Category Archives: Observing

Lunar Occultation June 11


If you are in Australia you will be treated to a lunar occultation on 11 June 2015.

The moon is going to occult the planet Uranus. Uranus is a magnitude 5.9 so with a modest telescope should be visible. It could even be visible with binoculars. I personally have not been able to see the planet in binoculars however the sky conditions here (light pollution) is what I blame. Image stabilizing binoculars would help – and they are wonderful for sky viewing! I wish I had a pair. The big question is how much glare from the moon is going to hinder things. There is a huge difference in brightness between the two so the planet will be lost in the glare at some point well before it goes behind the moon. It still counts though and very well worth the effort to look though. I’d be out there.

Anyway the actual time varies depending on where your are of course. Australia is a big place! To give you a quick reference Adelaide has a time of 18:49.27 UTC.   To find the occultation time for you, have a visit to this page, the source of the above image, it has times for a extensive list of places to help you out, they do a great job.

The link mentioned above is specific for this occultation. Their main page is a place you can also find occultations of all kinds for pretty much any place and other useful occultation links.  Occultations, lunar and otherwise, usually don’t occur all that often for a specific location so they are a treat.

Hopefully this post gives you enough time to prepare.  The time conversion has me tied in knots so I figured I better be a couple days early.  Good luck!

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What’s Up May 2015

I always appreciate being able to see Mercury and when it is visible all you have to do is look up, surprising how many people have never seen Mercury or at least recognized that’s what they are looking at.

You only need a pair of binoculars to see the four large moons of Jupiter and this time of year it’s comfortable enough to go out on successive nights and see the changes in orbital position.


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Lunar Evolution

The skies here cleared out overnight and when I got up everything was lit up the the brilliant full moon. Well, almost full moon, full moon occurs on 04 May at 03:43 UTC / 03 May at 23:43 EDT. It has been a while since I had good skies and the sight was beautiful and I thought of this video, glad to see it was still there.


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Lyrids Meteor Shower

Hopefully tonight you have clear skies because it’s time for the Lyrid meteor shower.

Actually the shower goes from about 16 April to 26 April and tonight should be near the peak. The meteor rate is usually about 10 per hour with occasional outburst years of over 100 per hour.

This meteor shower has observations that go back 2600 years or more. Have a look at Meteor Showers Online for a concise history on the Lyrids and finders charts for both northern and southern hemispheres.

ScienceAtNASA just published this video, it’s pretty good with some great tips. You might have to convert the times they give in the video (UTC = EDT + 4). Basically if it is dark and you can see stars, get comfortable and look up, the moon won’t be a problem. Follow the trails back and you will find the constellation Lyra the namesake of the shower.

Good luck and have fun!

Video link

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Yuri’s Night

Yuri’s Night is a World Space Party and it is tonight! Many observatories, science centers and astronomy clubs are hosting Yuri’s Night events.

Everywhere! The entire world is involved, there’s even a South Pole Yuri Night so if you happen to be in Antarctica near the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, check it out 😉

If you don’t happen to be near an event, you can still participate. Go outside, pick out a constellation or two, find a planet. A telescope isn’t required and if you have a pair of binoculars they will work just fine.

Go outside and see what you can see.  Have fun!

Yuri’s Night


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A Five Minute Eclipse

This image shows the Dec. 20, 2012 total lunar eclipse, as seen from Sagamihara, Japan. Image Credit: NASA/MSFC/Alphonse Sterling


Europe was recently treated to a beautiful solar eclipse. Now there is a Total Lunar Eclipse coming to North America, South America, Middle Asia, including India, western China and mid-Asian Russia on 04 April.

Viewers in areas able to see the eclipse will have to look quick, the total eclipse will last only FIVE minutes! No fooling, this will be the shortest lunar eclipse this century. :mrgreen:

Fortunately people in eastern North America and western South America will get to see the early stages (partial umbral phase) of the eclipse in the western sky and people in Middle Asia, including India, western China and mid-Asian Russia will see the late stages low in the eastern sky just after sunset on 04 April.

Sorry Europe, Greenland, Iceland, Africa and the Middle East the eclipse will not be visible for you.

This is the third of a series of four eclipses in a row also known as a “tetrad”  The last two occurred in April and September 2014 and the last of the series will occur on 28 September 2015.

See a visibility map here.

The image at the top of the post shows the 20 December 2012 total lunar eclipse, as seen from Sagamihara, Japan.

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Solar Eclipse LIVE

The solar eclipse live feed from Cloud Tube. Most of North America will NOT see the eclipse. Have a look here to check if it is visible where you are. I am in North America so I will not be able to see it for myself, so I hope the live link works!

The eclipse starts at 07:41 UTC and ends at 11:50 UTC. It’s “almost” a spring eclipse too but not quite.

Speaking of spring:

Happy Spring!

The March Equinox occurs at 22:45 UTC / 18:45 EDT today.

I still have 22 cm of snow on the ground so spring can’t get here too soon :)

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Total Eclipse This Week

There will be a Total Eclipse on 20 March. Will you be able to see it? If you are in most of Europe or northern Russia, you will get to be in the penumbra (a partial eclipse). The only populated places where the totality can be seen, reachable by public travel, are the Faroe Islands and Svalbard.

Either way be sure to check it out as this will be the last total eclipse visible in Europe until 12 August 2016.

The little graphic below from NASA will give you an idea what time the eclipse will occur and where.


I will not get to see it. I’m sure there will be sites that will be streaming the eclipse and I’ll like a few of them later this week.



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