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Friday, 29 May 2020  •  Friday, 7 Oak Moon 2020

Watching the night sky in Oak Moon 2020

23 May - 21 June 2020

Map of night sky at full moon: 5 June, 19:12 UTC
Northern hemisphere perspective, aligned on the ecliptic. Morning sky to the left, evening to the right.

night sky map for Oak Moon 2020

At full moon on 5 June, there is a penumbral eclipse of the moon visible from Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, Antarctica and eastern South America. Maximum eclipse is at 20:25 (19:25 UTC), when there may be some darkening of the moon’s southern limb. However, this is before moonrise in most of Europe, West Africa and South America, so in these places there is very little to see. At maximum eclipse, there is a 53% eclipse of the sun at the moon’s south pole.

At dark moon on 21 June there is an annular eclipse of the sun visible from parts of South Asia and East Africa. A partial eclipse is to be seen from Asia apart from the far north, from much of North and East Africa, South-East Europe and the far north of Australia. In an annular eclipse, the moon is a little further away from the Earth than average, and isn’t quite big enough to cover the disc of the sun, leaving a ring of sunlight at maximum. The annular eclipse passes through the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Yemen, Oman, Pakistan, India and China.

Annular path and nearby, with percentage of the sun eclipsed: Democratic Republic of the Congo: Binga annular 96% at 05:48 (04:48 UTC); Central African Republic: Bangui 89% at 05:51 (04:51 UTC), Bangassou 93% at 05:51 (04:51 UTC), Obo annular 96% at 05:51 (04:51 UTC); South Sudan: Juba 87% at 07:51 (04:51 UTC); Ethopia: Addis Ababa 88% at 07:58 (04:58 UTC), Bahir Dar annular 96% at 08:00 (05:00 UTC); Djibouti: Djibouti 88% at 08:03 (05:03 UTC); Yemen: Aden 88% at 08:06 (05:06 UTC), Sana’a annular 96% at 08:09 (05:09 UTC); Oman: Muscat annular 96% at 09:40 (05:40 UTC); Pakistan: Karachi 90% at 11:01 (06:01 UTC), Sukkur annular 96% at 11:09 (06:09 UTC), Bahawalpur 95% at 11:18 (06:18 UTC); India: Bikaner 93% at 11:51 (06:21 UTC), Sirsa annular 96% at 11:58 (06:28 UTC), New Delhi 92% at 12:03 (06:33 UTC), Saharanpur annular 96% at 12:05 (06:35 UTC), Dehradun annular 96% at 12:07 (06:37 UTC); Tibet, China: Shiquanhe 90% at 14:44 (06:44 UTC), Lhasa 92% at 15:15 (07:15 UTC), Nagqu 96% at 15:16 (07:16 UTC), Chamdo 95% at 15:29 (07:29 UTC); rest of China: Ya’an 95% at 15:43 (07:43 UTC), Luzhou annular 96% at 15:49 (07:49 UTC), Chongqing 93% at 15:50 (07:50 UTC), Hengyang 96% at 16:02 (08:02 UTC), Ganzhou annular 96% at 16:07 (08:07 UTC), Zhangzhou and Xiamen annular 96% at 16:12 (08:12 UTC); Taiwan: Taipei 91% at 16:14 (08:14 UTC), Taichung 95% at 16:15 (08:15 UTC), Chiayi annular 96% at 16:15 (08:15 UTC).

Also: Mombasa 44% at 07:48 (04:48 UTC), Cairo 34% at 07:20 (05:20 UTC), Riyadh 73% at 08:24 (05:24 UTC), Jerusalem 35% at 08:25 (05:25 UTC), Algiers 0.5% at 06:26 (05:26 UTC), Tunis 3% at 06:26 (05:26 UTC), Rome 0.5% at 07:33 (05:33 UTC), Athens 10% at 08:29 (05:29 UTC), Istanbul 11% at 08:36 (05:36 UTC), Bucharest 5% at 08:40 (05:40 UTC), Tehran 48% at 10:18 (05:48 UTC), Kyiv 1% at 08:52 (05:52 UTC), Moscow 0.2% at 09:05 (06:05 UTC), Mumbai 60% at 11:39 (06:09 UTC), Kabul 74% at 10:48 (06:18 UTC), Colombo 16% at 11:53 (06:23 UTC), Islamabad 81% at 11:26 (06:26 UTC), Kolkata 64% at 12:37 (07:07 UTC), Yangon 46% at 14:06 (07:36 UTC), Bangkok 39% at 14:50 (07:50 UTC), Beijing 48% at 15:51 (07:51 UTC), Singapore 8% at 16:05 (08:05 UTC), Shanghai 70% at 16:07 (08:07 UTC), Hong Kong 85% at 16:09 (08:09 UTC), Tokyo 35% at 17:11 (08:11 UTC), Manila 68% at 16:24 (08:24 UTC), Darwin 4% at 18:06 (08:36 UTC).

Venus is low and bright in the western evening sky after sunset for the first week or so of the month. On 4 June, Mercury reaches 24°E of the sun in the western evening sky, a great view from the northern hemisphere. At the beginning of the lunar month, Mercury is above the brighter Venus, with the moon nearby on 24 May. Look through binoculars to see phases on all three bodies: the moon and Venus are thin crescents, as they are both not so far off being between Earth and the sun, and Mercury is just over half full, still out towards the far side of the sun. By the end of May, Venus has fallen into the sunset, and Mercury is half full. By 10 June, Mercury is a crescent, as it heads rapidly in towards the near side of the sun. Mercury is visible from the northern hemisphere until the last few days of the lunar month when it disappears into the sunset. As seen from Earth’s south, Mercury is low in the NW. In the last week or so of the month, Venus emerges from the dawn into the eastern morning sky, better seen at first from the southern hemisphere. On 19 June, the bright planet is between the Pleiades and Aldebaran, the bright star of Taurus, and the old crescent moon is nearby. The old moon passes right in front of Venus from about 07:20 UTC (08:20 BST/IST). As seen from Europe and Africa, the sun is above the horizon. You can see the start of the occultation before sunrise in St John, Newfoundland at 04:21 local time, as the lit part of the crescent begins to cover Venus, but the sun rises before its end at 08:11.

Jupiter and Saturn rise around midnight, close together on the borders of the southern constellations Sagittarius and Capricornus. Jupiter is much the brighter of the two. Mars rises about two hours after Jupiter and Saturn, and then shines brightly in the morning sky for about three hours before dawn.

The moon is near Jupiter and Saturn on the morning of 9 June, and is near Mars on 13 June, when Mars passes 1.5°S of the Neptune. Look for the ice giant through good binoculars or a telescope.

The month ahead: Holly Moon 2020

22 June - 20 July 2020

Map of night sky at full moon: 5 July, 04:44 UTC
Northern hemisphere perspective, aligned on the ecliptic. Morning sky to the left, evening to the right.

night sky map for Holly Moon 2020

The night and morning sky is full of very bright planets. Rising around sunset, opposite the sun, are Jupiter and Saturn, now close in the sky and looking beautiful together. On 30 June, Jupiter passes half a degree north of faint Pluto. On 14 July, Jupiter is opposite the sun in the sky. Next day, the giant planet comes closest to the Earth: 619.3 million kilometres, or 34.4 light minutes away. On 20 July, Saturn is opposite the sun in the sky. And next day the ringed planet comes closest to the Earth: 1345.6 million kilometres, or 74.81 light minutes away.

Mars rises around midnight, and shines brightly for the rest of the night. It is brighter than Saturn, though not as bright as Jupiter or the even brighter Venus that rises before the dawn, pulling out further from the sunrise as the month goes on, but staying near Aldebaran, the bright star of Taurus. On 12 July, Venus passes a degree north of the star. On 24 June, Mars enters the constellation Pisces and moves on into a corner of Cetus on 8 July.

On the night of 5/6 July the just past full moon is near Jupiter and Saturn, and then near Mars on 12 July. The old crescent moon passes close to the north of Venus on 17 July, but there is no occultation this month.

As seen from the southern hemisphere, Mercury emerges rapidly from the near side of the sun half way through the lunar month, and there is a great view of it with Venus above. From the northern hemisphere, you may just be able to see Mercury before sunrise low in the ENE, to the right of and below the very thin, old crescent moon on the morning of 19 July.

At full moon on the night 4/5 July, there is a penumbral eclipse of the moon visible from Western Europe, West Africa, the Americas and Antarctica. Maximum eclipse is at 05:30 (04:30 UTC) on 5 July, when there may just be some darkening of the moon’s northern limb. However, this is after moonset in Europe and Africa, so in these places there will be very little to see. At maximum eclipse, there is a 31% eclipse of the sun at the moon’s north pole.

William Morris
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