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Archive for 2020

Mars opposition 2020

October 1 2020, Marcus Schenk

CEM70 with iGuider – the latest innovation from iOptron

September 23 2020, Jan Ströher

The American company iOptron, which has already built a good reputation for itself in recent years with innovative, efficient and quiet mounts, launched a worthy successor to the popular CEM60 in April this year: the CEM70.

The new CEM70 comes with the characteristic appearance of the proven CEM mounts. CEM stands for centre-balanced equatorial mount. This design allows a particularlyfavourable ratio of load capacity to actual mount weight. In the case of the CEM70, the ratio is 2.3. This means that the mount carries more than twice its own weight! So, the CEM70 is still suitable for mobile applications, but is also a very good mount for observatories.

The stepper motors and the toothed belt drive allow high pointing accuracy in GoTo operation, but most importantly, a very precise tracking accuracy with a periodic error of less than +/- 3.5 arc seconds. All this with the usual welcome quiet operation of all iOptron mounts.

Just like the CEM25P or the CEM60, the new model is perfectly suited for astrophotography. The highlight is a version which comes with iGuider, an integrated autoguider! In addition, both versions of the CEM70 have an ST4 interface, built-in GPS, a sturdy transport case, quiet stepper motors, the proven Go2Nova hand controller, as well as a dual mount saddle for Vixen and Losmandy dovetail plates.

With a maximum load capacity of 31kg, the CEM70 offers great flexibility for different telescopes and the appropriate photographic equipment. All in all, the new CEM70 is an even more portable mount with a wellthought-out design, useful functions and additional features, which also carries a higher instrument load even more safely, tracks quietly and precisely, and thus will never let you down during astrophotography! Both model versions can be found from us here at Astroshop.

Astronomy Highlights in Autumn 2020

August 28 2020, Marcus Schenk

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

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

We wish you many exciting hours of viewing.

September:

06/09 Conjunction between the Moon and Mars

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

11/09 Neptune at opposition

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

14/09 Conjunction between the Moon, Venus and M44

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

25/09 Conjunction between the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn

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

October:

03/10 Conjunction between the Moon and Mars

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

03/10 Conjunction between Venus and Regulus

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

08/10 Giacobinids

The Giacobinids or Draconids are a meteor shower which appears to stem from the constellation Draco. The maximum rates can be expected on 8 October. Unfortunately the expected number cannot be predicted as it can vary considerably.

The radiant is located near the star Beta Draconis. Draco is part of a circumpolar constellation which is why the radiant is at its optimal visible altitude in the evening.

14/10 Mars at opposition

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

21/10 Orionids

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

21/10 The Moon occults Gamma Sgr

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

22/10 Conjunction between the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn

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

29/10 Conjunction between the Moon and Mars

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

31/10 Uranus at opposition

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

November:

10/11 Mercury at greatest western elongation

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

11/11 The Moon occults v Virgo

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

12/11 Conjunction between Jupiter and Pluto

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

13/11 Conjunction between the Moon, Mercury and Venus

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

16/11 Leonids

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

19/11 Conjunction between the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn

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

25/11 Conjunction between the Moon and Mars

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

Lithium LT – the new power tank from Celestron

August 10 2020, Stefan Taube

With the PowerTank Lithium LT, Celestron is introducing a particularly light battery, which is especially suitable for smaller telescopes.

Celestron_Powertank_LT

The power tank can be attached to a tripod leg using the velcro straps included.

Modern telescope electronics react very sensitively to an incorrect voltage. Operating a telescope at too low a voltage can cause the motors to suffer at higher loads and even cause the electronics to fail. The PowerTank Lithium LT uses a built-in voltage regulator to ensure that it continually delivers at least 11.8 volts, until the battery is almost empty and shuts itself down.

Compared to a classic lead-acid battery, the PowerTank Lithium LT is smaller, lighter, more efficient and better for the environment. It offers better performance, a longer life and safer operation than other, cheaper lithium-ion batteries. It also offers automatic shutdown, reverse polarity protection and charge/discharge protection, as well as protection against overvoltage and short circuits.

Celestron_Powertank_LT_1

A smartphone can be charged using the USB output.

We recommend the PowerTank Lithium LT  for telescopes from the following series:

By the way: the battery also meets the current FAA regulations for hand luggage – ideal for travelling!

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

July 20 2020, Marcus Schenk

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

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

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

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

Komet Neowise Michele Russo

Photographer: Michele Russo

 

Komet Neowise von Uli Zehndbauer

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Have fun observing!

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

New: fabric masks with attractive astronomy themes

July 13 2020, Marcus Schenk

Whether you are going to the supermarket, the book shop or the public observatory; in all these locations you need to wear a mask. So why not wear one that you really like? Luckily, there are now new astronomy-themed masks. Beautiful images with the Pleiades and the solar corona during an eclipse. As a hobby astronomer and fan of outer space, make a statement with one of these masks.

A great addition to the Masketo fabric mask range, which were previously only available in black or white, in different sizes – including for children – or with the Corona Borealis design.

The solar corona: the Sun is one of the reasons why there is life on Earth. It is only a medium-sized star on the edge of the galaxy, but it is for us – along with our Earth – vitally important. This mask shows a total eclipse of the Sun, which occurs when the Moon moves in between the Earth and the Sun. By an absurd coincidence, the Moon and the Sun appear to be the same size in the sky, which allows us to marvel at the solar corona depicted on the mask during a total eclipse.

Maske mit Sonnencorona

Solar corona

The Pleiades: the Pleiades were recognised in the sky even in the very early days, as found in a 17,000-year-old rock-drawing in a cave, or in an image on the ancient Nebra sky disk. Some people mistake it for the Little Dipper, but it is the best-known open star cluster in the starry sky. Just 400 light years away, large blue stars and only 100 million years old.

Plejaden auf der Maske

Pleiades

Summer theme: If you simply want to share a little summer with your mask, this one is ideal, with palm trees and fresh turquoise colour accents.

Maske mit Sommermotiv

Summer theme

All Masketo masks are non-medical masks that can help reduce the spread of airborne droplets in the Corona crisis.

The benefits:

  • Themed mask
  • With elastic loops
  • 2-ply with wire for nose clip
  • Inner surface 100% cotton + outer surface 100% polyester
  • Washable at up to 60°C
  • Made in Europe

Note: these masks serve to reduce the risk of transmission in the environment through airborne infection. This is not a medical product within the definition of the MPG and not personal protective equipment (PPE).

Totally stylish, whether in the observatory or at the astronomy club: be sure to secure your fabric star mask today.

C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE): A new comet in the spotlight?

July 10 2020, Marcus Schenk

A star on the celestial stage? Or quietly disappearing through the stage door? Another promising comet is currently travelling through the solar system. But what kind of performance can we expect from C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE)? Predictions are creating suspense …

Komet F3 NEOWISE

Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE)

It all kicked off in spring with the Y4 ATLAS comet: There were already rumours that it could be the Great Comet of 2020 as it was following a similar trajectory to the Great Comet of 1844. This reached a magnitude of -1 back in its day. In reality, comet Y4 ATLAS put on a good show until it suddenly disintegrated. Now its debris is continuing to travel through the solar system but the great experience failed to materialise. We were also able to see comet C/2017 C2 (Panstarrs) periodically but this also failed to meet expectations.

The wonderful new appearance of a bright comet – C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE)

But the Universe is always full of surprises: The new comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) was discovered as a faint magnitude +17 firefly on 27 March by the NEOWISE Space Telescope. The comet talent scouts amongst the scientists are now predicting it will have a bright future. Whispered rumours say it could reach a magnitude of +0.6. What? No. Yes! But keep your voice down.

Where is the comet now and when can I observe it?

Pay attention, the most important information is coming up.
Comet NEOWISE is currently located in the southern sky but it is slowly moving into the northern sky and is climbing higher each day. From 15 July, you will be able to marvel at it in the evening sky (from 22:30) at 15 degrees above the north-western horizon. Unfortunately, its position close to the Sun means that you cannot see it all night long. In the following days it will traverse the Lynx constellation (which is rather faint) on its way to the Great Bear’s front paw. You only have a small window of time after twilight – but it’s worth it.

Telescope, binoculars or the naked eye?

If the experts are right, NEOWISE will reach a magnitude of +0.6 on 5 July during its perihelion. But it is also supposed to glow with an impressive magnitude +2 on 15 July . This would mean it was a comet for your telescope, any binoculars you can envision – and even for the naked eye.

Of course, its journey does not end mid-July: over the course of the month it wanders further along the Great Bear’s paw and reaches the amazing Coma Berenices (Berenice’s Hair) on 1 August. During this time, it leaves its magnitude behind, dimming to magnitude +3 by 20/07 and to magnitude 5.5 by 1 August. But even then it will be an attractive object. Partly because it will then be somewhat darker and the comet could gain more than 10 degrees of additional altitude.

Will we be able to finally break out of the vicious circle of faint comets? We will see. Have fun observing.

You can download a PDF of the star chart here: C:2020 F3 NEOWISE star chart.

New: StarSense Explorer telescopes from Celeston

June 30 2020, Stefan Taube

The idea of controlling a telescope with a smartphone is nothing new. With the StarSense Explorer range, Celestron brings  another option into play, which may be particularly interesting for beginners.

A special feature of the StarSense Explorer telescopes is that a WLAN connection does not need to be established between the telescope and the smartphone. The free StarSense Explorer app orients itself directly to the night sky, via the smartphone camera and a sophisticated mirror system.

Celestron StarSense Explorer DX

Celeston StarSense Explorer DX

 

Here’s how it works: All you need to do is install the free StarSense Explorer app and insert your smartphone into the special cradle attached to the telescope. The app uses location data from your smartphone to determine the observing location and does not require you to separately enter the current date and time.

The StarSense Explorer app uses a special lost-in-space algorithm (LISA), which is also used for the orientation of satellites. Star patterns recorded by the smartphone camera are compared with the internal database. These calculations are combined with information from the smartphone’s gyroscope and accelerometer. All this leads to a very high degree of precision that no other planetarium app can achieve! So you can move confidently through the night, even with no prior knowledge!

In drei Schritten zum Erfolg

Insert your smartphone, launch the app and you’re ready to start observing.

The StarSense Explorer app will suggest rewarding objects to observe that night at your location. You can also use the planetarium view to pan to interesting objects and identify them.

StarSense Explorer telescopes are supplied with an altazimuth mount so you can move the telescope simply about the altitude and azimuth axes. Two shafts with large grips allow fine adjustment and tracking. The telescopes are not equipped with a motor, but belong to the class of PushTo telescopes.

By the way, of course you can also use your StarSense Explorer telescope without a smartphone, for example, for a quick view of the Moon, which you should be able to find without an electronic helper.

Free mouth and nose masks from your 3D printer: How to make your own mask

June 5 2020, Marcus Schenk

It is part of everyday life. We all have to wear a face mask in public from now on. We, therefore, have an unconventional craft tip for everyone with a 3D printer.

With our free downloadable 3D file and a simple tissue, you can quickly make your own makeshift mask.

Once printed you can make up a mask in only a few minutes.

Die selbstgebastelte Mund- und Nasenmaske

 

So how does this work exactly?

Normally our production department develops new products and telescopes for our Omegon brand but, due to the Coronavirus outbreak, we are having a rethink. So our developers have designed a holder, using which you can create a sturdy mouth and nose cover using kitchen roll.

But how? You attach two of the four frame sections created in the 3D printer to the outer edges of the sheet of kitchen roll. Even a sharp tug will not tear the paper, it will remain sturdy. You can then attach a rubber band to the sections of frame and, voila, you have a mask!

And this is how it works:

  1. Download the files Holders.stl and Top.stl and save them to a card which is suitable for your 3D printer.

Download Holder

Download Top

  1. Place 1x Holders.stl and 2x Top.stl into the work area and start the 3D print.
  2. Around 3 hours later you will have the following components:
Holder für die Mund- und Nasenmaske aus dem 3D-Drucker

One of two upper sections, each of which clicks into a lower section with the inlaid paper.

 

Step-by-step guide to making your mask:

  1. Lay out one disposable tissue and two sheets of kitchen roll. Ensure that you use a good quality tissue – it should be thick and dense enough not to become saturated. Lay one sheet of kitchen roll in front of you and place the other on top of it at a 90 degree angle. Finally place the unfolded tissue on top.

  1. Cut both sheets of kitchen roll to the same size as the tissue.

  2. Using the tissue’s folds as an aid, create three mountain folds in order to achieve the classic mask design. Pinch the creases together at the sides (as shown in the image) and place the crease towards the top edge. Do the same with the other folds.

  1. The folds should resemble those in the following image:

  1. Now take a standard hole punch and punch holes in the right and left-hand sides.

  1. Find a rubber band and cut it into 20 centimetre sections. The holders have a small hole at one end and a tapered slit at the other end to hold the rubber band. Tie the rubber band at one end, feed the other end through the small hole and pull the band through until it stops at the knot. Feed the untied end into the slit and wedge it in. Do the same with the other rubber band.

  2. Place the mask with the pre-punched holes into the designated holder lugs and attach the mask to the upper sections. Press down firmly, pressing the spikes into the sheets as you do so.

  1. Your mask is now ready and you can try it on as shown in the top image.

Bear in mind that this is only a makeshift mask and you should replace the tissues after use. However, the plastic units which you produced in the 3D printer are reusable.

Note: These masks reduce the risk of transmission due to airborne infection in the environment. This is not a medical product as defined by the Medicinal Devices Act and does not constitute personal protective equipment (PPE).

Enjoy printing and making.

Astronomy highlights in summer 2020

May 27 2020, Marcus Schenk

Bright comets, fantastic meteors in August and multiple planets at opposition mean that the night sky in summer 2020 is full of astronomical treats.

As early as June, there will be two interesting comets to be seen, namely C/2020 F8 SWAN and C/2017 T2 PanSTARRS. The former is gradually moving from the southern night sky to the northern sky and the latter is maintaining its altitude as a circumpolar object. T2 PanSTARRS is great for telescope viewing – and you can even find it in a great position, right next to a well-known star. More on this later.

We wish you many exciting hours of viewing.

June

1 June SWAN comet

Spring 2020 was rich in comets, one of the most attractive and brightest of these being the comet C/2020 F8 SWAN. It remained in the southern sky in spring, climbed above the horizon at the end of May and can now be found in the northern sky.

4 June Mercury at greatest eastern elongation

Mercury reaches its greatest eastern elongation which, in this configuration, is 23 degrees. It can be seen in the evening sky just above the north-western horizon. When viewed through a telescope, you can see the planet almost half-illuminated.

5 June Penumbral lunar eclipse

This evening, as much as around 50% of the Moon plunges into the Earth’s penumbral shadow. The resulting penumbral eclipse is interesting astronomically but not spectacular visually, as the Moon is only obscured minimally.

We are unable to track the beginning at 19:45 CEST (17:45 UT) because the Moon is still below the horizon. At 21:24 CEST, at the time of its maximum eclipse, it is visible just above the south-eastern horizon. From now on, we can track its further progression until the Moon leaves the penumbral shadow at 23:04 CEST.

5 June PanStarrs comet

Another interesting comet which certainly warrants a quality photo is C/2017 T2 PanSTARRS. It was discovered on 01/10/2017 and has since been travelling around the Sun on a parabolic trajectory.

It is currently at magnitude 8 and is also visible with small telescopes and large binoculars. On 5 June, it will be visible at a distance of 1 degree from the bright star Dubhe (Alpha Ursae Majoris) in the Plough. It will therefore be very easy to find using any telescope and a wide-angle eyepiece or using a large telescope.

9 June Conjunction between Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon

There is rarely a more beautiful sight than this. At the start of the second half of the night, the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn are rising together over the south-eastern horizon. There are only 3 and 4 degrees between both planets and our satellite and together they make an attractive trio. To the right of this we find the constellation Sagittarius with its summer deep sky objects and, to the left, Capricorn.

13 June Conjunction between the Moon and Mars

From around 3:00 CEST (1:00 UT) we experience a conjunction between Mars and the Moon at an altitude of only 10 degrees above the horizon. A stunning sight, but who is this mysterious visitor? Almost invisible, Neptune joins them and can be found no more than 1.5 degrees above Mars with the help of binoculars.

19 June The Moon occults Venus

It is a rare event when the Moon slips in front of Venus today and occults it. However, this event is taking place during the day. But does this mean that you cannot somehow observe it? You can, but this event is more for experienced observers. At 9:55 CEST the Moon, with its narrow crescent shape, slips in front of Venus. Caution: The Sun is around 20 degrees to the east! Never look directly at the Sun with your eyes or using an optical instrument.

27 June June Bootids

The June Bootids meteor shower originates from the constellation Bootes. The number of falling meteors is small but variable. There have been years in which no meteors have been seen, however rates of 100 per hour have been seen on occasion. Because these meteors cause excitement, it is worth taking a closer look.

July

5 July Conjunction between Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon

Once night has fallen, the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn rise, drawing everyone’s gaze towards them at magnitudes of -2.7 and 0.1. Tonight the fully-illuminated Moon joins them, as the Moon was full only yesterday.

8 July Venus at greatest magnitude

Venus is currently located in the constellation Taurus or in the Hyades star cluster. Although it is only 30% illuminated, it is shining at magnitudre -4.4, the brightest magnitude achieved so far this year.

12 July Conjunction between Mars and the Moon

With 2.5 degrees between them, there is a conjunction between Mars and the Moon today. Both are in the constellation Cetus on the border of Pisces and rise after midnight. At sunrise they are 30 degrees above the horizon, they do not reach the meridian as the Sun will have already long risen by then.

12 Conjunction between Venus and Aldebaran

It is a special occurrence when a bright planet passes by a bright star. Events like these are very eye-catching and appealing to observe. On 12 July, Venus passes by the bright star Aldebaran at a distance of only 0.5 degrees. It is to be the closest encounter of any planet with Aldebaran in this century.

14 July Jupiter at opposition

Jupiter rises in the south-east as early as twilight and can be seen as a very bright object. Today it is at opposition to the Sun and can be admired throughout the entire night. A mere 619 million kilometres separate it from Earth and the light requires a little more than half an hour to reach us. Its visible diameter is 47 arc seconds and it crosses the meridian, and therefore achieves its best visibility, at 1:25 CEST (23:25 UT).

16 July Pluto at opposition

The former planet and current dwarf planet is at opposition and is shining at a magnitude of 14.2. Finding it with a telescope which only works with one accurate star chart is a challenge. Pluto is located between Saturn and Jupiter on these days, from which it is only 2 degrees to the west (on the left of the central Telrad ring).

17 July Conjunction between Venus and the Moon

A delightful sight in the morning sky in the form of today’s conjunction between Venus and the very narrow and almost 26-day-old crescent Moon in the constellation Taurus, close to the star Aldebaran.

21 July Saturn at opposition

July is the month of oppositions and today’s offering is Saturn. At magnitude 0.1, it will be shining much more faintly than its prominent colleague, Jupiter. However, Saturn is able to make up for this with its attractive rings, which we are able to see fully exposed in our view.

22 July Mercury at greatest western elongation

Whilst Mercury was at its greatest eastern elongation in June, it is now at its greatest western elongation. This means that it has now become an object in the morning sky, as it now rises before the Sun. From 4:30 CEST (2:30 UT), you should be able to see it at around 3 degrees above the horizon. At this time, the Sun is 8 degrees below the horizon.

28 July Delta Aquariids

The last event this month is the Delta Aquariids. These are shooting stars which appear to come from region containing the constellation Aquarius, at a maximum frequency of 25 per hour. The period after midnight, when the Moon has already gone down, is best suited for their observation.

August

1 August Conjunction between Jupiter and the Moon

Today there is a conjunction between the 12-day-old and almost full Moon and Jupiter.

9 August Conjunction between the Moon and Mars

This morning the Moon is approaching the planet Mars until it is around 2.75 degrees away. While Mars is in Pisces, the Moon crosses the border from Cetus to Pisces in the morning.

12 August Perseids

The absolute highlight of every August is the Perseids meteor shower. We are able to see up to 100 meteors per hour tonight. Admittedly, this is only because the Moon is not interfering. This year, we are able to view them during the first half of the night without it interfering. At 0:30 CEST (22:30 UT) the Moon rises above the horizon, the sky gets brighter and the faint Perseids are drowned out by Moonlight.

13 August Venus at greatest western elongation

Venus is the morning star and is currently at its greatest western elongation at a distance of 45 degrees between it and the Sun. When you view Venus through the telescope, it appears half-illuminated.

13 August Conjunction between the Moon and the Hyades

The Moon is in the constellation Taurus, close to the Hyades star cluster.

15 August Conjunction between Venus and the Moon

Anyone looking up at the sky in the early hours of the morning can see Venus close to the narrow crescent Moon. Both are in the constellation Gemini.

28 Conjunction between Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon

This evening there is a conjunction between the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation Sagittarius. The trio is on the left, close to the well-known Teapot asterism. If deep-sky observation is not possible today, how about a tour of the lunar craters, culminating in a glimpse of both rulers of the solar system?

01.10.2020
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