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Wednesday, 23 October 2019  •  Wednesday, 25 Ivy Moon 2019


Watching the night sky in Ivy Moon 2019

29 September - 27 October 2019

Map of night sky at full moon: 13 October, 21:08 UTC
Northern hemisphere perspective, aligned on the ecliptic. Morning sky to the left, evening to the right.

night sky map for Ivy Moon 2019

Jupiter shines very brightly in the early evening sky, gradually making its way through the stars towards Saturn over in the constellation Sagittarius. The crescent moon is very close to the north of Jupiter on 3 October. It should be a lovely view, especially with Saturn not far round to the south (as seen from northern lands). On the evening of 5 October, the moon is very close to Saturn, and occults it as seen from Africa, SW of a rough line from Brazzaville to Harare and Maputo. From Cape Town, in South Africa’s Western Cape, the occultation is from 23:39 to 00:23 (21:39 to 22:23 UTC, on 5 Oct).

On the evening of 29 September, it may be possible from southern lands to see the very new crescent moon north of Venus and Mercury.

[It is just possible that Comet Soho (P/2008 Y12) will be visible to the naked eye in the western evening twilight for a few days around the end of September and the start of October.]

On 19 October, Mercury reaches 25°E of the sun in the western evening sky, a fine view from the southern hemisphere, where Mercury will be visible all month. Between Mercury and the sunset is the very bright Venus, and above Mercury is Jupiter. For viewers in northern lands, Mercury remains out of view, but very bright Venus makes an appearance low in the WSW later in the month.

Mars makes its way very slowly into the eastern morning sky, still hard to see from southern lands. From northern lands, you may once more be able to see a very old moon nearby on the last day of the month; as seen from Europe, the moon is below Mars, and is 21 hours away from dark moon, so some crescent should be visible. On 26 October, the more obvious old crescent is above Mars.

Right at the end of the month, Uranus comes closest to the Earth on 27 October: 2817.5 million kilometres, or 2.61 light hours away. It is generally just too faint to see with the naked eye. Look for it through binoculars in the south of the constellation Aries.

Look out for the Orionid meteors on the night 21/22 October, especially after midnight.



The month ahead: Yew Moon 2019

28 October - 26 November 2019

Map of night sky at full moon: 12 November, 13:35 UTC
Northern hemisphere perspective, aligned on the ecliptic. Morning sky to the left, evening to the right.

night sky map for Yew Moon 2019

Venus is the very bright evening star, well seen from the southern hemisphere, but from northern lands the bright planet is initially low in the south-west. As seen from southern lands, Mercury can be seen to the south of Venus early in the month, and indeed on 29 October, the new crescent moon is to the north of the planets. Jupiter is round just a bit further from the sunset, and the two bright planets will look beautiful together in the darkening sky from anywhere on Earth except the northern polar regions. On the evening of 31 October, the moon is just to the north of Jupiter. As the month progresses, Venus and Jupiter get closer together, until 24 November, when Venus passes a degree and a half south of the giant planet. Venus is the brighter of the pair. A bonus is that Saturn is in the same constellation, Sagittarius, not much further round from the sunset.

On 2 November, the moon is very close to Saturn, and occults it as seen from New Zealand (Aotearoa).
From Auckland, the moon covers Saturn from 21:21 to 22:00 (08:21 to 09:00 UTC).
From Wellington, the moon covers Saturn from 21:06 to 22:00 (08:06 to 09:00 UTC).
From Christchurch, the moon covers Saturn from 21:28 to 21:57 (08:28 to 08:57 UTC).
From Dunedin, the moon covers Saturn from 20:51 to 21:53 (07:51 to 08:53 UTC).

The ice giant Uranus is opposite the sun on 28 October. Look for it through binoculars in the constellation Aries.

Ever so slowly, Mars moves further into the eastern morning sky, and begins to be visible from southern lands as well. On 10 November, Mars passes well north of the brighter Spica, the bright star of Virgo. On the morning of 24 November, the old crescent moon is north of Mars.

For northern hemisphere viewers, Mercury appears in the eastern morning sky as the second half of the month progresses, below the fainter Mars. Mercury may *just* be visible from southern lands by the very end of the month, when on the morning of 25 November, the very thin old crescent moon is close north of Mercury, with Mars above. It should be easy to see from northern lands with a good horizon and clear skies.

Look out for the Leonid meteors on the night 17/18 November, especially after midnight.



William Morris
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