Venus at Superior Conjunction

Crescent Venus
Venus approaching inferior conjunction, 24Dec2013

Today Venus is passing through superior conjunction, passing behind the Sun as seen from our earthbound point of view.

Venus will reappear in the sunset in mid-September, a brilliant star like object low on the horizon, just above the glow of sunset.

When Venus does reappear we can expect a few UFO reports by people unfamiliar with the normal workings of our skies. In late 2018, when it last emerged in the dawn we had a few such reports here on the island, including a very nice video and folks who could not accept the fact that the “strange light” was simply a bright planet.

Venus will spend the remainder of 2019 in the evening sky, reaching maximum elongation on March 24th, 2020.

Mercury at Maximum Elongation

Mercury, Venus and Jupiter
An evening conjunction of Mercury, Venus and Jupiter on 30 May, 2013

Today Mercury is passing through maximum elongation, the furthest it will rise above the rising Sun in the dawn sky. After today the planet will slide back into the Sun’s glare headed for superior conjunction on September 3rd.

This is a modest apparition, with the planet only 19° from the Sun.

Continue reading “Mercury at Maximum Elongation”

Mercury at Inferior Conjunction

Today Mercury is passing through inferior conjunction, passing between the Sun and the Earth. This fast moving planet will reappear above the dawn in about a week, rising towards maximum elongation on August 9th.

This is a modest apparition, with the planet reaching only 19° away from the Sun.

Mercury Events for 2019
ApparitionDate ElongationMagnitude
Evening Feb 2718.1°E -0.2
Morning Apr 1127.7°W +0.6
Evening Jun 2325.2°E +0.7
Morning Aug 919.0°W +0.3
Evening Oct 2024.6°E +0.1
Morning Nov 2820.1°W -0.3
Data from the Mercury Chaser’s Calculator by John Walker

The Moon and Saturn

This evening, July 15th, the Moon will pass quite close to Saturn. For viewers in the islands the pair will be closest as it grows dark, slowly separating as the night advances.

Saturn
Saturn on April 15th, 2016

At sunset the two will be separated by about 40 arcminutes. Keep in mind that is a center to center distance, considering the size of the moon this puts the planet about 25 arcminutes from the limb of the Moon, close enough to appear in the field of a medium power eyepiece in most amateur telescopes.

Viewers in the South Pacific and Australia will be able to view an occultation of Saturn by the Moon this evening.

As the Moon is also quite close to full it will be rising at sunset, thus a good eastern horizon is desirable to see this event early in the evening. Look for a bright, slightly yellowish star-like object just north of the Moon as it rises.

Saturn at Opposition

Today the planet Saturn will pass through opposition, directly opposite the Sun in our sky.

Saturn
Saturn on April 15th, 2016

Saturn orbits the Sun once every 29.45 years. As the ringed planet continues on its way the Earth swings around much faster on our inside track. As a result we lap Saturn once every 378.1 days, passing between the planet and the Sun. During opposition Saturn will be well placed for observation all night long, rising at sunset, transiting at midnight, and setting at sunrise.

During opposition the planet and rings will be slightly brighter than normal, an effect known as the opposition effect. The effect is most notable in the rings where the apparent brightness can increase by 30%. The effect is a combination of two factors, shadow hiding and the retro-reflective properties of the ring particles.

Mercury at Maximum Elongation

Mercury, Venus and Jupiter
An evening conjunction of Mercury, Venus and Jupiter on 30 May, 2013

Today Mercury is passing through maximum elongation, the furthest it will rise above the setting Sun in the evening sky. After today the planet will slide back into the Sun’s glare headed for inferior conjunction on July 21st.

This is the most favorable evening apparition of the year, reaching over 25° from the Sun. The October apparition is almost as good
reaching over 24° from the Sun.

Continue reading “Mercury at Maximum Elongation”

Jupiter at Opposition

Jupiter will pass through opposition at 05:11HST today.

Jupiter 14Apr2016
Jupiter on April 15, 2016

Jupiter orbits the Sun once every 11.86 years. As the giant planet continues on its way the Earth swings around much faster on our inside track. As a result we lap Jupiter once every 399 days, passing between the planet and the Sun. During opposition Jupiter will rise at sunset, transit at midnight, and set at dawn. This makes the planet available for observation for the entire night.

Look for a bright object rising in the eastern sky after sunset. It is difficult to mistake for anything else, shining at it’s brightest during opposition, a brilliant -2.7 magnitude. For the remainder of the spring and much of the summer, the planet will be quite prominent in the evening sky.

Mercury at Superior Conjunction

Today Mercury is passing through superior conjunction, passing around the far side of the Sun as seen from our earthbound vantage point. This fast moving planet will reappear in the sunset in about a week, rising towards maximum elongation on June 23rd.

The June apparition will be the best of the year with the planet reaching over 25° from the Sun. The October apparition will be quite good as well at over 24°.

Mercury Events for 2019
ApparitionDate ElongationMagnitude
Evening Feb 2718.1°E -0.2
Morning Apr 1127.7°W +0.6
Evening Jun 2325.2°E +0.7
Morning Aug 919.0°W +0.3
Evening Oct 2024.6°E +0.1
Morning Nov 2820.1°W -0.3
Data from the Mercury Chaser’s Calculator by John Walker

Mercury at Maximum Elongation

Mercury, Venus and Jupiter
An evening conjunction of Mercury, Venus and Jupiter on 30 May, 2013

Today Mercury is passing through maximum elongation, the furthest it will rise above the rising Sun in the dawn sky. After today the planet will slide back into the Sun’s glare headed for superior conjunction on May 21st.

This is the best apparition of the year, morning or evening, with the planet over 27° from the Sun.

Continue reading “Mercury at Maximum Elongation”

Mercury at Inferior Conjunction

Today Mercury is passing through inferior conjunction, passing between the Sun and the Earth. This fast moving planet will reappear above the dawn in about a week, rising towards maximum elongation on April 11th.

This is the most favorable dawn apparition of the year, actually the best dawn or evening, with the planet reaching over 27° away from the Sun.

Mercury Events for 2019
ApparitionDate ElongationMagnitude
Evening Feb 2718.1°E -0.2
Morning Apr 1127.7°W +0.6
Evening Jun 2325.2°E +0.7
Morning Aug 919.0°W +0.3
Evening Oct 2024.6°E +0.1
Morning Nov 2820.1°W -0.3
Data from the Mercury Chaser’s Calculator by John Walker