RFO

What's Up in the Night Sky

Here's a month-by-month listing of astronomical predictions for the year, compiled by
Jack Welch, RFO astronomy instructor.

 

Abbreviations

Astr Twi - Astronomical Twilight
Civ Twi - Civil Twilight
Cr - Crescent
Dbl Tr - Double Tansit
Ex - Exit
Gr El - Greatest Elongation
Jup - Jupiter
Mer - Mercury
Min - Minimum
Naut Twi - Nautical Twilight
Nr - Near
Occ - Occultation
Opp - Opposition
Reap - Reappear
Qtr - Quarter
Sat - Saturn
Sh - Shadow
Stat - Stationary
V Nr - Very Near
Ven - Venus
Zod Lt - Zodiacal Light

 

Observing

2015 Observing Highlights

August 2015
  • Sunday, 8/2/2015 - Sat stat - Time: 13:00
    • Saturn ends retrograde motion.
  • Wednesday, 8/5/2015 - Mn v nr Ura - Time: 02:00
    • -
  • Thursday, 8/6/2015 - Last Qtr - Time: 19:00
    • -
  • Sunday, 8/9/2015 - Cr Mn nr Aldebaran - Time: 03:00
    • -
  • Wednesday, 8/12/2015 - Perseids peak - Time: 24:00
    • Conditions are very favorable this year for the Perseid meteors. The shower is expected to peak between 11:30pm 8/12 and 2:00am 8/13, though this can vary. Rates of 100 per hour are typical. The Perseids are viewable after about 10pm or so for many days around the peak but the highest rates should be this night.
  • Friday, 8/14/2015 - New Moon - Time: 08:00
    • -
  • Wednesday, 8/19/2015 - Occ of 82 Vir - Time: 20:30
    • At about 8:34pm, during late twilight, mag 5.0 82 Virginis will disappear behind the crescent moon's dark limb 30° from the north cusp. Calculated using Occult4 for the RFO site. Details will differ as distance from RFO increases.
  • Saturday, 8/22/2015 - 1st Qtr - Time: 12:30
    • -
  • Saturday, 8/29/2015 - "Sturgeon" Moon - Time: 11:30
    • -
  • Sunday, 8/30/2015 - Lrg Tides thru 9/3 - Time: 00:00
    • Full moon occurs 20hr before perigee.
  • Monday, 8/31/2015 - Nep opp - Time: 21:00
    • Neptune is at opposition in Aquarius at magnitude 7.8 and a disk size of 2.4".

September 2015
  • Tuesday, 9/1/2015 - Lrg Tides thru 9/3 - Time: 00:00
    • Full moon occurs 20hr before perigee.
  • Saturday, 9/5/2015 - Mn v nr Aldebaran - Time: 01:00
    • -
  • Saturday, 9/5/2015 - Last Qtr - Time: 03:00
    • -
  • Thursday, 9/10/2015 - Cr Mn nr Ven & Mar - Time: 05:30
    • Mars, the crescent moon, and Venus will be lined up north to south in the eastern sky.
  • Friday, 9/11/2015 - Zod Lt in E thru 9/24 - Time: 04:30
    • The Zodiacal Light is visible in the east before astronomical twilight. Look for it between 4:30 and 5:15am.
  • Saturday, 9/12/2015 - New Moon - Time: 24:00
    • -
  • Friday, 9/18/2015 - Mn nr Sat - Time: 21:00
    • -
  • Monday, 9/21/2015 - 1st Qtr - Time: 02:00
    • -
  • Monday, 9/21/2015 - Ven brightest - Time: 08:00
    • Venus reaches magnitude -4.8
  • Wednesday, 9/23/2015 - Autumnal Equinox - Time: 01:30
    • The equinox is at 1:21am.
  • Thursday, 9/24/2015 - Mar v nr Regulus - Time: 05:30
    • Red Mars is very near the bright blue star Regulus in Leo. This should be very colorful in binoculars. Venus will be above this pair and Jupiter below (rising near the horizon).
  • Sunday, 9/27/2015 - Tot Lunar Ecl - Time: 19:00
    • Sequence of events:
      06:56pm Moonrise, eclipse in progress
      07:04pm Sunset
      07:11pm Start of totality
      08:01pm End of nautical twilight
      08:22pm End of totality
      08:32pm End of astronomical twilight
      09:26pm Moon exits umbra
      10:21pm Moon exits penumbra
  • Sunday, 9/27/2015 - "Harvest" Moon - Time: 20:00
    • -
  • Monday, 9/28/2015 - Extreme tides thru 10/1 - Time: 00:00
    • Full moon occurs within an hour of an especially close perigee (the moon's semimajor axis aligned near the sun), with the earth near equinox (thus the sun is over earth's equator) and the moon's orbital node closely aligned (hence the total lunar eclipse) and also near earth's equator. The fairly rare combination of these factors will produce extreme tides, greatest on 9/29.
  • Monday, 9/28/2015 - Vesta opp - Time: 20:00
    • Vesta is at opposition in Cetus at magnitude 6.2. Roughly 2.5° north of the star phi-1 Ceti (aka 17 Ceti), a finder's chart is necessary.

October 2015
  • Friday, 10/2/2015 - Occ of 75 Tau - Time: 02:30
    • This is a double event. First, at about 2:50am a mag 6.7 double star will reappear from behind the dark limb at axis angle 213° (29° from the south cusp). A double "blink in" may be detectable. This event requires larger aperture scopes for viewing.
      Next, at about 2:54am mag 5.0 75 Tauri will reappear from behind the dark limb at axis angle 268° (84° from the south cusp).
      Calculated using Occult4 for the RFO site. Details will differ as distance from RFO increases.
  • Friday, 10/2/2015 - Occ of Aldebaran - Time: 06:00
    • This is a double event viewable with any scope. Those with binoculars may wish to watch as well. First, at about 6:15am the very bright (mag 0.9) star Aldebaran (alpha Tauri) will disappear behind the moon's bright limb 50° from the south cusp.
      Next, at about 7:17am Aldebaran will reappear from behind the dark limb. This occurs almost exactly at sunrise. Those with tracking scopes can easily locate the reappearance point by tracking from the disappearance. Others may locate the reappearance point by its axis angle of 233° (or 50° from the south cusp).
      Calculated using Occult4 for the RFO site. Details will differ as distance from RFO increases.
  • Saturday, 10/3/2015 - Occ of 111 Tau - Time: 01:30
    • At about 1:50am mag 5.0 111 Tauri will reappear from behind the dark limb at axis angle 253° (71° from the south cusp).
      Calculated using Occult4 for the RFO site. Details will differ as distance from RFO increases.
  • Sunday, 10/4/2015 - Last Qtr - Time: 14:00
    • -
  • Monday, 10/5/2015 - Occ of lambda Gem - Time: 02:30
    • This is a double event. First, at about 2:41am mag 3.6 lambda Geminorum will disappear behind the moon's bright limb 46° from the south cusp. This event requires larger aperture scopes.
      Then, at about 3:24am the star will reappear from behind the dark limb at axis angle 212° (33° from the south cusp). Those with tracking scopes can track from the disappearance.
      Calculated using Occult4 for the RFO site. Details will differ as distance from RFO increases.
  • Thursday, 10/8/2015 - Draconids peak - Time: 22:30
    • About 20 meteors per hour are expected around the peak, but outburst have been known to happen. Conditions are favorable all night until after moonrise at 4:12am on 10/9.
  • Monday, 10/12/2015 - New Moon - Time: 17:00
    • -
  • Tuesday, 10/20/2015 - 1st Qtr - Time: 13:30
    • -
  • Wednesday, 10/21/2015 - Orionids peak - Time: 24:00
    • The peak time is uncertain for this meteor shower but the morning of 10/22 after the moon sets at 1:45am is the best time for meteor watching. Rates of about 15 per hour are expected.
  • Tuesday, 10/27/2015 - "Hunter's" Moon - Time: 05:00

November 2015
  • Tuesday, 11/3/2015 - Last Qtr - Time: 04:30
    • -
  • Wednesday, 11/11/2015 - New Moon - Time: 10:00
    • -
  • Tuesday, 11/17/2015 - Leonids peak - Time: 20:00
    • Conditions are very good for Leonid meteor observing this year, though the rate is expected to be on the low side with about 15 to 20 meteors per hour at peak. The meteors are viewable starting around 11:30pm and the morning of 11/18 will be moonless.
  • Wednesday, 11/18/2015 - 1st Qtr - Time: 22:30
    • -
  • Wednesday, 11/25/2015 - "Beaver" Moon - Time: 14:30

December 2015
  • Wednesday, 12/2/2015 - Last Qtr - Time: 23:30
    • -
  • Monday, 12/7/2015 - Occ of Venus - Time: 07:30
    • This is a daylight double event viewable with any scope. Those with binoculars may wish to watch as well. First, at about 7:15am very bright Venus will disappear behind the crescent moon's bright limb 84° from the south cusp.
      Next, at about 9:37am Venus will reappear from behind the dark limb at axis angle 273° (88° from the north cusp).
      Both the disappearance and reappearance will take about 27 seconds due to the size of Venus's disk at 17" and 69% gibbous phase.
      Calculated using Occult4 for the RFO site. Details will differ as distance from RFO increases.
  • Friday, 12/11/2015 - New Moon - Time: 02:30
    • -
  • Monday, 12/14/2015 - Geminids peak - Time: 10:00
    • This consistently strong shower with about 120 meteors per hour is best viewed on the night of 12/13-14 this year. The shower is viewable all night, which is from about 6:30pm until 6am. The 12/14 10am peak prediction time is uncertain; it could occur any time from 5:30pm on 12/13 to 3pm on 12/14.
  • Friday, 12/18/2015 - 1st Qtr - Time: 07:00
    • -
  • Monday, 12/21/2015 - Occ of ZC454 - Time: 22:30
    • At about 10:56pm the mag 5.6 star ZC454 will disappear behind the dark limb 57° from the north cusp. Calculated using Occult4 for the RFO site. Details will differ as distance from RFO increases.
  • Friday, 12/25/2015 - "Cold" Moon - Time: 03:00
    • -
  • Wednesday, 12/30/2015 - Occ of 48 Leo - Time: 01:30
    • At about 1:53am mag 5.1 48 Leonis will reappear from behind the dark limb at axis angle 259° (79° from the south cusp). This is an extreme close equal double so a double "blink in" might be detectable. Calculated using Occult4 for the RFO site. Details will differ as distance from RFO increases.

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