Venus and Mercury in the evening sky

Over the first half of February both Venus and Mercury are well place in the evening sky. Venus is the brighter and higher of the two as you can see in the graphic below:

This shows the view from Abingdon at around sunset or just after.

Mercury will be at its furthest distance from the Sun (from our perspective here on Earth) on February 10th when it will get 15 degrees above the horizon.

Clear skies.

Three lunar occultations coming up

In the pre dawn morning of August 24th three bright stars in the constellation of Taurus will be occulted by the Moon.

The first is delta 1 Tau which will disappear behind the bright limb of the Moon at 3:42 BST. The graphic below shows the moment just before the star disappears (pointed to by the red arrow).

Before delta 1 Tau emerges from the dark lunar limb at 4:50 BST, Delta 2 Tau will disappear behind the Moons bright south eastern limb at 4:23 BST. It will reappear from the dark limb at 5:08 BST, but before then Delta 1 Tau (also called Hyadum II) will have emerged from behind the Moon’s dark limb.

And not long after that, Delta 3 Tau will be occulted by the Moon’s bright limb at 5:21BST.

Clear skies.

Mercury at greatest western elongation

On Saturday morning (10th August), Mercury will be at its greatest angular distance from the Sun during this apparition. It gets 19 degrees from the Sun, making it a bit easier to spot. Look for Mercury just before Sunrise as shown in the image below.

The picture above is for 5:24BST Saturday morning, the 10th August. As you can see it doesn’t get very far above the horizon, only about 10 degrees.

Clear skies.

Partial Lunar Eclipse, 16th July 2019

On Tuesday evening (16th July 2019) a partial lunar eclipse will be in progress as the Moon rises. You will need a clear horizon to see it at Moonrise (21:13BST) but the Earth’s shadow will still partly obscure the Moon until just before midnight.

The Moon in eclipse

Clear skies.

Opposition of Saturn

Tomorrow night (9/7/2019) Saturn will be opposite the Sun in the evening sky. It will rise at sunset and set at sunrise, which given the short nights does not give you a lot of time to observe it. At its highest, the planet will only get to about 16 degrees above the horizon. Unfortunately this means the views won’t be great, but at least the rings will be open. See how many of its moons you can spot.

Also visible are the Moon and Jupiter, just a few degrees apart. This will make it easy to tell Saturn from Jupiter as Saturn will be the bright object on its own.

Trailing about 5 degrees behind Saturn is tiny Pluto. This will be much harder to spot and you will need a large scope to see the dwarf planet. You should plot it’s position over several nights to be sure it is Pluto you’ve seen and not a faint star.

Clear skies.