Venus at Maximum Elongation

Crescent Venus
Venus approaching inferior conjunction, 24Dec2013

Today Venus is passing through maximum elongation, the highest elevation it will attain in the dawn sky for this apparition.

The planet is currently 47° ahead of the rising Sun. After today the brilliant planet will slide back into the glow of dawn headed for superior conjunction on August 13th, and an evening apparition starting in mid-September.

Saturn at Superior Conjunction

Today Saturn passes through superior conjunction, rounding the far side of the Sun as seen from our earthbound vantage point.

Saturn
Saturn on April 15th, 2016

Saturn will re-emerge in the dawn sky towards the end of the month. Look for the planet low in the glow of dawn, rising higher each day. It will swing by Venus on February 18th, passing about a degree away.

Saturn will pass through opposition on July 9th, crossing into the evening sky.

The Sky for 2017

Looking ahead to 2017 it appears that the skies will be kind to us this coming year. We have good meteor showers, a total eclipse of the Sun, a bright comet or two, and the usual planetary conjunctions to look forward to. Below you will find some on my notes to what we can look forward to during the coming year.

Jupiter 14Apr2016
Jupiter on April 15, 2016, stack of the best 2000 frames of 7600, Celestron NS11GPS at f/20 and Canon 60D
As is my practice I have spent more than a few evenings loading up DarkerView with scheduled posts for the year. Well over a hundred posts are set as reminders for the interesting astronomical events for 2017. It is a useful effort, as I can see for myself what the year will bring and begin my planning.

Covered are elongations for Mercury and Venus, interesting conjunctions, oppositions, eclipses and meteor showers. Posts include notes for visibility in the Hawaiian islands for those events that are location dependent.

Continue reading “The Sky for 2017”

Conjunction

Only once before have I seen Jupiter and Venus this close, many years ago. Being close enough to fit in the same eyepiece field is quite interesting, particularly with enough magnification to see the moons and planet details well.

If you have not been paying attention the evening planet dance is in full swing, Mercury, Venus and Jupiter all in close attendance.

This evening was the close approach of Jupiter and Venus. I set up a telescope briefly to capture the conjunction. More than a little overexposed, but you can see the moons of Jupiter this way…

Venus and Jupiter
Venus and Jupiter in conjunction on Aug 27, 2016. The star at lower right is Beta Virginis

The Sky for 2016

Looking ahead to sharing a fun and pretty 2016 with everyone. As usual you can come to Darker View for heads up on everything happening in the sky for 2016. I have spent the last month setting up pre-scheduled posts with all of the significant sky events for the year. We have a couple interesting eclipses, including a total eclipse across the Pacific, and some nice conjunctions. Comet C/2013 US10 Catalina continues to be naked eye into January and C/2013 X1 PanSTARRS should be marginally naked eye in June.

Young Moon
A very young moon over Waikoloa, this is only 26 hours after new, visible to the unaided eye as a sliver in the fading glow of sunset
Setting up all of the scheduled astronomy posts for the year allows me an excellent overview of what the coming year will bring. As I go though the schedules I have assembled a summary here to give my readers a preview of the year and to allow advance planning.

The Moon

Below are tables of all of the new and full moons of 2016 for those who prefer to plan early for those observing outings. Eclipses are noted with an asterisk in the tables and are explored more fully in the following section.

For those who like supermoons you will have to wait for later in the year when the orbit and lunar phase align. November will be the best supermoon of the year when full moon occurs only two hours away from perigee on the 14th of the month. For a few months either side of the November full moon you will find perigee occurring within a day or two of full, allowing for larger and brighter than average full moons.
Continue reading “The Sky for 2016”

Conjunction

I missed the closest approach of Venus and Jupiter. Not for lack of trying. I had set up the telescope and camera in the driveway. A clear afternoon clouded over at sunset, leaving me only glimpses of the planets through a fleeting gap in the clouds. I had time to focus enough to see the crescent of Venus, which promptly faded from sight.

The next evening I am on the summit. No small telescope available, but I did have the camera to record a stunningly beautiful evening atop the mountain.

Conjunction
Venus and Jupiter over the Keck 1 dome

Venus and Jupiter Reminder

A reminder that this evening will see the close approach of Venus and Jupiter. Watching over the last week we have seen these two bright planets growing ever closer in the evening sky.

The closest approach will be about 0.3° tonight, June 30th at 16:14HST. They will be slightly further apart several hours later at sunset.

This is the best opportunity to see the pair at their closest for observer in Hawaiʻi. If you want to see the closest approach you can also try to observe the conjunction in the late afternoon sky. Both planets are bright enough to see in the daytime.

After this the pair will separate slowly and disappear into the sunset glow together.

At their closest the two will be easily close enough to bee seen together in the low power view of amateur telescopes. It makes a fascinating sight to see the two planets together in the eyepiece.

Venus and Jupiter

The dance of Jupiter and Venus continues in the evening sky. Over the next few days we will see the pair drawing closer. Currently an obvious pairing in the sky after sunset, the two are just 4.5° apart today. With Venus shining at -4.4 and Jupiter somewhat dimmer at magnitude -1.8 it is hard to miss the pair.

The closest approach will be about 0.3° on June 30th at 16:14HST. Thus the evening of June 30th will see the pair at their closest for observer in Hawaiʻi. If you want to see the closest approach you can also try to observe the conjunction in the late afternoon sky. Both planets are bright enough to see in the daytime.

After this the pair will separate slowly and disappear into the sunset glow together.

At their closest the two will be easily close enough to bee seen together in the low power view of amateur telescopes. It makes a fascinating sight to see the two planets together in the eyepiece.