A difficult Lunar occultation of Saturn

On October 25th Saturn will be occulted by the Moon. The Sun will still be up when the occultation begins so if you decide to try for this event please be very, very careful not to accidently look at the Sun.

For Abingdon, the occultation begins at 17:03 BST, when Saturn will disappear behind the dark limb of the Moon.

At 18:07 BST Saturn reappears from behind the bright limb of the Moon. By now the Sun will have (just) set, but the Moon will only be 6 degrees above the horizon.

Clear Skies.

Opposition of Uranus

Uranus is at opposition on the night of October 7th 2014. See the map below:

The map above is for 8pm BST on the evening of the 7th October. At opposition the Earth is between the planet and the Sun. This means Uranus will rise at sunset and set at sunrise, so you have all night to view the planet. It will be at its highest at about 1:00pm BST on the 8th October.

You will need a pair of binoculars or a telescope of any size at x100 to see it’s disk. Being so far away (19.2AU from the Sun) it has a very small angular size: between 3 and 4 arcseconds. Its just big enough for you to see it is a non stellar point, but it is very small. It will have a blue/green colour.

Clear Skies,

Opposition of Neptune

On August 29th 2014, Neptune will be at Opposition. It will be at its highest at 1:11BST, rising at sunset. However, it will probably be best to wait until 22:37BST or later to view it. That’s when its at least 20 degrees above the horizon and so out of the worst of the atmospheric haze. It doesn’t get very high as the map below shows:

Clear skies.

A good time to see a comet

Two comets are on good view to those with binoculars or a telescope.

Comet Jacques (C/2014 E2) is currently working its way across the sky. For the next few days it will be moving out of Cassiopeia and across Cepheus as shown in the map below (green line is the comets position between 25th August and 1st September. Now is a good time as the Moon will be out of the way.

Comet Jacques is around magnitude 7 and is expected to stay that for a while yet, so you will need binoculars at least to see it. Large telescope owners may be able to make out a pale green colour and see its faint tail.

For the early birds amongst you Comet Oukaimeden (C/2013 V5) is visible just before sunrise. It is fainter than Comet Jacques at magnitude 8.5 or so and is very low on the eastern horizon. It will get lower over the coming days so get out quick if you want to have a look at it.

Clear skies.

Jupiter and Venus conjunction

On Monday 18th August, Jupiter and Venus will be in close conjunction in the early morning sky. Closest approach is around 05:00AM UT, or 6:00AM BST. They are going to be very close (0.2 degree) in the NEE. See the map below:

The map shows the morning sky for 5:30AM BST on the 18th August in the UK. Jupiter and Venus are only 10 degrees above the horizon so you’ll need a clear horizon. By 6:00AM they’ll be at 14 degrees.

If you have a very clear horizon, then before sunrise you should be able to get Jupiter, Venus and the Beehive cluster in binoculars or a wide field telescope. But they will be very low, only a few degrees above the horizon.

Clear skies

Perseid meteor shower

This year the Perseid meteor shower peaks at 0 hours UT on the 13th August. Unfortunately there will be an almost full Moon in the sky as well, which will hide the fainter meteors. However, bright ones might still show up. If you do go out to have a look, then have something to sit on so that you can comfortably see a good chunk of the sky. See the map below. The map marks the radiant, the point where all the Perseid meteors appear to come from. Don’t look in this direction as the meteor trails will be much shorter. Look further east or west of this point. Although it is summer, sitting outside in the dark, you will get cold so make sure you have a blanket and warm clothes.

You don’t need any special equipment to see the meteors. The peak of this shower lasts for a long time so you will likely see enhanced activity at any time after dark on either the 12th or 13th August.

Clear skies.