon Smartphone Adapter, which demands a bit of finesse or the Omegon Easypic Universal.  This smartphone adapter is a self-centering and easy-to-use device.  It only takes one minute and you will already have taken your own lunar photo.

Smartphoneadapter

Omegon Easypic Universal Smartphone adapter

4. The right eyepiece is decisive, when it comes to details

With eyepieces, you often must separate the wheat from the chaff.  An eyepiece is essentially an extended arm of the telescope’s optic and you should put a lot of stock into selection, just as you would with a telescope itself.  A good tip would be to replace old or standard eyepieces with high quality ones, which can provide you with a significantly better image.  Excellent crispness and great contrast can be found in the Omegon LE Planetry Eyepieces for all 1,25“.  The customer reviews range from “just fantastic” to “you cannot believe it”.

The Family of Omegon LE Planetary Eyepieces

5. Color filters for better contrast

Much like a chain, the planets of Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars will appear to us in a line, and all after darkness has fallen, during the most comfortable time of year.  The constellation of planets is so rare, that now is the time to jump into astronomy.  Amateurs can easily pinpoint the planets and see details of each.  Polar caps and other structures on Mars, or the big red dot on Jupiter become more visible with the appropriate color filters.  Placed into the eyepiece, filters can lead to an epiphany for any motivated observer.  The Omegon Color filter set features the most important ones for all planets.  Other contrast filters or our Lunar Filter are also a helpful inclusion to your collection.

Farbfilter für die Planetenbeobachtung

Color filter set with 6 color filters

 

Other information about the Total Lunar Eclipse and the Mars Opposition is available here:

Infographic: Total Lunar Eclipse on the 27th of June 2018

Mars Opposition 2018: How to Observe Mars and its Details

 

ScopeDome: Educational observatory for a Romanian secondary school

May 22 2018, Marcus Schenk

Virgin forests, vast landscapes and fantastic views. And right in the middle of it: a brand-new observatory for a school. Our latest dome project takes us to Romania to the town of Baia Mare.

This mining town is situated in the north of Romania on the edge of the East Carpathian Mountains. To find out why this observatory is so special to us, read this article.

Sternwarte in Rumänien

The dream project: Observatories

Astroshop along with  ScopeDome GmbH built a 3-m observatory upon a secondary school. This school is to serve as an example, considering school observatories are rare in the country. Romania is still comparably poor, and schools don’t usually have money for this kind of project.

But this is what we’re particularly proud of: Our Romanian colleague, Raul, took part personally in this observatory, was a supporter and one of the sponsors. The project finally became a reality.

Die Basis des Observatoriums

3-m ScopeDome on the roof

The dome is placed on the school building perfectly framed on an observation platform. The panoramic view is amazing. The observatory will be operational soon and will easily enable the school pupils to become familiar with astronomy. Laying, hopefully, the foundation for a life-long fascination with the Universe.

Die ScopeDome Kuppel mit Tür

Der geöffnete Kuppelspalt

The internal workings of the observatory

While a few observers are already focused on the night sky, the tour then goes into the dome. The highlight: A Celestron C8 with a Skywatcher EQ-8 mount on a column. The project was initiated by Prof. Lucian Stoyan. The observatory is now ready, and the pupils are looking forward to interesting observation sessions and exciting astronomy projects. They are, however, also looking to the near future: Next year, the Celestron C8 will be exchanged for a 14-inch RC telescope. Another dream that is about to come true.

Das Teleskop im Inneren der Sternwarte

The city of Baia Mare

Baia Mare is in northern Romania – a place of 124,000 inhabitants  on the edge of the Eastern Carpathian Mountains. Many official buildings have been renovated, but there are many old and crumbling buildings. Surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains, Baia Mare is considered one of the most picturesque places in Romania.

Das Observatorium auf dem Schulgebäude

PS: Do you have such a dream, too? An observatory with a fixed telescope – which means astronomy at any time, and on the fly. Manual or fully automatic with remote control: We can make your dreams become reality, too. Simply contact us and, we’ll be pleased to have a chat with you.

Infographic: Astronomy Highlights in Spring 2018

March 5 2018, Marcus Schenk

Many observers are tempted outside again when temperatures start getting milder. The night sky shows us a completely different aspect in Spring. But what is there to observe? What is there worth looking at?

Here is the astronomical calendar for the next three months – The new astronomical ‘Highlights in the Spring Night Sky’ infographic shows you at a glance what is happening in the night sky during the months of March, April and May.

 

March

03.05. Venus near Mercury

Venus greets us as the Evening Star again this month. We find it at dusk, deep on the western horizon. But another planet can also be seen in the first days of March – Mercury. This nimble planet keeps Venus company and is an opportunity for us to marvel at the two innermost planets.

11:03 Moon near Saturn

Most observers like to use the evening hours for observing the night sky. But anyone who does not get up early this month will miss a special show – The three planets Saturn, Mars and Jupiter all shining in the early morning sky. The Moon nears the gloriously ringed planet on the 11th of March, getting to only about 1.5°away. Observers will have a fantastic sight thanks to the waning crescent Moon.

11.03 Moon at apogee

The moon does not orbit the Earth in an exactly circular orbit, but rather in an ellipse. This means that in the course of a month it can reach a particularly close or an especially distant position. At 403,000 kilometres away, the Moon is smaller today than usual, with an apparent diameter in the night sky of about 29″.

15.03 Mercury at greatest western elongation

Mercury is the fastest orbiting planet in our solar system. But we do not often get an opportunity to observe it well as it always stays close to the Sun. On the 15th it will be at 18.4°away – its greatest angular distance to the Earth. It can be observed at a comfortable height above the horizon between 18:45 and 19:30.

18.03 A meeting of the Moon, Mercury and Venus

Mercury and Venus are now striking objects in the evening sky. And, on March 18th, an extremely delicate and only 1.6% illuminated crescent Moon joins them. An optimal opportunity for taking an atmospheric photograph at dusk.

26.03 Moon near the Earth

While the Moon was at apogee on March 11, it now reaches perigee – its nearest distance to Earth. And, at a distance of 366,000 kilometres, it also appears a bit larger.

29.03. Venus near Uranus

Both Venus and Uranus in the field of view? Few have probably seen this before. But today it is really possible. Then the two planets are only 42 arcminutes apart. Near enough together to observe both of them together in a 2″ wide-angle eyepiece.

 

 

April

02.04. Mars near to Saturn

Mars is the ‘star‘ of 2018. It is slowly preparing for its big show – its opposition in June. By now it is as bright as the brightest stars in the sky. We can find it on the left above the ‘teapot’ in the constellation of Sagittarius. The Red Planet meets with Saturn at the beginning of the month – on April 2 they are about 1° away from each other.

03.04 Moon near Jupiter

Jupiter competes with Venus with a brightness of -2.39 magnitude. Jupiter is one of the most striking objects in the sky even if it does not quite match Venus. The Moon is only at 5° away from it today.

16:04 Mars near Albaldah

It’s always nice to see two bright astronomical objects close to each other. Such alignments in the night sky are noticeable because they are particularly unusual. On April 16, Mars and the star Albaldah make such an alignment.

This star is occasionally occulted by a planet due to its location very close to the ecliptic – this will next occur on 17 February 2035 at 16:32 CET, when Venus will occult Albaldah. But this will not be visible from Central Europe as Venus is below the horizon by then.

24.04 Moon near Regulus

The Moon passes close to the star Regulus today. We can observe this tonight as the Moon approaches and then recedes from Leo’s brightest star. Regulus and the Moon are separated by 42 arcminutes at 21:00. At 23:00, they approach within 14 arcminutes, but an hour later the separation has increased again to 27 arcminutes.

22.04 Lyrids meteor shower

The Lyrids are a meteor shower, which reaches maximum at only 10 to 20 meteors per hour on the 21st of April. But the optimal observing time is between 22:00 and 4:00 in the morning, when they can be observed undisturbed by the Moon. The shower’s radiant lies in the constellation of Lyra.

29.04. Mercury – greatest western elongation

Mercury orbits fast, whizzing around the Sun in just 88 days. At the beginning of the month it was at greatest western elongation to the Sun, which gave us a good evening visibility. At the end of the month it will reach its greatest eastern elongation. In such cases, Mercury can be seen in the morning sky. Due to the shallow inclination to the ecliptic, Mercury remains near the Sun and is not visible at dawn.

 

 

May

02.05. Venus near Aldebaran

Two bright objects shine at dusk close to the western horizon – Venus and Aldebaran. The red giant is 150 times brighter than the sun. At a distance of 67 light-years however it only reaches an apparent brightness of 0.85 magnitude as seen from the Earth. Even so, it is one of the brightest stars in the night sky. It makes a beautiful sight together with Venus.

05./06.05. Eta Aquarids meteor shower

We see again a meteor shower in the second half of the night. The Eta Aquarids appear to originate from the constellation of Aquarius and describe long, bright trails in the night sky. However, the Eta Aquarids do not ‘wake up’ until around 3 o’clock, which puts them only just above the horizon in Central Europe. There is still the chance of catching some bright meteors even so. The average rate is between 20 and 60 meteors per hour.

06.05. Moon near Mars

Another highlight in the early morning sky is a close encounter between the Moon and Mars. The two are separated by just 3° this evening. The 69% illuminated Moon first appears over the southeast horizon at about 1:30. The planet Saturn can already be seen by then to the right and above. The red planet follows the Moon about half an hour later, at 2:00. They can be observed almost exactly in the south until sunrise. A beautiful sight – The constellation of Sagittarius framed by three celestial bodies in the solar system.

09.05 Jupiter at opposition

When evening comes, the largest of all planets peeks over the horizon. Jupiter is today at opposition to the Sun. That means the Earth is exactly between Jupiter and the Sun. The gas giant can now be seen all night, reaching its maximum brightness and appearing particularly large – an optimal chance to admire it with binoculars or a telescope. Jupiter reaches its highest altitude shortly after 1:00 AM and crosses the meridian. The already low-lying planet is best observed now.

17.05. Moon near Venus

A delicate crescent moon and a radiant Venus at dusk – you can observe this beautiful event on 17 May. Today, the Moon moves past the Earth’s sister at only 5° away.

25.05. ‘Golden Handle’ on the Moon

Astronomy in the early evening! The ‘Golden Handle’ can be seen on the Moon tonight. Appearing like a ‘handle of light’, it ‘breaks out’ of the dark part of the Moon just beyond the terminator. The Sun is already illuminating the peaks of the Montes Jura surrounding the Sinus Iridum crater when this is still in the dark – visible between 16:30 and 20 o’clock.

27.05. Moon near Jupiter

The Moon is near to Jupiter this evening. It approaches to within just over 2.5° at 21:30. It is a meeting of two beacons – the Moon and Jupiter are now the brightest objects in the sky.

PDF here

19.09.2019
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