The planets are getting "better" visible for the average night observer. The nights are getting longer. So no early clock alarms to see the planets Jupiter, Mars and Venus in the early morning. The very bright Venus is best seen from 4.20 am to Sunrise and in the constellation Virgo. If you know where to spot, you even can see Venus after Sun rise in day light. The red planet Mars is best seen from 2.25 am to twilight and as well in the constellation Virgo. The giant planet Jupiter is best seen from midnight to Sun rise and in the constellation Leo. The planet with the rings, Saturn is getting further from the Sun and is best seen from 7.20 am onwards low, and just before Sun rise. Saturn is in the constellation Ophiuchus. The smaller planet Mercury is in the evening and just before Sun set and best seen around 4.10 pm and in the constellation Sagittarius.
We are also blessed to see a comet this week. Comet Catalina or with official number C/2013 US10 is with a binocular in the early mornings from 5.20 am, before Sunrise in the constellation Virgo. Use a star map from the internet to see where exactly to look below the morning planets.
It is New Moon Friday 11 December and ideal for deep sky observations. Get into a dark rural spot. The constellations Canus Major the big dog, Cetus the whale, Eridanus de river, Gemini, Orion the fighter, Perseus the hero and Taurus the bull are on the program to watch and have many dim objects to explore with binoculars.
Wednesday 09 December
Today in 2012 Sir Patrick Moore died aged 89 years. Born 04 March 1923 as Patrick Alfred Caldwell Moore. Parents Gertrude and Charles Caldwell Moore. Author or co-author of almost 200 books, composed 2 operas and hosted one of the longest running shows on television The Sky at Night (launched 26 April 1957) without a break.
The International Space Station, called ISS, appears tonight. The bright satellite in the sky moves slowly and can be seen with the naked eye. ISS appears at 5.36 pm at the South West horizon. Culmination or highest point in the sky is at 5.41 pm in the South South East at 26° altitude. ISS disappears at 5.42 pm in the South East at 23° altitude.
After one orbit, which is about 90 minutes, ISS appears again at 7.12 pm in the West South West horizon. After 3 minutes, at 7.15 pm, ISS disappears at 15° high in the West South West.
With a small telescope of with a binocular, held still, you can watch the giant planet Jupiter and it's 4 brighter Moons. After midnight at 2.44 am the Jupiter Moon Europa begins its shadow crossing the planet. You will see a black dot crossing the disc. At 4.35 am the Jupiter Moon Io is at its Eastern elongation. It means this little Moon is the furthest from the Jupiter disc. At 5.15 am the Jupiter Moon Europa begins its transit. At 5.34 am the Jupiter Moon Europa ends its shadow transit. Worth to watch, even at a painful early morning!
A small Moon crescent is visible at 7.30 am, just before Sun rise. The is only 26.3 hours before New Moon. The Moon is only 13° from the Sun and is 1.5% illuminated. The altitude of Moon is only 5° and the Moon rises at 6.39 am and 90 minutes before the Sun. Give it a try!
Thursday 10 December
Today in 1896 Alfred Nobel died. The Nobel Prize ceremony, called after him is held on this date.
ISS appears at 4.46 pm at the South South West horizon. Culmination or highest point in the sky is at 4.50 pm in the South East at 18° altitude. ISS disappears at 4.53 pm in the East at 8° from the horizon.
After one orbit ISS appears at 6.21 pm at the West South West horizon. But ... disappears already after a few minutes at 6.26 pm in the South South West at 44° altitude.
Some Jupiter time. After midnight, at 1.46 am the Jupiter Moon Io is in Western elongation, which means the furthest away from the giant planet. At 1.54 am the Great Red Spot transits over Jupiter. At 2.20 am the Jupiter Moon Ganymede begins its eclipse. And at 4.11 am the Jupiter Moon Europa is at Western elongation. And lastly, at 5.48 am the Jupiter Moon Ganymede ends its eclipse. You can go to bed now ...
Friday 11 December
It is New Moon at 10.29 am in the morning today
At 5.20 pm an Iridium flare is visible in the South South West at an altitude of 26° in the constellation Capricornus.
ISS appears at 5.28 pm at the West South West horizon. Culmination is at 5.34 pm in the South South East at 40° altitude. ISS disappears at 5.35 pm in the East South East at 25° altitude. After one orbit of about 90 minutes ISS appears again. This time at 7.05 pm in the Western horizon. Disappearance already after a few minutes at 7.08 pm in the West at 19° high.
After midnight, at 1.11 am the Moon is in maximum libration South. The South Pole of the Moon is tipped into the Earths view.
The Jupiter Moon Europa reappears from its occultation at 3.09 am. And at 7.41 am the Great Red Spot transits over the giant planet.
Saturday 12 December
Today in 1833 it is the birthday of Matthias Hohner. He was the German manufacturer of harmonicas. Play along today ...
At 4.23 pm the Moon is in maximum libration West. The crater Grimaldi is tipped into the Earths view. Look as well for the small Lunar Crescent. It is visible 30 hours after New Moon. The Moon is about 2% illuminated, the altitude of the Moon 5°. The Moon sets at 5.21 pm and 91 minutes after the Sun.
ISS appears at 4.36 pm at the South West horizon. Culmination at 4.41 pm in the South South East at 29° high. ISS disappears at 4.45 pm in the East at 8° high. After an orbit ISS appears again at 6.12 pm. Passing the bright star Altair in the constellation Aquila. The separation is only 0.5° or about a Lunar diameter. ISS disappears at 6.17 pm in the South at 64° high.
After midnight, when Jupiter is high enough, get your telescope or binoculars out. At 1.41 am the Jupiter Moon Callisto is in Western elongation. At 3.32 am the Great Red Spot transits Jupiter. At 4.17 am the Jupiter Moon Ganymede is in Eastern elongation. Lastly, at 4.27 am the Jupiter Moon Io begins its eclipse.
Sunday 13 December
ISS appears at 5.19 pm at the West South West horizon. Culmination is at 5.25 pm in the South South East at 55° high. ISS disappears at 5.26 pm in the East at 22° altitude.
The Moon is close to the bright star Rho1 Sgr at 5.30 pm. The limb separation less than one degree or less than 2 lunar diameters. The height above the horizon is only 6°. So look for a clear nice horizon. The Moon phase is 6%.
At 6.41 pm an Iridium flare appears in the East at 71° altitude in the constellation Perseus.
After one orbit, ISS appears again at 6.56 pm in the Western horizon. After a few minutes, ISS disappears at 6.59 pm in the West at 24° altitude.
At 1.48 am the Jupiter Moon Io begins its shadow transit. At 3.03 am the Jupiter Moon Io begins it transit. And at 4.04 am the Jupiter Moon Io ends it shadow transit and ends its actual transit at 5.18 am.
The meteor shower called Geminids are best seen from 5.20 pm to 6.40 am. The local hour rate is expected to be 20. The meteors do have a medium speed of 36km/s.
Monday 14 December
The Geminid meteor shower peaks between 3 pm and 6 pm in the afternoon. The stream is active from 7 to 17 December. With the peak of maximum it is favouring North East Asia. The hour rate can up to 88. Let us know how many you have seen!
Look for the Moon's Earthshine at 4.30 pm onwards. A beautiful view in the evening skies!
ISS appears at 4.27 am at the West South West horizon. Culmination is at 4.32 pm in the South South East at an altitude of 43°. ISS disappears at 4.36 pm in the East at 6° high.
A rather bright Iridium flare appears at 5.11 pm in the South South West at 23° altitude in the constellation of Capricornus.
ISS appears again after an orbit around the Earth at 6.03 pm at the Western horizon. Culmination at 6.08 pm in the South at an altitude of 70°. ISS disappears at 6.08 pm in the South East at 65° high.
The Moon is close to the bright star Dabih, Bet Cap at 6.40 pm. The limb separation is less than 2° or less than 4 lunar diameters. The altitude is only 6° and the Moon phase is 12%.
ISS appears once more for a few minutes. At 7.39 pm at the Western horizon and disappears after 2 minutes at 7.41 pm in the West at 9° altitude.
After midnight it is Jupiter time. At 0.36 am the Jupiter Moon Ganymede ends its transit. Jupiter is low at 8°, so look out with your telescope or binocular for a clear low horizon. At 2.26 am the Jupiter Moon Io reappears from its occultation . At 5.11 am the Great Red Spot transits over Jupiter.
Watch in between the meteor shower Geminids at 2 am. The local hour rate is 24. Worth a watch and make a wish!
At 5.37 am an Iridium flare appears in the North at 35° altitude in the constellation Cassiopeia.
Tuesday 15 December
Today in 1832 it is the birthday of the French engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel who built the Eiffel tower in Paris.
ISS appears at 5.10 pm at the Western horizon. Culmination at 5.15 pm in the South at an altitude of 67°. ISS disappears at 5.18 pm in the East at 18° high.
Look out after 5 pm for the Moon's Earthshine.
ISS appears once more for a short pass at 6.46 pm. Starting in the Western horizon and disappearing at 6.50 pm in the West South West at 30° altitude.
After midnight, at 1.02 am the Great Red Spot transits the giant planet Jupiter.
Look around 2 am in the morning when the Geminid meteor shower is best to be seen. The local hour rate is now about 4.
Do not forget to look for the comet Catalina from 4.30 am onwards in the Eastern horizon.
Lastly, an Iridium flare at 5.29 am in the West at an altitude of 74° in the constellation of Ursa Major.
Wednesday 16 December
Let's start with the International Space Station (ISS). If the calculations are right, if it is clear and if you could find the Moon. ISS crosses the disk of the Moon at 2.46 pm for the Tissington area. The Moon is in the South South East at an altitude of 23°. The crossing will only take about one second, so be quick and use your tele zoon]m to film! Let us hear how it went!
After one orbit around the Earth, of about 90 minutes, ISS appears again at 4.23 pm in the West South West. Highest point in the sky, or culmination is at 4.23 pm in the South South East at 59° altitude. ISS disappears at 4.27 pm in the East. ISS can be seen with the naked eye and a bright dot moves across the sky.
Look for the Moon's Earthshine from 5.20 pm onwards.
Once more, ISS appears at 5.54 pm in the West. Culmination at 5.59 pm in the South at 64° and disappears at 6.00 pm in the South East of an altitude of 45°.
At 6.23 pm a very bright Iridium flare appears in the South South East at 34° in the constellation of Cetus. Flare appears in the sky as a satellite and brightens up sudden and bright. Another flare appears at 6.25 pm in the South South East at an altitude of 34° in the constellation Cetus.
And if you did not had enough of the International Space Station yet, once more a pass at 7.30 pm. Starting from the Western horizon and disappearing at 7.32 pm in the West already at 11° high.
Jupiter and its 4 bright Moons are best to be observed with a small telescope or binocular. At 5.19 am the Jupiter Moon Europa begins it shadow over the giant planet Jupiter. At 5.51 am the Jupiter Moon Callisto disappears from it occultation. The Jupiter Moon Io is at its Eastern elongation at 6.28 am, which means it is the furthers away from the giant planet. Let's finish off at 6.49 am when the Great Red Spot on Jupiter is in transit. Have a look and let us know if you were able to see.
An Iridium flare is visible at 5.23 am in the West at 72° in the constellation of Ursa Major.
Get in touch with me via www.patrickpoitevin.weebly.com if you need more information.