Star Calendar – June 2017

Star Calendar

June 2017

Star Planets:

Moon appears at First Quarter as the month opens, stands over Jupiter on the 3rd, and is then Full with Saturn on the 9th. Early risers will be treated to a complementary pairing with Venus on the 20th and 21st, the complement being of crescent/gibbous, wane and wax.

Mercury celebrates our solstice from the far side of the Sun as he makes superior conjunction on the 21st.

Venus shows her First Quarter on the 5th, then waxes as she draws nearer the Sun. Early summer sunrises, made earlier by meddling with the clocks, makes sightings less common.

Sun now reigns above the horizon 15 hours a day (in Spring Valley), varying by only 11 minutes this month. On the Solstice he stands between the stars Betelgeuse and Menkalinon — if you can recall seeing them as winter wound down; Betelgeuse is the brighter armpit of Orion and Menkalinon is that other Aurigan star one sees when looking for yellow Capella along the great Arc of Capella. The former stands right on the meridian of summer solstice.

Mars is unviewable this month. He and Mercury will have a discreet tête à tête as the latter scoots by on the 28th.

Jupiter remains prominent and southerly in the evening. He ceases his retro urge on the 10th and begins his stroll toward Libra — which he will achieve, arm-in-arm with Venus, in mid November.

Saturn is brightest this month, but never gets as bright as Jupiter at his least. Opposition is on the 15th, but, again due to fiddling with clocks, he does not culminate until 1:00AM — and then is only 27 degrees high. Use the Full Moon on the 9th to advantage in taking notice.

Star Days:

   1 Sunrise/set in Spring Valley at 5:26/20:23 (14h57m daylight)
   3 Venus at largest angle from Sun for this appearance, 46 degrees
     Moon above Jupiter in South as dark falls
   4 Moon above Spica in South as dark falls, Jupiter bright and to right
 8-9 Full Strawberry Moon at 9:10AM of the 9th
   9 Moon with Saturn and Antares, rising ESE just before 9:00PM
  10 Jupiter stationary, to normal motion (leftwards against stars)
  14 Sunrise is earliest for the year, at 5:23
  15 Saturn in opposition, brightest, middle of backwards movement
  20 Moon, waning beside waxing Venus, in East at 4:00AM
  21 Solstice at 00:24, rise/set at 5:24/20:32 (15h8m daylight)
     Sun then enters astronomical Gemini (solstice was in Taurus)
     Mercury passes far side of Sun (superior conjunction)
  23 Traditional Mid-summer, St. John’s Eve
     Moon New and Perigee, 16 hours apart (dark, with large tides)
  27 Sunset is latest for the year, at 20:33
  28 Moon nearly grazes Regulus, 9:30PM in West
  30 Sunrise/set in Spring Valley at 5:27/20:33 (15h6m daylight)

Star Calendar – July 2016

Star Calendar

July 2016

Star Calendar Planets:

Moon will show only 1/7 of her fullness on the 7th of the 7th month. 7/7 is the date of the oriental star festival called Tanabata – when two lovers (stars Vega and Altair), separated by a river (the Milky Way), may be allowed to meet if the river vanishes. But that is unlikely this year since the Moon is too small (dim) to vanquish the river. However, terrestrial lights may very well do the job instead; Orihime and Hikoboshi are probably big fans of Light Pollution.

Mercury crosses behind the Sun on the 6th-7th and might just be seen at the end of the month in the evening. On the 30th, with a good view to the west, Venus should shine out by around 8:30 PM. Following her descent, Mercury should appear to her left, and Regulus might just be made out very close beneath Mercury – try binoculars. That will be the nearest planet-to-bright-star conjunction for the year.

Venus should be visible (west) in bright evening twilight after mid-month or so, but she sets by around 9:PM. Mercury will pass close by on the 16th, but the sky will likely be too bright to see him. Again, one might try binoculars.

Sun is at its highest on the 4th – in the sense of distance-from-the-ground or Aphelion. Might the Earth be deemed most independent then? Proximity of the Sun slightly exaggerates the Winter/Summer of the southern hemisphere – but tempers those seasons in the north. Ocean is preponderate in the south – and it tends to subdue the seasons by great thermal mass and circulation – while land masses respond more quickly to the solar input. At present the apsides rather subdue climate change – with a residual net warming; the last ice age is still finishing up – but as the apsides shift (over centuries), a net cooling will again glaciate the north. The effect of apsides is smallish on the earth – but is large on eccentric Mars.

Mars, still brighter than any star, now culminates (is highest, in the south) as dark falls. He shone like a flying cinder during our St. John’s bonfire.

Jupiter is brighter than Mars – but is lower and further west each day when he appears. He entertains the Moon on the 8th and 9th.

Saturn makes a huge triangle with equal-brilliance stars Arcturus and Vega (the latter is slightly brighter). Saturn will gradually be higher and more southerly at first appearance each evening as the month progresses. In August he will appear in a fashion similar (in position) to that of Mars this month.

Star Calendar Days:

  1      Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 5:28/20:32 (15h4m daylight)

  4      Aphelion at noon – Sun is 3% farther than in January

          Sun, Moon, Venus and Mercury between the knees of Gemini

          Equinox on Mars, autumnal for northern part

  7      Mercury at superior conjunction – crosses behind Sun

          Moon beneath Regulus after sundown

          Tanabata – oriental star festival of Orihime (Vega) and Hikoboshi (Altair)

8-9     Moon near Jupiter in West at dusk

11      Moon between Mars and Jupiter, and beside Spica, SW in evening

14      Moon, Mars, Antares and Saturn make an oblong in South at 10:PM

16      Moon, Saturn and Mars make a line over Antares at 10:PM

19      Full Thunder or Hay Moon at 6:57PM

30      Perhaps find Mercury near dimmer Regulus as Venus sets, W around 9:PM

31      Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 5:51/20:13 (14h22m daylight)

Star Calendar – June 2016

Star Calendar

June 2016

Star Calendar Planets:

Moon crosses the seasonal colures (meridians of solstices and equinoxes) every month. This month Sun and Moon cross opposite colures on the same day. Just as the length of daylight changes with the seasons – so does the time of Moon-Up change rapidly through the month. For this month, Moon crosses the colures of Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring respectively on the: 4th at 23:32, 12th at 20:00, 20th at 08:26 and 27th at 00:25. The duration of Moon-Up on those days is: 14h35m, 12h29m, 10h4m and 12h26m. The extreme are somewhat subdued because the inclination of the Moon’s path with respect to the celestial equator is currently less than the Sun’s inclination; in a few years’ time the lunar seasons will be more exaggerated than the Sun’s.

Mercury may come into view mid-month – low in the ENE at around 4:30AM. I was not able to do an elaborate setup to view last month’s transit – but twice thought I might have seen it through welder’s glass. A lot of folks took nice photos though.

Venus crosses the backside of the Sun on the 6th. We may expect to see her next in mid-July.

Sun now occupies the sky for a pretty steady 15 hours a day. Note below the subtle differences between earliest/longest/latest dates and times. This year the solstice occurs on the same day as Full Moon – which means that the Sun is making a long summer crossing while the Moon takes a short wintery walk – rising very south-of-east and culminating very low in the sky.

Mars continues to be in our face this month but his rise-time advances more slowly as he approaches the end of his loop on the 30th. He is receding, first slowly, then rapidly, and will be fading noticeably as July approaches. On the 1st of this month he shines at magnitude -2.1 (brighter than Jupiter) and by July at -1.4 (rather like a red Sirius).

Jupiter still dominates the SW as darkness falls – but Mars holds sway in the SE.

Saturn varies less in brightness and follows Mars across the sky – trailing him by about an hour. Saturn is as bright now as the brightest summer star (Vega), but, appearing much lower, tends to draw less notice perhaps.

Star Calendar Days:

1      Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 5:26/20:23 (14h57m daylight)

3      Saturn in opposition (exactly opposite the Sun in our sky)

4      Jupiter is at eastern quadrature (exactly ¼ of the sky from the Sun)

Moon occults Aldebaran during the day (again in October at night)

5      Mercury at largest angle from Sun in morning sky

6      Venus at superior conjunction (crosses behind Sun)

8      Moon to left of Castor and Pollux (Gemini) at 9:30PM

10      Moon between Regulus and Jupiter tonight

13      Sun, Mars, and Saturn fall on a line in space; Martian opposition of Saturn

14      Sunrise earliest in Spring Valley, at 5:23AM

14-15 Moon above Spica and between Mars and Jupiter

17      Moon, Mars, Antares and Saturn make a lozenge, culminating as darkness falls

20      Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 5:24/20:32 (15h8m daylight)

Full Strawberry Moon 7:02AM

Solstice at 6:34PM EDT

23-24 St. John’s Eve/Day, traditional mid-summer

27      Sunset latest in Spring Valley, at 8:33PM

30      Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 5:27/20:33 (15h6m daylight)

Mars stationary to stars, end of retrograde loop, begins normal motion

Star Calendar – January 2016

Star Calendar

January 2016

Star Calendar Planets:

Moon rises on the autumnal equinox point and beneath Jupiter as the New Year opens. On the 7th it accompanies Venus and Saturn in morning twilight in the ESE and then begins another week or so of moonless dark nights. On the evening of the 19th watch the Moon, high in the south, approach and then blot out Aldebaran – that expected to occur at 9:43PM.

Mercury stands (against the stars) on both sides of the Sun this month. He is stationary on the 5th, on the evening side of the Sun, in Capricorn; crosses the nearside of the Sun on the 14th, and stands again on the morning side of the Sun on the 25th. This appearance is rather poor – but the dates give a sense of how quickly Mercury can change position.

Venus continues to be the dominant “star of the east”. On Three King’s Day morning will occur a lovely morning group of crescent Moon, Venus and approaching Saturn; and the subsequent days too – until on the 10th she sinks below Saturn and begins in earnest to fall into to the morning glow.

Sun is nearest us for the year at this time. The relationship of the timing of the proximity cycle of the Sun (apsides) to the seasons is a strong component of the cycle of glaciation; is one that changes very slowly too. All of modern humanity’s historical records fall within the current warm cycle. Apsides proceed to the same conditions in about 111,000 years while the seasons are retrograde in 25,770 years. Other long cycles also abound.

Mars is culminating (south and highest) between 6 and 6:30 AM these days. He abandons the virgin on the 17th and recovers his balance in the scales. Mars is at 1st magnitude, slightly brighter than Spica to his right. He approaches 3rd magnitude (much dimmer) Zuben Elgenubi this month and will arrive, escorted by the Moon, on Feb. 1st.

Jupiter begins his loop this month, wandering back under the belly of Leo for an opposition in early March.

Saturn is now a definite morning presence, shining as brightly as Arcturus in the morning sky. As the year opens Saturn will be only half as high as Venus at 6:30 AM, but will ascend each morning as Venus slowly falls. The pair swap ascendency on the 9th and by the 31st Saturn will be prominent in the SSE between Antares and Sabik – though one might have to look a little earlier due to earlier sunrise!

Quadrantids are from the upper part of Bootes and their radiant is circumpolar. They may peak early this year so spending the night of 3rd-4th on a cot with feet facing north may reward.

Star Calendar Days:

1      Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 7:21/16:38 (9h17m daylight)

2      Sun is nearest for the year (perihelion), at .9833 of average distance

3      Martian solstice, summer for northern hemisphere

          Moon above Mars and Spica, SSE at 6-6:30AM

4      Quadrantid meteors early AM, from high East –

          – while looking, find Comet Catalina above Arcturus (with binoculars?)

5      Latest sunrise for the year, at 7:22 in Spring Valley

          Mercury stationary to retrograde

6      Moon above Venus and Saturn in morning twilight

7      Moon below Venus and Saturn, (red Antares to the right)

          Julian December 25, Orthodox Christmas

8      Jupiter is stationary, begins retrograde loop

9      Venus and Saturn very near, morning twilight in east

14      Julian/Roman New Year, begins 2769 AUC

          Mercury at inferior conjunction, crosses nearside of Sun

19      Moon occults Aldebaran, SSW at about 9:43PM

23      Full Wolf Moon at 8:46PM

25      Mercury stationary to direct (normal) motion

          Moon rises beside Regulus, east at 8:PM

28      Moon rises below Jupiter, east at 10:PM

30      Moon above Spica, SSW at 6:AM

31      Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 7:08/17:12 (10h4m daylight)

Star Calendar – December 2015

Star Calendar

December 2015

Star Calendar Planets:

MOON rises as a waning crescent just above Venus at 6:AM on the 7th. Watch the pair through the day using the crescent Moon to find Venus very close by the convex side of the Moon. After having lunch, go watch Venus disappear behind the crescent, SE at about 12:40PM. Just over an hour later find a good view to the WSW and stare at the Moon again to catch Venus wink back from behind the invisible (gibbous dark part) side. Reappearance should occur at 1:50PM – but look early as that might not be precise. Binoculars are helpful, but this occultation should be visible without them. The season of New Moon nearest winter solstice gives us the darkest days of the year – contrasted by the season of the “Long-Night” Full moon – a kind of echo of summer during which it does not get dark for several days, Christmas Midnight will be like a soft Summer Noon.

MERCURY makes a fair evening appearance this month, culminating just after Christmas. Mercury will be the brightest object in the SW in evening twilight (excepting airplanes and such) and will not twinkle (or scintillate) as low stars tend to.

VENUS passes Spica on the 1st and pulls away from pursuing Mars, hides behind the Moon on the 7th (see above) then crosses into the Scales on the 11th. She then serves to draw our attention to the reappearance of Saturn sometime during the mornings approaching Christmas. We can then look forward to a stunning grouping of Venus, Saturn, a crescent Moon and Mars’ nemesis Antares on the morning of Epiphany.

SUN is noticeably a super-minority presence now; it’s down twice as long as it’s up. It stands, astronomically, in the Teapot for solstice – which is fairly near the direction of the center of the Milky Way.

MARS reaches Spica on Christmas – on which morning we will see a lay of planets, from SE to S: Saturn, Venus, Mars/Spica, Jupiter; and beyond in the SW, Regulus. The line of the ecliptic is hence easily seen!

JUPITER is nearly stationary this month and tests the extremity of Leo in barely discernable direct motion. He will go retrograde at Epiphany.

SATURN enters the morning scene near Antares sometime mid-month. With a decent view to the SE the two should be visible Christmas morning, and a definite presence by New Year’s morning; 6:30 is a good time to look.

GEMINIDS are quite reliable meteors and find very good circumstances (no moonlight) this year for a good showing. Lie down in a sleeping bag somewhere with feet toward the SE and look up. It’s a good night for catnapping.

Star Calendar Days:

1 Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 7:02/16:28 (9h26m daylight)
3-4 LQ Moonrise/set in Spring Valley at 23:44/12:29 (12h45m moonup)
7 Moon rises just above Venus, SE at 6AM, Spica and Mars above them
Moon occults Venus shortly after 12:40PM, re-emerges around 1:50PM
8 Sunrise at 7:09; latest for 2015
This week has the most (celestially) dark skies for the year
11 NM Moonrise/set in Spring Valley at 07:01/17:07 (10h 6m moonup)
13-14 Geminid meteors – in propitious circumstances!
18-19 FQ Moonrise/set I Spring Valley at 12:04/00:28 (12h24m moonup)
21 Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 7:18/16:31 (9h13m daylight)
Solstice at 23:48, longest night of the year
22 Mars passes to left of Spica, in SSE at 6AM
Sky is lit by Sun or Moon almost continuously for the following week
23 Moon rises beneath Aldebaran, East at 5:PM
25 Oh, what a beautiful morning! (see MARS above)
FM Moonrise/set in Spring Valley at 17:14/07:04 (13h50m moonup)
28 Mercury highest in evening sky for this appearance
31 Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 7:21/16:37 (9h16m daylight)
Moon rises beneath Jupiter just before the New Year opens, east.

Star Calendar – November 2015

Star Calendar

November 2015

Star Calendar Planets:

Moon sweeps the foot of Gemini on the first evening of November, then wends its waning way with early morning visitations to Regulus, Jupiter, Venus/Mars and Spica during the subsequent week. On the 12th The Moon serves as an aid to our last view of Saturn for a month or so – but only for those with a clear view to the WSW. The 26th provides an opportunity to see an occultation – of Aldebaran – but that will be just hours after Full Moon – so Aldebaran may not compete well. A daytime occultation with a crescent Moon is coming in December…

Mercury spends this month crossing the far side of the Sun.

Venus swaps places with Mars as the pair cross into Virgo on the 2nd. She then scoots for the protection of ascending Spica, reaching her by the end of the month.

Sun has again been very active in unusual ways, and has even produced aurora visible in daylight.

Mars does a turn with Venus and then ascends as Venus descends. Mars will not meet Spica until Christmas.

Jupiter also heads for Virgo but slows to a crawl, stopping just shy of the boundary to Virgo after Christmas to begin his loop in Leo early next year. Jupiter will not step into Virgo until next August.

Saturn will be overtaken by the Sun on the 30th and will visible again some morning in mid-December.

Star Calendar Dates:

1      Daylight Time ends; 2AM=1AM Standard Time

          Moon near foot of Gemini (Alhena) in SW before sunrise

          Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 6:27/16:52 EST (10h25m daylight)

1-2     Moon passes through the feet of Gemini

2-3     Venus falls beneath Mars just as the pair cross into Virgo; predawn ESE

3      Clocks furthest ahead of Sun for the year (Equation of Time maximal)

5      Moon below Regulus, SE predawn

6      Moon beside Jupiter, SE predawn

7      Moon beside Venus/Mars, SE predawn

          Calendrical midpoint between equinox and solstice

9      Moon near Spica, ESE predawn

10      314th day; temporal circumference of circle with diameter of April 10 (day 100:-)

11      Martinmas, traditional cross-quarter day (see the 7th)

12      Moon (beside Saturn; last glimpse ‘til Dec.) 5:15 PM if very good WSW view!

17      Mercury crosses far side of Sun (Superior conjunction)

18      Leonid meteors peak – face east in the early morning

25      Full Beaver Moon 5:44PM

26      Just-Full Moon occults Aldebaran, around 5:45AM in west (use binoculars)

29      Venus passes Spica, predawn in SE

30      Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 7:01/16:29 EST (9h28m daylight)

Star Calendar – October 2015

Star Calendar

October 2015

Star Calendar Planets:

Moon moves through the stars, eastward, at its own diameter every hour, or, 13 degrees per day, or, one season per week — as noted below.

Mercury is pretty bright now and is at greatest elongation mid-month. Those with a clear view to the east might pick him out due east at about 5:00AM

Venus is in her afterglow after her maximum brilliance last month. She is still at a large angle from the Sun and can be seen during the daytime with a little care. Look about 45 degrees (half a right angle) ahead of (right of) the Sun and patiently let the eyes linger, wandering in slowly larger circles around the chosen spot in the sky. Don’t look too hard or dart around too much. Once you see Venus you’ll wonder why it seemed so impossibly invisible to begin with — it just stands there sharp and bright; but if you go out another time it’s just as hard to find again!

Sun no longer gets high enough in our sky to create Vitamin D in our skin. The rule of thumb is that if your shadow is longer than you are tall, you are not getting the rays that stimulate that beneficial nutrient. The native northern-clime peoples make up for this with a very fatty acid (fish oil) diet. Those that shower daily might consider skipping the soap unless it’s actually needed; Vitamin D is an oil kept in your skin and it washes off with soap! UVA lights will give a suntan — but it is UVB or UVC that is needed to make Vitamin D.

Mars should now be visible, east in morning nautical twilight (around 5:00AM). As October opens he will be below Regulus and slightly dimmer. Venus stands higher, very bright, and Jupiter below, quite bright as well. On the 9th the Moon will stand just to the right; on the 18th Jupiter will stand very close by and he will finally have a sojourn with Venus on Nov.2nd.

Jupiter is the brightest object beneath Venus in the morning.

Saturn is low in the SW these evenings. He shuffles into Scorpius on the 16th, accompanied over the threshold by a crescent young Moon that night. They are SW at about 6:00PM

Star Calendar Dates:

1      Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 6:53/18:38 EDT (11h45m daylight)

2      Moon near Aldebaran high in SW at 5:00AM

3      Moonrise most north-of-east for month, at 10:15PM

8      Moon above Venus, beside Regulus in east at 5:00AM

          Mars above Jupiter, a little lower in the east

          Mercury stationary to retrograde

9      Moon beside Mars, above Jupiter in east at 5:00AM

          Draconid meteors (?) from overhead in late evening

11      Moon rises due east, thin and very low, to right of Mercury at around 5:AM

12      Uranus in opposition, up all night in Pisces, (for binoculars)

14      Islamic year 1437 A.H. begins at sundown

15      Mercury at greatest elongation, visible in morning nautical twilight low in east

16      Moon above Saturn in WSW at 6:15 PM, both in Scorpius, near Antares

18      Jupiter to right of much dimmer Mars (both below Venus) in east at 5:AM

          Moonrise most south-of-east for month, at 11:15AM

24-25 Standard Time resumes in Europe

          Moon rises due east at 3:30PM

25      Venus to right of much less bright Jupiter in east at 5:00AM

26      Venus at greatest elongation, largest angle from Sun

27      Full Hunter’s Moon 8:05AM

29      Moon rises below Aldebaran, ENE at 8:00PM

31      Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 7:26/17:53 EDT (10h27m daylight)

          Waning gibbous Moon rises 3 hours after darkness falls on Halloween

          Moon rises most north-of-east again, just before 9:00PM

Star Calendar – September, 2015

Star Calendar

September 2015

Star Calendar Planets:

Moon will be waning as September opens and the ecliptic especially steep to the horizon in the morning. This circumstance will show especially thin and horizontal crescents on the 11/12th. New Moon begins the Hebrew new year (Rosh Hashanah) 5776 Anno Mundi. Moon’s ascending node currently lies where the Sun stands on the 24th, making this month an eclipse season. On the 13th the New Moon will be at an extreme apogee and its shadow will not reach the earth; a partial solar eclipse (for those near South Africa and the proximate part of Antarctica). However the Full and most perigee Moon of the 27–28th may well yield an especially dark lunar eclipse. A dark Moon is hard to see and is much more creepy than a red/yellow one; it looks like a giant stone hanging in the sky.

Mercury makes a large angle from the evening Sun on the 4th — but suffers from a shallow ecliptic. One may catch a peek around then, low in the west at 8PM. Mercury begins retrograde motion on the 17 and crosses the nearside of the Sun on the 30th.

Venus brightens to a maximum magnitude (for the year) of -4.8 on the 20th. She is receding from us and waxing in phase but is brightest while still crescent. The angular area Venus occupies in the sky diminishes as she recedes, that area being maximal on the 21st — when the waxing phase briefly overtakes the diminishing of receding distance.

Sun crosses the celestial equator on the 23rd, its center crossing at 4:21AM. The day of equinox is still 3 minutes longer than night though, a 12-hour-night waits for the 25/26th. Success in balancing eggs on their ends at equinox only indicates a greater patience and diligence in the attempt. There is no special gravity or balance-energy that day. Sorry.

Mars defers to Venus these mornings and passes (slightly dimmer than and) close to Regulus on the 25th, while bracketed by Venus above, Jupiter below.

Jupiter will be noticed emerging from his sunbath some fine morning this month, appearing below and much brighter than Regulus in the east. Weather and horizon permitting, look for it while scouting for old crescent Moons in the east at 6AM on the 11/12th.

Saturn is in the lower SW in the evening, and is the brightest celestial object in the vicinity. The Moon will be nearby on the 18th. Continue reading

Star Calendar – July, 2015

Star Calendar

July 2015

Star Calendar Planets:

Moon is Full at both ends of this month; but most comely when a companion young crescent around the 18th.

Mercury slips behind the Sun on the 23rd. Our next chance to see Mercury may come August 16th, beside a crescent Moon.

Venus now approaches us in earnest and her disk is greatly increasing in size. At the same time she is showing us less of her disk as she wanes in phase. The visible (lighted) part of Venus covers the greatest angular area of our sky as she sets on the 9th, but she continues to brighten to a maximum on the 12th. Venus and Jupiter make the closest of three encounters on the 1st, separated by only 4/10 degree as the evening darkens. Their second (RA)* conjunction is less sensational at 6 degrees on the 31st, and the third will come on October 26th – that being a morning apparition.

Sun has appeared for half the number of days for our calendar year at noon on the 1st, but does not progress halfway round the ecliptic until the next day. The discrepancy may seem odd at first but makes sense when we consider that its progress is most rapid when nearer than average (Fall to Spring) and tardier when farther away (Spring to Fall). If the calendar year were to begin at spring equinox instead, we would be halfway through the calendar on Sept 19th, but the Sun would take another 5 days to reach halfway along the ecliptic. Put another way, the time between equinoxes are 186 ½ and 178 ¾ days respectively; between solstices 181 ¾ and 183 ½. The Sun does NOT run like clockwork!

Mars is on summer vacation.

Jupiter, encouraged by a kiss from Venus, continues his quest for Regulus. The evenings of the 17th, 18th and 19th offer especially picturesque arrangements of Crescent Moon, Crescent Venus, Jupiter and Regulus; don’t miss them.

Saturn culminates (is highest, in the south, at about 9:PM) just as it gets dark this month and shines now at the same brilliance as the brightest of our summer stars, Vega. Vega is to be seen then in the east, to the left of Saturn.

*RA, R.A. or Right Ascension refers to a sky coordinate system based on the celestial equator divided into 24 sections. It is the component of distance along the equator to the left of the vernal equinoctal point and is given in units of hours, minutes and seconds where 0h is vernal equinox point. The other component is degrees Declination, which is the distance above or below the equator (+/- 90). For example, the summer solstice point is at 6h, +23.5 degrees. Conjunctions are usually (but not always) considered to be when the RA of two objects are the same.

 Star Calendar Days:

1      Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 5:27/20:33 EDT (15h6m daylight)

          Halfway through AD 2015 at lunchtime

          Venus and Jupiter in nearest of triple conjunction, .4 degrees apart

          Full Thunder Moon 10:20PM

2      Sun opposite its Jan.1st position on the ecliptic

6      Sun most distant for the year, 3% farther than in January; moves most slowly

9      Venus illuminates largest area of sky

12      Moon near Aldebaran predawn in east

          Venus brightest for this appearance, -4.7 mag.

16      Moon, Venus and Regulus within smallest circle, West at 9:PM

17-19 Moon, Venus, Jupiter and Regulus gather each evening in West

22-23 Moon passes Spica, SW after 9: each evening

23      Venus stationary to stars, begins retrograde motion

          Mercury at superior conjunction, crosses behind Sun

25      Moon approaches Saturn (from the right) SSW after 9:PM

26      Moon above Antares, Saturn to right, S – SSW after 9:PM

31      Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 5:51/20:14 EDT (14h23m daylight)

          Full Hay Moon 6:43AM

          Venus and Jupiter are conjunct (same R.A.) again, 6 degrees apart