Star Calendar – August 2016

Star Calendar

August 2016

Star Calendar Planets:

Moon passes just out of reach of Earth’s sizable shadow on the 18th as it sets at dawn. It is very close to being, or not being, a technical penumbral encounter – but nothing observable will occur. Some eclipse tables will list this event, others will not. Both are correct! An annular solar eclipse will cross Africa and Madagascar on September 1st when the Moon’s shadow doesn’t quite reach the Earth.

Mercury makes its widest excursion from the Sun this month but does so doubly disadvantaged from our point of view. Firstly the ecliptic is dropping dramatically to the left of the Sun (aka the coming decent into fall) and secondly Mercury is passing rather south of the ecliptic line. At greatest elongation on the 27th, Jupiter and Venus have a lesser elongation but stand higher than Mercury in the evening – as they are north of the ecliptic just now.

Venus sets at 9:PM on the 1st and then about one minute earlier each day thereafter – but the Sun sets even earlier, gaining about a minute and 21 seconds each day – so Venus is a little higher each evening twilight relative to sunset but is lower each evening relative to the clock. During this month she will pass Regulus, Jupiter and Mercury.

Sun stands in the middle of Cancer as the month begins, crosses into astronomical Leo on the 9th and reaches Regulus on the 21st. If you recall where Jupiter stood (beneath the belly of Leo) at the extremity of his last loop (stationary on May 9), the Sun will reach that spot on September 5th.

Mars will make a striking equilateral triangle with Saturn and Antares, in the south on the 11th, but the Moon standing directly above him will make a distracting lozenge – or possibly blot out Antares. So perhaps on any other day it is a good time to contrast Mars with Antares as they approach one another. They are conjunct on the 23rd/24th.

Jupiter is in direct motion, meaning that he appears further leftwards each day against the stars. The Sun and Moon epitomize this motion and the planets execute variations and contrasts to this theme. Venus is moving more quickly than the Sun, Jupiter more slowly – and Venus will catch up on the 27th for a very close and very bright conjunction. That would be a night to find a 10 to 30 power telescope with either not too large an aperture or fitted with some filters, for Venus will be so close that she’ll mingle amongst the Moons of Jupiter. The pair will be low and due West at 8:15 PM at the very beginning of Nautical Twilight conditions. Find a good spot ahead of time.

Saturn is within the meridia of Scorpius, (though astronomically in Ophiucus) and stands above (north of) Antares. Mars will cut between the two on the 23rd/24th.

Perseid meteors statistically peak mid-month, but the gibbous Moon presents a liability then. There have been known to be earlier outbursts however, so gazing Perseus/Cassiopeia-wards earlier in the month may reward. The Aurigids peak in better conditions at the end of the month – but are above the horizon in the pre-dawn hours – raying from above Orion’s shoulder.

Star Calendar Days:

  1      Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 5:52/20:12 (14h20m daylight)

  2      New Moon

  4      Mercury to right of young Moon, 8:45PM in West

          Also, lower to right, Venus

  5      Venus and Regulus conjunct in evening, latter probably washed out by sunset

  6      Moon just beneath Jupiter, setting by 9:30 PM in West

11      Moon, Mars, Antares, Saturn make a lozenge in SSW at 9:PM

12      Perseids peak – by statistics of the past

13      Saturn stationary to direct motion

16      Mercury at largest (but very low) angle from Sun for this appearance, 27 degrees

18      Full Red Moon (5:27 AM) sets in slight penumbral eclipse in early morning

23-25 Mars passes between Saturn and Antares, SSW in evening

27      Venus and Jupiter pass very close in West as Sun sets – should be quite bright

30      Mercury stationary to retrograde

31      Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 6:22/19:30 (13h8m 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