In the 18th century, the French astronomer Charles Messier compiled a catalogue of 110 nebulae and star clusters. These were primarily intended to help in the search for comets: to avoid confusing a newly appearing comet with a known nebula, one could refer to this handy Messier catalogue.
Credit: R. Stoyan et al., Atlas of the Messier Objects: Highlights of the Deep Sky (Cambridge University Press, 2008)
Since then, the Messier objects have been among the classic observing targets of every amateur astronomer. Ambitious observers even try their hand at the so-called Messier Marathon: to observe all 110 nebulae, galaxies and star clusters of the catalogue in a single night! At telescope meetings, this friendly competition becomes an all-night event.
This year, these observing nights will take place between 10 and 16 March 2021. The Unistellar eVscope is a newcomer to the race. The automatic alignment and livestacking of the revolutionary telescope make observing much easier. So even those who don’t yet know their way around the night sky like a pro can take part in the Messier Marathons with the eVscopeand admire the objects in colour and contrast.
Unistellar is also offering an exclusive Messier Marathon Bundle for this event! Each order of the eVscopewill include a thermos flask and warming gloves. So you are well equipped against the cold on a long night of observing. (Of course, you shouldn’t forget warm clothes either.) The gloves are also suitable for operating a touchscreen. Your smartphone or tablet is a prerequisite when controlling the modern eVscope.
You will also receive the practical Unistellar guide to the Messier Marathon as an eBook. Besides lots of interesting info, you will find helpful tips for successfully taking part or completing the marathon. The eBook is available in English, German or French.
This year, eVscope owners around the world were able to use this practical Messier catalogue to avoid confusing a newly appearing comet with a known nebula.
This year, eVscope owners all over the northern hemisphere are trying to set the record for the largest Messier Marathon in the world. You can thus share the event with like-minded people Via social media: Use the hashtag #UnistellarMarathon and register on the Unistellar website to contribute to the record attempt!
We keep our fingers crossed for beautiful clear nights!
On the 20th in the Americas and 21st of January in Europe and northern Africa, we have the pleasure of witnessing the Moon on the big stage, once again. As we sit in the front row, the Earth’s shadow will play a complementary role to center stage.
In contrast to the eclipse of Summer 2018, Europeans and North Americans will have to tough it out in the cold. With clammy fingers in the waking hours and next to the telescope, we will admire a fascinating, rusty-red Moon. However, bearing the cold temperatures will be rewarding, since this lunar eclipse will be one of the last, extremely visible eclipses in Europe for some time.
Here, you can learn more about the total lunar eclipse and some observation tips.
The Lunar Eclipse of 2018 taken in Landsberg am Lech, Germany. Credit: Alexander Olbrich
Getting up Early – Akin to Moving Mountains
So why do it? Why stand outside in the icy-cold, surrounded by snow and frost, while others are cuddled in their warm beds?
Easy! We cannot fight our fascination for astronomy. Astronomy is not something best experienced from your couch. Gazing at a photograph does not place us in the place it was taken, as well as being there in person. Which would you prefer? Listening to music on your smartphone or bouncing to live music with the stage only a hand
Why this Eclipse?
Our American friends will have the pleasure of seeing the eclipse during more comfortable hours of the night, while those of us further East will need to get up early. This eclipse will be one of the few, easily visible ones from Europe for several years and all of it will be visible from a comfortable height in the sky, so that the Moon will be observable from almost every village, city and garden – even with the bonus of a morning cup of joe in your hand. Who wants to drive to the middle of nowhere or to a mountain in the middle of the night?
The next chance to see a Lunar Eclipse will be a ways off: six years from now on the 7th of September 2025 (Our North American counterparts only need wait until 26th of May, 2021). So, this Lunar Eclipse in the early morning hours will be worth the work!
Location and Date
On the 20th around dusk in the Americas, leading into the 21st of January in the early morning hours in Europe and Africa, around 5 hours of a rusty-red Moon will grace the night sky. The visibility of this particular eclipse will stretch from the Pacific Ocean all the way to Eastern Europe. Here in Europe, the Moon will rise already in the Earth’s shadow.
This is hot phase, in which the Moon is hiding in Earthly shadow, also known as totality, makes the moon resemble a piece of hot iron initially. Eventually, our satellite will take on a brownish, rusty-red or copper color, making it impossible to look away.
For the best experiences, find yourself a nice dark area. The Moon’s normal brightness is not to be expected. In the Earth’s shadow, it will still glow faintly in the night sky and reflects only the refracted light, passing through the Earth’s atmosphere, from the sun back to us. Now our Moon will appear 25,000 times fainter than a bright, illuminated Moon.
That’s a good reason to find a dark spot or at least make sure you have an unimpeded view without street lights.
At 5:41 AM Get Outside, Europeans
3:35 AM CET (central European time) or 9:35 PM EST (20th of January) in North America is when the Moon enters the penumbra, but this phase is rather inconspicuous. Once the Moon enters the Umbra at 4:34 AM CET or 10:34 AM EST, Europeans and Americans will be able to see a real difference in our satellite’s color. Our lucky friends in California will be able to see the entry into the umbra already at 7:30 PST on the 20th of January.
Totality begins at 5:41 CET or 11:41 EST. In Europe, the Moon will have dropped in the sky by about 10°, but the sight will still be excellent. In comparison to the last Lunar Eclipse in Europe, then the Moon was already red by the time it reached 5° abover the horizon and reached a maximum of 16° before totality ended.
Phases of the Eclipse at a Glance
Entry into the Penumbra 3:35 CET (21st of January) and 9:35 EST (20th of January)
Entry into the Umbra 4:34 CET and 10:34 EST
Begin of totality 5:41 CET and 11:34 EST
Half-way point of the Eclipse 6:12 CET and 12:12 EST (21st of January)
Exit of the Umbra 7:51 CET and 1:51 EST
Exit of the Penumbra 8:50 CET and 2:50 EST
Roughly until 6:44 AM CET or 12:44 AM EST, we will be able to admire a rusty-red Moon with the naked eye, binoculars, or a telescope. Lunar photography during the Eclipse should also be a breeze, even with standard equipment.
How to Photograph the Lunar Eclipse
During the Eclipse, it will be worth the effort to photograph the moment. The good thing is, you will not need a whole lot of equipment. A tri-pod and a camera, or a small telescope with a camera mount should do the trick.
With a stable camera, you should be able to capture the Moon with the surrounding landscape. With an focal length of up to 200 mm and especially when the Moon is just above the horizon, you are sure to find photographing the event rewarding.
If you would like a close-up, in which the Moon takes up a third or half of the image, you will need a higher focal length of more than 500mm. In such a case, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to shoot a nice lunar picture. In the partial phases, short exposures will do – in the range of 1/100th and 1/10th of a second, while totality will require an exposure of several seconds. The drawback here will be a blurring effect of the Moon, as a result of the Earth’s rotation. With longer exposures and moderately sensitive cameras, consider using a tracking mount, in order to get a crisp photo of totality.
If you looking for a great telescope for a lunar eclipse, have a look at our Omegon Photography Scope 72/432 ED, which is a great instrument for nature and astrophotography at moderate focal lengths. The set-up is both a lens and a spotting scope, all in one.
The Lunar Eclipse of 2018 captured with a stabilized camera. Mars is visible below. Credit: Marcus Schenk
Photography Tips at a Glance
Stable tri-pod or tracking mount, as well as a lens or a small telescope
Recommendation: a camera with a cable or Bluetooth remote, as well as a timer
The camera should feature a manual focus, allowing you refocus to see a crisp edge on the Moon
The exposure should be manually configurable, or at least feature exposure correction
Experiment with the aperture and ISO values – you have plenty of time to do so
For now, we say clear skies and enjoy! Until next time!
Following the lunar eclipse and the Mars opposition we look forward to the next great astro event: the meteor shower called „the Perseids“. This year, its maximum will be during the night of 12th to 13th August. Then more than 100 meteors will be falling per hour. But the best piece of news is: this year there will be no bothersome moonlight as new moon’s night is only one day earlier. Thus we shall even see the low luminosity meteors!
An additional advantage: the hot summer temperatures. Just curl up in the open. Lie down on a sunbed in the garden or on the balcony or just look into the sky following a barbecue evening together with friends. The weather will be just perfect to enjoy astronomical oberservations wearing a t-shirt!
This up-to-date info graphic will show you the most important information at a glance.
We wish you lots of fun while observing the sky.
P.S. You want to know more about stars and planets but you just don’t know how to gain information? The AR (augmented reality) planetarium Universe2go will show you the stars in the same way a personal tutor would. Just score with astro-knowledge in the future! Learn more about Universe2go now!
What a night! First the Mars Opposition and then the Total Lunar Eclipse. And hopefully, fantastic weather! Nights in t-shirts. What more could you want as a hobby astronomer and observer? Finally, our hobby has made it into the spotlight of the public again. Of course, the media weren’t always strictly scientific in their reporting and there were a few questionable pieces written. But, what are you going to do? The focus was on Astronomy and we think that is great!
Observatories received hundreds of visitors on the 27th, who just wanted a glance through a telescope. All were excited about the “blood Moon”. Families came and spread themselves out in the fields with picnic baskets, as kids frolic across the open spaces. Everywhere in cities, people looked up to the cosmos. The Lunar Eclipse was not only an astronomical event, rather also a feeling in a mild summer night… one, which will remain in our memories for some time.
Our colleagues had the chance to really enjoy the evening of the eclipse, and took a few photos here and there. A couple of images are visible below.
The first people coming together in a field, to watch the eclipse together. Credit: Tassilo Bohm
Photo series of the eclipse. Credit: Joao Martins
The eclipse 2018 from Auerberg. Credit: Alexander Olbrich
The eclipse at a glance. Below, Mars is visible. Credit: Marcus Schenk
Lunar Eclipse above Landsberg, Germany. Credit: Marcus Schenk with Nikon Coolpix P900 and tripod
The Moon as it leaves the Earth’s shadow. Credit: Marcus Schenk
The view from Auerberg towards the Alps. Credit: Stefan Schuchardt
Stefan from consulting and Alex from the repair shop were happy to see the lunar eclipse.
The Moon with Mars with a stellar backdrop. To the right, you can see Sagitarius and Saturn. Credit: Stefan Schuchardt
The Moon as it leaves the Earth’s shadow. Credit: Stefan Schuchardt
On the 27th of July 2018, two amazing highlights will be visible in our sky: a near Mars Opposition and a Total Lunar Eclipse. Two events that are not to be missed. But what should you know before your observation? The where, how and when are detailed below.
Lunar Eclipse in 2007
1st Highlight: The Longest Lunar Eclipse of this Century
During the night of 27th of July, save the date, because the heavens will put on a show. We, in Europe, will witness the only lunar eclipse of the year. The feeling of awe as the Moon moves into the Earth’s shadow inspires, especially as our satellite begins to shine red. Various media outlets have deemed the event the “blood Moon”, but the color resembles a rusty red, copper red or brown red.
In this phase, we will be able to enjoy the eclipse for an especially long time: 1 hour and 44 minutes. That is a small record, since we will be witnesses to the longest lunar eclipse of the century.
The Path of the Lunar Eclipse on 27th of July 2018
The Moon Will Rise Already Eclipsed
The facts are clear: whenever the full Moon passes into the Earth’s shadow, we get a total lunar eclipse. Most of the time, our path moves past above or below the shadow or grazes the edges of the umbra. On the 27th of July it will be different. The Moon will pass almost perfectly in the middle of the Earth’s shadow (see graphic above), giving us the chance to enjoy an extremely long Lunar Eclipse.
That’s all great, but there is just one problem, which you should keep an eye out for.
As the Moon Rises
At 8:24 PM CET: the Moon will move into the Earth’s shadow, slowly being consumed by darkness and disappearing. We won’t see any of it, since it will all take place before the Moon is in our view. The Moon will first be visible in central Europe at 9 PM.
But Don’t Worry!
We will see our satellite rise above the southeast horizon, just as the best phase is starting. Totality! For the next 104 minutes, we can forget about the world around us. Take out a pair of your favorite binoculars, a telescope, or your camera with a telephoto lens. The Moon will rise further above the horizon, transformation to a fantastic object to see.
Now is the opportunity to get some great photos in combination with a landscape or houses. Tip: look for a spot with a free view of the southeastern horizon.
Further along, the Moon will rise higher, but as a typical Summer Moon does, it will not reach a really high position in the sky.
First contact into umbra 8:24 PM CET
Begin of Totality 9:30 PM CET
End of Totality 11:13 PM
Last contact 12:19 AM CET
2nd Highlight: Mars Opposition
Simultaneously, we can witness another “red phenomenon”: Mars will reach Opposition. Also something of special note, the red planet will only be 57 million km away – an extremely short distance from Earth and something some observers have been waiting on for decades.
The next time a similar event will take place will be in the year 2035! With a diameter of 24″, Mars will appear to be relatively large. Polar caps, Albedo and bright structures will be easily recognizable!
The Size of Mars in 2018. Click to enlarge.
Only drawback: Mars will hang low in the night sky this year. More info about the opposition and how to observe close to the horizon with good results.
On the 27th of July, 2018, a fascinating event awaits us in Europe: a total lunar eclipse. As the darkness falls upon us, a red, darkened Moon will rise above the horizon, as it moves through the Earth’s shadow. After almost 3 years, the Moon is back to entertain stargazers, amateur astronomers and nature photographers.
All the important info can be found in the infographic below:
PS – If you like the infographic above, feel free to share it, print it out, hang it up in your local observatory for all visitors, or even post it on your own website, with a link to www.astroshop.eu.
On the 27th of July, 2018, the time will finally be upon us: our neighbor, Mars, will stand in opposition to the Sun. Such an event happens every two years, but this time around is something much more special. The last time Mars was so close to Earth, during opposition, was back in 2003. This year, the red planet will come within 57 million kilometers, which is about the same distance as 15 years before. Mars will appear to be about half of the size of Jupiter, something only rarely observable, but with numerous details.
For more info about the Opposition, how to observe, which details to look for and which accessories improve your chances of a rewarding observation, read on below:
Mars: The facts about a fascinating planet
The Mars Opposition: What is it?
Why only every two years?
Why will Mars be so large this year
You can see this on Mars
Helpful accessories, to improve your observation
1. Mars: The facts about a fascinating planet
With a diameter of 6,000 km, 687 day orbit and a mountain at 27,000 meters – Mars is only half as large as the Earth, but resembles our home very much. Much like Earth, Mars is home to a rocky surface with mountains, plateaus and canyons. Valles Marineris is a massive 4,000 km long canyon, with a width of 700 km, and is considered the Grand Canyon of Mars. Comparatively, our Grand Canyon is relatively small at only 450 km in length and with a 30 km width.
Mars features other similarities, with its polar ice caps and even seasons. Standing on Mars, you would also see sunrises and sunsets. You could even see Earth with a telescope. The planet even features a similar tilt in its orbital path and a day lasts 24 hours and 40 minutes.
What a nice twin, right? Many space pioneers think so. And to top it all off, recently NASA revealed clues that the planet was able to support life. There are, of course, a few disadvantages to lifing on Mars: the cold. A thick jacket won’t be enough, given that the temperatures drop to -85°C. Nevertheless, temperatures could reach about 20°C at the equator.
Even the oxygen levels and atmospheric pressure varies greatly: 95% carbon dioxide, 1.8% nitrogen und 0.1% oxygen. On Earth: 78% nitrogen and 20% oxygen. In other words, breathing on Mars would be suffocating. Take off your spacesuit and your blood would boil in short time, as if you were at 35 km in altitude above the Earth – 3 times higher than cruise altitude of a commercial jet.
2. The Mars Opposition: What is an opposition?
An opposition occurs, when Mars stands in a straight line with Earth and the Sun.
3. Why only every two years?
Mars orbits the Sun once every 687 days, so roughly 2 years. We on Earth travel a much higher speed and only require 365 days to orbit.
Imagine that both planets start at the same spot. The Earth would lap Mars at some point during its orbit. Given that Mars is also orbiting, one trip around the Sun would not suffice, however. Only after 780 days will the Earth and Mars be aligned once again. An opposition!
4. Why will Mars appear to be so large this year?
Mars is pretty conspicuous in the sky this year. The red planet rises as dusk falls, and will shine bright in the night sky until dawn. The disk will appear to be enormous! It will increase to up to 24 arc seconds. Through a telescope, Mars will appear especially large, meaning we will be able to identify many details on the surface. It is a unique chance for observers and astro-photographers. Mars only appeared slightly smaller during the Opposition of 2003.
Mars does not have a circular orbit, rather an off-center orbit around the Sun. That is why its distance to Earth can vary so greatly. Depending on the position, oppositions can vary between 101 m and 55 m km. This year: 57.7 m km. In 2020, 62.2 m km and two years later 82 m km. By year 2035, Mars will once again be about as close as this year.
For observers in the norther hemisphere, the close oppositions will take place below the celestial equator, since they occur in the Summer months. The planet will not be found high above the horizon, but rather just above it: this year, just 15°.
5. Which Telescope?
Mars is bright and an object, that you can see with the naked eye. It will rise late in the eveing in the south west, climbing ever higher and reaching its meridian on 27th of July, 2018. Shortly before sunrise, the red planet will once again disappear under the horizon. You cannot miss Mars, since it will be the only bright object with a very bright and red color.
During the opposition, Mars will be quite large. That is why you could use just about every telescope to have a look at the planet, even a telescope with a 70-80 mm aperture. A good beginner’s scope for planets would be the Omegon AC 90/1000 EQ-2. With an intermediate or large telescope from 150 – 200 mm, you will be able to enjoy a greater resolution, which is important if you want to be able to see the small details. Keep an eye out that the telescope is well calibrated and adjusted for the temperature outside – important factors for a good, contrast-rich image. Many observers cherish Dobson telescopes, since they are inexpensive, bright, and easy to work with.
To view Mars, use a magnification of at least 100. Reason is, the small the planet, the more difficult it will be to see detail. Shorter focal lengths additionally afford you the greatest magnification. Magnifications of 200 – 300x are sensible to use. Hint: high-quality Televue Eyepieces on Sale are available here.
6. What to See on Mars
If you have a telescope of 100x, mars will appears only as red ball. With patience, you should be able to identify the bright, white polar caps.
The most noticeable dark area on the red planet is the Syrte, which is a large, dust-free, and high plateau with a width of 1,300 km. The area lies close to the equator and should be noticeable with an intermediate telescope. The Hellas Basin is a large, bright region, found south of Syrte and often home to storms. Of course, we will only be able to see these two regions, if Mars happens to be sharing this side of itself. Additionally, white clouds of meteorological phenomena can be seen with larger telescopes and color filters.
A foldable “Mars Map” from Orion is helpful in preparing for observations and photography.
7. Helpful Accessories
The ADC Corrector: for more contrast on the horizon
If we observe an object just above the horizon, the object could already set. The light of the cosmos is often distorted, while passing through the atmostphere or bowed. We see the same effect, for example, in a glass of water or a straw. The water is an optically dense medium – just as a straw would in a different way. Our atmosphere does the same.
A Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope with ADC and a Toupek camera
Is that a problem? Indeed, when we talk about an astronomical object. Blue and red light is distorted in different ways. Objects then exhibit a colored edge and appear to be contrast-less. The images are just less sharp, than those higher in the sky.
The ADC from Omegon produces – if you will – a negative color defect, which works against the atmosphere. The planet Mars plays a role here. Mars appears, to float just a bit higher. When one of our colleagues tested the ADC the first time, he noted, “The effect was massive. It appeared as if the telescope was suddenly replaced with another.”
In the next few years, many of the planets will be found quite close to the horizon. But, the ADC is your best hope. You can use it for visual observations, as well as for photography. Putting it to use is also quite simple: just place it into the recess, where the eyepieces normally is attached.
The advantages of the ADC in a nutshell:
ADC corrects atmospheric dispersion
Color fringes are reduced or disappear
Sharpness and contrast increase, as if the planet were higher in the sky
Just put it in the eyepiece recess and adjust the prisms.
Color filters: to unlock Mars’ detailed surface
Color filters are very useful for planetary observations, since they increase contrasts and make many details visible, which you may not see otherwise. The only requirement is that you should have some experience in observing, because seeing in astronomy is learned.
Color filters are available in sizes 1.25″ or 2″ and are simply screwed into the threads of the eyepiece.
But which details can you see on Mars?
Color filters are screwed directlz into the thread of your eyepiece.
Green filter: with it, you can directly enhance the surface, clouds and freezing fog.
Blue filter: only used for freezing fog and clouds.
Yellow filter: Great for seeing the occasional several week-long dust storm on the surface, by brightening such areas.
Orange and Red filters: Orange filters enhance the bright/dark structures of the surface and are the standard filter for observing Mars. The red filter does the same, but only utilized in large telescopes.
Tip: There are also special Mars filters, which increases greatly the contrasts of the red planet.
Filter wheel: For the quick switch
When you want to use several different filters, we recommend the filter wheel, for a quick switch between filter types.
Camera: Capture Mars
Do you want to photograph Mars? Then get your hands on a Touptek Camera G3M178C, which offers a high sensitivity and a resolution of 6.4 megapixels. Plus, it is extremely fast. With 59 images per second, you can put the shortest moments to use, resulting in sharp images of the red planet.
A great aid for planetary photography, making centering the planet in the dark hours no contest. With a flip mirror, you can switch between an eyepiece and camera in mere seconds.
Get out and observe!
Don’t wait until the year 2035! This Summer is a great opportunity to marvel at Mars in all its glory. In contrast to the opposition in 2003, camera technology has come quite a long way. Instruments like the ADC additionally enable you to view objects on the horizon. Get your telescope read and have a look at our nearest neighbor this Summer!
Product tip: Want to show your enthusiasm? Then get your hands on the Mars T-shirt! The backside features all the info of the opposition: distance, size, and brightness. Order now!
Summer and warm temperatures: Those who aren’t keen on winter are now getting out and about again to look up at the stars. But, unfortunately, it also gets dark later – and just a few hours pass, in the blink of an eye, and it gets light again. So, you should make the most of the dark hours. For, when the summer Milky Way draws across the sky, there is a great deal of things to discover.
The astronomical infographic, “Highlights in the Summer sky”, shows you at a glance what is going on in the sky between the months of June and August. Including: A short description of the events.
June 3 June, The Moon meets Mars
The Moon is already getting ready to put on a big show next month: an opposition at an extremely short distance. But we can already see Mars well. During the second half of the night, the Moon and Mars rise up over the south-eastern horizon.
16 June, The Moon meets Venus
A pretty pair in the evening twilight: the Moon and Venus. They can be seen close to each other at around 10 PM, above the western horizon. The waxing crescent Moon is only 5.8% illuminated and sweeps delicately in front of a yellowish-blue twilight sky.
19 June, Vesta in opposition
Vesta is one of the largest asteroids in the solar system and will enter its opposition on 19 June. Vesta has a brightness level of up to 5.3 mag. and can be viewed with the naked eye in a very dark sky. This opposition is particularly good, because Vesta is only rarely as bright as this. Where can this minor planet be seen? At the moment, it’s in Sagittarius, about 5° away from the star, μ Sgr (the star above the teapot in Sagittarius). During the month, it will start heading towards Ophiuchus.
23 June, Moon: Golden handle
The golden handle on the Moon can now be seen. Like a handle made out of light, it breaks the lunar night just on the other side of the Terminator. While the Sinus Iridum crater is still hidden in darkness, the Sun illuminates the ringed summit of the Montes Jura. It is visible between 4:30 and 8 PM GMT.
27 June, Small full Moon
The Moon goes around the Earth in an ellipse, not a perfect circle. This means: In the course of a month, it reaches a particularly close and a particular far position. At a distance of 403,000 kilometres, the Moon now appears smaller than usual, and has a visible diameter of 29° in the sky.
27 June, Saturn in opposition
The gas giant, Saturn, is now in opposition to the Sun again. In astronomy, this is cause for joy, because Saturn is now exactly opposite the Sun. Saturn, Earth and the Sun are geometrically in a straight line. For us observers, this means: The ringed planet can be seen all night. When night falls, it rises in the east and goes back down at daybreak.
28 June, The Moon meets Saturn
The Moon likes to occasionally pay a visit to our planets. On 28 June, it will be visiting Saturn again. Such encounters always make an enticing spectacle. And a beautiful occasion for an atmospheric photo with a camera and lens on a tripod. Saturn is currently at the top of Sagittarius and can be observed all night. On this night, the Moon will be approaching the ringed plant at about 1.9° and will go past it again the following day. One night later, they will have moved back to 9° from each other again.
10 July, The Moon meets Alpha Tauri
In the early hours of the morning, around 4 AM, the narrow waning crescent Moon and Alpha Tauri meet. To the north of London, the Moon covers the 3.6-mag bright star, Hyadum I.
12 July, Pluto in opposition
Pluto is a dwarf planet that is difficult to see and is barely distinguishable from a star. At least, if you don’t have a precise map at hand. Despite that, it’s worth taking a look with a larger telescope at this outpost of the solar system. Coordinates for the GoTo control: Rect: 19h25m20s, Dec: -21°49′
16 July, The Moon meets Venus
A brightly glowing Venus and a waning crescent Moon: At the moment, at dusk, you can observe this pretty sight.
21 July, The Moon meets Jupiter
When Venus goes down in the West, Jupiter dominates as the brightest planet in the night sky. At the moment, the Moon, illuminated at 70%, is keeping it company.
27 July, Mars in opposition
This is a superlative event: Since 2003, we have been looking forward to the most exciting Mars opposition. At only 57 million kilometres away, Mars rarely comes this close to Earth. Now, there’s an opportunity for successful observation with Mars at full size and with quite a few details. And this is all thanks to an imposing diameter of 24 arc seconds. Not until 2035, will the red planet offer us such a highlight again.
27 July, Total lunar eclipse
On the same day as the Mars opposition, a total lunar eclipse will take place. Another special event. Because: Recently, lunar eclipses have been very rare. At dusk, look for a place with a very good view of the horizon, because we won’t get the start of the lunar eclipse. As soon as you see the Moon over the horizon, the partial phase will already be well advanced, and just after at 9:30 PM CET, the total eclipse will start. The middle of the eclipse will be reached at 10:22 PM CET, and the end will be reached at 11:14 PM CET. Then, on the left edge of the Moon, we’ll see a crescent made of light coming up. Tip: We can also see Mars below the Moon.
31 July, Mars comes closest to Earth
The opposition of Mars is only a few days ago, but today Mars is coming particularly close to Earth. At a distance of only 57.6 million kilometres. That is almost as close as in 2003, when Mars moved to just 55 million kilometres away. From an astronomical point of view, there’s no difference.
You can’t see them now: noctilucent clouds or night clouds. If, in the summer, the Sun is between 6° and 16° below the horizon, it sometimes lights up extremely thin single-crystal clouds about 80 kilometres high. In fact, these clouds are so high that they are in the mesosphere of our atmosphere. For us, it’s been night for a long time, but these clouds catch a little Sunlight and we see bluish-white clouds lighting up that are invisible during the day.
3 August, The Moon meets Uranus
Uranus is a gas giant, and yet it appears tiny in a telescope. That’s hardly surprising, since it is one of the two most distant planets in our solar system. You can’t see any details in a telescope. It is, however, fascinating to see the planetary disk – at a magnification of between 150 and 200. On 3 August, the Moon will be passing quite near to Uranus.
August: Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner
This comet was observed the first time in 1900 by Giacobini, and then rediscovered by Zinner in 2013. Using the data, we determined that this comet had an orbit lasting 6.5 years, meaning it’s a comet with a short orbit. In 2018, it will be clearly visible in the northern night sky, as early as June and July. In August, however, 21P/Giacobini-Zinner will be found just before its closest point to the Sun, and will achieve an interesting level of brightness, estimated 7.8 mag. In August, it will wander northwards past Cassiopeia, through the giraffe in the direction of Auriga.
12/13 August, Perseids
Every year, we look forward to the most beautiful shooting stars of the year: the Perseids. During the morning of 12 August, the meteor shower reaches its pinnacle. There are up to 100 shooting starts per hour, that fly through out atmosphere at an unbelievable speed of approx. 216,000 km/hr. The peak is reached between 10 PM CET and 4 AM CET
Last year, the Moon once again spoiled the meteor shower, but this year it’s going to be totally different. One day after the new Moon, nothing will ruin your observation session. You can look forward to fantastic conditions. We can thank the comet, 109P/Swift-Tuttle, for this meteor shower which lost part of its mass on its path around the Sun. Whenever Earth crosses the path of the original comet in August, the Perseids shoot through our sky.
14/15 August, The Moon meets half Venus
During dusk, we will experience one of the most beautiful conjunctions of Venus and the Moon. The new crescent Moon will be bright over the western horizon, and about 4° below will be Venus. On 15 August, our neighbouring planet will reach its half phase: dichotomy. The disk will appear at a size of 24″.
17 August, Venus’ largest easterly elongation
At an angle of 46° to the Sun, Venus will normally reach good visibility in the evening sky. As it’s low down in the sky at the moment, however, and its path is leading southwards, it sets just after the Sun. It wanders far below the equator from Virgo into the constellation of Libra.
23 August, The Moon meets Mars
During this night, the Moon is at a distance of only 6° from the red planet.
26 August, Mercury’s largest westerly elongation
Mercury will reach its largest westerly distance from the Sun today. It is, however, in its orbit close to the Sun. This is why its morning visibility is quite poor. From about 5 AM CET, you can spot it on the eastern horizon.