The small planet Mercury is rather close to the Sun but becomes visible in the evening skies. From next week Monday onwards, look very low on the horizon, just after Sun set at about 4 pm to 4.20 pm. Mercury is in the West in the constellation Ophiuchus.
The bright Venus is still in the morning skies and best seen from 3.40 am onwards. Venus is in the constellation Virgo. The red planet Mars is not far from Venus and can be spotted, much fainter above the bright Venus. Jupiter is brighter than Mars (but fainter than Venus) and gets further away from the bright Venus. Jupiter is now visible from 0.30 am onwards and is in the constellation Leo.
Saturn is too close to the Sun but becomes visible from next week Tuesday onwards. Look just before Sun rise in the East at about 7.20 am. Saturn is as well in the constellation Ophiuchus, just as Mercury, but at the other side of the Sun. The smaller and fainter planets Uranus and Neptune are visible in the South during nearly the whole evening.
The constellation Pegasus, the big square, is still obvious in the evening skies. The constellations Taurus, Auriga, Orion and Gemini following swiftly. Why not trying to count the number of stars in the Pleiades. Can you see 7 with the naked eye?
The Moon moves into the direction of the morning planets. The Moon is approaching Jupiter tomorrow morning, and is very close on Thursday morning. Friday morning the Moon is between Jupiter and Mars. And closer to Mars on Saturday morning and Sunday morning near Venus. The crescent Moon is getting nearer to the Sun but will be a nice view with the planets nearby. Looks like a busy week!
Wednesday 02 December
An Iridium flare appears at 4.49 pm in the South West at 12° in the constellation Sagittarius. An Iridium flare is a rather slow satellite in the night sky, brighten up quite intense at a certain position. Another but brighter flare at 5.20 pm in the West North West at 17° high in the constellation Corona Borealis.
With a small telescope of binocular you can watch the giant planet Jupiter and its Moons. After midnight at 2.38 am the Jupiter Moon Europa begins its transit over the giant planet. At 2.41 am the Jupiter Moon Io is in Eastern elongation and at 3 am the Jupiter Moon Europa ends its shadow. The Jupiter Moon Europa is in inferior conjunction at 4.02 am. At 5.15 am the Great Red Spot of Jupiter is in transit. And at last, at 5.25 am the Jupiter Moon Europa ends its transit.
Our Earth’s satellite the Moon is in Last Quarter at 7.40 am. This is the smallest Last Quarter Moon of the year. The former smaller Last Quarter Moon was on 14 December 2014. The next smaller Last Quarter Moon is on 2 January 2016.
Thursday 03 December
An Iridium flare appears in the South West at about 10° high at 4.52 pm in the constellation Sagittarius. A few minutes later, at 5.05 pm another Iridium flare appears in the West North West at an altitude of 21° in the constellation Corona Borealis. One more at 5.14 pm in the West North West at 18° high in the constellation Corona Borealis.
Get your telescope out are make yourself comfortable with your binocular. Watch Jupiter with is smaller Moons After midnight at 1.06 am the Great Red Spot is in transit over Jupiter. Jupiter is rather low on the horizon, at 7°, but the Red Spot is still visible after. At 1.34 am the Jupiter Moon Europa is in Western Elongation. This means it is the furthest away from the planet. At 1.50 am the Jupiter Moon Ganymede ends its eclipse. At 3.23 am the Jupiter Moon Ganymede disappears its occultation.
Watch the Moon close to Jupiter from 3.40 am onwards. The limb separation is only 2° or 4 lunar diameters. The Moon phase is 42%.
At 6.34 am an Iridium flare appears in the North North West at 55° altitude in the constellation Camelopardalis. And at 6.44 am get your telescope out an watch the Jupiter Moon Ganymede when it does reappear from the occultation.
Friday 04 December
Today in 1639 the first observation of a Transit of Venus. The observer was Jeremiah Horrocks who predicted that a transit of Venus would be observable on 24 November 1639. His observations were published posthumously in his work 'Venus in Sole Visa'. His friend William Crabtree also saw the event observing from Manchester.
Although not visible for us, the small planet Mercury occults the brighter star Theta Ophiuchi for South Africa at 4.16 pm prior to dusk.
At 5.44 pm an Iridium flare appears in the South at 32° altitude in the constellation Aquarius.
After midnight at 1.35 am the Moon is close to the star Zavijah in the constellation Virgo. The limb separation is less than 5° or about 10 lunar diameters. The altitude is only 6° but look a little later when the Moon is higher above the horizon. The Moon phase is 34%.
At 5.27 am the Jupiter Moon Io begins its shadow over the giant planet. Worth to watch with a telescope or binocular. The Jupiter Moon Io begins its transit at 6.41 am. Look as well for the Great Red Spot on Jupiter. The Spot transits at 6.54 am but is before and after visible.
A rather bright Iridium flare appears at 6.28 am in the North North West at an altitude of 53° in the constellation Camelopardalis.
Saturday 05 December
In 1958 Britain's first stretch of motorway, the 8 mile Preston bypass was officially opened by the Prime Minister, Harold MacMillan.
The Moon is in apogee at 3 pm. The distance of the Moon to the Earth is 404762.4 km or 252976.25 miles.
Some Iridium flares to watch. The first at 4.44 pm in the West North West at an altitude of 24° in the constellation Corona Borealis. The second flare at 5.38 pm in the South at an altitude of 32° in the constellation Aquarius.
With the telescope or binocular you can watch the Moons next to Jupiter after midnight. At 2.34 am the Jupiter Moon Io begins its eclipse. And at 2.45 am the Great Red Spot is in transit on Jupiter. The Jupiter Moon Io has a reappearance of its occultation at 6.04 am.
The Moon is close to the red planet Mars after 3 am in the morning. The limb separation is less than 1° or less than 2 lunar diameters. The closest is an altitude of only 6°. But watch the close approach later. The Moon phase is 25%. The Earth shine is visible later at about 6 am or later, but before Sun rise. The Moon will occult Mars for Central Africa at about 2.42 am. Just in case you are there?
Sunday 06 December
In 1906 the first aerial photographs of Stonehenge were displayed at the London premises of the Society of Antiquaries. They were taken from a hydrogen balloon, probably around late Sep 1906, by 2nd Lieutenant Philip Sharpe of the Royal Engineers' Balloon Section.
Today in 2052 it will be the least distance between the centres of our Earth and our Moon during the 21st century. It will be 356421 kilometres or 222763 miles. Write that in your diary!
At 4.29 pm an Iridium flare appears in the West North West at 28° altitude and in the constellation Corona Borealis.
It has been a while until we could watch the International Space Station (ISS). ISS appears tonight at 6.38 pm in the South West and disappears already after 3 minutes at 6.41 pm in the South South West at 14°.
Time to get your telescope out or binocular and look at Jupiter in the early morning. Still low on the horizon but at 1.09 am the Jupiter Moon Io begins its transit. At 2.11 am the Jupiter Moon Io ends its shadow transit on Jupiter and at 3.24 am the actual transit of Io ends.
An Iridium flare appears at 6.16 am in the North North West at 50° altitude and in the constellation Cepheus.
The Moon's Earthshine is visible from 6.45 am onwards and the bright Venus is close to the Moon. Worth a watch and try some nice pictures! For North America, just in case you are there, the Moon occults Venus in the daytime at 4.55 pm our local time (on Monday).
Monday 07 December
In 1972 Apollo 17, the sixth and last NASA Moon mission, blasted off from Cape Canaveral. Flight Commander Eugene Cernan was the last man on the Moon. The mission returned on 19 December.
Mercury is back visible and a little further from the Sun. The small planet is best seen around 4.15 pm and is in the in the constellation Ophiuchus.
A very bright Iridium flare is visible at 4.23 pm in the West North West at an altitude of 29° high in the constellation Corona Borealis.
ISS appears at 5.46 pm in the South South West horizon. Culmination or highest point is at 5.50 pm in the South East at 16° altitude. ISS disappears a minute after at 5.51 pm in the South East at 16° high.
Look after midnight for Jupiter and watch the Transit of the Great Red Spot at 4.24 am.
The night can be finished with a beautiful view of the Moon's Earth shine at about 6.40 am.
Tuesday 08 December
Not that you will notice, but at 9.50 am the Earth crosses the equator of the Sun North to South.
ISS appears at 4.54 pm in the South South West. Culmination is at 4.58 pm in the South East at only 10° high and disappears at 5 pm in the East South East at 7° altitude.
A very bright Iridium flare appears at 5.29 pm in the South at an altitude of 29° in the constellation Aquarius.
After one orbit of approx 90 minutes, ISS appears again at 6.29 pm at the South West horizon. But ISS disappears already after a few minutes at 6.33 pm in the South South West at 26° altitude.
The Moon is close to the bright star at 7.10 am. The limb separation is less than 3° or about 5 lunar diameters. The altitude is only 9° high but have a go, as the Moon phase is 5% and it will be a nice view. Watch as well the Earth shine on the Moon!
The planet with the ring Saturn is getter further from the Sun. Saturn is best seen around 7.25 am before Sun rise and in the constellation Ophiuchus.
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 3minutes, 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, 90 minutes before the Sun. Give it a try!
Get in touch with me via www.patrickpoitevin.weebly.com if you need more information.