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Saturday, 16 February 2019  •  Saturday, 12 Ash Moon 2019


Watching the night sky in Ash Moon 2019

5 February - 6 March 2019

Map of night sky at full moon: 19 February, 15:54 UTC
Northern hemisphere perspective, aligned on the ecliptic. Morning sky to the left, evening to the right.

night sky map for Ash Moon 2019

Mars is in the evening sky, setting in the late evening. The crescent moon is nearby on 10 February. Also nearby is the ice giant Uranus. Mars passes into the constellation Aries on 13 February, and the same day is a degree north of Uranus. Look for the pair in binoculars, as Uranus is just too faint to see with the naked eye. From Europe, look for them together on the evenings of 12 and 13 February.

On 27 February, Mercury reaches 18°E of the sun in the western evening sky. It’s not a good view from the southern hemisphere, but from the north, for about a week either side of the date, you may be able to see Mercury low down in the west as evening civil twilight ends.

Saturn is low in the eastern morning sky in the constellation Sagittarius. Much brighter, and further out from the dawn is Venus, the bright morning star; at the start of the month it is approximately half-way between Saturn and Jupiter, but quickly moves towards Saturn, and passes north of it on 18 February. Jupiter rises further from the dawn (about four hours in advance of the sun, mid-month), and shines brightly, through not as brilliantly as Venus. The moon is near Jupiter on the mornings of 27 and 28 February. On the morning of 2 March, as seen from Europe, the moon is between Venus and Saturn. Indeed, the moon occults Saturn in the dark as seen from central parts of the Pacific early on 2 March (local time to the west of the date line). From Tarawa Atoll in Kiribati, the bright side of the moon covers Saturn at 04:53 on 2 March (1 Mar, 16:53 UTC), and Saturn emerges again from the dark side at 05:27 (17:27 UTC). On 3 March, the old moon is between Venus and the dawn, though somewhat to the south of Venus.



The month ahead: 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.



William Morris
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