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Saturday, 23 March 2019  •  Saturday, 17 Alder Moon 2019


Watching the night sky in Alder Moon 2019

7 March - 5 April 2019

Map of night sky at full moon: 21 March, 01:43 UTC
Northern hemisphere perspective, aligned on the ecliptic. Morning sky to the left, evening to the right.

night sky map for Alder Moon 2019

Mars is in the evening sky, setting before midnight. The crescent moon is nearby on 11 March. Mars passes into the constellation Taurus on 23 March.

The morning sky contains three planets. Nearest the sunrise is Venus, the brightest of the three, now low down as it heads towards the far side of the sun. Then comes Saturn, in the north of the constellation Sagittarius, and brighter than all its stars. Finally there is Jupiter, rising around 2am by mid-month, and shining brightly for the rest of the night. As seen from the northern part of the northern hemisphere, Venus disappears into the dawn during the second half of the month, but remains visible further south, where it is joined by Mercury towards the end of the month.

On the morning of 27 March, the moon is close to the north of Jupiter, but not quite close enough for there to be an occultation anywhere on Earth.
On the morning of 29 March, the moon is very close to Saturn, and occults it in the dark from parts of Central Africa and the eastern tip of South America. From Luanda in Angola, the occultation starts at 04:51 (03:51 UTC) and finishes at 05:14 (04:14 UTC), with the sun still nicely below the horizon.

Mostly visible only from southern lands: on 2 April, the moon is near Venus; on 3 April, the thin, old crescent moon is south of Mercury, and on 2 and 3 April, Mercury is less than half a degree from the planet Neptune; on 3 April, look through a telescope to see the near equilateral triangle made by Mercury, Neptune and the naked-eye star Phi Aquarii. If you are in the southern part of the northern hemisphere, and have a clear view to the eastern horizon, you may be able to see some of this.



The month ahead: Willow Moon 2019

6 April - 4 May 2019

Map of night sky at full moon: 19 April, 11:12 UTC
Northern hemisphere perspective, aligned on the ecliptic. Morning sky to the left, evening to the right.

night sky map for Willow Moon 2019

Mars is in the evening sky, setting before midnight. The crescent moon is nearby on 9 April. Also nearby, just south of the moon, is the star Aldebaran, the bright, red star of Taurus that, at present, is brighter than the red planet. Mars is between Aldebaran and the Pleiades.

Jupiter rises soon after midnight, and shines brightly for the rest of the night. On the morning of 23 April, the moon is just north of the giant planet.

Saturn is in the constellation Sagittarius in the morning sky, rising less than two hours after Jupiter. On 25 April, the moon passes close to Saturn, and occults it in the dark as seen from eastern Australia, New Zealand and the south-western Pacific. As seen from Sydney, New South Wales, the occultation lasts from 22:58 to 23:26 (12:58 to 13:26 UTC). From Auckland, New Zealand, 00:34 to 01:42 on 26 April (25 Apr, 12:34 to 13:42 UTC).

From northern lands, Venus has disappeared into the dawn, but in the southern part of the northern hemisphere, and the whole of the southern hemisphere, you can see the bright planet low down in the east before dawn. Here, you can also see Mercury, nearer to the sunrise. On 11 April, Mercury reaches 28°W of the sun in the western evening sky. It’s a really great view from the south, where Mercury will be visible for about two weeks before and four weeks afterwards. Here also, on 2 and 3 May, you can see the very old crescent moon south of Venus and Mercury. On 10 April, Venus passes 17 minutes of arc south of Neptune. From more southern lands, see if you can see the pair in the same telescope field.

Look out for the Lyrid meteors on the night 22/23 April, especially after midnight.



William Morris
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