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Wednesday, 25 November 2020  •  Wednesday, 10 Yew Moon 2020

Watching the night sky in Yew Moon 2020

16 November - 14 December 2020

Map of night sky at full moon: 30 November, 09:30 UTC
Northern hemisphere perspective, aligned on the ecliptic. Morning sky to the left, evening to the right.

night sky map for Yew Moon 2020

At full moon on 30 November, there is a penumbral eclipse of the moon visible from the Americas, the Pacific, East Asia, the Arctic and NW Europe. Maximum eclipse is at 09:43 UTC, when there is some darkening of the moon’s northern limb. However, this is after moonset in NW Europe and South America, and before moonrise in most of East Asia, so in these places there will be very little to see. At maximum eclipse, there is a 91% eclipse of the sun near the moon’s north pole. The next total eclipse of the moon is on 26 May 2021, and the next one visible from Europe is in the morning of 16 May 2022.

At dark moon on 14 December there is a total eclipse of the sun visible from parts of Chile and Argentina, with a partial eclipse seen from southern and central South America as well as parts of Antarctica, the Pacific and the Atlantic.

Total path and nearby, with percentage of the sun eclipsed: Chile: Valdivia 98% at 13:04 (16:04 UTC), Temuco 99% at 13:04 (16:04 UTC) (go just south of the town for totality), Villarrica total at 13:04 (16:04 UTC); Argentina: Junin de los Andes total at 13:06 (16:06 UTC), Bariloche 95% at 13:09 (16:09 UTC), Neuquén 95% at 13:14 (16:14 UTC), San Antonio Oueste total at 13:21 (16:21 UTC), Trelew 92% at 13:22 (16:22 UTC), Bahía Blanca 90% at 13:26 (16:26 UTC)

Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (Galápagos Islands) 9% at 08:42 (14:42 UTC), Rikitea (French Polynesia) 52% at 05:48 (14:48 UTC), Adamstown (Pitcairn) 54% at 06:49 (14:49 UTC), Hanga Roa (Easter Island) 81% at 09:57 (14:57 UTC), Guayaquil (Ecuador) 0.9% at 09:59 (14:59 UTC), Lima 16% at 10:18 (15:18 UTC), La Paz 16% at 11:50 (15:50 UTC), Santiago de Chile 77% at 13:03 (16:03 UTC), Asunción 36% at 13:33 (16:33 UTC), Buenos Aires 72% at 13:34 (16:34 UTC), Stanley 64% at 13:36 (16:36 UTC), Esperanza (Antarctica) 28% at 13:36 (16:36 UTC), Montevideo 72% at 13:40 (16:40 UTC), Grytviken (South Georgia) 52% at 15:02 (17:02 UTC), São Paulo 31% at 15:07 (17:07 UTC), Rio de Janeiro 30% at 15:16 (17:16 UTC), Edinburgh of the Seven Seas (Tristan da Cunha) 89% at 17:41 (UTC), Jamestown (St Helena) 50% at 18:02 (18:02 UTC), Georgetown (Ascension Island) 15% at 18:04 (18:04 UTC)

Jupiter and Saturn move ever closer together in the early evening sky, setting two or three hours after the sun, and low down in the southwest as seen from northern lands. The crescent moon is nearby on 19 November. By the end of the month they are merely three-quarters of a degree apart.

Mars is bright in the evening and early night sky. The moon is nearby on the evening of 25 November. Though well past opposition, Mars is still much brighter than Saturn.

Venus is the morning star, gradually approaching the dawn as it moves towards the far side of the sun. On 16 November, it passes 4°N of Spica, the bright star of Virgo. The old crescent moon is near Venus on the morning of 12 December. As seen from parts of Siberia and Alaska, the moon occults Venus with the sun below the horizon: at Nome in Alaska, the moon starts covering Venus at 19:57 UTC 12 Dec, local time 10:57, but ends at 22:52 UTC, 11:52 local time, just after sunrise; from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in Russia’s Kamchatka Krai, the occultation begins at 19:19 UTC 12 Dec, local time 07:19 13 Dec and ends at 20:21 UTC, 08:21 local time, well before sunrise.

Below Venus, Mercury is visible in the eastern morning sky until about the end of November when it heads into the dawn, also on its journey to the far side of the sun. It is much better seen from the northern hemisphere.

Look out for the Leonid meteors around 16 and 17 November, and for the Geminid meteors around 13 and 14 December, in both cases especially after midnight.

The month ahead: Birch Moon 2020/21

15 December 2020 - 13 January 2021

Map of night sky at full moon: 30 December, 03:29 UTC
Northern hemisphere perspective, aligned on the ecliptic. Morning sky to the left, evening to the right.

night sky map for Birch Moon 2020/21

Jupiter and Saturn shine together in the southwest after sunset. The very new crescent is nearby on 16 December. Early in the month, they move closer and closer until Jupiter passes a mere six minutes of arc south of Saturn on 21 December. They may appear to shine as one, depending on your eyesight and the conditions. Through binoculars or a small telescope you should be able to see both their discs in the same field. The faster-moving Jupiter then gradually increases its distance from Saturn.

Towards the end of the lunar month, Mercury may just be visible in the west immediately after sunset, alongside Jupiter and Saturn, best seen from equatorial regions. On 10 January, Jupiter, Mercury and Saturn form an equilateral triangle with sides of about 2°. Jupiter is the brightest of the three, then Mercury. As seen from northern lands, they are in the SW, with Jupiter the highest above the horizon, and Mercury to the left of and below Saturn. They set about an hour after the sun, but are perhaps best seen about half an hour after sunset when they are still high enough above the horizon if you have a clear view.

Mars is bright in the evening and midnight sky. The moon is nearby on the evening of 23 December. On 5 January, Mars moves from Pisces into the constellation Aries, approaching Uranus in the sky. Uranus is generally just too faint to see with the naked eye. Look for it through binoculars a bit to the east of Mars.

Venus is low down in the morning sky, moving towards the far side of the sun. On 11 January, the old crescent moon is close by.

Look out for the Ursid meteors around 21 and 22 December, and for the Quadrantid meteors around 3 and 4 Jan, especially in the early hours. The Ursids are mainly northern hemisphere objects.

William Morris
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