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Wednesday, 5 August 2020  •  Wednesday, 16 Hazel Moon 2020

Watching the night sky in Hazel Moon 2020

21 July - 18 August 2020

Map of night sky at full moon: 3 August, 15:59 UTC
Northern hemisphere perspective, aligned on the ecliptic. Morning sky to the left, evening to the right.

night sky map for Hazel Moon 2020

The sky continues to be full of bright planets, with Jupiter and Saturn shining close to each other in the SE, appearing as soon as the sky is dark enough. Indeed, if you know where to look, you may be able to see Jupiter at sunset. The moon is near Jupiter on 1 August, and has passed by Saturn on 2 August.

Mars rises in the late evening, shining brightly and redly for the rest of the night. On 26 July, it moves from Cetus back into Pisces. The moon is near Mars on the night 8/9 August. As seen from SE South America and nearby parts of Antarctica and the Atlantic, the moon passes right in front of Mars. As seen from Buenos Aires, the moon covers Mars from 04:46 to 05:57 local time (07:46 to 08:57 UTC) on 9 August. As seen from São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the sun has risen by the end of the occultation.

Venus is the bright morning star. On 12 August, it reaches 46°W of the sun before turning back towards the dawn, and the far side of the sun. The old crescent moon is nearby on 15 August.

On 22 July, Mercury reaches 20°W of the sun in the eastern morning sky. For the first week of the lunar month, you should be able to see it below Venus in the dawn sky from most parts of the Earth before it vanishes towards the far side of the sun.

Look out for the Perseid meteors around 12 & 13 August, especially just before the moon rises.

*** Note that the bright comet Neowise C/2020 F3 is visible in the evening sky, in the constellation Ursa Major, gradually fading. On 29 July it moves into Coma Berenices, but by then needs binoculars to see.

The month ahead: Apple Moon 2020

19 August - 17 September 2020

Map of night sky at full moon: 2 September, 05:22 UTC
Northern hemisphere perspective, aligned on the ecliptic. Morning sky to the left, evening to the right.

night sky map for Apple Moon 2020

Jupiter and Saturn shine brightly together in the evening and midnight sky, low down in the south as seen from northern lands. The moon is nearby on the evenings of 28 and 29 August.

Mars rises in the evening, and is becoming very bright as it approaches a relatively close opposition next month. On the night of 5/6 September, the gibbous moon is very close to Mars, and occults it as seen from far western Africa, and from the far south of Portugal and Spain (but not the Azores). From NW Europe, you can see the moon passing very close south of Mars in the southwestern sky before dawn. From Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the moon covers Mars from 06:13 to 06:27 local time (05:13 to 05:27 UTC) on 6 September. From Dakar, the moon occults the red planet from 04:42 to 06:16 (local time and UTC). For the first part of the month, Mars moves slowly eastwards through the stars of Pisces, but on 9 September, it appears to reverse direction and head back westwards, ready for opposition, as Earth starts to ”overtake it” on the inside.

On 11 September, Neptune is opposite the sun in the sky in the constellation Aquarius. It is also closest to the Earth: 4326.8 million kilometres, or 4.01 light hours away. You can’t see it with the naked eye, but do look for it with a telescope.

In the last few days of the month, and visible from Earth’s southern lands only, Mercury emerges from behind the sun into the western evening sky immediately after sunset.

Venus is the morning star. On 7 September, you can see it in a line with the stars Castor and Pollux of Gemini. The moon is nearby on 14 September.

William Morris
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